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  1. 10.1 The Purpose of Persuasion.
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A stirring oratorical rhythm is achieved, like that of a solemn speech or sermon meant to convey the truth and gravity of an argument. Paine compares the attempts to reconcile with Britain after the Battle of Lexington and Concord to an old almanac. What does he mean? He means the idea of reconciliation is now preposterous and that no rational person could support it.

Also, as an almanac ceases to be useful at a specific moment midnight of December 31 , Paine implies that reconciliation ceased to be a valid goal at the moment of the first shot on April 19, Paine often alludes to aspects of colonial life, like almanacs, that would resonate with all readers.

Persuasion Study Guide

By referring the matter from argument to arms, a new area for politics is struck; a new method of thinking hath arisen. All plans, proposals, etc. Whatever was advanced by the advocates on either side of the question then, terminated in one and the same point, viz. The only difference between the parties was the method of effecting it — the one proposing force, the other friendship; but it hath so far happened that the first hath failed and the second hath withdrawn her influence.

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  • With this in mind, what tone does he lead the reader to expect: cynical, impatient, hopeful, reasonable, impassioned, angry? How does his tone prepare the resistant reader? Paine means to deflect challenges of bias or extremism by inviting readers to give him a hearing. While Paine promises a fair appraisal, look how he describes the two options in the last sentence.

    It was an irrevocable decision with unknown consequences. Are we adults or children? To examine that connection and dependence, on the principles of nature and common sense, to see what we have to trust to [expect] if separated, and what we are to expect if dependent. Here Paine rebuts the first argument for reconciliation—that America has thrived as a British colony and would fail on her own. How does he dismiss this argument? He slams it down hard. So much for calm and reasoned debate. But Paine is not having a temper tantrum in print. His technique was to argue with ideas while convincing with emotion.

    Paine follows his utter rejection of the argument with an analogy. Paine goes one step further in the last sentence. Nothing can be more fallacious than this kind of argument. We may as well assert that because a child has thrived upon milk, that it is never to have meat, or that the first twenty years of our lives is to become a precedent for the next twenty.

    10.2 The Structure of a Persuasive Essay

    But even this is admitting more than is true; for I answer roundly that America would have flourished as much, and probably much more, had no European power had anything to do with her. In other words, use common sense. He poses two challenges to the supporters of reconciliation. If they can honestly answer each challenge, he asserts, and still support reconciliation, then they are selfish cowards bringing ruin to America.

    Paraphrase the first challenge sentences 2—5. Paraphrase the second challenge sentences 6— And if you have, yet still support reconciliation, then you have abandoned your conscience.


    With what phrase does Paine condemn those who would still hope for reconciliation even if they were victims of British violence? There is no nuance in this condemnation, and thus no way for the reader to avoid its implications. The reader is off the hook. At this point, Paine pleads with his readers to write the constitution for their independent nation without delay. What danger do they risk, he warns, if they leave this crucial task to a later day?

    A colonial leader could grasp dictatorial power by taking advantage of the postwar disorder likely to result if the colonies have no constitution ready to implement. Even if Britain tried to regain control of the colonies, it could be too late to wrest control back from a powerful dictator. What historical evidence does Paine offer to illustrate the danger? The Spanish ruler granted a few rights, but Masaniello was soon murdered, ending the uprising and its short-lived gains for the people. With this compelling allusion which most readers would instantly recognize , Paine warns that opposing independence is as calamitous a decision for Americans as killing Jesus was for his executioners and for mankind.

    What must the lovers of mankind achieve in order to save mankind? Six months later Thomas Jefferson asserted the same right in the opening of the Declaration of Independence. This Enlightenment ideal anchored revolutionary initiatives in America and Europe for decades. O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose not only the tyranny but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression.

    Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia and Africa have long expelled her. Benjamin Franklin, letter to Silas Deane, 27 August Full text in Founders Online National Archives. Elbridge Gerry, letter to James Warren, 26 March Massachusetts Historical Society.

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    • Robert A. Series, July , Landon Carter, diary entry, 20 February , recounting content of letter written that day to George Washington. Full entry in Founders Online National Archives. I love it. It is very interesting and will keep the students on their toes, especially when it comes to their application of the use of close reading and rhetorical devices. I will need to adjust parts for a homogenuous class of both gifted and students reading below grade level. Since our state final exam is rich in primary source analysis and understanding this will be a great activity. Normally, I do a Socratic Seminar on an excerpt of Paine's Common Sense and start with the opening question of "What is mightier, the pen or the sword?

      This is a thorough and comprehensive look into the timeliness and significance of the document. The timing and text analysis is particularly useful. The ideas presented by that person would be very narrow, almost as if the person has tunnel vision and is merely expressing a personal opinion. If that person does provide you with facts, they may often be skewed or not from a credible source.

      You may have new ideas you had not considered before or a new perspective, but you would probably not be thoroughly convinced because that person has not made any attempt to present a well-rounded, fact-based point of view. This is why it is essential for you to not only provide your reader with strong, substantiated evidenced, but also to ensure you present an argument that looks at the topic from multiple angles.

      The Power of Persuasion with Robert Cialdini

      This evidence of critical thinking will elevate your argument to a level so that your reader cannot really have any objections to. Also, when you look at the structures for persuasive writing, outlined in the next section, you will learn how you can rebut the possible objections you present, essentially smashing those contrary ideas and showing how your point of view is the convincing one. Most of us feel inclined to try to win the arguments we engage in. On some level, we all want to be right, and we want others to see the error of their ways.

      More times than not, however, arguments in which both sides try to win end up producing losers all around. The more productive approach is to persuade your audience to consider your opinion as a valid one, not simply the right one. You first need to choose a topic that you feel passionate about. If your instructor requires you to write about a specific topic, approach the subject from an angle that interests you.

      Begin your essay with an engaging introduction. Your thesis should typically appear somewhere in your introduction. Next, need to acknowledge and explain points of view that may conflict with your own to build credibility and trust with your audience. You also should state the limits of your argument.

      This helps you sound more reasonable and honest to those who may naturally be inclined to disagree with your view. By respectfully acknowledging opposing arguments and conceding limitations to your own view, you set a measured and responsible tone for the essay. Be sure to make your appeals in support of your thesis by using sound, credible evidence.

      Change the Way You Persuade

      Use a balance of facts and opinions from a wide range of sources, such as scientific studies, expert testimony, statistics, and personal anecdotes. Each piece of evidence should be fully explained and clearly stated. Also, write in a style and tone that is appropriate for your subject and audience. Tailor your language and word choice to these two factors, while still being true to your own voice.

      Finally, write a conclusion that effectively summarizes the main argument and reinforces your thesis. The formula below for organizing a persuasive essay may be one with which you are familiar. It will present a convincing argument to your reader because your discussion is well rounded and thorough, and you leave your audience with your point of view at the end.

      : Power Persuasion Review Guide

      Remember to consider each of these components in this formula as sections instead of paragraphs because you will probably want to discuss multiple ideas backing up your point of view to make it more convincing. When writing a persuasive essay, it is best to begin with the most important point because it immediately captivates your readers and compels them to continue reading. For example, if you were supporting your thesis that homework is detrimental to the education of high school students, you would want to present your most convincing argument first, and then move on to the less important points for your case.