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

By Halford Ryan | Go to book overview

Lois J. Einhorn


Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

The mystic chords of memory stretching from every battle-field and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Ask Americans what presidents were concomitantly skilled speakers, and almost certainly they will name Abraham Lincoln and submit as proof Lincoln's appeals to the "better angels of our nature." Indeed, Lincoln's three most famous presidential addresses, the First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861; the Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863; and the Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865, are among the best presidential orations ever delivered.

Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky, on February 12, 1809. He spent his youth as a poor boy in raucous, rustic, rural regions of Kentucky, Indiana, and later Illinois. He disliked the fierceness of frontier life that provided "absolutely nothing to excite ambition for education." When he "came of age," he claimed he "did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher to the Rule of Three." These skills were almost completely self-taught since he had little formal education. He once explained that as a boy he "went to A.B.C. schools by littles," a little here and a little there; the littles totaled less than a year. Lincoln is a consummate example of a self-educated man. He learned by observing, listening, discussing, and reading. As a boy he did not read many books, but he absorbed those he read. These included the King James Bible, Aesop's Fables, Mason Weem Life of Washington, John Bunyan Pilgrim's Progress, Daniel DeFoe Robinson Crusoe, the Revised Statutes of Indiana that contained copies of the Declaration of Independence and the

-77-

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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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