Thomas Jefferson and

Document Sample
Thomas Jefferson and Powered By Docstoc
					Thomas Jefferson and
  Andrew Johnson
Erin Kerr, Shaney Soderquist and Alex
               Weisner
  “The Circle of Our Felicities”:
Thomas Jefferson’s First Inaugural
  Address and the Rhetoric of
          Nationhood

      Stephen Howard Browne
           Rhetorical Contexts
• Democracy and Persuasion are interlocked
• Unprecedented expansion of the spaces of
  political action
• Jefferson’s inaugural (like his politics) = both
  forward-looking and indebted to certain
  rhetorical traditions
• Used rhetoric to rededicate common values
  and mutual commitment to each other’s
  fortunes
Three Conventions of Public Discourse
1.) Religious
2.) Civic
3.) Political

Shaped the 1st Inaugural Address, its reception,
  and its legacy.
            Religious Contexts
• Adamant not to have religious convictions
  impose or intrude into the affairs of state
• Defined Americans: Religious (often,
  definitively) without uniformity of faith;
  Singular;
• The “American Mind”
• America as a chosen people
  – John Winthrop’s “city upon a hill”
         Civic Commemoration
• Bring history to the national present
• Jefferson faced an audience well-positioned to
  recognize the Inaugural for what it was and
  what it hoped to accomplish.
• Precedents of “Political Theater”:
  – Local in delivery and source
  – Reaching out to the nation as a whole
  – About political life, but not overly partisan
• Disseminate the experience of citizenship
             Political Debate
• Paradoxical performance
• Appeal to “American” principles, rather than
  party principles
• Jefferson was the one to realize the potential
  inherent to the inaugural form
            Jeffersonian Style
• Transcribed his consummate optimism into the
  American spirit
• Form + Content = Singular, lasting image of the
  man
• Compared to “well-drawn portraits, which regard
  and follow us with their eyes in whatever
  direction we move.”
• First-person pronoun usage – Strategic
• Symmetry in politics and rhetoric
• Propriety and Simplicity
The First Inaugural’s Achievements
• Presented a partisan tract and a political
  treatise, without announcing itself as either
• Precedent: Encourage, reduce uncertainty,
  urge to continue on the path towards a
  prosperous future
• Summon fellow republicans to a better version
  of themselves
Jefferson vs. Napoleon:
 The Limits of Rhetoric
    Lawrence S. Kaplan
                Beginnings
• 1808 William Cullen Bryant identified
  Jefferson as “Napoleon’s slave”
• Napoleon had an enormous impact on
  Jefferson’s presidency
• Jefferson’s main goal was to turn the
  superpowers of France and Britain against
  each other
• Triangular relationship
           Territory Strategy
• Spain – Louisiana
• Britain—found a rough path across America
• France—conspiring with the Spanish for
  control of the Mississippi
              Foreign Affairs
• War was not the answer in dealing with
  France
• Jefferson faced the Federalist motto of
  “Political connections with none” as he
  entered office
• “Just a difference of opinion, not of principal”
• Was this a genuine promotion of partisanship?
• Was he trying to pursue his Republican
  objectives?
         Treaty of Entaglement
• Louisiana cession
• Jefferson tried to avoid talking about Louisiana
• “Another year has come around, and finds us
  still blessed with peace and friendship
  abroad”
    French-American Agreement
• Persuasion/intimidation of Napoleon
• British ships blocked key ports, nullifying trade
  acts
• Napoleon succeeds
• Jefferson succeeds
Jefferson’s Other
   Bradford Vivian
                Background
•Rumors of an affair between Thomas Jefferson
and Sally Hemings
•Widespread interest in the possibility of an affair
between Jefferson and his slave in the 20th
century
•Winthrop Jordan’s White over black: American
Attitudes toward the Negro 1550-1812 was the
first story to discuss the affair
•Public memory of Jefferson became foreign with
the growing story of Hemings
      Two Attempts to Prove Affair
• Annette Gordon-Reed’s Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings:
  An American Controversy
   – Social, political, and institutional biases had prevented getting to the
     truth
   – Argued historians had failed to apply standards consistently and fairly
     to the affair examination
• Eugene A. Foster did a study comparing DNA samples from
  Jefferson and Hemings
   – They used a haplotype containing 19 polymorphic markers taken from
     decendents of Field Jefferson (uncle), The haplotype matched Eston
     Heming to the male-line of descendants
   – Less than 1% chance for this match, most compelling evidence
     presented in debate
  Jaques Derrida and the “pathos of
             indecision”
• Actively provokes a response because it
  stimulates crisis over standards and procedures
• Gordon-Reed’s application of forensic standards
  was a “political intervention: and an “ethical
  judgment” that weighed all evidence equitable
• Ethos of Foster and his colleagues’ genetic tests
  were very persuasive in the “undecidability” of
  the debate
• Public view, still undecided
  New Stories and Different Voices
• The concept of Romance
• 1995 Film- Jefferson in Paris, displays Jefferson and
  Hemings’ relationship as a Parisian romance
   – Portrays Sally as a teenager who develops into
     womanhood
   – The concept of Jefferson and a young, exotic beauty
     very appealing to public
   – These accounts invoke the pathos of romance, used to
     portray the courtly love of an idealized president
• Barbara Chase-Riboud’s 1979 novel Sally Hemings –
  portraying Sally as a multidimensional character
       Romance Continued on CBS
• CBS (2000)—Sally Hemings: An American
  Scandal
• The tale conjures a sympathetic version of
  Jefferson struggling against the institution of
  slavery for the sake of love
• Rhetorical functions of a romantic narrative
  portraying Hemings as a heroic figure
  sacrificing her freedom for that of her children
          The Demon in Jefferson
• Steve Erickson’s 1993 novel Arc d’X
• Motivated by a desire to bring Jefferson’s unconscious into
  the light of the 20th century, proving the demon people
  imagine must have lived in him somewhere
• A Jefferson lusting after a teenager, both of whom was his
  slave and his late wife’s half sister whom he would enslave
  again by molesting her
• Produces an unadultered encounter with Jefferson’s other:
  the private demon within the civic saint
• Represents a metaphor of America
• Suggesting that the pursuit of happiness for one political
  body is conducted through the sacrifice of another’s self-
  determination
                 In Summary
• The rhetoric of public memory often comes into
  being as the manifestation of a desire to enlarge
  our frequently shallow and elliptical knowledge
  of the past
• The appeal of Jefferson’s secret past becomes a
  desire to us in the present
• Jefferson has acquired such a foreign quality that
  the way we tend to remember him is by his
  other: by the ghost of Sally Hemings or the ghosts
  of his own passions
Politics of Character:
  Andrew Johnson
  Stephen Howard Browne
         Background to Article
• 17th president
• First president to be impeached
• First president to succeed the presidency
  upon assassination of predecessor (Lincoln)
          Stephen Howard Browne

