“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth,” Jefferson so begins the Declaration of Independence. Given the bonds to their mother country and the respect accorded to a king, it is also necessary that the writers of the Declaration of Independence appeal to the colonists’ sense of righteousness in order to move them beyond their loyalty. Jefferson employs anaphora, third person reference, and allusion in order to the demonstrate the righteousness of their cause, thus inciting the colonists to take immediate action against Britain in order to prevent further acts of tyranny.
Jefferson repeatedly invokes King George in his declaration “He has refused his Assent to Laws….. “He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone. .” Jefferson uses anaphora to chronicle the many crimes committed against the colonists and consequently stresses the audacity of George. His purpose in this repetition, “He has, he has” is to place the emphasis of the crimes squarely on the shoulders of the king. Jefferson’s repetition then has the effect of blaming the king and only the king for these offenses, not the British people who share the same bloodlines as the people of the colonies.
However, while repeatedly accusing the king of these offenses, Jefferson deliberately refrains from addressing him by name. By constantly referring to King George merely as he, Jefferson avoids empowering the king. His purpose in using this strategy is to strip him of his title and even his name. The effect is that Jefferson disempowers the king in the eyes of Congress as well as the colonists who while angry with George for his many injustices, nevertheless respect the position that he holds. Jefferson knows that to be tyrannized by a known, yet nameless despot surely will bring the colonists to anger and thus to action.
Finally, in an era that is steeped in religion, with God frequently getting both the blame and the credit for all that is good or evil in the world, Jefferson wisely invokes the Lord, “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intention” Jefferson calls on the Lord in order to sanction Congress’s actions . In closing, “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” Jefferson addresses the men’s fear and assuages that by indicating God will protect. The effect is that the men believe that their actions will be understood and even demanded by their God.
Thomas Jefferson’s brilliant use of rhetoric did indeed explain the need for separation from Britain. Although even Jefferson required some help in revision, the members of the committee assigned to the task kept most of his work because of the insightful detail and attention to effect that he employed. The proof of Jefferson’s success lies not only in the success of the Revolution incited by the document, but also in the fact that some two hundred years later the document is still cited, and even serves as a model for others seeking “to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth.”