Sojourner Truth’s oratorical style, in contrast, is based on shocking her audience in the most unexpected way. Having aroused then attention through this tactic, she then conveys the key message she is pitching for – namely women’s rights in America. Her speech was made impromptu – in fact, the organizer of the public event was apprehensive as Truth approached to take center-stage at the dais. Much of the effectiveness of Truth’s speech comes from her sense of humor and sharp wit. In one of the playful references during her speech, she asks the men among the audience why Jesus Christ was a product of God and a blessed woman – or why was he born without the coital intervention of a man? This is a rhetorical question meant to suggest that somehow men were inferior to women in the divine scheme of things. But what it was actually meant for is as recompense for the burden carried by Eve as the original Temptress. Even allowing for Eve’s original guilt, Truth cleverly co-opts this understanding to pitch for women’s rights thus: “I have heard the bible and have learned that Eve caused man to sin. Well, if woman upset the world, do give her a chance to set it right side up again.” (Truth, 1851) This shows that though the orator was uneducated in the conventional sense, she had a sharp wit and powers of perception. Truth’s oration is differentiated from that of Douglass’ by its lack of subtlety and courtly manners. Yet, it does satisfactorily achieves what the speaker intended to do, namely, make the member of the audience think critically about the status of women in America of that period.
In conclusion, judging purely for their rhetorical mastery, it is fair to claim that Douglass’ speech is to be esteemed as better. Though both speakers show emotion and compassion for their communities (blacks and women respectively), it is Frederick Douglass who takes the trouble of offering numerous historical references and precedents to justify his stance. He creates compelling juxtapositions of the diminished status of blacks to that of the relative freedoms enjoyed by whites. Sojourner Truth’s speech, though a key even in the first wave feminist movement, plays to the gallery more than attempt a cogent and coherent analysis. The fact that no first-hand account of the speech is recorded and there are numerous contending versions in circulation makes it tough to ascertain its actual effectiveness. Douglass is also the more literary of the two orators and his speech is thus marked by erudition, which is absent in Truth’s presentation.