Rhetorical Précis: John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s 1961 Inaugural Address

Freshman (College 1st year) ・English ・MLA ・1 Sources

The "Inaugural Address" of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States of America, aimed to give citizens a sense of confidence and comfort in him at a time when the country needed change. On the 20th of January 1961, he gave a speech in Washington, DC, to the hopeful Americans who had gathered there. Kennedy influences the emotions of the people and appeals to their hope of change for a better country by combining rhetorical strategies to influence the audience and utilizing rhetorical appeals of ethos, pathos, and logos. J. F. Kenedy divides his speech into four parts: The introduction which identifies the efforts of the founding fathers; the second which consists of pledges; the third which explores the two sides of the war; and the last which expresses the trust he has on “fellow citizens” to rebuild America. Kennedy’s purpose is to point out his belief in the country and his hopes for a change in order to have the Americans place their confidence in him.
Kennedy uses his ethos to make the audience take his side. He talks about God giving him ethos, “The belief that the rights of men come not from the generosity of the state but the hand of God (Kennedy, John, 1).” Moreover, he says “we shall not always expect them to support our views. But we shall always hope to find them supporting their own freedom (Kennedy, John, 2)” Pointing to the supports views giving him logos. Finally, he makes the audience patriotic saying “let the word go forth to this time and place…the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans (Kennedy, John 1)”, a statement that makes the people believe in him thus giving him pathos.
Given the contents and the writing of the speech, J F Kennedy is addressing the American population that is seemingly tired of the previous regime, hopeless and desperate for a leader that would bring the country back to its glory. He achieves this through an infallible use of rhetoric.

Works Cited

Kennedy, John F. "Inaugural Address” January 20, 1961, https://www.nps.gov/jofi/learn/education/upload/Inaugural-Address.pdf.

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