Sunday, August 08, 2004

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS ... the first Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard

The Golden Age of American Oratory had already begun

when John Quincy Adams described rhetorical skill

as a form of power in his 1805 inaugural address as the

first Boylston Chair of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard ...

Adams observed the preeminent importance that training in

oratory had for the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome

and described its revived importance in the new

republic, where eloquence might once again bestow power.

ADAMS: Under governments purely republican, where

every citizen has a deep interest in the affairs of the

nation, and, in some form of public assembly or other,

has the means and opportunity of delivering his

opinions, and of communicating his sentiments

by speech; where government itself has no arms

but those of persuasion; where prejudice has

not acquired an uncontrolled ascendency,

and faction is yet confined within the barriers

of peace; the voice of eloquence will

not be heard in vain.

Oratory & Performance in Early America