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On the seventh of December, 1941, the lives of many people drastically changed. In that particular afternoon, all American radio broadcasts were interrupted with important news. Pearl Harbor had been attacked by an unforeseen Japanese air raid. The results of the attack were devastating with over 2,000 people killed and over 20 military ships destroyed.
The following day, December 8th, 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the president at the time, gave an address to the distressed nation regarding the attack. His speech consisted of an explanation of what had taken place at Pearl Harbor, evidence that the attack was in fact predetermined, and a request for the United States of America to wage war against Japan. In his speech entitled the “Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation” – also known as the “Infamy” speech – Franklin D. Roosevelt persuaded the government and the people through the appeals of pathos and ethos to declare war against Japan.
Throughout the speech, Roosevelt utilizes two rhetorical modes of ethos and pathos in order to further complete his argument as a whole. Looking at the speech in a larger context, it is evident how Roosevelt uses these appeals when writing his speech to the intended audience. Since he is speaking mainly to the citizens of the United States of America, one of the main appeals Roosevelt uses is Pathos which is the appeal or evocation of emotion. For example, Roosevelt mentions in his speech that “the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace” (Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation).
By stating that the United States, which implies the nation as a whole, was deceived by Japan into thinking that the Japanese had similar goals of peace in mind, Roosevelt awakens the feeling of betrayal by Japan in the hearts of the American citizens. Roosevelt also backs up his argument with the use of ethos, the appeal to ethics or morals. Towards the ending of his speech, Roosevelt assert that, in regards to Japan, “the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory” (Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation). In this phrase, Roosevelt incorporates religion into the argument which further inspires the audience, and assures them that it is morally right to wage war against Japan.
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