Consider your audience. Keep your message simple. Make a connection with your audience. Appeal to their emotions. Leave them wanting more.
If you’ve received instruction in public speaking, you might recall how these tips can help a presenter become a persuasive information-sharer, motivator or storyteller.
One Miami University graduate must have kept all these things in mind when he delivered the third and final address on November 19, 1863 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. With careful planning, the triumvirate of orators who spoke that day educated, inspired and finally motivated their audience to keep up their morale, finish the job at hand and restore peace to the country.
People gathered in Gettysburg on that historic November day for the consecration of a new national cemetery on the field where the battle had been fought. Edward Everett, the former Massachusetts governor, held center stage for two hours, employing his flair for drama, his commanding stage presence and his dignified delivery style as he cast an historic light on the battle. Next, Abraham Lincoln used just 272 words to convey his message “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Finally, Charles Anderson, the newly elected lieutenant governor of Ohio, took the floor of the Gettysburg Presbyterian Church to deliver a provocative speech that would rally the crowd to finish the job at hand and restore peace to the country. It was classic oratory, packed with classical references and flowery language employed to convince the audience that “our horrid doom must be plain to every mind.” One sentence in itself was 252 words long.
Excerpts from Everett’s speech were printed in a few contemporary newspapers and then forgotten. We all know what happened to Lincoln’s words. But Anderson’s oration disappeared right away. It remained lost for nearly 150 years, until a chance meeting between Rob Tolley, an anthropology lecturer at Indiana University East, and Bartley Skinner, Anderson’s great-grandson, on a Wyoming ranch led to its rediscovery in 2006.
The stories behind Anderson and his speech are shared in The Lost Gettysburg Address, a new book by David T. Dixon.
Born near Louisville, Kentucky, on June 1, 1814, Anderson attended Miami University from 1829 to 1833, where he was known for his intellect, morality and congeniality. Anderson was a member of the school’s Erodelphian Society, a literary society organized for students to debate historical and contemporary events in order to promote their self-improvement and fellowship. For his commencement oration, he delivered An Oration on the Influence of Monumental Records upon National Morals, arguing for the creation of a national monument honoring George Washington.
After graduation, Anderson practiced law, served one term in the Ohio Senate and used his oratorical skills to raise regiments in the Civil War. In 1863, Anderson successfully ran for lieutenant governor of Ohio under Governor John Brough. When Brough died in office on August 29, 1865, Anderson became Ohio’s 27th governor, serving until January 8, 1866, when Brough’s term officially ended. Anderson chose not to run again and returned to practicing law. In 1870, he moved to Kentucky and founded a village called Kuttawa, where he died on September 2, 1895.
Soon after discovering the original, untitled 39-page manuscript for Anderson’s concluding oration at Gettysburg, Tolley brought it on Skinner’s behalf to the Ohio History Connection, where I worked with him on adding it and other Anderson-related papers the two uncovered to the collection. You’ll find it, together with a transcription, at the Ohio History Connection’s Archives/Library, in MSS 1343 AV, Box 7, Folder 12. This collection also includes correspondence, legal documents, printed material, ephemera and photographs of Charles Anderson and his family. Related collections at the Ohio History Connection include the official papers from his term as governor, which you’ll find in MSS 334, and additional addresses and orations made by Anderson, which are cataloged separately.
The original manuscript of An Oration on the Influence of Monumental Records Upon National Morals: Delivered on the 25th of September, 1833, can be viewed at the Walter Havighurst Special Collections at Miami University’s King Library.
For more on literary societies, see College Literary Societies: Their Contribution to Higher Education in the United States, 1815-1876, by Thomas S. Harding.