Rhetorical Strategies in The Declaration of Independence
Updated: 12/31/2019
Rhetorical Strategies in The Declaration of Independence
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Ethos Pathos Logos

The Rhetorical Triangle: Ethos, Pathos, Logos

By Katherine Docimo and Kristy Littlehale

In high school, students need to develop formal writing skills, creating essays and arguments that are well-thought-out and syntactically varied. Students must also effectively use persuasive writing strategies to defend a claim or point of view. A great way to enhance students' understanding of effective arguments is to teach the Aristotelian concepts of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. This requires a basic working knowledge of rhetoric. A key to strong persuasive writing is the ability to dissect and validate, or debunk, the rhetoric of other arguments.


The Declaration Lesson Plans & Activities

The Declaration of Independence: A Primary Source Analysis

Lesson Plans by Richard Cleggett

American independence begins not only with war and protest, but the Declaration of Independence itself. The Declaration serves as both a official severing of ties with Great Britain for the American colonies, and also a list of grievances detailing why this separation is necessary. It is the culmination of what the colonists had protested for, and against, throughout the years leading up to the American Revolution. Written by Thomas Jefferson in 1776, the Declaration is one of the most important and defining documents of our nation’s beginning.




Declaration of Independence

Storyboard Description

Rhetorical Strategies Ethos Pathos Logos in the Declaration of Independence

Storyboard Text

  • ETHOS (ETHICS / CREDIBILITY)
  • EXAMPLE #1
  • EXAMPLE #2
  • LOGOS (LOGIC)
  • “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.”
  • “We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America in general congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do in the name and by authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare that these united colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states…”
  • “...that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government…”
  • “He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.”
  • This court is being dismantled by order of the King!
  • PATHOS (EMOTIONS)
  • Support for the rebels is playing with fire...
  • “He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.”
  • “A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”
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