Rhetorical Analysis of the Declaration of Independence


            The Declaration of independence was a unanimous decision arrived at by the United States Congress at the Independence Hall in 1776. In the declaration, the thirteen states that were waging war against the British regarded themselves as sovereign states that marking the end of British Colonialism. Just like any other countries achievement of independence from their colonial masters was a step forward in the formation of a sovereign nation. The thirteen states united to form the United States of American as a single country. Accordingly, by Thomas Jefferson in his assertion “The Declaration of Independence of 1776,” it provides and detailed description of what the declaration entailed. That is, the unification of these states paved way for the formation of a nation that grew in size as a result of other states joining the union in the years to follow.

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            In “The Declaration of Independence” draft Jefferson provides logical reasons as to why the states decided to stop being colonies and go ahead to declare their independence at the height of United Kingdom imperialism. It is evident with Jefferson’s use of a cause-effect approach where he uses offenses to support his arguments about the motivations behind the decision of the thirteen states. For instance, he uses the aspect of natural rights and the governed as the source of power for the governing which governments are supposed to protect where in this case, the British colonial government was neglecting. Jefferson also makes an appeal to an ethos which is derived from the credibility of the reasons to justify why the states needed to be independent to the judge, he provides instances where the British colonial government failed to fulfill its obligations in looking out the natural rights of the governed. Furthermore, Jefferson uses pathos when he evokes emotions about the ills the British government was committing in the States such as destroying the lives of American people through the burning of towns. In such a case, he evokes feelings of sadness and the same time enthusiasm about what the states hope to achieve from attaining independence and forming a Union.

Basing on the assumption that the British colonial government was committing exemplified social, economic and political failures The Declaration of Independence was aimed at returning the authority back to the states to correct the failures. Jefferson in his draft, he first appeals to the colonial government on the basis of the ills committed by the British Colonial government which he refers to it as “human events.” Through this statement, it is evident that the states were not willing to wait for a longer period to achieve their full independence through a power transition from the colonial government. He seems to have had an idea that the governor would require a compelling reason justify their move. Therefore, he gives background information to the issue which forms the basis for the reasons concerning the declaration. That is to say that it is a disarming strategy aimed at giving the states one tone for it to be perceived as a collective decision agreed upon by all the states.

Throughout the essay, Jefferson provides an experience of what the states are going through at the hand of the British colonial government including the sufferings, fears and the desires of the American people in the states. He also dwells deeper into the issue of human rights that include, life, the pursuit of happiness and liberty. The states believed in the philosophy that they were better off when left to make decisions such as forging alliances when independent through free will if they gained independence. In such a case, according to Jefferson, the colonial government have failed to achieve this and therefore, it is the right of the American people to abolish such kind of government and from one that would protect their rights and interests. The benefit of basing on the aspect of equality is that it provides a basis for supporting other arguments especially with respect to that colonial government deriving powers without the consent from those it governs.

When Jefferson concludes the independence declaration draft by stating “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor” it shows that the states were not consulting but rather informing the governor of the decision. Furthermore, it indicates the direction the states were going to follow upon attaining their independence. It is worthy to note that one thing that stands out in Jefferson’s draft is that the thirteen states were not going to sever their ties but would instead foster a relationship where both countries would cooperate for mutual benefit.


Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of independence draft is an effective argument that he managed to deliver to the target audience with the aid of ethos, pathos, and logos. He provides a background to support his arguments by highlighting the areas where the British colonial government had failed to deliver which the states hoped they would achieve if they were sovereign. Jefferson managed to instill an emotional appeal which was appropriate particularly to the colonial government and the states that needed give an impression of unity with the aim of appealing to the governor. That is to say that his ethos was strong as he provided a fair argument in support of the move that had been taken up by the thirteen states keeping in mind that declaration of independence was a multifaceted issue.

Work Cited

Jefferson, Thomas. “The Declaration Of Independence: Full Text.” Ushistory.org. N.p., 2018. Web. 30 Apr. 2018.

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