Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the
Graduate Council of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
CEREMONIAL SPEAKING AND THE REINFORCING OF
AMERICAN NATIONALISM IN THE SOUTH, 1870-1890
Walter Stuart Towns
Chairman: Dr. Donald E. Williams
Major Department: Speech
This historical-descriptive study examines twenty-six post-Civil War ceremonial speeches delivered by Southerners to Southern audiences in an attempt to determine the nature of post-war rhetoric of reconciliation.
The study is limited to speeches made in the geographical area of the Confederate States of America, with primary focus on Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. An additional limitation is that the speakers studied were long-time residents of the South and men who were commonly recognized leaders in their communities. The speakers include William B. Bate, J.C.C. Black, Matthew Butler, John W. Daniel, Charles E.R. Drayton, Clement A. Evans, John B. Gordon, Henry W. Grady, John Temple Graves, Atticus G. Haygood, Moses D. Hoge, W.B.W. Howe, Thomas J. Jarvis, John Kemper, David M. Key, Evander M. Law, Fitzhugh Lee, Thomas M. Logan, Samuel McGowan, U.M. Rose, James W. Throck- morton, and Alfred Moore Waddell.
The ceremonial situations examined included Memorial Day, eulogy-producing events, monument dedications, veterans' reunions, and educational occasions such as commencements and alumni meetings.
The major themes discovered are: (1) Both the South and the North have made major contributions to the nation's heritage. (2) The South accepts the verdict of the sword and is ready to participate again in the national life. (3) The model of Northern and Southern leaders as they practice reconciliation should be followed by all citizens. (4)The politician is largely to blame for preventing total reunion. (5) There is a bright future for the reunited nation and the South will play a vital role in that future.
These speakers also attempted to reinforce American nationalism by appealing to the human values of patriotism, forgiveness, friendship, cooperation, and responsibility.
Based on this survey some suggestions are made concerning the nature of speaking which would reaffirm reconciliation. It is suggested that a speaker ground his premises on those human values most directly related to a spirit of harmony, such as patriotism or loyalty, forgiveness, friendship, cooperation, and responsibility. Second, it is suggested that speakers intensify these values by illustrating them with contemporary examples of reconciliation taking place. Again, a speaker's strategy could include helping his audience accept the fact that in a situation calling for reinsti- tuting harmony, there is generally a "loser" and a "winner." Finally, the speech could provide specific examples of what the two factions, sections, or groups have in common — either goals and purposes or heritage and tradition.
Reconciliation is not analogous to a religious philosophy of "once saved, always saved." Rather, it is a process with no clearly definable beginning and with no point in time when one is totally reconciled. It is more accurate to say that the post-Civil War South was in the process of becoming reconciled to national goals and purposes — a process even yet unfinished. This study examines what these speakers said on the subject of national reunion and suggests some possible strategies and considerations for contemporary speakers who would attempt to reconcile antagonistic elements of our national life.