Rhetorical Analysis on Roosevelt's Speech About Pearl Harbor

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“Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy.” Those are the famous words from President Franklin Roosevelt regarding the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The purpose in Roosevelt’s “Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation” was to educate the nation on what had happened and to justify his reasons for declaring war upon the Japanese Empire. Each word in this memorable speech tugged on the emotions of the American people. His emotional and passionate appeal about his duty as President and former commander and chief showed while delivering this speech. In this rhetorical essay I will evaluate his effectiveness in persuading his argument as to why we should declare war on the Japanese Empire. President Roosevelt’s persuasion in his speech succeeds because the context, the different ways it is organized, and the rhetorical appeals it contains. The context in this speech is that it is reassuring the American people it is the right thing to declare war on Japan. With America not actively involved in World War II at the time, the speech was presented to Congress to persuade them a certain way against the surprise attacks made by the Japanese Empire on American soil. The President introduces two questions regarding the issue at hand, is the attack on Pearl Harbor an act of war and what should America’s response be to this unjustified attack. President Roosevelt answers these questions in his speech by saying yes this was an act of war and our response is to declare war against the Japanese Empire. Congress is all about the well being of the American people in the United States and will do anything to provide protection for the American people.

Roosevelt uses many different modes in delivering his speech such as repetition, his choice in words, and reasoning to help him persuade Congress to declare war on Japan. A word repeated throughout the speech was “deliberately”. This word means on purpose, with a plan. The repetition of this word quickly grabs the...
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