Rhetorical Analysis of the FDR Declaration of War Speech


The speech that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave on December 8, 1941, a day after the Pearl Harbor attacks, was probably one of the most famous speeches this country has ever heard. It showed us that even after one of the most horrible attacks in American history, our President was not going to stand down to that cowardly attack, and it showed no weaknesses. That speech was monumental, because it gave the President the power to declare war on Japan. That speech got the Americans into their first day of the war. The President had two purposes for that speech: 1. To get Congress to rapidly declare war on Japan, which they did within minutes. 2. To get the American people to support and rally in favor of the war. Roosevelt, with his words, also show us that he wanted Japan to look wicked and evil, like the devil. Showing this would change the perspective minds of the American people in his favor. He also refers to Japan repeatedly, as an “empire”. This tells the American people that Japan is trying to acquire more land from other nations as well, and this will further show why America should go to war with these evil people, and defeat them. He also uses other words like “The Japanese”, “Japan”, “Japanese Government”, “Empire of Japan”, and “Japanese Forces”, to put the blame on everyone in Japan and not just their military. This can also be used as a unification tactic by President Roosevelt on the American people, so that they will be united against Japan, and anyone in Japan. On top of that, in the speech, he mentions that the Japanese attacked five other places including, Hong Kong, Guam, the Philippine Islands, Wake Island, and Midway Island, but he didn’t mention it the same way i just did. He mentioned them each separately, but the common denominator in each place he mentions was attacked, the same words appear, and those words are “Japanese forces attacked”. He wanted to put special emphasis on those words to pull more attention to it and to probably make sure his message is heard loud and clear, and that Japan just woke “A Sleeping Giant”. President Roosevelt did it right, when he made that speech into an emotional one, instead of a logical one, like the speech that got them into World War I. He took advantage of Congress and the American people in a good way at a very emotional time, hence the kind of speech he gave the next day. The President did a good job in my opinion, and in the end the Americans came out strong and victorious, and that speech had a lot to do with it.

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