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by: Dr. Leilani O'Conner


Dr. Leilani O'Conner
GPA 3.89


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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Dr. Leilani O'Conner on Wednesday September 9, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to COM 435 at University of Washington taught by Staff in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 20 views. For similar materials see /class/192428/com-435-university-of-washington in Communication at University of Washington.




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Date Created: 09/09/15
Context Preview for Wendell Phillips The Murder of Lovejoy Historian James Stewart contends that Wendell Phillips was Civil War America s greatest and most radical orator 1 Phillips debuted his gift of eloquence and asserted himself as an important political gure in a dramatic event In Boston s Faneuil Hall lled to capacity on December 7 1837 Phillips held forth before a largely hostile crowd and thoroughly won them over 2 The movement to abolish slavery had originated in colonial times and had waxed and waned through the years but only by the 1830s had it gained enough momentum to divide the nation by regioniincreasingly pitting North against Southiand to divide communities within individual churches and towns3 As this division increased debate heated up and opposition to members of the abolition movement began to take a violent turn Mob action became commonplace Indeed on October 21 1835 William Lloyd Garrison an outspoken reformist and editor of the reformist newspaper The Liberator was dragged through the streets of Boston4 Two years later similar rioting lead to the killing of a Presbyterian minister and abolitionist newspaper editor Elijah Lovejoy5 On November 7 1837 in the Mississippi River town of Alton Illinois a mob gathered outside the warehouse where Lovejoy stood guard over his printing press Mobs had destroyed his presses before and threatened his life but Lovej oy refused to be silenced When the mob torched the building Lovejoy ran out with a gun in his hand He reportedly crumpled instantly as countless bullets hit him6 The occasion of the speech by Phillips was a public meeting organized by abolitionists to talk about mob activity and condemn violence of any kind As the Boston Evening Transcript reported at the time It was glaringly apparent that the meeting was got up by the Anti Slavery partyibut it was fully as obvious during the course of the proceedings that they were in the minority 7 The crowd was large with about ve thousand people attending that morning8 According to Stewart the highly publicized event attracted antiabolitionists ready for violence in such an atmosphere no formal agenda was likely to hold sway for long 9 After a few people had already spoken James Austin the attorney general for the state of Massachusetts an accomplished speaker and a wellrespected public official gave a speech against Lovejoy saying that he deserved 1 James Brewer Stewart Wendell Phillips Liberty s Hero Baton Rouge Louisiana State University Press 1986 34 2 Stewart 58 3 Ronald F Reid and James F Klumpp American Rhetorical Discourse 3rd ed Long Grove IL Waveland Press 2005 286 4 Reid and Klumpp 324 5 Reid and Klumpp 324 6 Stewart 58 7 The Meeting at Faneuil Hall Boston Evening Transcript 8 December 1837 2 Robert T Oliver History ofPublic Speaking in America Boston Allyn and Bacon Inc 1965 233 Stewart 59 what he got10 The audience roared in approval at Austin s speech they had heard what they wanted to hear 11 According to rhetorician Robert Oliver Phillips a 26 year old lawyer who had studied Rhetoric at Harvard had discarded his planned speech as he listened to Austin and the roar of approval that greeted his rousing proslavery rhetoric 12 After giving his speech those who were roaring in approval for Austin had changed their minds and were now roaring in approval for Phillips 13 As an anonymous citizen from Boston who was in the crowd reported The torrent of his eloquence as it moved along like a mighty river in its course brushed away the fabric which the gentleman Austin had erected upon a foundation of sand Phillips remarks were cheered from every quarter of Faneuil Hall and echoed and reechoed through its arches when he sat down 14 According to abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison The reply of the youthful accomplished and gifted Wendell Phillips electri ed the mighty assembly It was sublime irresistible annihilating 15 As you read the speech you will discover that Phillips does not take a conciliatory tone he does not give an inch to the proslavery forces nor does he try to soothe the audience by agreeing with anything that Austin had just said In fact he attacks Austin directly in the speech and even seems to attack the audience One would not expect this type of speech given by someone with so little preeXisting ethos against a respected public figure before a hostile audience to be successful and yet it was Think about why it was so successful 1 Stewart 59 11 Oliver 233 12 Oliver 233 13 Oliver 234 14 Quoted in The Liberator 29 December 1837 209 15 William Lloyd Garrison quotThe Meeting at Faneuil Hall The Liberator 15 December 1837 203 Context Preview for Abraham Lincoln s Second Inaugural Address Most rhetorical critics read Lincoln s Second Inaugural Address as an example of transcendent eloquence a remarkable rhetorical moment when the leader of the winning army sought uni cation with the losers by endorsing a rejection of sectional animosity and embracing a shared responsibility for the cause of the war1 Lincoln s own description of his message as the expression of a hard truth that humbled himself as much as his readers supports this reading2 It is likely that Lincoln meant for his speech to be read as the difficult and quot39 39 that both North and South were