•   Unlovable character
•   ill-suited in almost every possible way
•   Worst presidents to date
•   There are three attributes (mind, character,
    and speech) which set a standard to mark and
    evaluate presidential virtue, but all work
    against Johnson
                March 11, 1865
         Johnson’s Vice-Presidential Inaugural Address


• All accounts claim Johnson was drunk for
  speech
• Three main traits for his speech:
  – The use of pronominal and possessive first person
  – Speaker’s insistence that he is a legitimate
    claimant to the office he now occupies
  – The compulsive need to invoke “the people” as
    the ultimate source of power the final check
    against party pressures
Self-Regard and the Presidential Ethos
• Lincoln and Johnson
• Johnson was unable to rise to his position
  Example of September 12th Speech
• The speech was not just policy arguments,
  but strenuous protestations of innocence,
  appeals to his personal past, and allusions to
  his Christlike mission to save his country from
  the satanic designs of his opponents-
                    Orator

• In earlier days very good at captivating large
  audiences
• Able to identify with people in simple and
  powerful language
• The willingness and honestly is what also
  mortified northerners
• It was his way of engaging audiences and
  disputing his character that prompted so much
  criticism
              February 22, 1866,
  Speech on White House Balcony on Washington’s Birthday

• Demonstrating distance from Lincoln in popular
  imagination
• Hadn’t prepared anything, very clear focused
  on the profusion of self-references, the demands
  for respect, the appeals to the people
• Traitors and treason in the South- those still
  opposed to the restoration of the states, Publicly
  identified and charge other senators, prominent
  national reformer, with treason
       Two main personality traits

• Obstinate
• Inconsistent
• Willful to the point of abject stubbornness
• Weak in the face of flattery
• Intransigent when he needed to compromise, but
  unable to hold a promise
• Johnson never acknowledged this, but many
  listeners heard it and that is what wrecked him
                 Summary
• Johnson went against his own professions and
  melted into the arms of the South
• Once a plebian he had arrived in a place
  where he was in charge and it was satisfying
  to spend the bounty of power on those who
  had forsaken him
• Everything melted away with his vision of
  becoming a Southern Gentleman
                Discussion
• What is the president’s job?
• How does Jefferson define his role as
  President?
• How does he define the people’s role?
• What does his era teach us about our era?
• Why do we care?