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

By Halford Ryan | Go to book overview

Sean Patrick O'Rourke


John Quincy Adams (1767-1848)

The great object of the institution of civil government is the improvement of the condition of those who are parties to the social compact.

John Quincy Adams achieved his greatest rhetorical successes before and after his presidency. Prior to serving as the sixth president, he helped to compose the Monroe doctrine, arguably the single most influential rhetorical instrument of American foreign policy in the nation's history. After his presidency he returned to Congress (and occasionally the courtroom) where, during the congressional debates and legal proceedings concerning slavery, he spoke frequently and well. In fact, his presidency may well mark the lowest ebb of his eloquence, certainly if eloquence is measured in part by effectiveness.

Nonetheless, Adams's presidential oratory is well worth studying. His presidency marks the crucial transition from classical republicanism to Jacksonian democracy, and his oratory is therefore important as evidence of a sort of rear- guard action, classical eloquence in retreat. Adams may represent the end of a presidential line of statesmen/orators steeped in classical ideals. And, of course, Adams is the only president to have published a theory of rhetoric. But even more, Adams's presidential oratory embraced a theory of government that, despite its dismissal at the time, can now be seen as prophetic, for his vision of the active role of the federal government in the improvement of American society is now a working political assumption.


RHETORICAL TRAINING AND PRACTICES

Even at a time and in a social stratum that valued classical learning highly, Adams was regarded, however justifiably, as an exemplar of the Ciceronian

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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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