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Analysis of Rhetorical Strategies in Letter from Cherokee Chief John Ross

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Imagine a situation where you were subjected to unpleasant terms or conditions that you never agreed to in the first place. Nonetheless, you must go through the said situations since an individual claiming to be a representative of yours accented to it, thereby making it a binding agreement. Now, imagine not giving up the power to be represented to the imposter who put you in that position. Such is the situation the Native American tribe, The Cherokee, found themselves in 1836 as embodied in the letter from Chief John Ross. The message was meant to address the Senate and the House of Representatives over the implementation of the terms of the Treaty of New Echota on the Cherokee community. The reading provides the views of its author by demonstrating the unfair situation facing the Cherokee community at the time courtesy of the injustice imposed on them by the said treaty. In this essay, I will utilize rhetorical analysis to study the author’s use of rhetorical strategies to communicate his views and persuade his target audience.

The resource to be used for this analysis process is a Letter written by Chief John Ross on behalf of the native community addressing the Senate and The House of Representatives. On September 28, 1836, it was showcased on the Cherokee natives Red Clay Council Ground. The details of the letter reveal an unjust situation that involved the Cherokee natives and the United States government, where a rogue group of imposters supplanted the authority of the natives. The imposters acted maliciously under the guise of obtained permission to represent the local community in any negotiations with the government of the United States. The result of that interaction was the introduction of the Treaty of Echota that imposed harsh conditions on the Cherokee, leading to the Chief John Ross’ letter. Chief Ross’s letter documents the stripping of personal freedoms, properties, and eligibility to defend other people. The chief attributes the treatment of the Native Cherokee to being on par with being stripped of membership in the human family. The Chief expresses his views, in no offensive manner, on the situation facing his people and the role the government in rendering those undesirable complications.

The letter submitted to the Senate and the House of Representatives utilized three distinct strategies to convey the message to the audience and convince them of the author’s viewpoints. The author uses devices from the logos category to convince and persuade the audience members of the validity of his arguments. The letter provides the audience with dates of occurrence for the events that led to the writing and submission of the letter to the target audience. The Chief offers dates such as the date of the formation of the first delegation on October 23, 1835, by the General Council of the nation. The Chief also mentions key individuals in the procession of the injustice, such as Rev. John F. Schermerhorn and his cohorts in formulating the treaty at New Echota. According to Chief Ross, the agreement was concluded in the State of Georgia on December 29, 1835, under the patronage of William Carroll and John F. Schermerhorn. Explicit reference to real individuals, at the time, help to emphasize the arguments presented by Chief Ross because they are veritable.

Chief Ross also utilizes pathos to emphasize his point to the target audience by appealing to their sensibilities as decent human beings who will identify with the plight of the Cherokee community. The letter describes in detail what Chief Ross views as the loss of their membership to the human family. The Chief writes that the Cherokees have been despoiled of our private possessions and indefeasible property of individuals. He also affirms that the natives have been stripped of their freedom as well as the eligibility to defend themselves through legal means. The Chief emphasizes the impact of such infractions by depicting the emotional and physical toll that the action of the imposters and the government have rendered on the local community. Chief Ross’ choice of word appeals to the law-making arm of the government by referring to the inalienable rights of the Native Cherokee community. The Chief alludes to feelings of being denationalized and disfranchised by the actions of a few imposters. Their efforts, in agreement with the government of the United States, imposed injustices on the native community, thereby making their issues emotionally relatable.

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The letter submitted to the Senate and House of Representatives was submitted by an individual in the official capacity of the Chief of the Cherokee natives. Throughout the letter, the author does not mention any personal feelings about the subject of their submission. Instead, he opts for a collective outlook on the issues describing them as community-wide issues facing the Cherokee community and the appeal for recourse from the legislative bodies. The letter states that the imposters do not occupy any designations within the community by going through a series of positions such as the Headmen or Chief within the local community, thereby denouncing their authority to represent the Cherokee people. The letter concludes by lobbying the relevant authorities to act in the best interest of the people by defining their being as persons affected by the result. The letter succeeds in conveying the ethos of representing a large community who are facing injustice from the fraudulent actions of a few individuals who entered into a treaty with the United States under the pretense to represent Cherokee interests.

The author of the letter assumes that the target audience can quickly identify him and his credentials, which position him as the ideal agitator for the rights of the locals. As such, the letter goes on without identifying the author to the audience or validating the author’s position as the best-placed representative of the locals. The anonymity of the individuals, compacted by lack of identification within the text, helps to galvanize the message presented to the target audience by not shifting the focus to the author. The author also assumes that the target audience will be moved to action by appealing to their humanity on the atrocities facing the native Cherokees who are victims of a fraudulent treaty. The author assumes that the government of the United States will be willing to rescind the treaty based on the realization that it was put in place by imposters, and it harms the locals. As such, the audience could conclude that the opinions expressed therein as mere suppositions and not actionable information in need of urgent intervention.

The text contains a very persuasive letter that documented the struggles of the Cherokee natives from the actions of a few rogue individuals. The article provided the audience with the premise for the crime against the local community on the back of an agreement with imposters. The author offers context to the actions of the said imposters and the implications it has on the welfare of the innocent Cherokee people. The provision of the names of the participants in the treaty and denouncing the positions as leaders of the community help to drive the arguments forward. Additionally, the letter utilizes other rhetorical strategies to appeal to the emotion and logic of the Senate and the House of Representatives in acting in the best interests of the Cherokees in correcting the injustice identified. However, there is a distinct possibility that the audience might not react in the manner anticipated in the absence of precise identification of the authority or position of the author. Already there are concerns over the treaty with imposters, but it could be worse if the imposters managed to convince the government to renege on a valid treaty.

The analyzed throughout this report portrays a valid submission of a concerned individual to the Senate and the House of Representatives over the poor treatment of the natives. The author utilizes the three strategies in presenting its arguments to the target audience and convincing them to act on behalf of the locals. The use of logos and pathos are particularly impressive in communicating with the government while setting the stage for invoking government support in the prevailing situation. However, the argument might fail in their core objectives by lacking a strong ethos strategy to convince the target audience into action.

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Analysis of Rhetorical Strategies in Letter from Cherokee Chief John Ross. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 4, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/analysis-of-rhetorical-strategies-in-letter-from-cherokee-chief-john-ross/
“Analysis of Rhetorical Strategies in Letter from Cherokee Chief John Ross.” Edubirdie, 14 Jul. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/analysis-of-rhetorical-strategies-in-letter-from-cherokee-chief-john-ross/
Analysis of Rhetorical Strategies in Letter from Cherokee Chief John Ross. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/analysis-of-rhetorical-strategies-in-letter-from-cherokee-chief-john-ross/> [Accessed 4 Mar. 2024].
Analysis of Rhetorical Strategies in Letter from Cherokee Chief John Ross [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jul 14 [cited 2024 Mar 4]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/analysis-of-rhetorical-strategies-in-letter-from-cherokee-chief-john-ross/
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