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Abraham Lincoln, Public Speaker

119 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / no illustrations

American History | Civil War

  Paperback / 9780807118528 / July 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. 

Waldo W. Braden, at his death in 1991, was Boyd Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication at Louisiana State University. He was the author of The Oral Tradition in the South and many other books.

Review of Abraham Lincoln, Public Speaker

Abraham Lincoln: Public Speaker is a vital work for anyone interested in Lincoln’s rhetoric. While much of the historical material could be collected from other sources, the expert rhetorical treatment offered by Professor Braden is unique. The book is invaluable for its historical rigor and its sustained attention to Lincoln as a public speaker.”—Quarterly Journal of Speech

“Braden’s little volume gives us a much needed and appreciated portrait of Lincoln the Persuader—both as public speaker and political writer.”—Journal of Southern History

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