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John F. Kennedy's Effective Use of Rhetorical Strategies in His April 11, 1962 Speech

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John F. Kennedy had a very powerful response after the increase of steel price in 1962. In his speech made on April 11, 1962, he is extremely effective in his use of rhetorical strategies to convey his message. Kennedy gives off a disapproving tone and strong diction in order to clearly get his point across. His main goal is to make the steel companies reverse the increase. John F. Kennedy was very skilled at taking situations and allowing all of America the opportunity to truly understand what was happening in their country.

Kennedy's tone shows his sympathy for his nation but at the same time shows great encouragement that the hard times will get better. He uses many examples to help with his diction. His word choice showed knowledge on the subject matter he was speaking about. Americans couldn't handle the increase because of the recession. The tone is used to make the steel companies feel guilty. To conclude his speech Kennedy says, “Sometime ago I asked each American to consider what he would do for his country and I asked the steel companies. In the last 24 hours we had their answer”. The tone of these sentences are not angry but very disapproving. This leads to feelings of guilt which was kennedy's original goal.

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John F. Kennedy's well-chosen diction also contributes to the effectiveness of his speech. It helps create the disapproving tone. In the introductions Kennedy states, “The American people will find it hard, as I do, to accept a situation in which a tiny handful of steel executives whose pursuit of private power and profit exceeds their sense of public responsibility can show such utter contempt for the interests of 185 million Americans”. This quote is filled with a lot of exceptional word choice such as “utter attempt” and “a tiny handful”. He singles out the executives alone, making it seem as if they do not care about anything but themselves. He also compares this “tiny handful” with “185 million Americans”. Not only does this make the executives seem inconvenient but it also sets a small group against a national army.

Overall, Kennedy use of diction and tone make his speech very effective. It urges the steel companies to lower the prices. Kennedy does not directly go on the warpath or appear to be aggressive, yet he manages to appear strong and principled without giving the steel companies anything to respond with other than guilt.

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John F. Kennedy’s Effective Use of Rhetorical Strategies in His April 11, 1962 Speech. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 24, 2024, from
“John F. Kennedy’s Effective Use of Rhetorical Strategies in His April 11, 1962 Speech.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
John F. Kennedy’s Effective Use of Rhetorical Strategies in His April 11, 1962 Speech. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 Feb. 2024].
John F. Kennedy’s Effective Use of Rhetorical Strategies in His April 11, 1962 Speech [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2024 Feb 24]. Available from:
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