Analyzing the rhetoric of the Declaration of Independence. What makes this a powerful document? What are some specific examples from the text of effective rhetoric.
Based on the Declaration of Independence.
Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence to make a very clear and obvious presentation of the colonies' feelings and situation to the rest of the world. He structured it very logically, making it simple for readers to follow and understand how the factors he listed supported the need for the action being announced.
After the introduction, he presents self-evident truths:
that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,
Each statement of a truth begins with "that" to emphasize the distinctions between his points.
He uses repetition to drive home points, such as justifying the need for the drastic step of forming a new government, writing "it is their right, it is their duty..."
He again uses a list and parallel structure in presenting the facts regarding King George's conduct toward the colonies and in highlighting the "Acts of pretended Legislation", assisting readers to understand the case being made and illustrating the large number of concerns.
Jefferson presents the attempts made by the colonies to create better relations with Parliament and the King, again using parallel structure to simplify understanding and emphasize how far the colonists have gone in trying to resolve the situation without resorting to active conflict.
We have warned them...We have reminded them...We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity...we have conjured them
In conclusion, Jefferson restates the purpose of the document and explicitly states the powers of government which are now being claimed by
the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled...in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies