Classroom Projects on Oratory and Orators
in 19th Century America

E Pluribus Unum


1. Have students look at iindexes of several "readers"--what types of speeches are included?--by who? about what? any messages?

2. Have students look at topics about speaking (elocution, etc.) and skim one or two sections. What was expected of nineteenth century orators--how were they supposed to behave? Does that tell you anything?

3. Read samples from Blair and other books. Use rhetorical theories from Blair (etc.) to analyze one of the speeches in the collection.

4. Memorize a speech from one of the readers and try to deliver it according to the instructions in the books or try to deliver one of the speeches from Peter Parley, following the instructions provided in the margins of the magazine article.

Do a close reading of a speech from one of the readers, and explain the kinds of ideas and beliefs that the speech communicates.

Test the claims of Frederick Douglass and a "lady of the south" by reading several speeches from a reader

If you think about all of the politicians, teachers, and ministers or priests that you have listened to in the course of your lifetime, you will begin to realize that you have heard a great many speakers. Describe the characteristics of one person you have heard who you regard as a powerful speaker, and explain why find that individual's speaking style appealing. Your description should include all of the following: 1) a list of the speaker's main attributes; 2) an explanation of each of those characteristics; 3) at least one specific example to illustrate each characteristic, and 4) an explanation of why that characteristic is important. In your conclusion, draw upon your description of this speaker's individual characteristics in oder to explain your philosophy of effective speaking.

Alternatively, you may compare and/or contrast the qualities of your own favorite speaker with the qualities expected of 19th century American orators or with the qualities demonstrated by a particular orator in that period. In your conclusion, discuss whether speaking styles have changed over time and what the presence or absence of those changes tells us about changes or continuity in American culture.

You may compare and/oryou regard that indiYou have heard a great many speakers in the course of your life politicians, ministers and priests, teachers.

5. Watch a tape of a more recent speech--or read a transcript from Douglass School of Public ___-I have a dream? Kennedy's innaugural? How are our own approaches to public speaking similar or different?

6. compare contrast douglass and garrison?

7. Visit "Lyceum" project--Review the topics of lyceum speeches--what can you tell about what kinds of subjects 19th century American audiences were interested in hearing about when they visited lyceums? Read their responses, what can you tell about what made a speaker popular or unpopular?

8. web site on Thoreau's speeches.

9. Go to MOA (elsewhere?)--look for descriptions of a famous orator: clay, webster, lincoln, douglass?

10. read douglass (anyone else?) on Platform life.

11. Read conduct/advice manuals on speaking==



Bobbin Boy--Which do YOU think makes a better model for Americans--Franklin or Patrick Henry--and why? Find out more about one of the men Thayer mentions as a model: Franklin, Henry, Cobbett, Kitto, St. Pierre, etc. What makes that person stand out? What do they have in common? What person would you name as the model for a self-made American, and why? (What woman?)

Any of the things Nat talks about in conduct books? (punctuality, reading, etc.)

Make list of ten to twelve most important habits or character traits you should practice in order ot lead a good and successful life. Then read "Bobbin Boy" and compare your list to Franklin's. Any differences? Are there things that matter to you that didn't matter to Franklin or vice versa? Why?Was your language the same or different? Do you think his would work today? Translate Franklin's into language that would be understood by modern Americans. Put Franklin's in order for modern life.

What about factory life--


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