Oratory, it is an old and respected form of communication. When I think of oratory I think first of Williams Jennings Bryan. His ‘Cross of Gold’ speech in defense of the small farmers against the rich banks and railroads during the late 1800s has gone down as one of the greatest examples in modern history. I quote an example “I tell you that the great cities rest upon these broad and fertile prairies. Burn down these cities and leave our farms and your cities will spring up again, as if by magic. But destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.”
Obviously Bryan was firmly behind the common man.
The other great example I think of is Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg address. An example.
“But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. …”
The crafting of the address is as skillful as anything the poet Emily Dickinson ever wrote. Every word rings true.
Modern folks who wish to pursue oratory, (and I understand there are some serious efforts in this direction) are following a good tradition. I strongly suggest they study well the work of their precursors. Not just for content but for depth. Oratory that is meaningful, well thought out, and true is a great addition to our society. It gives voice to the unspoken thoughts of many and encourages and inspires the good work of life.
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