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American Rationalism

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Laura Abercrombie

on 21 September 2015

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Transcript of American Rationalism

Unlike the Puritans, the America the Rationalists wrote about was less than it was before.
During the "Age of Reason," American writers believed that by using human beings could manage themselves and their society without depending on and .
authorities past traditions
Reason, they believed, thrived on freedom--freedom of , freedom from , freedom to , freedom especially to
arbitrary rulers
question existing laws and institutions
By the free use of reason, human beings could :
could be corrected,
ended, and the general quality of improved.
social evils
superstition and ignorance
The leading Rationalist writers concerned themselves with the state of life. Unlike the Puritans, they had little interest in
and .
the supernatural
Rationalists tended to write on

or rather than on religion.
By the time of the American Revolution,
, , , , and
, were just as important as muskets and soldiers.
During this period, in America flourished as never before, mostly because the Revolution inspired people to , but also because the country's population almost
the arts
express their feelings and ideas
doubled in
In the same year that his townsmen dumped British Tea in the Boston Harbor, a Boston leather worker named William Billings published , the first volume of
The New-England Psalm-Singer
American-composed music
Months before George Washington was inaugurated as President in 1789, newspapers advertised the publication of , the first
The Power of Sympathy
American novel
While gaining political independence and showing artistic excellence, the United States could claim
a place of dignity an importance alongside Europe
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
Born in Boston Massachusetts; the 15th of 17 children
He attended school for only two years. At the age ten he started working at his fathers candle shop.
Work as a printer until he retired and became a scientist.
His half brother James Franklin founded the new England Courant in 1721. Benjamin worked here until He moved to Philadelphia and started the Gazette.
The Gazette was the first newspaper with weather reports, interviews, and cartoons.
Invented the lightning rod, bifocals, and a new type of stove.
Helped draft the Declaration of Independence.
Benjamin wrote the Poor Richard’s Almanac from 1732-1757.
He wrote his autobiography. Most autobiographies are written in 1st person. Ben wrote it as another alias or otherwise known as 3rd person
He attended public school for a short time, but was then taught by his father who was very educated.
He gained fame early in life in a lawsuit called Parson’s Case by being a talented orator.
Henry went on to serve as governor of Virginia and a member of the Virginia General Assembly.
He delivered his most famous speech at the Virginia Provincial Convention in 1775, where he urged armed resistance to England.
Patrick Henry is considered the most powerful orator of the American Revolution, and is often remembered for his famous quote, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

Patrick Henry (1736-1799)
self-knowledge and self-control
reason and scientific observation
rule of law and order
man’s ability to perfect himself and society
freedom from restrictive laws

Themes in Writing
Emphasis on self-knowledge and self-control

Themes in Writing
involved people doing what they knew to be right and just.
Reason and Scientific

Themes in Writing
Thomas Jefferson also embraced this theme, as he believed in many of the ideas of the Enlightenment.
Many people during the Rationalism Period had the same mind set of justice, performing acts such as the Boston Tea Party to prevent taxing by the British.

Themes in Writing
Rule of Law and Order

The leaders of this time - Franklin, Paine, Henry, and Washington - helped ensure that both man and society were perfected.
Themes in Writing
Man’s ability to perfect himself and society

Army no longer had to fight and could focus on building up the defense for America.

Freedom from restrictive laws
Themes in Writing
Persuasive Techniques
an appeal to the audience’s sense of what is morally just, right, or ethical.
an appeal to the audience's sense of logic
appeal to the audience's sense of emotions
Patrick Henry went against several of the Virginian statesmen to make his point with his speech.
One month after Patrick Henry gave his speech in Virginia, the British marched on Concord, which would be the beginning of the American Revolution.
Patrick Henry’s beliefs that colonists should pull away from British rule, and create their own country based on their own beliefs were expressed in his speech.
This is dangerous because at this time, Britain is the world power. He is taking on an entire country with his speech.

The Autobiography
Poor Richard's Almanak
p. 86
p. 95
Speech to the Virginia Convention
Revolutionary War (1775-1783): Between America and Britain
In the 1760s, the British government passed tax laws to increase the control over the colonies, and they resisted.
America’s disobedience angered Britain, which sparked the war. America was extremely unprepared .
Thus, they formed the Continental Congress which included delegates from the colonies. The Congress appointed George Washington as commander in chief of the American army.
Later, the British suffered a loss at Yorktown, which led to peace talks. The war ended in 1783 with the Treaty of Paris
Historical Information
Constitution is written: Between May 25 and September 17, 1787
Replaced Articles of Confederation
Some prominent historical figures including Patrick Henry, George Washington, and James Madison helped draft it
It was signed by every state, each at different times
The world’s oldest Constitution still used to this day
Fundamental law of America, including 27 Amendments made over the years

Historical Information
George Washington first served in the Continental Congress, and was appointed as commander in chief of the American army
He was able to lead America to victory in the Revolutionary War
Washington became the leader of the Continental Congress and helped draft the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
As this great leader, he was elected as the first president of the United States.

Historical Information
Washington served as the president of the United States for 21 years.
He kept no slaves, and urged slaves to run away.
He became a famous world figure during his presidency.
As the first president, he led his nation in the right direction
He led the way for many presidents to follow in his footsteps.

Historical Information
a pithy* observation
containing a general truth
concise, flippant,
terse, succinct,
Self-control in writing had to do with what kind of words were used and how they were able to get their point across.
During this time, people were making an increasing number of new discoveries and travels, adding to self-knowledge and increasing self-control.
this common theme in writing of the Rationalism Period is very important due to the amount of technology and discovery during this period.
New inventions were the focus of journals and novels, including Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac. This included the first weather reports in addition to additions just beginning to come about.
theme of justice in the time period was very prevalent in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
One of the first things built in towns was a jail, to ensure that criminals were kept locked up.
Patrick Henry frequently spoke of justice and rights, including his quote, “Give me liberty or give me death!”
people wanted to live in a better society while bettering themselves as well.
It was during this time that investigation into perfecting the laws became very important. Revisions were made, going from the Articles of Confederation to the Declaration of Independence, to make sure that everything was efficient.
while justice was a common theme of America, so was the freedom from the restriction of Britain.
No longer bound to excessive taxes imposed on them from Britain on food, tea, etc.
Had freedom to choose religion (mostly Christian instead of Catholic from Britain)
What makes a persuasive argument?
Claim and evidence
Addressing the counter argument
Language/Rhetorical Strategies
Avoiding faulty reasoning
Call to action/ addressing the audience
Language Devices
parallelism - giving two or more parts of the sentences a similar form so as to give the passage a definite pattern.
rhetorical question - question posed to the audience designed to make them think
antithesis - figure of balance wherein two contrasting images are juxtaposed
repetition - repeating of a word/phrase
hyperbole - exaggeration to prove a point
allusion - reference to something in literature, science, or history
A mistaken belief based on unsound argument
There are LOTS of logical fallacies and all have names
TED Talks
Choose one of the following TED Talks to evaluate:
Cameron Russell - "Looks Aren't Everything"
Colin Stokes - "How Movies Teach Manhood"

Evaluate for the 6 Elements of Argumentation
Full transcript