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Rhetorical Analysis Of President Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor Speech

1285 words - 5 pages

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941- a date which will live in infamy- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan” (1). These are the words Franklin Delano Roosevelt chose to begin his Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan. FDR’s speech was a call to arms, and in his speech he expressed outrage towards Japan and confidence in inevitable triumph. The speech was a request to declare war against Japan and to bring the United States into World War II. FDR’s speech was successful in bringing the United States into World War II because FDR presented facts explaining why war needed to be declared and used righteous indignation to give the nation a sense of pride and hope by letting them know everything would be done to ensure the nation’s safety.
On December 7, 1941 the U.S. naval base was subject to an attack that was one of the greatest military surprises in the history of warfare. On December 8, 1941, the day after the attack was made on Pearl Harbor by Japan, FDR delivered his speech to the Congress of the United States. He explained how the United States was suddenly attacked by the Empire of Japan. He explained how the attacks had to have been planned weeks in advance, but during that time Japan acted as if they were making peace with the United States. Roosevelt reported the damages and losses that the nation suffered due to the attacks. He explained what actions would be taken to defend the country, and what they would do to ensure this would never happen again. The purpose of his speech was to request Congress to declare war against Japan while displaying the confidence to assure the nation that events like this would never happen again.

FDR used a combination of logic and emotion throughout his speech to convince Congress and the people of the United States that going to war with Japan would be the right thing to do. The President knew that at a time like this the people of the United States felt that their lives were in great danger. He let the people know that all measures would be taken for the country’s defense. He knew that many people would be afraid to enter the war so he gave the country determination to win the war.

Throughout the speech FDR presented facts and evidence to prove that the attack was a surprise and to demonstrate that he was familiar with the events that took place. One of the reasons why FDR was declaring war against Japan was because the attack on Pearl Harbor was deliberately planned. He stated that the distance from Hawaii to Japan made it obvious that the attack was planned many days or even weeks in advance. He gave details about the time leading up to the attack when the Japanese government misled the United States by giving false statements of hope for continued peace. By presenting these facts in his speech, FDR proved to his audience that the attack was intentional. ...

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