Give Me Liberty: Speakers and Speeches that Have Shaped America
Christopher L. Webber
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Sure to become a classic of American oratorical history, ?Give Me Liberty reveals the enduring power of America's quest for a freer and more just society, and the context of the speeches and speakers―from Daniel Webster and Patrick Henry to Martin Luther King and Ronald Reagan―that gave voice to the struggle. ?
"Give me liberty," demanded Patrick Henry, "or give me death!" Henry's words continue to echo in American history and that quote, and the speech it comes from, remains one of the two or three known to almost every American. The other speeches that have become part of our American collective consciousness all have one theme in common: liberty. These feats of oration seem to trace the evolution of America's definition of liberty, and who it applies to. But what exact is liberty?
It is a term open to a broad range of opinion, and questions about freedom arise daily in the news and in everyday life. Perhaps uniquely among the nations of the world, the United States traces its origins to groups and individuals who specifically wanted create something new. Webber's insightful Give Me Liberty looks at these great speeches and provides the historical context, focusing attention on particular individuals who summed up the issues of their own day in words that have never been forgotten. Webber gleans lessons from the past centuries that will allow us to continue to strive for the ideals of liberty in the 21st century.
unlike the descriptions of Bryan’s rich, full baritone.28 VI Once the election was over, the news was better. The Republicans fell into a vicious internal fight. Roosevelt’s progressives felt that Taft and his followers had abandoned the fight to reform the economic and political structure of the country. Democrats watched with amusement and reaped a harvest in the next midterm elections. Bryan had some justification for claiming that victory was the result of his years of evangelism for the
control,” and he intended to reduce taxes by ten per cent in each of the next three years. It was a tough lesson on economics, but it ended with an upbeat affirmation of faith that all would be well. We can leave our children with an unrepayable massive debt and a shattered economy, or we can leave them liberty in a land where every individual has the opportunity to be whatever God intended us to be. All it takes is a little common sense and recognition of our own ability. Together we can forge
laws. He quoted the Bible, he quoted Paul Tillich, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Buber, and T. S. Eliot. He told them that he had come to the “regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice.…” And he ended with a prayer: that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be
offer was made and accepted for his freedom, but abolitionists petitioned the legislature for a bill to prohibit anyone holding office in the State from contributing to the capture and return of fugitive slaves. A Personal Liberty Act to accomplish that purpose was enacted in March 1843. But while Daniel Webster was working to maintain the Union at almost any cost, Phillips began to make speeches pronouncing Union the enemy of Freedom. “If I must choose between Union and Liberty, then I choose
self-government, and Spain had yielded to every American demand or at least accepted arbitration. McKinley had no interest in a war, but there were newspapers happy to use the rebellion to sell papers; and when an American battleship, the Maine, exploded in Havana harbor, they were sure the Spanish government was responsible. On April 11, 1898, McKinley asked the Congress for authority to intervene in Cuba if necessary, and two weeks later the Congress took it upon itself to declare war. Bryan