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his fellow Federalists failed to accomplish their purpose, which was the election of a majority of the delegates to the convention pledged to the support of the Constitution, for when the convention convened, Hamilton found a large majority, under the leadership of Clinton, utterly opposed to its ratification. In face of this apparently insurmountable obstacle Hamilton struggled bravely on, explaining, arguing, entreating, and demanding, until, finally, after many days of incessant labor, his efforts were crowned with success and the Constitution was ratified. Hamilton the orator accomplished the work which Hamilton the writer had failed to achieve.
The Emancipation Proclamation struck the shackles from the slaves, but it was the matchless logic of Lincoln displayed in the debates with Douglas that made the proclamation possible, and his Cooper Union speech that convinced the people of the North that the fathers of our country intended to include the black man as well as the white in the Declaration of Independence, and that the framers of the Constitution meant to give the federal government the power to resist the territorial extension of slavery.
Did oratory strike the shackles from the slave? Yes. Slavery perished at the mandate of men
like William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and Abraham Lincoln, who devoted their lives to a cause that had few followers at the time they relinquished all that most men hold dear, and, buckling on the armor of truth as they saw it, they went forward on their mission until slavery had vanished from the soil of the United States.
Thomas Paine did much for American liberty, but Paine failed in his efforts to incorporate in the Declaration of Independence his views regarding universal liberty, but had he been as great an orator as he was a writer, he might have influenced the committee to accept his views, and the slavery question might have been forever settled. But, no, he failed in his efforts with the pen just as Hamilton, at a later period, failed in his use of the same weapon, but not being the orator Hamilton was, he never succeeded in retrieving his fortunes and died a disappointed man.
Jefferson, the great apostle of Democracy, although a slave holder, believed in the right of every man, black as well as white, to the right of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," and in his draft of the Declaration were the strictures on the king's repeated veto of colonial laws repealing the law which permitted the slave trade, but, these views being disapproved by many dele
gates, they were stricken from the draft. Thus again did an able writer, but a poor speaker, fail in impressing his ideas upon others. Jefferson, while an expert with the pen, and a splendidly educated man, was a poor speaker. In fact, it is doubtful if he ever delivered a speech, and consequently was compelled to rely on others to express his views in the many legislative assemblies of which he was a member.
Oratory and public speaking are commonly looked upon as being one and the same thing, but this supposition is erroneous. True, they are of the same nature, as the primary object of both is to convey thought, but in reality they are almost as separate and distinct as speaking and writing.
Oratory must have truth as its basic principle, whereas public speaking does not concern itself with the truth or falsity of a question or proposition. The orator must be sincere, the public speaker need not be, provided he is actor enough to hide his insincerity. Oratory, in its true sense, is spontaneous and governs the orator. Public speaking is artificial and is ever under the speaker's control. Oratory spoke in the person of Demosthenes demanding that the Athenians arouse themselves from their lethargy; in Cicero hurling
denunciation against Cataline; in Chatham espousing the cause of the colonists; in Patrick Henry demanding liberty or death; in Robert Emmet exposing the injustice of his trial; in Henry Ward Beecher addressing the hostile audiences in England during the dark days of our Civil War, and in all cases where the cause or principle governed the speaker and he gave expression to his sentiments irrespective of the consequences to himself or to others.
Public speaking is well illustrated by the lawyer who is defending a client whom he knows to be guilty of the crime charged, and yet whose duty to his profession compels him to act as the defender of the rights of the criminal as though positive of the defendant's innocence. The lawyer pleads at the bar of the court for his client merely as an instrument through which the client speaks, and strives by every means in his power to enable the one charged with crime to escape from its consequences. This being the case, the lawyer could just as skilfully prosecute the defendant as defend him. He could argue equally well on either side of the question, consequently as both sides of a proposition cannot be true the lawyer cannot, in such a case, be sincere, but is forced to hide his knowledge of the prisoner's
guilt, control his feelings of detestation of the crime, and speak only from his desire to achieve the acquittal of his client.
Spellbinders are public speakers, but not orators, although at times true oratory falls from the lips of some of these humble party workers. Clergymen, lawyers, lecturers, politicians, and other public men are, generally speaking, public speakers, and only in exceptional cases are they orators. Truth, absolute sincerity, is the foundation of oratory, and where this exists, the means of expression, under the inspiration of the moment, will, in many cases, spring forward to convey the message. The ignorant murderer on the scaffold, standing on the brink of eternity, has been known to speak with the eloquence of perfect oratory, whereas the public speaker must fit himself by training and practice to use his powers of expression without being in any manner moved by its spirit or depending on the coming of the inspiration.
Most renowned orators have prepared themselves for the work before them by intelligent study of the means by which alone they could achieve success, such as cultivating the voice, bringing out the thought by proper emphasis and inflection, gesticulation that would strengthen the spoken