sinners being judged by a retributive Providence Accepting the war losses on both sides as a punishment from God Lincoln could justify a compassionate postwar policy that unified the two sinners as they humbly shared the task of binding up their wounds When we look at the surviving commentary of the editorial journalists in his Northern audience we see that this is exactly how they interpreted the speech3 The New York Evening Post remarked that Lincoln39s speech was quotseized with this Viewquot that saw quotin this terrible civil war the operations of that dread Nemesis as the ancients called it to which the modems give the softer name of a retributive Providence which forces the nations to drink of the bitter cup they have pressed to the lips of othersquot The taste of that bitter drink included the desolation of quotnot only the cities but the very fields of the Southquot and the quotsacrifices of life and treasure made by the Northquot According to this newspaper Lincoln s message is a sentiment expressed as well only by the quotmightier passages of the old Hebrew prophetsquot and quotthe best tragic poetsquot4 In the words of the New York Herald quotMr Lincoln accepts the war as a national punishment from the Almighty for the offence39 of slaveryquot5 According to the Washington DC Daily National Intelligencer this 1 Edwin Black Rhetorical Criticism A Study in Method 1965 Madison U of Wisconsin P 1978 17239 Gene E Thurow Abraham Lincoln and American Political Religion Albany SUNY Press 1976 93 10639 Dan F Hahn and Anne Morlando A Burkean Analysis of Lincoln s Second Inaugural Address Presidential Studies Quarterly 9 1979 376 37839 Ernest G Bormann The Force of Fantasy Restoring the American Dream Carbondale Southern Illinois UP 1985 22930 Michael Leff Dimensions of Temporality in Lincoln s Second Inaugural Communication Reports 1 1988 2931 Waldo Braden Abraham Lincoln Public Speaker Baton Rouge Louisiana State UP 1988 9239 Amy R Slagell Anatomy of a Masterpiece A Close Textual Analysis of Abraham Lincoln s Second Inaugural Address Communication Studies 42 1991 169 Two critics develop a contrary reading of the text Martha Solomon Watson With Fir39mness in the Right The Creation of Moral Hegemony in Lincoln s Second Inaugural Communication Reports 1 1988 3237 and Ronald H Carpenter In NotSoTrivial Pursuit of Rhetorical Wedgies An Historical Approach to Lincoln s Second Inaugural Address Communication Reports 1 1988 24 2 See Abraham Lincoln To Thurlow Weed Abraham Lincoln Speeches and Writings 18591865 ed Don E Fehrenbacher New York The Library of America 1989689 3 I recognize that newspaper editorial writers constitute only a small fragment of the larger audience for the speech However since the highly partisan and competitive newspapers of the time represented a wide spectrum of political sentiment and since they were a particularly in uential force in distributing the message and its meaning it is not unreasonable to assume that the interpretation extracted from these commentaries represents the reading of a larger audience 4 Lincoln s Inaugural Address New York Evening Post 6 Mar 1865 2 5 President Lincoln s Second InauguraliThe Negro Question New York Herald 5 Mar 1865 2 acceptance was an act of contrition that recognized the North is not without sin6 William Lloyd Garrison39s The Liberator made special note of Lincoln s assertion that quotthis offence came by the sin of 39North and Southm and suggested that the speech was without parallel quotfor the contrite spirit and reverent recognition of the chastising hand of Divine Providence for our great national sin of slaveryquot7 But the Chicago Tribune pointed out that Lincoln s speech did have a parallel for it expressed the same sentiment as an editorial it had published two and a half years earlier in which the war was treated as quotthe justice of the almightyquot a punishment to quotthe American peoplequot for the sin of slavery a punishment that the people must quotendure with humilityquot8 The Boston Daily Evening Transcript proclaimed that quotthe President calls the people as it were into the Court of the King of Kingsquot a call that must be heeded with quotall humilityquot This newspaper also notes that the closing sentences of the address presage quota new and blessed era alike for the victors and the vanquishedquot In short each Northern newspaper that included editorial remarks on the inaugural address read the speech as a humble pronouncement that the war was a joint punishment from the Almighty for the national sin of slavery Although all these Northern newspapers printed the speech in its entirety several of the editorial reports also quoted heavily from the speech as they interpreted it for their audiences Almost all who did so reproduced segments from the last part where the message of joint punishment and compassionate charity is most strongly stated10 While some Northern newspaper commentators did not like the speech they all understood it to mean the same thing11 But when we look at what remains of the Southern response to this speech we see an entirely different interpretation begin to unfold 12 The day after printing the entire 6 Liberty and Union Now and Forever One and Inseparable Daily National Intelligencer 6 Mar 1865 2 7 C K W In uence Personal and Official Liberator 17 Mar 1865 339 The Inaugural Address Liberator 10 Mar 1865 2 8 Justice of the Almighty Chicago Tribune 6 Mar 1865 1 9 The President s Inaugural Boston Daily Evening Transcript 6 Mar 1865 2 10 The Liberator of 17 Mar 1865 and the Chicago Tribune include a large portion of the third paragraph from If we shall suppose that American Slavery to are true and righteous altogether The 1m York Evening Post and the New York Herald include a shorter part of that same passage from Fondly do we hope 7 fervently do we ra to are true and righteous altogether The Liberator of 17 Mar 1865 and the National