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Word Count: 1,338
The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written document of Western civilization This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically at the level of the sentence phrase word and syllable By approaching the Declaration in this way we can shed light both on its literary qualities and on its rhetorical power as a work designed to convince the American colonies they were justified in seeking to establish them as an independent nation The introduction consists of the first paragraph a single lengthy periodic sentence 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 the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Natures God entitle them a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation Taken out of context this sentence is general it could be used as the introduction to a declaration by anyone Seen within its original context however it is a model of refinement and suggestion that worked on several levels of meaning and allusion This orients readers toward a favorable view of America and prepares them for the rest of the Declaration It dignifies the Revolution as a challenge of principle The introduction identifies the purpose of the Declaration as simply to declare to announce publicly in explicit terms the causes impelling America to leave the British Empire Rather than presenting one side in a public controversy on which good and decent people could differ the Declaration claims to do no more than a natural philosopher would do in reporting the causes of any physical event The issue it implies is not one of interpretation but one of observation The most important word in the introduction is necessary To say an
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