Declaration of Independence

Essay by awesomeman281B, October 2008

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Wes Lukac Lukac 1

Professor Manning

English 102

7 December 2007

Declaration of Independence

The 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 events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

Taken out of context, this sentence is general it could be used as the introduction to a declaration by anyone. Seen within its original context, however, it is a model of refinement, and suggestion that worked on several levels of meaning and allusion. This orients readers toward a favorable view of America and prepares them for the rest of the Declaration. It dignifies the Revolution as a challenge of principle.

The introduction identifies the purpose of the Declaration as simply "to declare" to announce publicly in explicit terms the causes impelling America to leave the British Empire. Rather than presenting one side in a public controversy on which good and decent people could differ, the Declaration claims to do no more than a natural philosopher...