Pearl Harbor Address To Congress Rhetorical Analysis

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s speech to Congress on December 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, is one of the most famous speeches given by a United States leader. The speech was instrumental in persuading the American people to overwhelmingly support the forthcoming war effort and in getting Congress to formally declare war on Japan. Roosevelt’s speech was successful primarily because it was presented in a very charismatic manner by a trusted leader. The speech was also very timely as the speech occurred just one day after the Pearl Harbor attack. Most significantly, the actual text of the speech was meticulously constructed to produce the desired reaction of supporting the war effort. Roosevelt’s speech was given the …show more content…
For example, Roosevelt states “The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation” (“Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation”, 2016). Because of statements like this, it does not appear that Roosevelt is delivering his speech as an argument to Congress on whether or not to vote to go to war. Instead, it seems that Roosevelt is trying to persuade Congress for unanimous support of the war effort that is inevitable. Roosevelt seems to be seeking a response of tremendous patriotism from American citizens in support of the impending war which agrees with Baumlin’s notion that persuasion is aimed at conviction and action. The way that Roosevelt phrases the previously mentioned quote also utilizes Cialdini’s principle of Social proof. Cialdini states that, “We have already seen that when people are uncertain, they look to the actions of others to guide their own actions” (Cialdini 154). Surely, many people were shocked and had no idea how to react in response to the Pearl Harbor bombings. Since they had no idea how to react, they looked to the beliefs of others, especially those in power – President Roosevelt. The belief that the United States should not go to war after just recently being bombed was likely an unpopular one, so those not in favor of war probably