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Common Sense and The American: The Power of Rhetoric
Transcript of Common Sense and The American: The Power of Rhetoric
We will see how all authors (essentially anyone who uses language - so, essentially, everyone!) use words to achieve a purpose. It is how they choose those words and arrange them that makes their communication effective or ineffective.
This study comes to us in the context of the American Revolutionary Period of American History (and literature) which was influenced by the philosophies of the Age of Reason. We will look at famous speeches both from that time period and throughout history to see how these authors harnessed the power of language.
Common Sense and The American:
The Power of Rhetoric
"Strong reasons make strong actions."-Shakespeare
To argue with a man without reason is like administering medicine to the dead. - Thomas Paine - author of "Common Sense" and "The Crisis."
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Written by Himself. Vol. I.
EQ: How did the Age of Reason lead to the American Revolution and the decline of the city upon a hill?
Leviathan (1651)- Thos. Hobbes defines social contract
theory of government; beginning of Age of Reason
1689 - Locke declares that man
has "certain inalienable" natural rights
"Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"
1776: "Common Sense"
Englishman Thomas Paine's pamphlet shows that revolution is the only logical choice.
The Great Awakening
American Revolutionary Rhetoric
My favorite rhetorical rally cries
EQ: What makes rhetoric an art?
Rhetoric: the art of using words.
Rhetoric is the art of winning the soul through discourse
Rhetoric is a persuasive appeal to the
Ethos – one’s ethical character and emotions
Pathos - sympathy for others
logic and reason
1739: Benjamin Franklin, a great supporter of Enlightenment philosophy, wrote literature that was both didactic (providing moral instruction) and structured.
1) Poor Richard's Almanack: A collection of aphorisms (short, witty statements designed to provide moral instruction; synonyms – proverbs, mottos); also provided factual information for farming and business.
2)The Autobiography: Franklin describes his systematic attempt to achieve moral perfection. He shows how he outlines a chart of virtues and evaluated his progress daily. When there were no marks, he would be morally perfect: Irony: #13: Humility – imitate Jesus and Socrates.
"This I believe"
So how do we persuade?
When people are
Reasons why this works!
1. Clear imperative
Do something to make the world awesome.
3. An emotional hook.
This kid is precious!.
"Not cool, Robert Frost!
5.. Rhetorical Questions
Aren't we all on the same team? (metaphor)
What if Michael Jordan had quit?
This is your time..
This is my time..
This is our time!!!
8. Call to action
Pass it on to someone who encourages you!
"Gabi's fighting cancer....Like a boss!
Robbie Novak has "Brittle Bone Disease" and has had broken bones almost 200 times.
Values of the Age of Reason
Chatty Richard Saunders
A Rolling Stone
Gathers No Moss
Love your neighbor,
yet don't turn down your hedge.
French and Indian War: (1754-1763)
Paid for by The Sugar Act (1764) - and other taxations without representation; leads to ultimate revolution
2. Clear audience
I'm talking to you..
Legitimate finger pointing!
He has been a tyrant
from The Autobiography
It was at about this time, I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection.
I made a little book ..... I ruled each with red ink so has to have seven columns for each day of the week, marking each column with a letter for the day. I crossed the these columns with thirteen red lines, marking the beginning of each line with the first letter of one of the virtues, on which line and in its proper column I might mark, by a little black spot, every fault I found upon examination to have been committed respecting that virtue upon that day.
#13: Humility: "Imitate Jesus and Socrates"
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crisis, shrink from his duty, but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."
Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered. Yet we have this consolation with us that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we achieve too cheap, we esteem too lightly. Tis dearness only that gives everything its value."
God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish, who have so earnestly, and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamity of war, by every decent method which heaven could invent. Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that He has relinquished the governement of the world to the care of devils; and as I do not, I can not see on what grounds the king of Britain can look to heaven for help against us; a common murderer, a highwayman, or a house-breaker has as good a reason as he.
A noted Tory "who kept a tavern at Amboy, with as pretty a child in his hand, about eight or nine years old, and after speaking his mind as freely as he thought was prudent finished with this unfatherly expression, "Well,give me peace in my day."....a generous parent should have said, "If there be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child, should have peace."
I call upon not a few but upon all; not on this state or that state, but on every state. Up and help us! Lay your shoulders to the wheel. Better have too much force than too little when so great an object is at stake."
"Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the county, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it."
Say not that thousands are gone, turn out your tens of thousands.
"Throw not the burden of the day upon Providence, but show your faith by your works" that God may bless you."
It matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you all. The far and the near, the home countries and the back, the rich and the poor will suffer and rejoice alike.
"My own line of reason is to myself as straight and clear as a ray of light. Not all the treasures in the world could have induced me to support an offensive war, for I think it murder, but if a thief breaks into my house, burns and destroys my property, and kills, or threatens to kill me, or those that are in it, and "to bind me in all cases whatsoever" to his absolute will, am I to suffer it? What signifies it to me whether he who does it is a king or common man."
"When things get so balled up that the people of a country got to cut loose from some other country, and go it on their own hook, without asking no permission from nobody, excepting maybe God Almighty, then they ought to let everybody know why they done it, so that everybody can see they are not trying to put nothing over on nobody."
H.L. Mencken - The American Language