Analysis of JFK’s Inaugural Address in 1961

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Analysis of JFK’s Inaugural Address in 1961

Throughout history, Presidents have used the Inaugural Address as an

opportunity to help the mental framework of the American people and to

the greater world. In order to effectively do so, those who craft the

address must exhibit a mastery of rhetoric. More so than in

other writing pieces, an Inaugural Address by nature appeals more to

the rhetorical element of emotion. This is due to the fact that the

address is intended to move its audience with powerful and socially

lasting statements.

The rhetorical element of emotion was especially vital to the address

of former President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy’s emotion presented the

whole free world with a responsibility to spread freedom, justice, and

to rid the world of evils. In addition, he calls upon the American

people to stand strong as the backbone of the attempt to win the “long

twilight struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty,

disease, and war.”

Kennedy wanted the people to be reenergized about defending freedom, a

hallmark of American society. To do so, he looks to this country’s

past and how each generation of Americans have been summoned to give

testimony to its national loyalty. His intentions were to stir up

patriotism; make Americans realize that almost all of the previous

generations have, at one time or another demonstrated their loyalty to

the freedoms we all know and love. Today (1961) our duties as US

citizens are no different. “We dare not today forget that we are the

heirs of that first revolution…and we are unwilling to permit the slow

undoing of the human rights to which this nation has alwa...

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... only Inaugural Address. Although emotions may seem irrational, they

tend to produce very rational effects. Kennedy relies on history

("Our ancient heritage") and God ("in the trumpet summons") and on

patriotism ("graves of young Americans") and on bravery ("I do not

shrink from this responsibility") to carry his message against "the

common enemies of man: "tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself".

Evoking excitement and fear caused many to be proactive out of worry

that their laziness may be counterproductive to the nation. This

address not only manipulated the audience by evoking certain emotions,

but equally important was the ability for the Inaugural Address to

linger in the minds of the audience. For years to come, we will still

remember the words and ideas of Kennedy simply because of his mastery

of rhetoric.
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