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

By Halford Ryan | Go to book overview

Thomas M. Lessl


Andrew Jackson (1767-1845)

Our Federal Union, it must be preserved.

Andrew Jackson the orator cannot possibly compete in our historical recollection with the hatchet-faced military hero who rode out of the frontier of western Tennessee to become this nation's seventh President. His speeches are eclipsed by other more pronounced and more colorful features of his presidency, the fiery political battles and the equally incendiary personality that made them possible. Jackson's persona dominates not only our recollection of his own life, but the life of his administration as well. It gives an identity to the entire period during which he and his appointed successors dominated the nation's political stage.

It would not be wise to lose sight of Jackson's character as we turn to look at his oratorical accomplishments. If we are to understand these messages as they were received in the two decades of Jackson's political dominance, we cannot fail to remember the giant figure that loomed over them. Jackson was, after all, the one who in the words of Herman Melville the "democratic God didst pick up . . . from the pebbles; who didst hurl him upon a warhorse; who didst thunder him higher than a throne!"

Jackson lived during the period of American history that is best known for its oratory, the generation that produced such cultivated speakers as John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, and Daniel Webster. But Jackson's significance as a rhetorical figure is of a different order. Jackson did not own the sort of eloquence that arises from a classical education, nor did he practice a brand of politics that relies upon disputative powers to carry forth its policies. Jackson's greatness came from his ability to project his ethos into his speeches. The messages that survive from his political career enable us to glimpse this ethos, not in the

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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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