Landmark Essays on American Public Address

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Culminating a decade of conferences that have explored presidential speech, The Prospect of Presidential Rhetoric assesses progress and suggests directions for both the practice of presidential speech and its study. In Part One, following an analytic review of the field by Martin Medhurst, contributors address the state of the art in their own areas of expertise. Roderick Culminating a decade of conferences that have explored presidential speech, The Prospect of Presidential Rhetoric assesses progress and suggests directions for both the practice of presidential speech and its study.

Roderick P. Hart then summarizes their work in the course of his rebuttal of an argument made by political scientist George Edwards: that presidential rhetoric lacks political impact. Part Two of the volume consists of the forward-looking reports of six task forces, comprising more than forty scholars, charged with outlining the likely future course of presidential rhetoric, as well as the major questions scholars should ask about it and the tools at their disposal. The Prospect of Presidential Rhetoric will serve as a pivotal work for students and scholars of public discourse and the presidency who seek to understand the shifting landscape of American political leadership.

Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions 4. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Prospect of Presidential Rhetoric , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about The Prospect of Presidential Rhetoric.

Yet neither Jefferson nor most of the founders intended to abolish slavery, and in the end, they struck the passage. There is no mention of slavery in the final Declaration of Independence. Similarly, 11 years later, when it came time to draft the Constitution, the framers carefully constructed a document that preserved and protected slavery without ever using the word. In the texts in which they were making the case for freedom to the world, they did not want to explicitly enshrine their hypocrisy, so they sought to hide it.

The Constitution contains 84 clauses. Six deal directly with the enslaved and their enslavement, as the historian David Waldstreicher has written, and five more hold implications for slavery.


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  5. With independence, the founding fathers could no longer blame slavery on Britain. The shameful paradox of continuing chattel slavery in a nation founded on individual freedom, scholars today assert, led to a hardening of the racial caste system. This ideology, reinforced not just by laws but by racist science and literature, maintained that black people were subhuman, a belief that allowed white Americans to live with their betrayal. By the early s, according to the legal historians Leland B.

    Ware, Robert J. Cottrol and Raymond T. This made them inferior to white people and, therefore, incompatible with American democracy. On Aug. It was one of the few times that black people had ever been invited to the White House as guests. The Civil War had been raging for more than a year, and black abolitionists, who had been increasingly pressuring Lincoln to end slavery, must have felt a sense of great anticipation and pride.

    The war was not going well for Lincoln. The president was weighing a proclamation that threatened to emancipate all enslaved people in the states that had seceded from the Union if the states did not end the rebellion. Like many white Americans, he opposed slavery as a cruel system at odds with American ideals, but he also opposed black equality.

    That August day, as the men arrived at the White House, they were greeted by the towering Lincoln and a man named James Mitchell, who eight days before had been given the title of a newly created position called the commissioner of emigration. This was to be his first assignment.

    Catalog Record: Words of a century : the top American | HathiTrust Digital Library

    After exchanging a few niceties, Lincoln got right to it. He informed his guests that he had gotten Congress to appropriate funds to ship black people, once freed, to another country. Your race suffer very greatly, many of them, by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side. You can imagine the heavy silence in that room, as the weight of what the president said momentarily stole the breath of these five black men.

    The Union had not entered the war to end slavery but to keep the South from splitting off, yet black men had signed up to fight. Enslaved people were fleeing their forced-labor camps, which we like to call plantations, trying to join the effort, serving as spies, sabotaging confederates, taking up arms for his cause as well as their own. And now Lincoln was blaming them for the war. Nearly three years after that White House meeting, Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

    By summer, the Civil War was over, and four million black Americans were suddenly free. Beneath its sod lie the bones of our fathers. Here we were born, and here we will die. They did the opposite.

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    The South, for the first time in the history of this country, began to resemble a democracy, with black Americans elected to local, state and federal offices. Some 16 black men served in Congress — including Hiram Revels of Mississippi, who became the first black man elected to the Senate. Demonstrating just how brief this period would be, Revels, along with Blanche Bruce, would go from being the first black man elected to the last for nearly a hundred years, until Edward Brooke of Massachusetts took office in More than black men served in Southern state legislatures and hundreds more in local positions.

