The Declaration of Independence of the United States is a document that Congress unanimously adopted in 1776. This document highlights that the British colonies in North America declared themselves independent from Great Britain. The Cherokee Memorial is a letter sent in 1829 to the US legislature. This letter was written to the US Congress and was intended to express their anger at the looting of Cherokee lands. In addition, the Indians expressed their disagreement with the relocation of their people to the west. Although these texts have different goals and themes, they still have similarities in rhetorical writing.
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The primary purpose of the Cherokee people’s appeal to Congress was for the States to provide protection to them since they were on the verge of exile in territories that did not seem profitable or did not have good enough conditions for the development of the nation. In their letter, the Cherokees use rhetorical questions to emphasize how important and relevant the subject is: “And why did not those sovereigns make their lives pay the forfeit of their guilt, agreeable to the laws of said States?” (The Cherokee Memorials 953). The answer to this question was not required, but this means of expression showed the emotional mood of the Indians.
The purpose of the Declaration of Independence is to declare the colonies independent from Britain. There are no rhetorical questions in the Declaration, but there are other literary techniques. To emphasize the importance of their thoughts, the authors of the Declaration use the repeated repetition of a phrase that shows the King of Great Britain from the opposing side. The Declaration says: “He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good” (Declaration of Independence). Every new phrase that highlights the problems that the dependent colonies face begins with the word – he.
These documents also have similar features of writing, which are determined by five rhetorical canons. Both papers have a specific topic and a clear structure. The declaration has an introductory part, and the central part consists of short sentences highlighting all the mistakes of the British king and the conclusion declaring independence. Various types of literary techniques are actively used in letters, which determine the style and tone of the entire text. In the Cherokee Memorial, the phrases are filled with respect and show the readiness of the Indians to resolve the issue peacefully. The memorial ends with the words: “Having said thus much, with patience we shall await the final issue of your wise deliberations” (The Cherokee Memorials 955). This phrase aims the reader at a favorable decision regarding the current issue.
Rhetorical appeals are not specific appeals to someone but tools that give the letter an intonation color. Thus, the Declaration of Independence can be described as a strict, precise, straightforward letter reflecting the essence and has a negative orientation. The Cherokee letter, on the contrary, is more endearing and positive since their letter contains a request. The Indians chose the right tone of the letter from the side of diplomacy, as they decided to ask politely and correctly.
In conclusion, both letters have their style and rhetorical techniques since they have their purpose. The Cherokee letter is aimed at asking for help and security, while the Declaration announces freedom. It is important to remember that various techniques should be applied depending on the purpose of the letter, whether it is persuasion or petition. Both of these letters can be examples of different writing styles.
Declaration of Independence. 1776.
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Memorial of the Cherokee Council. 1829.