Political oratory and communications media

“How, for instance, did the vast multitudes that Daniel O’Connell drew to Mullaghmast manage to hear his speech when there were no microphones? ‘It was this way,’ said one of the old men, who was there. The people said there was half a million of men, not counting women. It was a mighty gathering. Everybody heard Dan. For Dan raised his hand and told all about the platform to repeat his words. He said ‘Silence’, and silence came to us as the wind upon the barley. Then each man spoke after Dan, and every other man said the words, and out to us all on the edge of the crowd came the speech of Dan O’Connell.'”

“…all modern political prose descends from the Gettysburg address. Those 272 words rendered obsolete the style of Everett and forged a new, lean language to redeem the first modern war. As has happened with each generational change in the style of oratory, it was that ‘new’ language, used as Lincoln adapted to the development of telegraphy, that undoubtedly baffled his contemporary critics…”

“As Lloyd George, Churchill and Roosevelt adapted subsequently to the age of the wireless, critics again mourned the state of oratory, as they do today in the age of global television, even though it is this age that has brought us John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela and given more powerful worldwide power and effect to their speeches than Chatham or Webster or Lincoln could have dreamed of.”

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