    These black officials joined with white Republicans, some of whom came down from the North, to write the most egalitarian state constitutions the South had ever seen. They helped pass more equitable tax legislation and laws that prohibited discrimination in public transportation, accommodation and housing. Perhaps their biggest achievement was the establishment of that most democratic of American institutions: the public school.

    Public education effectively did not exist in the South before Reconstruction.

    The white elite sent their children to private schools, while poor white children went without an education. But newly freed black people, who had been prohibited from learning to read and write during slavery, were desperate for an education. So black legislators successfully pushed for a universal, state-funded system of schools — not just for their own children but for white children, too. Black legislators also helped pass the first compulsory education laws in the region.

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    Landmark Essays on American Public Address

    Southern children, black and white, were now required to attend schools like their Northern counterparts. Just five years into Reconstruction, every Southern state had enshrined the right to a public education for all children into its constitution. In some states, like Louisiana and South Carolina, small numbers of black and white children, briefly, attended schools together.

    Led by black activists and a Republican Party pushed left by the blatant recalcitrance of white Southerners, the years directly after slavery saw the greatest expansion of human and civil rights this nation would ever see. In , Congress passed the 13th Amendment, making the United States one of the last nations in the Americas to outlaw slavery. It codified black American citizenship for the first time, prohibited housing discrimination and gave all Americans the right to buy and inherit property, make and enforce contracts and seek redress from courts.

    In , Congress ratified the 14th Amendment, ensuring citizenship to any person born in the United States. Today, thanks to this amendment, every child born here to a European, Asian, African, Latin American or Middle Eastern immigrant gains automatic citizenship. The 14th Amendment also, for the first time, constitutionally guaranteed equal protection under the law. Ever since, nearly all other marginalized groups have used the 14th Amendment in their fights for equality including the recent successful arguments before the Supreme Court on behalf of same-sex marriage.

    For this fleeting moment known as Reconstruction, the majority in Congress seemed to embrace the idea that out of the ashes of the Civil War, we could create the multiracial democracy that black Americans envisioned even if our founding fathers did not. Anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country, as does the belief, so well articulated by Lincoln, that black people are the obstacle to national unity.

    The many gains of Reconstruction were met with fierce white resistance throughout the South , including unthinkable violence against the formerly enslaved, wide-scale voter suppression, electoral fraud and even, in some extreme cases, the overthrow of democratically elected biracial governments. In , President Rutherford B.

    Hayes, in order to secure a compromise with Southern Democrats that would grant him the presidency in a contested election, agreed to pull federal troops from the South. With the troops gone, white Southerners quickly went about eradicating the gains of Reconstruction. Democracy would not return to the South for nearly a century. White Southerners of all economic classes, on the other hand, thanks in significant part to the progressive policies and laws black people had championed, experienced substantial improvement in their lives even as they forced black people back into a quasi slavery.

    Georgia pines flew past the windows of the Greyhound bus carrying Isaac Woodard home to Winnsboro, S. After serving four years in the Army in World War II, where Woodard had earned a battle star, he was given an honorable discharge earlier that day at Camp Gordon and was headed home to meet his wife. When the bus stopped at a small drugstore an hour outside Atlanta, Woodard got into a brief argument with the white driver after asking if he could use the restroom.

    About half an hour later, the driver stopped again and told Woodard to get off the bus. Crisp in his uniform, Woodard stepped from the stairs and saw the police waiting for him. Before he could speak, one of the officers struck him in his head with a billy club, beating him so badly that he fell unconscious.

    At 26, Woodard would never see again. It was part of a wave of systemic violence deployed against black Americans after Reconstruction, in both the North and the South. White America dealt with this inconvenience by constructing a savagely enforced system of racial apartheid that excluded black people almost entirely from mainstream American life — a system so grotesque that Nazi Germany would later take inspiration from it for its own racist policies.

    Ferguson decision in declared that the racial segregation of black Americans was constitutional. They passed literacy tests to keep black people from voting and created all-white primaries for elections. Black people were prohibited from serving on juries or testifying in court against a white person. South Carolina prohibited white and black textile workers from using the same doors. Oklahoma forced phone companies to segregate phone booths. Memphis had separate parking spaces for black and white drivers.

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