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The Call of Classical Literature in the Romantic Age$
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K. P. Van Anglen and James Engell

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474429641

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474429641.001.0001

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The Classics and American Political Rhetoric in a Democratic and Romantic Age

The Classics and American Political Rhetoric in a Democratic and Romantic Age

Chapter:
(p.289) Chapter 11 The Classics and American Political Rhetoric in a Democratic and Romantic Age
Source:
The Call of Classical Literature in the Romantic Age
Author(s):

Carl J. Richard

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474429641.003.0012

This essay demonstrates that during the same period when new grammar schools, academies, and colleges were introducing the Greek and Roman classics to the western frontier of the United States, to a rising middle class, to girls and women, and to African Americans, states were expanding the voting population to include all free adult white males. While the spread of manhood suffrage led to a more democratic style of politics, the expansion of classical education ensured that American speeches continued to bristle with classical allusions. Political leaders took advantage of every opportunity to showcase their classical learning, even to broader audiences they hoped might respect, if not fully comprehend, their allusions. Classically trained, American politicians lived a double rhetorical life, attempting to assure common voters of their ability to empathize with their concerns while demonstrating their wisdom and virtue to constituents of all classes through their knowledge of the classics.

Keywords:   Demosthenes, Cicero, Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, Pericles’s Funeral Oration, slavery, Aristotle

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