Persuasive American Speeches


PersuasiveAmerican Speeches

PersuasiveAmerican Speeches

Persuasivespeeches are aimed at putting across or arguing a particular point tothe audience of the speaker. Indeed, they are a form of art forexpressing one’s own opinion in a clear and logical manner so as toconvince the audience about the efficacy of that point of view. Oneof the most persuasive American speeches is undoubtedly Martin LutherKing’s “Letterfrom the Birmingham Jail”.This speech was aimed at disparaging the views from some churchministers that he was becoming too militant for the church.

Dr.King uses logos, ethos and pathos on quite a number of instances inthe speech. Logos is the use of logic to persuade (Storey,1997).This is seen in the statement “IfI sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, mysecretaries would have little time for anything other than suchcorrespondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time forconstructive work”(King, 1963). On the other hand, ethos is the use of ethical appealor the character and authority of the author or another individual toconvince the audience (Jowettet al, 2012).In the letter, ethos comes out clearly where Dr King underlines hiscredentials as the president of the “SouthernChristian Leadership Conference”,which had 85 affiliated organizations (King, 1963). He also quotedauthoritative figures in the Christian realm including Paul, theProphets of 8thcentury BC and Jewish philosophers. Pathos underlines the use ofemotions to appeal to the audience (Jowettet al, 2012).This is seen in the statement “Injusticeanywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in aninescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment ofdestiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly”(King, 1963), which appeals to the human emotions pertaining to thesuffering of other people irrespective of their status or location inthe world (Storey,1997).The opposing side is mentioned right from the beginning where hedraws the attention of the audience to the statement of the fellowclergymen who had termed activities “unwiseand untimely”and even commended the police for “keepingorder and preventing police”(King, 1963).


Jowett,G., O`Donnell, V., &amp Jowett, G. (2012).&nbspPropaganda&amp persuasion.ThousandOaks, Calif. : SAGE

King,M.L (1963). Letter from Birmingham Jail. Pennsylvania: AFRICANSTUDIES CENTER

Storey,R. (1997).&nbspTheart of persuasive communication.Aldershot, England: Gower.