Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Wood, Margaret Louise||Crawford, Paul K.||Dallinger, Carl A.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Speech


Madison; James; 1751-1836


Although James Madison's place in the early history of the United States is indicated by the titles given him, Father of the Constitution and fourth President, his speaking is neither widely represented nor much studied by modern rhetoricians. The object of this study is to determine the value of Madison's speaking in the two periods of his life indicated by the epithets assigned him. For this purpose four representative speeches were chosen from Madison's debating in the Virginia Federal Convention, and six of his Presidential messages to Congress were examined. Since many factors affect any decision, especially the decisions of, men representing various points of view, a man's speaking cannot be simply evaluated by counting the votes for his propositions. Therefore this study measures Madison's speeches against several criteria in addition to agreement of the immediate audiences. ere the ideas of permanent value? Were they supported by valid appeals to reason and motives? Were the speeches well organized? Was the language clear and forceful? Were the speeches delivered adequately? Questions such as these have guided the evaluation of speeches for 2500 years. Madison's speeches in the ratifying convention are found to give excellent exposition to his theory of government. Since this theory was the basis for the Constitution, the ideas have permanent validity. His Congressional messages adequately develop a policy of honorable neutrality. In debate Madison showed a genius for seeing the exact issue and producing ample evidence to win it. Although his language was formal, the structure of his sentences strengthened the force of his arguments. Madison was weak in appealing to the emotions of his hearers, a weakness compounded by his frail voice and poor delivery. Although his reputation as a speaker has suffered from his unexciting approach, Madison's rhetoric should be raised for its convincing appeal to reason.


Includes bibliographical references.


vii, 153 pages




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