Speaking for Southern Values: The Rhetoric of Jefferson Davis, 1844-1862

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2004-05-03

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This study argues that while Jefferson Davis has been assessed as a historical figure, his persuasive appeals have not received sufficient scrutiny by historians. The study provides a close analysis of Davis's political rhetoric, first assessing his oratory as Confederate president and then tracing his appeals into the antebellum years. The study concentrates on political oratory because it was the most important form of political persuasion in antebellum American, especially in the Old South. Davis was arguably the nineteenth-century South's most influential politician and the rhetorical appeals he used to unify the region are critical to our understanding of southern values and aspirations. The study closely scrutinizes representative speeches at various points in Davis's career, both as an aspiring politician and as an acknowledged sectional leader. Closely analyzing Davis's rhetoric over decades reveals continuity and change in his appeals, while providing insight into critical historical questions about the Old South.

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