Thomas Jefferson

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How does Jefferson's use of punctuation and phrasing in this sentence help the reader see what he was trying to emphasize? "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to...

How does Jefferson's use of punctuation and phrasing in this sentence help the reader see what he was trying to emphasize?

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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From a grammarian's point of view, there is something significant in the fact that the sentence is one entire sentence and not broken into different parts.  From a thematic point of view, it might be stressing how the need for Colonial independence is something that has to be emphasized with the entire relationship between the British and the Colonists.  Individual actions have to be seen in this larger and more continuous scope, brought to light by the enormity of the first sentence.  The fact that the clause that exists in between the commas is highly significant.  It brings to light that nothing in the relationship between the Colonists and the British can be put aside.  It all must be included in order to fully grasp the need for independence and the call to action.  The clause in between the commas discusses dissolution of "political bands" and argues that connection cannot exist in such conditions.  This is an important point that cannot be discarded, and its inclusion in the middle of the sentence brings

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