The Great Speeches of Araham Lincoln Essay

1771 Words 8 Pages
Since the time of the Ancient Greeks mastery of oratory has been a defining quality of esteemed statesmen. Countless examples exist of occupants of the Oval Office successfully using rhetoric to assuage the volatile sentiments of the people during times of crisis. In the wake of the Challenger Shuttle Disaster President Reagan comforted a grieving America with his “Touch the face of God” speech. In the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Perl Harbor President Roosevelt gave an “infamous” address. Abraham Lincoln’s tenure as captain of the ship of state saw our country whether through the hostile currents of a Civil War that threatened to break the ship in two. In many ways the Civil War was a crisis unlike any our nation has faced. …show more content…
By presenting his party's position on a highly contentious issue as if it where nothing new and in a very sound logically way Lincoln is deliberately trying to come off as the polar opposite of a radical. Throughout the speech he makes numerous references to voting records of the Founding Fathers on the subject, soundly proving that “in their understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything in the Constitution, properly forbade Congress to prohibit slavery in the federal territory…” (Lincoln, Cooper Union Address). Thus Lincoln firmly establishes that the Republican position is consistent with the Framers views and that the Democrats position is contrary. However Lincoln’s agenda was not simply to affirm the legality of his party’s stance. His argument completely alters the political dynamic between the Donkey and the Elephant causing them to switch places. Lincoln’s awareness that his argument would cause a power shift is evident in his change of tone. He stops using the highly legalist style he had been using. Having established his position as the real conservative, Lincoln no longer needs to be cautious of being labeled a radical. His speech becomes more charged and he becomes very confrontational when speaking to the Democrats.
Lincoln goes on the
Open Document