The Passionate Empiricist: The Eloquence of John Quincy Adams in the Service of Science

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Explores John Quincy Adams’s oratorical work in support of government-funded science.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“In this age where so much government funding of science is based in the military-industrial complex, it is fascinating to look at arguments for and against government funding of science at a time when such funding was not a given.” — CHOICE
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791477007
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2010
  • Pages: 245
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Marlana Portolano is Assistant Professor of English at Towson University.

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Table of Contents


1. A Classical Voice for American Science

2. An American Cicero
Adams the Professor of Rhetoric/The Lectures on Rhetoric: An Outline of Adams’s Theory/Competing Rhetorical Teachings in Adams’s Time
Twenteth-Century Rhetorical Theory: An Aid for Contemporary Readers

3. Toward a Democratic Science: Institution-Building and the Statesman Orator
Adams’s Early Development as an Orator for Democratic Science/ The Presidency as Pulpit for Science/Appealing to the Audience: Early American Attitudes toward Science

4. Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge: Setting the Stage for the Smithsonian Debate
The Question of James Smithson’s Intentions/ The Smithsonian and the Ethos of Scientific Discovery/Early Scientific Institutions as Models in Deliberative Rhetoric/The Smithsonian as Locus for Common Knowledge/ An Imperious and Indispensable Obligation/The State of the Controversy

5. Adams’s Arguments in the Smithsonian Debate: A Rhetorical Analysis
An Inventive Stage: Letters, Learned Advice, and Private Conversations/Asher Robbins and the National University Plan/Adams’s Refutations and His First Arguments for an Observatory/ Two Particular Audiences and Adams as Impartial Judge/ Financial Delays to Action: “Catch the bear before you sell his skin”/Resistance to Argumentation/ Arguments for a Natural History Museum and the Agricultural Influence/ The Grand Library Plan/Compromise

6. The Queen of Sciences and Her Democratic Champion
Adams’s Promotion of Astronomy
Adams’s Congressional Arguments for an Observatory/Adams’s Public Speaking Tours on Astronomy

7. Invention and Discovery, Rhetorically Speaking

Appendix A The Will of James Smithson
Appendix B An Act to Establish the Smithsonian Institution as It Passed into Law on August 10, 1846

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