The Political Style of Conspiracy: Chase, Sumner and Lincoln

The Political Style of Conspiracy: Chase, Sumner and Lincoln

by Michael William Pfau
     
 

ISBN-10: 0870137603

ISBN-13: 9780870137600

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 discourse—linguistic and symbolic practices and artifacts revolving around themes, claims, or accusations of conspiracy—has been a staple of political rhetoric. Some conspiracy

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Overview

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 discourse—linguistic and symbolic practices and artifacts revolving around themes, claims, or accusations of conspiracy—has 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 particular—the "slave power" conspiracy—was 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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780870137600
Publisher:
Michigan State University Press
Publication date:
11/28/2005
Series:
Rhetoric & Public Affairs Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
248
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

Ch. 1Problems of interpretation : approaching conspiracy in text and discourse1
Ch. 2The slave power according to Salmon P. Chase : entering the mainstream of partisan rhetoric, 1845-185447
Ch. 3Charles Sumner's "crime against Kansas" : conspiracy rhetoric in the oratorical mold87
Ch. 4Lincoln, conspiracy rhetoric, and the "house divided" : assessing the judgment of history121
Ch. 5Lessons of the slave power conspiracy : conspiracy rhetoric at the center and fringe153

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