By Carolyn Eastman
Within the many years after the yankee Revolution, population of the us started to form a brand new nationwide identification. Telling the tale of this messy but formative technique, Carolyn Eastman argues that standard women and men gave aspiring to American nationhood and nationwide belonging via first studying to visualize themselves as participants of a shared public.She finds that the construction of this American public—which simply steadily built nationalistic qualities—took position as women and men engaged with oratory and print media not just as readers and listeners but in addition as writers and audio system. Eastman paints bright pix of the arenas the place this engagement performed out, from the universities that prompt teenagers in elocution to the debating societies, newspapers, and presses during which diverse teams jostled to outline themselves—sometimes opposed to one another. Demonstrating the formerly unrecognized quantity to which nonelites participated within the formation of our rules approximately politics, manners, and gender and race relatives, A kingdom of Speechifiers presents an remarkable family tree of early American id.
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Extra resources for A Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public after the Revolution
Afterward the students “exhibited” their knowledge and elocutionary polish by performing a variety of memorized texts (plays or short theatrical scenes, poems, and oratory gleaned from their schoolbooks, as well as compositions by the most advanced students) before large audiences of parents and community members. Thus these events constituted an important element of uniformity in American educational practices. Rich and poor, rural and urban, North, South and West—across the board, Americans clearly believed that children’s oral declamation revealed whether educational standards had been met.
The Revolution had produced a few memorable speakers—most notably Patrick Henry, whose “give me 18â•… ) c h a p t er on e liberty or give me death” speech remained legendary (and apocryphal)—but none had assumed prominent positions in the postwar federal government; some of them, including Henry, had even become vocal Anti-Federalists. In fact, the most prominent American political figures of the late eighteenth century were notoriously weak speakers. 2 Schoolbook editors did not hesitate to address this gap in oratorical leadership.
Thus, despite the disconnected nature of education in general, a vast majority of the white population of the Northeast gleaned very similar messages about the ways that cultivating one’s character helped unite an American public in sensibility. By the 1810s, these shared practices began to integrate new messages of civic ideals and nationalistic sentiments. Methods of cultivating patriotism in children created new ways of envisioning their roles as citizens and members of the public, even as the older emphasis on sensibility remained intact.
A Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public after the Revolution by Carolyn Eastman