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Woodrow Wilson's Western Tour: Rhetoric, Public Opinion, and the League of Nations

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Overview

On September 3, 1919, Woodrow Wilson embarked upon one of the most ambitious and controversial speaking tours in the history of American politics: a grueling 8,000-mile, twenty-two-day tour across the Midwest and Far West in support of the League of Nations. Historians still debate Wilson’s motivations for touring in the first place, but most agree with Thomas Bailey that the tour proved a disastrous blunder. Not only did Wilson collapse before completing his swing around the circle, but the treaty likely would have been defeated even if the tour had succeeded beyond all expectations. Most agree that Wilson’s decision to tour was misguidedthe product of an exaggerated sense of his own persuasiveness, a martyr complex, or even mental illness.

In this masterful work, J. Michael Hogan offers the first detailed analysis of Wilsons speeches on the tour, including the most celebrated speech of the campaign, his famous address in Pueblo, Colorado. Assessing the tour in light of Wilsons own scholarly writings about civic discourse and democratic deliberation, Hogan provides new insight into Wilsons failure and a new understanding of this watershed event in the history of American public address. Over the course of the tour, Hogan argues, Wilson abandoned his own principles of oratorical statesmanship and increasingly resorted to the techniques of the propagandist and the demagogue. In the process, he subverted what he himself called the common counsel of public deliberation and foreshadowed some of the worst tendencies of the modern rhetorical presidency.

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Editorial Reviews

Argumentation & Advocacy
...an attractive work for students of presidential rhetoric...the book's careful attention to what Wilson actually said, and its detailed historical recreation of the tour, make many concepts less abstract and more understandable. This volume represents an interesting and important contribution to our understanding of Wilson on his own terms.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585445332
  • Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2006
  • Series: Library of Presidential Rhetoric Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

J. Michael Hogan is a professor of rhetoric at the Pennsylvania State University and the author or editor of four other books on political rhetoric, including The Panama Canal in American Politics (1986) and Rhetoric and Reform in the Progressive Era (2003). Hogan earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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Table of Contents

Woodrow Wilson : "an address in the city auditorium in Pueblo, Colorado," September 25, 1919 1
Introduction : Woodrow Wilson's western tour 17
Ch. 1 The rhetorical presidency and public deliberation in the progressive era 27
Ch. 2 The rhetoric of "common counsel" 61
Ch. 3 The drift toward demagoguery 107
Ch. 4 The legend of Pueblo 138
Epilogue : the legacy of Wilson's western tour 164
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