Declaration Of Independence Essay

1421 words - 6 pages

Wes Lukac Lukac 1Professor ManningEnglish 1027 December 2007Declaration of IndependenceThe Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written document of Western civilization. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable. By approaching the Declaration in this way, we can shed light both on its literary qualities and on its rhetorical power as a work designed to convince the American colonies they were justified in seeking to establish them as an independent nation.The introduction consists of the first paragraph a single, lengthy, periodic sentence: "When in the Course of human ...view middle of the document...

The most important word in the introduction is necessary. To say an act was necessary implied that it was impelled by fate or determined by the operation of foolproof natural laws. The Revolution was not merely preferable, defensible, or justifiable. It was as inescapable, as inevitable, and as unavoidable within the course of human events as the motions of the tides or the changing of the seasons within the course of natural events. TheRevolution, with connotations of necessity, was particularly important because, according to the law of nations, recourse to war was lawful only when it became necessary.The notion of necessity was important that, in addition to appearing in the introduction of the Declaration, it was invoked twice more at crucial junctures in the rest of the text. Labeling the Americans one people and the British another was also laden with implication and performed several important strategic functions within the Declaration. First, because two alien peoples cannot be made one, it reinforced the notion that breaking the political bands with England was a necessary step in the course of human events.America and England were already separated by the basic fact that they had become two different peoples. The gap between them was much more than political; it was intellectual, social, moral, cultural, and, according to the principles of nature, was irreparable. Defining the Americans as a separate people in the introduction eased the task of invoking the right of revolution in the preamble. That right, according to eighteenth-century revolutionary principles, could be invoked only in the direst of circumstances. Resistance was absolutely necessary in order to preserve the nation from slavery, misery, and ruin.If America and Great Britain were seen as one people, Congress could not justify revolution against the British government for the simple reason that the body of the people did not support the American cause. For America to move against the government in such circumstances would not be a justifiable act of resistance. By defining the Americans as a separate people, Congress could more readily satisfy the requirement for invoking the right of revolution. Like the introduction, the next section of the Declaration usually referred to as the preamble--is universal in tone and scope.It contains no explicit reference to the British- American conflict, but outlines a general philosophy of government that makes revolution justifiable, even meritorious. Like the rest of the Declaration, the preamble is brief, clear, and concise. Each word is chosen and placed to achieve maximum impact. Each clause is indispensable to the progression of thought. Each sentence is carefully constructed internally and in relation to what precedes and follows. One word follows another with complete inevitability of sound and meaning. Not one word can be moved or replaced without disrupting the balance and harmony of the entire preamble. Thesentences are...

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