Woodrow Wilson’s Western Tour:
Rhetoric, Public Opinion, and the League of Nations
Library of Presidential Rhetoric Series
J. Michael Hogan
On September 3, 1919, Woodrow Wilson embarked upon one of the most ambitious and controversial speaking tours in the history of American politics: a grueling 8,000-mile, twenty-two-day tour across the Midwest and Far West in support of the League of Nations. Historians still debate Wilson's motivations for touring, but most agree with Thomas Bailey that the tour proved a "disastrous blunder." Not only did Wilson collapse before completing it but the treaty likely would have been defeated even if the tour had succeeded.
In this masterful work, J. Michael Hogan offers the first detailed analysis of Wilson's speeches on the tour, including the most celebrated speech of the campaign, his address in Pueblo, Colorado. Assessing the tour in light of Wilson's own scholarly writings, Hogan provides a new understanding of this watershed event in the history of American public address. Over the course of the tour, Hogan argues, Wilson abandoned his own principles of oratorical statesmanship and increasingly resorted to the techniques of the propagandist and the demagogue. In the process, he subverted what he himself called the "common counsel" of public deliberation and foreshadowed some of the worst tendencies of the modern rhetorical presidency.
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J. MICHAEL HOGAN is a professor of rhetoric at Pennsylvania State University and the author or editor of four other books on political rhetoric. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
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