U.S. Presidents as Orators: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook

By Halford Ryan | Go to book overview

An Introduction to Presidential Oratory

This book is about the nexus of oratory and politics that was practiced by certain men who attained the presidency of the United States of America. Accordingly, section one treats rhetoric in history and politics, and section two discusses presidents as public speakers. At the end of the introduction is a bibliography that lists specific sources cited, as well as general works that consider together oratory and the presidency.


I. PRESIDENTIAL ORATORY

The oldest academic textbook in the Western world is about public speaking. Corax of Sicily composed Techne, sometime after 467 B.C., in order to instruct citizens in the practice of public speaking in the courtroom, which was later carried over to the assembly. Historically linked to a democratic government, speech was an integral part of Athenian democracy. Greek citizens participated in the daily government of Athens, pleaded their own cases before juries of peers, and the better orators amongst the citizenery delivered ceremonial addresses on festive occasions. The Greek rhetorical tradition, refined by the Romans, passed on by the trivium of grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic in medieval and renaissance universities, and studied in the liberal arts curriculum in the twentieth century, is inextricably linked, as it was in Athens and is now in the United States, to the practice of free speech in an open and democratic society.

Inherent in the art of oratory is the basis for its criticism. At first, the "do's" and "don'ts" predominated, but over the centuries commentators and practitioners progressed to the point where systematic appraisals could be mounted and ethical judgments could be assessed about the means and ends of public persuasion.

In 1943, William Norwood Brigance, professor of speech at Wabash College,

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U.S. Presidents as Orators: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • An Introduction to Presidential Oratory ix
  • BIBLIOGRAPHICAL SOURCES xvii
  • George Washington (1732-1799) 3
  • Conclusion 15
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 16
  • John Adams (1735-1826) 18
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 26
  • Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) 28
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 40
  • James Madison (1751-1836) 43
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 52
  • John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) 54
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 63
  • Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) 65
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 75
  • Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) 77
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 89
  • Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) 93
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 107
  • Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) 111
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 132
  • Herbert Clark Hoover (1874-1964) 134
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 144
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) 146
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 164
  • Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) 168
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 187
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) 190
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 204
  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963) 210
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 225
  • Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973) 228
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 245
  • Richard Milhous Nixon (1913-1994) 249
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 269
  • Gerald R. Ford (1913- ) 274
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 296
  • Jimmy Carter (1924- ) 299
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 311
  • Ronald Reagan (1911- ) 316
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 337
  • George Herbert Walker Bush (1924- ) 344
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 358
  • Bill Clinton (1946- ) 361
  • RHETORICAL RESOURCES 374
  • Index 377
  • About the Editor and Contributors 387
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