Rhetorical Features of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Presidencial Acceptance Speech

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In the fall of 1963 Kennedy’s Administration was preparing campaigns for the election of 1964 in hopes of bringing the fragile Texas Democratic Party closer. The Kennedys headed to Dallas on the morning of November 22, 1963 to attend a scheduled luncheon. On that tragic day President Kennedy was assassinated in a senseless act of violence. Within the next few hours, Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president. In the midst of a grieving country, he was given the duty of handling a transition in leadership and presenting an acceptance speech before Congress. LBJ gave his acceptance speech of the U.S. presidency in front of Congress just five short days after John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. Expectations were high but then again no one knew what was to come of LBJ as president. In a time of much confusion throughout the country, it was his responsibility to reassure the American people about the nations’ immediate future and how he would handle the unfinished business and social issues that JFK had begun. In Lyndon B. Johnson’s acceptance speech he utilized rhetorical features to validate his upcoming role as president of the United States. At the beginning of the speech the biggest burden to discuss is handled with immense care when Johnson says “no words are sad enough to express our sense of loss.” Here he is explaining that the tragedy is unfathomable and incomparable circumstances. The emotions instilled in his audience at this point are perceived as being filled with grief and a continuing mourning process of a popularly beloved president. This introduction initiates a sober mood in accordance with the very recent events. A second example of pathos within the Let Us Continue speech is exposed through his pl... ... middle of paper ... ...etorical analysis teaches that the practice of rhetoric in pathos is not always strong enough to stand alone or solely support an argument. Many times pathos is contingent on emotions that are not supported by anything but the speaker alone. Therefore, like President Johnson’s speech, it is important to stick to a genre since it offers enough structure to validate the pathos illustrated. The deliberative genre provides a speech that evokes a serious setting where the speaker can be taken seriously and with a sense of urgency. The combination of pathos and genre can be a model for a successful pair of rhetorical features explained through my rhetorical analysis of Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1963 acceptance speech. In this speech he was able to address the devastating loss and mourning of JFK, while all the same maintaining an outlook of perseverance of the American people.

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