Harry S. Truman: Presidential Rhetoric

By Halford R. Ryan | Go to book overview

5
Point Four

Harry S. Truman had the distinct rhetorical disadvantage of following in the footsteps of perhaps the greatest presidential orator in American history. The differences were conspicuous with regard to the classical canons of rhetoric. When inventing (inventio) a typical address, Franklin D. Roosevelt often drafted firsthand his speech whereas Truman usually relied on his speech staff to present him with a finished product. Samuel I. Rosenman, who was FDR's best writer and who stayed on with Truman until January 1946, noted that President Roosevelt"wrote and dictated a great deal more than President Truman."1 FDR also attended to the arrangement (dispositio) of his addresses for persuasive effect, but Truman was not usually given to such rhetorical attentions. As for the canons of style (elocutio) and delivery (actio), FDR significantly surpassed his successor. FDR had a personal hand in the styling of his speeches, and he often penned memorable phrases himself; likewise, FDR carefully considered how he should deliver his speeches for maximum impact on his audiences. On the other hand, HST gave little notice to styling his speeches; moreover, he generally disliked practicing and delivering addresses at all. For instance, Clark M. Clifford, who was Rosenman's counterpart on the Truman speech staff, hinted that the staff had to urge Truman to "read the entire speech aloud to get the whole feel of it." 2

But the most telling comparison was the artistry of the two presidents' speech staffs. FDR had first-rate writers in Rosenman, Robert Sherwood, Harry Hopkins, and, until his death in 1936, Louis Howe. Truman allowed himself to be served by conventional speech writers. As special counsel, Clifford headed a team whose major players were George Elsey, Clifford's assistant, and Charles S. Murphy, administrative assistant

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Harry S. Truman: Presidential Rhetoric
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Foreword vii
  • Foreword xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • I 1
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - The Truman Doctrine 19
  • 2 - The Korean Quagmire 43
  • 3 - The President versus the General 69
  • 4 - Doing Unto Dewey 89
  • Notes 105
  • 5 - Point Four 109
  • 5 Point Four 123
  • Conclusion 127
  • Conclusion 131
  • II - Collected Speeches 133
  • The Truman Doctrine 135
  • Acceptance Speech 141
  • Doctor Dewey and the Republican Record 147
  • Inaugural Address 155
  • On Korea I 161
  • On Korea II 163
  • Far Eastern Policy 165
  • Chronology of Speeches 171
  • Bibliography 199
  • Index 207
  • About the Author 215
  • Great American Orators 216
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