Rhetorical Analysis of the Declaration of Independence

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PART I

The Declaration of Independence is considered by many to be the finest piece of political prose ever written. It can be seen as a document in five parts: the introduction, the preamble, the denunciation of George III, the denunciation of the British people, and the conclusion. We are going to closely examine the first three as a way to understand how Jefferson's rhetorical strategies serves the political aims of the young colonies.

The introduction consists of the first paragraph, which is a single long sentence (periodic sentence for those who will do well in May). Read the first paragraph and come up with two reasons why Jefferson would frame the introduction in the way he did.

Reason I 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.

Textual Support From its 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.
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