American Eloquence, Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 194 pages of information about American Eloquence, Volume 1.

Such a process of omission will reveal to any one who undertakes it an underlying characteristic of our later, as distinguished from our earlier, oratory.  The careful elaboration of the parts, the restraint of each topic treated to its appropriate part, and the systematic development of the parts into a symmetrical whole, are as markedly present in the latter as they are absent in the former.  The process of selection has therefore been progressively more difficult as the subject-matter has approached contemporary times.  In our earlier orations, the distinction and separate treatment of the parts is so carefully observed that it has been comparatively an easy task to seize and appropriate the parts especially desirable.  In our later orations, with some exceptions, there is an evidently decreasing attention to system.  The whole is often a collection of disjecta membra of arguments, so interdependent that omissions of any sort are exceedingly dangerous to the meaning of the speaker.  To do justice to his meaning, and give the whole oration, would be an impossible strain on the space available; to omit any portion is usually to lose one or more buttresses of some essential feature in his argument.  The distinction is submitted without any desire to explain it on theory, but only as a suggestion of a practical difficulty in a satisfactory execution of the work.

The general division of the work has been into (1) Colonialism, to 1789; (2) Constitutional Government, to 1801; (5) the Rise of Democracy, to 1815; (4) the Rise of Nationality, to 1840; (5) the Slavery struggle, to 1860; (6) Secession and Reconstruction, to 1876; (7) Free Trade and Protection.  In such a division, it has been found necessary to include, in a few cases, orations which have not been strictly within the time limits of the topic, but have had a close logical connection with it.  It is hoped, however, that all such cases will show their own necessity too clearly for any need of further ex-planation or excuse.

I.

COLONIALISM.

THE FORMATION OF THE CONSTITUTION.

It has been said by an excellent authority that the Constitution was “extorted from the grinding necessities of a reluctant people.”  The truth of the statement is very quickly recognized by even the most surface student of American politics.  The struggle which began in 1774-5 was the direct outcome of the spirit of independence.  Rather than submit to a degrading government by the arbitrary will of a foreign Parliament, the Massachusetts people chose to enter upon an almost unprecedented war of a colony against the mother country.  Rather than admit the precedent of the oppression of a sister colony, the other colonies chose to support Massachusetts in her resistance.  Resistance to Parliament involved resistance to the Crown, the only power which had hitherto

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American Eloquence, Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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