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Inaugural address first speech of the newly-elected American president usually given on January 20 (every 4 years) among the most popular and most famous pieces of American rhetoric Typical features of inaugural addresses well-prepared, forceful speech

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inaugural address
Inaugural address
  • first speech of the newly-elected American president
  • usually given on January 20 (every 4 years)
  • among the most popular and most famous pieces of American rhetoric
typical features of inaugural addresses
Typical features of inaugural addresses
  • well-prepared, forceful speech
  • the president addresses ALL Americans: he wants to unite the country
  • therefore, he leaves out divisive topics
  • speech usually dominated by open, associative and imprecise promises
a typical strategy establishing historical analogies
A typical strategy: establishing historical analogies
  • referring to the “founding fathers” ( …, …, …,)
  • reminding the audience of the glorious US history (…)
    • associative concepts into which the audience can project their individual visions
american exceptionalism
“American exceptionalism”
  • IAs often contain explicit or implicit references to the notion of America as the chosen place where humankind’s dream will come true
    • “American exceptionalism”
    • “God’s own country”, the “New Jerusalem”, the “city upon a hill”
  • freedom, democracy, equality, opportunity
john f kennedy s inaugural address
John F. Kennedy‘s inaugural address
  • IA remembered as one of the greatest American speeches of all time, according to Americanrhetoric.com
  • JFK (Dem.) won the 1960 election against Richard Nixon
  • Many Americans expected from him a „new beginning“
    • a forceful personality, JFK was portrayed as a strong leader
    • young, married to a beautiful wife
presidential elections 1960
Presidential Elections, 1960

Republicans Democrats

historical context
Historical context
  • Cold War:
    • Shortly after 1945, the former allies USA and USSR fell out with each other
    • A compromise between the free world and Communism seemed impossible
    • NATO and Warsaw Pact founded
  • In Korea (1950-53), the “cold” war turned into a “hot” war
historical context11
Historical context
  • The was a danger that Vietnam and other countries in Asia would become Communist
  • Since the end of the Second World War, both superpowers possessed the atom bomb
  • The fear of a nuclear holocaust and a third world war dominated international relations
major issues in 1960
Major issues in 1960
  • problems with Cuba
  • space race (Sputnik-shock)
  • the state of the economy
  • the civil rights movement
  • the beginning of the Vietnam War
john f kennedy inaugural address delivered january 20 1961
John F. Kennedy: Inaugural Address delivered January 20, 1961

… “We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom, symbolizing an end as well as a beginning, signifying renewal as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe -- the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.” …

homework
Homework
  • Prepare the Kennedy speech (the first page)
    • look for rhetorical devices
    • try to connect his words to the historical context