Daily Intelligencer includes the last paragraph beginning With malice toward none and ending with all nations Only one other extended quote from the text is included in any of these editorials the New York Herald includes a section from the first paragraph from Now at the expiation of four years to little that is new could be presented 11 For example both the New York Evening Post and the New York Herald thought that Lincoln should have focused on specific policy questions facing his administration and the Liberator of 17 Mar 1865 thought that Lincoln should have said more about how the freedmen were going to be treated in the post war era Also note that The Inaugural New York Times 6 Mar 1865 4 reads Lincoln s speech as an message of modesty reserve and magnanimity but does not take a magnanimous position toward the South itself this latter reading could be considered oppositional in that it recognizes the main thrust of the message but directly opposes it with its own feelings about the matter 12 Of the four Southern newspapers I could find for this date the two in cities that were under occupation forces printed the speech but did not include any commentary See Charleston Courier 13 Mar 1865 139 and The Daily Picame ew Orleans 10 Mar 1865 2 The Richmond Dispatch located in the Confederate capital and still under rebel control printed a copy of the speech on their second page on 8 inaugural speech the Richmond Dispatch described the inaugural event In a short passage on Lincoln39s speech it focused on four things that Lincoln said 1 quotThe statement that 39the progress of our arms is Itrust reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all39 quot 2 quotThe declaration that we accepted the war rather than let the nation perish quot quotThe remark that slavery would cease with the war quot quotThe satirical observation that men asked God s assistance in wringing bread from other men s faces quot13 5 In this description the words that seem to defend the moral stature of the North 2 or call Southern morality into question 4 are highlighted Remarks that could be read out of context as the confident and righteous pronouncements of an unyielding war president are included 1 3 Most importantly there is no mention of Lincoln s admission that the war is a joint punishment to North and South and no hint that he called for charity and a rejection of malice To this Southern audience the speech seemed to be a typical wartime diatribe an inaugural of clear quotantislavery sentimentsquot that constructs a moral hegemony for the North and depicts the war as a righteous battle against the slaveholders14 Interestingly one of the Northern papers predicted just this sort of interpretation from Southern readers Recognizing that the speech accepts the war as a divine punishment to the entire nation for the sin of slavery the New York Herald worried that the speech could admit to another construction How will it be construed by 39the last ditch39 leaders of the rebellion They will construe it to their despairing followers as an official declaration from 39the despot Lincoln that it is his purpose to prosecute this war to the total extirpation of slavery though it may involve the extermination of the white race of the South and the destruction of their property root and branch The remarks of yet another rebel newspaper bear out this Northern editor s worst fears Rather than reprint the speech in its entirety the Lynchburg Virginian summarized the Mar 1865 They also included a commentary in their account of Inauguration Scenes on 9 Mar 1865 23 The Lynchburg Virginian also under rebel control included a detailed summary of the speech under the title Lincoln s Inaugural on their second page on 8 Mar 1865 On 15 Mar 1865 they also reprinted Inauguration Scenes from the Richmond Dispatch 13 Inauguration Scenes Richmond Dispatch 2 14 To see a similar reading unfold from a close reading of the text see Solomon With firmness in the right The problem with her critique is that without citing any reception evidence she argues that the Northern audience reads the speech as an encouragement to feel superior and vindictive toward the South My reading of the Northern newspapers suggests that this interpretation was not widespread in the North however it does appear that the Southern audience saw the speech as a confirmation of the North s superior and vindictive ways In other words a close reading of receptional evidence supports John Angus Campbell s suggestion that she interprets the text as the white Southern audience of the time would have interpreted the text See Campbell Between 364 15 President Lincoln s Second Inaugural New York Herald 2 speech for its audience 16 For the most part this summary is an accurate representation of what Lincoln said using most of the same words that Lincoln used In summarizing the rst part of the speech there are a few slight omissions but nothing that greatly alters its meaning It is when the newspaper gets to the second part of the speech that the message is entirely transformed by gross abbreviation Missing from this precis of the speech are the sections most heaVily quoted by the Northern audience including the supposition that God quotgives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offence camequot the phrase quotwith malice toward none with charity for allquot and the bipartisan concern quotto care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphanquot17 What is it about Lincoln s speech that allows it to be read against the author s intent Is there anything that he could have done to avoid this As you read this speech think about the different interpretations that were developed of the speech and think about what the existence of this polysemy in the text means to rhetor speech and society 16 Lincoln s Inaugural mehburg Virginian 2 17 Lincoln 687


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