Representative Phi Beta Kappa Orations

Representative Phi Beta Kappa Orations

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Representative Phi Beta Kappa Orations

Representative Phi Beta Kappa Orations

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Excerpt

The Phi Beta Kappa was organized not only as a fraternal but as a literary and debating society; and the exercises appropriate in such a society were conducted with more or less regularity for many years. In addition to these exercises there grew up in several chapters the custom of an annual meeting with an oration and a poem. The annual address has now become, indeed, a custom in most of the eighty-six chapters; and thus has been produced a considerable body of literature. The list of those addresses which have been printed already includes some hundreds of titles.

The range of subjects dealt with by these orators is a wide one. Many have been educators and have discussed topics connected with their profession; others have dealt with political, historical, social, or religious topics. Many of these addresses possess intrinsic value; and nearly all, even the earliest, have still some value as reflecting the opinions of their times or of their authors.

It has been thought by many that some of the most representative of these orations should be reprinted, not only because they are in themselves worthy of thus receiving a new lease of life, but also because such a collection would help to emphasize the aims for which the Society has always stood -- the cultivation of friendship, literature, and morality.

To the Committee named below, therefore, the United Chapters has entrusted the task of selecting these orations and of seeing the volume through the press. The Committee has found it by no means easy to make a selection; doubtless several more volumes as good as this could be made. The Committee hopes that the reception accorded this volume may be so favorable as to make possible the publication of a second series of orations, and perhaps a volume of poems.

The frontispiece is from a crayon portrait of Emerson, about 1846, by either Hildreth or Johnston, and first appeared in Volume V of Emerson's Journals. It is here reproduced by the kind permission of the owners of the copyright.

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