Thursday, September 30, 2010

Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation" Analysis.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor Address to the Nationwas a compelling speech that rallied congress and the American people to declare war on Japan about twenty-four hours after the devastating Pearl Harbor attack from the Japanese Empire. This seven minute forty-two second speech is short, but it is successful on two fronts: Roosevelt simultaneously manages to convince two audiences into war, the first audience being Congress themselves, and the second being the American people. Although Roosevelt delivers his speech to Congress; several different news stations such as NBC and CBS broad-casted the speech to the homes of the American people. Throughout the speech, Roosevelt applies several rhetorical techniques to successfully manipulate a dual audience into declaring war against the Japanese Empire.

The most obvious example of rhetoric in Roosevelt’s Pearl Harbor speech is that he used the ability to manipulate two audiences simultaneously. The major reason that Roosevelt was so successful in this area was the fact that he set a a non-specific audience for the speech. That is, Roosevelt restrained from making his speech specific to one target group, such as only the Congress or only the American public. An example of this is when Roosevelt asserts that he will, “...interpret the will of the Congress and of the people...”. This is important because by not targeting a specific audience, Roosevelt left the speeches intended audience openly interpretable to anyone. Although Roosevelt was aware that he would be presenting the speech to the Congress, Roosevelt restrained from using any technical political terms that would confuse the average audience. To complete this feat, but still gain approval from the two different audiences, being the Congress and the American people, Roosevelt created a short speech, that used minimal amounts of time but yet gave all the facts of the war in a polished manner.
Roosevelt also maintained his rhetorical success by conveying the tone in an appropriate manner. This is evident in Fig. 1, when Roosevelt is recorded while delivering his speech to Congress.

Great Speeches Vol. 5. Perf. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. 1941. YouTube. Web.

When listening to the speech, it is clear that the President maintains a clear, and forceful cadence throughout the entire speech. Although the speech is relatively short, the President from his successful use of tone is interrupted several times by the uproar of applause from the Congress giving the President approval of his words. Roosevelt additionally is successful auditorily in using emphasis on the devastating attacks that the Japanese had done in the past forty-eight hours. This emphasis was created by Roosevelt listing each area that the Japanese had attacked separately, and at what time the attack had taken place with a pause in between each event. This allowed the audience to fully take in and comprehend the severity of the devastating events. The speech overall is compelling to list en to, with pieces of patriotism such as “No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.” and, “We will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God.” which was successful in stirring the American peoples’ emotions. This is an example of how he captures the home listening audience.

Overall, Roosevelt is successful in manipulating a dual audience with his extensive rhetorical usage. The former President was able to convince the Congress and the American people into declaring war with the Japanese Empire within twenty-four hours of the devastating Pearl Harbor attack. This was achieved by Roosevelt purposefully not targeting one specific audience, although Roosevelt was aware that he was presenting his speech to Congress. Roosevelt was also successful in creating a memorable speech that carried significance whether it is analyzed auditorily or visually.

Work Cited

Roosevelt, Franklin Delano. "Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation." 8 December 1941.

Works Consulted

"American Rhetoric: Franklin Delano Roosevelt - Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation (12-08-41)." American Rhetoric: The Power of Oratory in the United States. Web. 30 Sept. 2010.

Google News Timeline. Web. 30 Sept. 2010.

"YouTube - Franklin D. Roosevelt - Declaration of War." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. Web. 30 Sept. 2010.