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American Speeches: Political Oratory from the Revolution to the Civil War (Library of America) [Hardcover]

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Item description for American Speeches: Political Oratory from the Revolution to the Civil War (Library of America) by Ted Widmer...

Collects the unabridged texts of important speeches, including Patrick Henry's "liberty or death" speech, women's rights speeches by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Grover Cleveland's address dedicating the Statue of Liberty.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   850
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 5.25" Height: 8"
Weight:   1.18 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 5, 2006
Publisher   Library of America
ISBN  1931082979  
ISBN13  9781931082976  

Availability  0 units.

More About Ted Widmer

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Forward by Caroline Kennedy, editor of the New York Times bestselling Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, She Walks in Beauty, A Patriot's Handbook, Profiles in Courage for Our Time, The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, A Family of Poems, and A Family Christmas and the coauthor of The Right to Privacy and In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action. She serves as president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and lives in New York City. Annotation by Ted Widmer, Director and Librarian of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. He is the author or editor of many works of American history, and a frequent contributor to The New York Times, Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, and other publications. He was a speechwriter and senior adviser to President Clinton, and conducted the oral history project that accompanied President Clinton's preparation for his memoir, My Life. He was educated at Harvard University.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > General
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General
3Books > Subjects > Reference > Words & Language > Rhetoric

Reviews - What do customers think about American Speeches: Political Oratory from the Revolution to the Civil War (Library of America)?

Unlimited, Undaunted, Unusual  Jun 12, 2008
It's interesting to note (at least the way I felt it) that the most powerful of the orations came from the minds of the more deeply oppressed, like magma bubbling to the surface, pressure building until the volcano spilled forth in a torrent of brilliant, hot lava thoughts put into articulation the likes of which we haven't seen for decades. For those speeches coming from equally great men discussing ideals later - from the comfort of the knowledge that they could speak their minds in perfect safety - the words were less intense, less courageous, more matter-of-fact.

James Otis - a British Attorney who was to "argue for" enactment of the "Writs of Assistance" for England, interpretated them to be the perfect tools of oppression of the colonies - for, once in place, it provided unlimited "search power" to the British Gov. (The Writs of Assistance providing total power of search and seizure, with no "specific subject matter" needed for the searches, and no "expiration date" once issued. In an abrupt about-face, Otis launched an oration "against the writs" rather than "for them" that would jump-start the American Revolution from within that very courtroom. Thus, in a pointed reference to the King, the phrase "A Man's Home is his Castle" was coined.

Red Jacket - the keen intellectual prowess of the then-primitive American Indian comes across from that early day speech in a way that leaves little doubt to the reader about the absolute knowledge that the Chief possessed regarding his people's fate trying to "live in peace with his white brothers." He is diplomatic, genteel in this words; but he is suspicious; he also knows his suspicions are useless against a foe that has his people outdistanced in technologies and of warfare. One of the most poignant sentences of his writings deal with the Great Spirit, within whom he has placed such faith:
"The Great Spirit has turned on us and now smiles on others". Little wonder that he could not understand that for what it was.

Elizabeth Stanton - Women's rights - she makes points most of us have long forgotten as the tide began to turn for women's equality, but re-reading this amazing woman's eloquence is something perhaps everyone should do again to experience first-hand what real struggle against a real foe - ingrained repression - was all about in the beginning when there was no real suppport from anyone, and to come forward meant going toe to toe with establshment, family, government, everyone. Imagine the courage needed to do so, imagine the fear, the apprehension in doing so. But perhaps in reality, there was no fear - perhaps these people feared nothing, no one. It would appear so, from their words.

Frederick Douglass - slavery - the great blot on American Independence. After reading this and trying to imagine sitting in the audience, it is impossible to believe that it would not serve as an immediate catalyst for change, given the high level of genius this man had with words and emotion. When he gets to the point in quoting from the Constitution - "we hold these Truths to be Self-Evident"....

Daniel Webster - his writings were very much out of the ordinary. One of the best orators in this book, in my view, I had heard his name frequently but do not remember reading any of his speeches.

This important book, in my view after having turned it's pages, is a "must read" - an inspiring read - for anyone wanting to delve into the minds of the people who "gave it all for us" - who stood up against wrongdoing and superstition against an unforgiving society no matter what the personal cost. By their perseverence against the odds, we have a better society as a whole in America today, one that could not be without them. What a wonderful literary experience - reading these magnificent words from the mouths of free-thinking people "who had nothing to lose" but "everything close to them" for the betterment of their posterity. Most of us have read but few of them in their speech form, even though the "coined phrases" live a life of their own throughout our own lives as they are used again and again, unconsciously to aid and assist in supporting ideas of our own today. What a breed apart these iconoclastic individuals were.

A lift of the glass to all of them, hand over the heart.

Wowiwowow - If I can say that  Nov 16, 2006
The Library of America is a non-profit organization aimed at preserving Americas literary heritage.

Simply stated these books are spectacular, not only in their literary content but in binding as well. You won't find a nicer book.

The content itself is a must for anyone who considers themselves "literate" or a Historian of American culture.

Highly recommended
A "must-have" for both school and public library reference collections.  Nov 5, 2006
The Library of America presents a two-volume set collecting 128 of the greatest and most pivotal speeches in American history, complete and unabridged. "American Speeches: Political Oratory from the Revolution to the Civil War" includes Patrick Henry's "liberty or death" speech, George Washington's appeal to mutinous officers, presidential inaugural addresses, Sojourner Truth's speech to Women's Rights Convention, Abraham Lincoln's address at Gettysburg, and much more. "American Speeches: Political Oratory from Abraham Lincoln to Bill Clinton" includes Abraham Lincoln's Speech on Reconstruction, presidential addresses, Woodrow Wilson's address to the Senate on the League of Nations, Franklin Roosevelt's address to Congress on war with Japan, Martin Luther King's nobel prize address, Ronald Regan's address to the nation on the Challenger disaster, and much more. Extensive biographical notes, notes on the texts, and an index round out each volume, and both come bound with an inset ribbon bookmark for easy page marking. The complete two-volume set deftly preserves the voices of key Americans throughout history, and is a "must-have" for both school and public library reference collections.
Important political speeches from 1761 through Lincoln's Second Inaugural  Oct 6, 2006
The Library of America does many great things by publishing books that keep important American literature, history, and poetry in print in fine and reliable editions. This volume collects important political speeches (not papers, pamphlets, editorials, or anything other than political speeches) from 1761 through Lincoln's second inaugural address.

This is a fabulous resource to read these important speeches in their complete form (and some of them are astonishingly long (how many hours would it have taken to deliver them?) and most of them you will have known through excerpts and quotations. It is very different to read the entire speech and see the power of the rhetorical construction that these trained orators (for the most part) were able to achieve. Of course, for the great exception and contrast in this volume is the amazing and powerful speech by Sojourner Truth from 1851. There are also speeches by Frederick Douglass, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin, Washington, Hancock, Hamilton, and dozens of others.

It is quite fascinating to follow the trajectory of the speeches from the Revolution leading up to the Civil War. The hardening of positions, the increasing stridency of the rhetoric, and the verbal animosity are frighteningly similar to aspects of our present political scene (if ours is not quite as eloquent, principled (for good or ill), or thoughtful). The volume presents speeches from the several positions held prior to the Civil War and it is quite important to see what people thought and said before the cataclysm. They are certainly different than the positions anyone held after the war. And nowadays we have simplified these ideas into bumper stickers of non-understanding.

So, get this book and take a slow journey of reading, meditation, and learning from these important statements from our history.

The back contains biographical notes about each of the speakers and notes on the text.

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