Rhetorical Analysis Essay Of The Declaration Of Independence

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Of The Declaration Of Independence-26
Rather than defining the Declaration's task as one of persuasion, which would doubtless raise the defenses of readers as well as imply that there was more than one publicly credible view of the British-American conflict, the introduction identifies the purpose of the Declaration as simply to "declare"--to announce publicly in explicit terms--the "causes" impelling America to leave the British empire.

Rather than defining the Declaration's task as one of persuasion, which would doubtless raise the defenses of readers as well as imply that there was more than one publicly credible view of the British-American conflict, the introduction identifies the purpose of the Declaration as simply to "declare"--to announce publicly in explicit terms--the "causes" impelling America to leave the British empire.

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The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization.

As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style.

Taken out of context, this sentence is so general it could be used as the introduction to a declaration by any "oppressed" people.

Seen within its original context, however, it is a model of subtlety, nuance, and implication that works on several levels of meaning and allusion to orient readers toward a favorable view of America and to prepare them for the rest of the Declaration.

From its magisterial opening phrase, which sets the American Revolution within the whole "course of human events," to its assertion that "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" entitle America to a "separate and equal station among the powers of the earth," to its quest for sanction from "the opinions of mankind," the introduction elevates the quarrel with England from a petty political dispute to a major event in the grand sweep of history.

It dignifies the Revolution as a contest of principle and implies that the American cause has a special claim to moral legitimacy--all without mentioning England or America by name.

But by defining America and England as two separate peoples, the Declaration reinforced the perception that the conflict was not a civil war, thereby, as Congress noted in its debates on independence, making it more "consistent with European delicacy for European powers to treat with us, or even to receive an Ambassador." Third, defining the Americans as a separate people in the introduction eased the task of invoking the right of revolution in the preamble.

That right, according to eighteenth-century revolutionary principles, could be invoked only in the most dire of circumstances--when "resistance was absolutely necessary in order to preserve the nation from slavery, misery, and ruin"--and then only by "the Body of the People." If America and Great Britain were seen as one people, Congress could not justify revolution against the British government for the simple reason that the body of the people (of which the Americans would be only one part) did not support the American cause. aiming only at the satisfaction of private Lust, without regard to the public Good." By defining the Americans as a separate people, Congress could more readily satisfy the requirement for invoking the right of revolution that "the whole Body of Subjects" rise up against the government "to rescue themselves from the most violent and illegal oppressions." Like the introduction, the next section of the Declaration--usually referred to as the preamble--is universal in tone and scope.

Rather than presenting one side in a public controversy on which good and decent people could differ, the Declaration purports to do no more than a natural philosopher would do in reporting the causes of any physical event.

The issue, it implies, is not one of interpretation but of observation.

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