This research evaluates and presents rhetoric/linguistic analysis of Thomas Jefferson's first Inaugural address. This paper has such sections: the three appeals – pathos, ethos, and logos; examples of Jefferson’s use of rhetoric; Jefferson’s address messages…
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The article takes a deeper look at persuasion as a science. There are specific rules and laws that one must follow in order to succeed in being persuasive. Rhetoric not only evolves the usage of grammar, but of logic as well. There are many flaws in logic, called fallacies that can be found expressed through language. The fallacies however are beyond the scope of this paper and will not be covered here. Instead, some of the basic rhetoric elements will be defined and explored. To obtain this goal, the first presidential speech of Thomas Jefferson, his inaugural address, will be used. His speech will be examined in order to identify some of the many elements of rhetoric which it contains. Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States. He also was a great writer and orator. In addition to the address that will be analyzed through the course of this paper, he also wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom. An educated man, he was the founder of the University of Virginia. People read his writings today and still marvel and admire his eloquence and style. Jefferson’s use of rhetoric pleased crowds and inspired them to take action. The greatness of the man showed up in his speeches. A linguistic analysis of his first inaugural address will expose his skill and demonstrate his ability to use words craftily. Jefferson believed that the ability to be persuasive is very important. He said, "In a republican nation whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance". Herein will the linguistic elements of Thomas Jefferson’s first inaugural address be discovered. An overall view of his address will reveal how Jefferson used different tones at different, strategic times, to better convey the message. He began with a tone that sounds humble and appreciative. Jefferson said, “I express my grateful thanks for the favor with which they have been pleased to look toward me.” Such a beginning relaxed the ego of the audience. As he progressed he developed more confidence and power. This is demonstrated when he says, “Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own…principles.” Jefferson showed that he believed very strongly in the principles that he was recommending the people uphold. In the end, he changes toward a conciliatory tone with the statement of his placating words, “we are all Republicans, we are all Federalists,” in an attempt to unify and empower the nation as one. The rhythm of tone that Jefferson used in his speeches aided his political career. He used tone to persuade and befriend his hearers. The Three Appeals – Pathos, Ethos and Logos The three appeals were identified by Aristotle, a Greek philosopher. These appeals are often employed to win arguments. Jefferson applied all of the three appeals in his address. The three appeals are pathos, ethos and logos. They are designed to play upon the minds of the hearers and prick their hearts. Jefferson knew how important the support of the populations was. He skillfully used each of the three appeals to create for himself a good image. The usage of the three appeals to logic within Jefferson’s first inaugural address will be identified.
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