The Political Style of Conspiracy: Chase, Sumner and Lincolnby Michael William Pfau
Pub. Date: 11/28/2005
Publisher: Michigan State University Press
The turbulent history of the United States has provided a fertile ground for conspiracies, both real and imagined. From the American Revolution to the present day, conspiracy discourselinguistic and symbolic practices and artifacts revolving around themes, claims, or accusations of conspiracyhas been a staple of political rhetoric. Some conspiracy… See more details below
The turbulent history of the United States has provided a fertile ground for conspiracies, both real and imagined. From the American Revolution to the present day, conspiracy discourselinguistic and symbolic practices and artifacts revolving around themes, claims, or accusations of conspiracyhas been a staple of political rhetoric. Some conspiracy theories never catch on with the public, while others achieve widespread popularity. Whether successful or not, the means by which particular conspiracy theories spread is a rhetorical process, a process in which persuasive language, symbolism, and arguments act upon individual minds within concrete historical and political settings.
Conspiracy rhetoric was a driving force in the evolution of antebellum political culture, contributing to the rise and fall of the great parties in the nineteenth century. One conspiracy theory in particularthe "slave power" conspiracywas instrumental in facilitating the growth of the young Republican Party's membership and ideology. The Political Style of Conspiracy analyzes the concept and reality of the "slave power" in the rhetorical discourse of the mid-nineteenth-century, in particular the speeches and writing of politicians Salmon P. Chase, Charles Sumner, and Abraham Lincoln. By examining their mainstream texts, Pfau reveals that, in addition to the "paranoid style" of conspiracy rhetoric that inhabits the margins of political life, Lincoln, Chase, and Sumner also engaged in a distinctive form of conspiracy rhetoric that is often found at the center of mainstream American society and politics.
Table of Contents
|Ch. 1||Problems of interpretation : approaching conspiracy in text and discourse||1|
|Ch. 2||The slave power according to Salmon P. Chase : entering the mainstream of partisan rhetoric, 1845-1854||47|
|Ch. 3||Charles Sumner's "crime against Kansas" : conspiracy rhetoric in the oratorical mold||87|
|Ch. 4||Lincoln, conspiracy rhetoric, and the "house divided" : assessing the judgment of history||121|
|Ch. 5||Lessons of the slave power conspiracy : conspiracy rhetoric at the center and fringe||153|
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