College of Arts and Sciences


Master of Arts in Composition (MA)


Robert Brandon


Revolutionary War, pastors, Founding Fathers, sermons, politics, rhetoric


Religion | Rhetoric and Composition


This paper examines the parallels between rhetoric in sermons preserved from the Revolutionary War period and rhetoric in political speeches and writings from the same period. The aim is to establish the extent of the parallels in rhetoric and to demonstrate that the rhetorical stances from the pulpit preceded the same rhetorical stances in political, secular work through establishing the date each document was published or presented. Studying these sources alongside reliable secondary sources on both the political and religious rhetorical themes will demonstrate, when put together to form a more complete picture of the period, that the political rhetoric was an echo of what was already being preached in the pulpits and published in sermons well before the war itself commenced. While sermon rhetoric was hardly the only influence on the rhetoric of politics at the time, this study will show that the rhetorical shift of the time—from supporting Britain to a war against Britain on the grounds of broken contracts, abuse of authority, and religious persecution—began in the pulpit and was then caught, in its final stages, by the political orators and writers of the day to set a nation on fire for freedom.