Clarence Darrow: The Creation of An American Myth

By Richard J. Jensen | Go to book overview
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6
Verdicts Out of Court: Darrow as Lecturer and Writer

Although Darrow's fame and myth are mainly based on his participation in dramatic courtroom trials, he was an active speaker in a variety of public settings. His performance in those forums helped sustain and build his public image. Even though he had an active law practice, Darrow found the time to deliver hundreds of speeches and engage in numerous debates throughout the country. Often during the course of a trial he would be invited to speak to the public or community groups in the evening. At times his career as a public speaker threatened to overshadow his legal career. At one point he was described as "the greatest box-office draw in America." Darrow outlined his extensive speaking career in his autobiography: "Probably few men in America have ever spoken to so many people over so long a stretch of time. I am satisfied that I like to speak in public, and although speaking is often a hardship, and in my case too often leads to unfriendly criticism . . . still I am sure that if I were not called upon I should feel sad and disappointed."1

Although he was a famous and successful speaker, there is no evidence that Darrow underwent any systematic training in the art:

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