Public Speaking in the 18th Century
"There were two hallmarks of political maturity which were part of the utmost importance in this critical situation [on the quality of debate at the states ratification conventions of the United States Constitution]. Without them ratification might well have failed. One of these was skill and effectiveness in debate. One cannot read the records presented in these volumes without being impressed with the penetration and thoroughness with which, in the more important conventions, every issue of importance was dissected and argued. Every man who had anything to say could say it, and he could argue at length with those who disagreed with him...The debates on ratification did, in fact, change men's minds as the result of open discussion." Robert E. Cushman in the Jensen edition of the States' Ratification Conventions

A. On the power of oratory in 18th century America and Classical comparisons - from Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography

B. On the excitement created in 18th century America by the prospect of hearing a gifted public speaker - from Nathan Cole's Spiritual Journal