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

By Halford Ryan | Go to book overview

Magna Carta at Runnymede, England: "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet anyhardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of freedom."

Kennedy came to understand that speeches were instruments of persuasion to be used judiciously. He could use a speech as part of the broader strategy of response to the Civil Rights issue or to prepare the nation in the missile crisis. He could also decide, at the most critical moment, when not to deliver a speech. He decided against a formal speech declaring victory over the Soviets in Cuba, because he did not want to appear to be publicizing a "victory."

Kennedy also used speeches to educate the public. All of his crisis speaking, his speeches dealing with nuclear questions, and his speaking on Civil Rights indicate this. He was a transitional president attempting to move the nation and the world from hard-line Cold War positions to negotiating postures that ultimately could lead to securing peace. Kennedy even assumed a teaching role in his speech at the Dedication of the Robert Frost Library, for he wanted to emphasize that artistic endeavor is as important as political work in a society: "When power corrupts, poetry cleanses."

On November 22, 1963, in his undelivered speech for Dallas, Kennedy would have assumed a role of leader-teacher. Pragmatically, he planned to remind the audience of the progress his administration had made in strengthening its military resourcefulness, bolstering the economy, and regaining the initiative in outer space, which were basic themes of his presidency. But he was also pointing to the next frontier for the nation, toward the higher goal of realizing its ideology and thus developing its inner strength: "Only an America which practices what it preaches about equal rights and social justice will be respected by those whose choice affects our future."


RHETORICAL SOURCES

Archival Materials

The John F. Kennedy Library, Boston, Massachusetts, contains the Kennedy papers, including oral histories of associates, staff, cabinet, political figures, and family members, and Robert F. Kennedy's Files. Of particular interest are the President's Office Files, JFK's Personal Files, Theodore C. Sorensen's Files, and Robert F. Kennedy's Campaign Files. All of these sources contain speeches, drafts, final reading copies, background memoranda about preparation, and some response material. See Presidential Office Files, Speech Files Boxes 34-48; and Theodore Sorensen Papers, Speech Files, Boxes 60-77, 1961-63. The Library also has audio and visual material, movies, and videotapes available. Theodore C. Sorensen remains the most informed and organized source of Kennedy's speeches.

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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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