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Lincoln's Rise to Eloquence : How He Gained the Presidential Nomination - D. Leigh Henson

Lincoln's Rise to Eloquence

How He Gained the Presidential Nomination

By: D. Leigh Henson

Hardcover | 20 August 2024

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At turns eloquent and earthy, Abraham Lincoln's rhetoric played a vital role in his success as a politician and statesman. D. Leigh Henson examines Lincoln's pre-presidential development as a rhetorician, the purposes and methods behind his speeches and writings, and how the works contributed to his political rise. Lincoln's close study of the rhetorical process drew on sources that ranged from classical writings to foundational American documents to the speeches of Daniel Webster. As Henson shows, Lincoln applied his learning to combine arguments on historical, legal, and moral grounds with appeals to emotion and his own carefully curated credibility. Henson also explores Lincoln's use of the elements of structural design to craft coherent arguments that, whatever their varying purposes, used direct and plain language to reach diverse audiences--and laid the groundwork for his rise to the White House.

Insightful and revealing, Lincoln's Rise to Eloquence follows Lincoln from his early career through the years-long clashes with Stephen A. Douglas to trace the future president's evolution as a communicator and politician.

Industry Reviews
"Lincoln's words echo in our historical memory, but the power of his political rhetoric is unavoidably lost to time. It takes a fine historian to reimagine Lincoln's eloquence, originality, and moral suasion, and Leigh Henson proves the right man for the task. In a well-argued, thought-provoking study, Henson traces Lincoln's growth as a writer and orator, and offers thought-provoking analysis to illuminate both their original impact and their enduring power. No one interested in Lincoln's speeches and writings can afford to miss this book." --Harold Holzer, author of Brought Forth on This Continent: Abraham Lincoln and American Immigration
"It is safe to say that the author has gone beyond any other existing study of Lincoln's rhetorical rise to office. Henson leaves no stone unturned in exploring how Lincoln rose from obscurity to the Republican nomination. The book makes a significant scholarly contribution as it takes account of every text--large or small--that enabled Lincoln to work out his astute political position."--Paul Stob, author of Intellectual Populism: Democracy, Inquiry, and the People
"Henson astutely and proficiently demonstrates how Lincoln in his pre-presidential speeches mastered the art of rhetorical methodology, whether the purposes were for partisan expediency and hyperbolic demagoguery or rational argumentation and moralism suasion. Henson imparts to the reader a renewed appreciation for the lost art of oratory, and a profound respect for Lincoln's very deliberate word choices. His important contribution leaves us in even greater awe of Lincoln's extraordinary communicative ability and rhetorical mastery."--Ron J. Keller, author of Lincoln in the Illinois Legislature

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