The Declaration of Independence
Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Its purpose was to declare the 13 colonies in America free and independent from Great Britain, get other colonists on board, and to encourage other nations to help them. Jefferson not only wrote how they were splitting from Britain, but he also gave thorough reasoning as to why they should be allowed to do so. In order to do that he used deductive logic in this document. In addition, many people wonder if the declaration had been developed in a different format, such as a series or syllogistic arguments, how persuasive it would be. From a literary perspective, it would not have been as persuasive as the original document. Another reason why the declaration is so persuasive is that Jefferson uses friendly, brotherly language to show his unity to them.
The reason why the Declaration of Independence is so persuasive is that Jefferson uses deductive arguments, which includes examples of Britain’s wrong doings, which gives the person reading the document a chance to see exactly why they are breaking from Great Britain. One of the strongest deductive arguments in the declaration is, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men”. This means that any legitimate government is created to protect peoples’ rights such as, “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”. Throughout the declaration Jefferson shows how Great Britain is not protecting their rights, but interfering with them. For example, he states how the king keeps sending over soldiers and expects the people to house and feed them. How would you feel if the government just placed a stranger in your home and told you he could eat your hard-earned food? These soldiers were also allowed to disobey the laws in the colonies and not be punished for them. This is not what you call protecting peoples’ rights; it is more like invading them. Another very strong deductive argument in this document is, “deriving their just power from the consent of the governed”. This means any power or authority that a government has is given to them by the consent of the people, but this right like many others was abused too. For instants, Jefferson wrote that they have “Petitioned for redress” repeatedly, meaning they sent many petitions to the king about many unfair problems in the colonies, wanting to come to some type of agreement. Nevertheless, the king does not answer them but continues to hurt them. This shows that the king did not care about the peoples’ consent; therefore, he is not implicating a just government and they have the right to break free from Great Britain.
If the Declaration were developed in a series of syllogistic arguments, it would not be very persuasive on stating why they should split from Britain. For example, whether the syllogisms were Aristotle’s or Toulmin’s form it would not be a very formal format for a government document. If this document were in syllogisms, there would be many repeated major premises or warrants, which would cause no concision and wordiness. Syllogisms would be of better use if you were outlining or organizing the declaration into your own understanding.
The main thing besides logic that helped the persuade the colonist they had the right to break from Great Britain, was the language in which Jefferson wrote the declaration. He used words such as brethren, common kindred, and fellow citizen, which implied that they were all in this together. He even shows them how the colonies have tried their best to avoid violent conflict with Great Britain but the king would not compromise. For instants, they had sent many petitions to Britain to come to some type of agreement, but the king continued to hurt the colonies. Jefferson was arguing that they have tried to work with Great Britain but they continue to send mercenaries to kill people, burn down towns, ravage ships, and capture citizens and make them do very immoral things to their own people. No nation should sit back and let these horrible things happen to them, so by stating these different scenarios it encourages the fellow colonists that it is time to fight for their rights.
In conclusion, the declaration of independence is a document that jump-started the United States. It explains why they had to the right to separate from Great Britain, and many unjust actions they inflicted upon the colonies. The declaration is a very thorough complex document that would not worked in any other format. If Jefferson would have wrote this document in a different way would we be in the place we are today?
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