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[Detail] Thomas Jefferson

Political Writing

Imagine that you are looking for someone to write an important political document. This document might not be quite as important as the Declaration of Independence, but it is important to you because you have some big ideas you want to communicate to the public. What skills would the writer need? For example, you might be looking for someone who can write with passion or can organize a logical progression of ideas. Make a list of the qualities you would look for in a political writer.

Use your list of qualities to evaluate the Declaration of Independence. Keep in mind that the Declaration was written in a time when writing style was different than it is today. Create an outline of the Declaration.

  • How did Jefferson organize the Declaration? Do you think this organizational scheme is effective? Why or why not?
  • What are the strengths of the Declaration as a piece of political writing? What changes would you have recommended to Jefferson?
  • Pick your favorite passage from the Declaration. Explain what characteristics of the writing make this passage effective.