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Abraham Lincoln, Public Speaker

Waldo W. Braden

Publication Year: 1993

In Abraham Lincoln, Public Speaker, Waldo W. Braden presents a thought-provoking study of the sixteenth president’s rhetorical style. In his discussion of Lincoln’s speaking practices from 1854 through 1865, Braden draws extensively on Lincoln’s papers and the reports of those who knew him and heard him speak. He portrays Lincoln in his various shows how Lincoln adapted to the public’s growing recognition of his political abilities. In separate chapters devoted to Lincoln’s three most famous speeches—the First Inaugural Address, the Gettysburg Address, and the Second Inaugural Address—Braden Analyzes the ways in which each demonstrated Lincoln’s persuasive abilities during the difficult years of the Civil War. Braden does not claim that Lincoln was an orator in the grand, classical style of Daniel Webster, Edward Everett, and Charles Summer. But he shows that Lincoln was a gifted speaker in his own right, able to win support by demonstrating that he was a man of common sense and good moral character.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press


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pp. 1-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

My adventure through Lincolniana has extended over approximately twenty-five years, and I have sensed the spirit of Abraham Lincoln at the various shrines, historical displays, and specialized libraries devoted to him. In pursuing my research and developing insights, I have incurred many obligations to mentors, ...

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Introduction: Literary Artist or Speaker?

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pp. 1-3

Prior to 1858, if a reporter had made his way to almost any village in the central Illinois Eighth Judicial District (about 100 by 150 miles in area) and inquired about Abraham Lincoln, the reporter would have found many people eager to talk about this familiar character. ...

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I: "Any Poor Man's Son": The Public Image of Lincoln

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pp. 4-14

The politician of today knows how important the right public image can be in winning elections. The boyish haircut of John E Kennedy is said to have added to his appeal; Jimmy Carter made no secret of the fact that he was a born-again Christian; and Ronald and Nancy Reagan are adept at revealing signs of their conservatism. ...

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II: Abraham Lincoln's "Little Engine": His Political Speaking, 1854–1860

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pp. 15-36

"That man who thinks Lincoln calmly sat down and gathered his robes about him, waiting for the people to call him, has a very erroneous knowledge of Lincoln," reported William Herndon, his law partner and biographer. "He was always calculating, and always planning ahead. His ambition was a little engine that knew no rest."1 ...

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III: "Kindly Let Me Be Silent": A Reluctant Lincoln

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pp. 37-47

Historians and biographers praise Abraham Lincoln for his two inaugural speeches and the Gettysburg Address, but they are likely to say little about the remainder of his presidential speaking. Because the three masterpieces were well prepared and polished in manuscript and because emphasis is often placed on his letters and state papers, ...

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IV: "A Remorseless Analyzer": Lincoln's Speech Preparation

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pp. 48-66

When Abraham Lincoln said that all Henry Clay's speeches "were made for practical effect" and that "he never spoke merely to be heard," he could well have been commenting on his own rhetorical career. Busy in the courtroom, at political meetings and conventions, and later in the presidency, ...

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V: The First Inaugural Address: A Study of Strategy and Persuasion

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pp. 67-80

James G. Randall, a preeminent Lincoln authority, aptly describes Abraham Lincoln's First Inaugural Address as "compass and chart—standards, reasonings, declarations of faith, assurances, persuasions . . . a focus in a fateful and shifting story." Informed readers place it among the great American documents, ...

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VI: The Lasting Qualities Of The Gettysburg Address

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pp. 81-87

Through the years I have discovered that oral examinations of doctoral candidates sometimes bring out unexpected answers. The historian T. Harry Williams, hoping to start off one of my candidates with an easy question, asked, "What is your opinion of the Gettysburg Address?" ...

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VII: "With Charity For All": The Second Inaugural Address as Persuasion

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pp. 88-95

What historians have said of the First Inaugural Address is equally true of the Second, delivered March 4,1865. In the words of James G. Randall, the Second was also a declaration of faith, assurance, and persuasion. The First served as the prologue; the Second, as the epilogue to "a fearful and shifting story." ...

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VIII: "Penetrating and Far-reaching": Lincoln's Voice

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pp. 96-103

Louis A. Warren's Lincoln's Gettysburg Declaration: A New Birth of Freedom is detailed and exhaustive in its analysis of the contributing factors, the speech preparation, the occasion, the sources of the ideas and language, the holographs, and the immediate and subsequent reactions. ...

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IX: "A Western Man": Lincoln's Appearance and Delivery

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pp. 104-116

Curiosity about Abraham Lincoln is insatiable. People have inquired about such personal details as his daily routine, hair, exact measurements, reading habits, purchases at the local store, bank deposits, love affairs, marital life, churchgoing, mental health, and diseases. ...


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pp. 117-119

E-ISBN-13: 9780807155363
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807118528

Page Count: 120
Publication Year: 1993