Why Study Rhetoric? John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States, offers a strong argument, which he says should be presented to “all youthful Americans; and more especially those, who are distinguished by the liberal discipline of a classical education, and enjoy the advantages of intellectual cultivation” to study and master the art of speaking, eloquence, and persuasion – that is -- Rhetoric!
The art of speaking … must be the most useful, where it is capable of producing the greatest effects; and that can be in no other state of things, than where the power of persuasion operates upon the will, and prompts the actions of other men … Eloquence is the child of liberty and can descend from no other stock …
The vital principle (of our institutions) is liberty. Persuasion, or the influence of reason and of feeling, is the great if not the only instrument, whose operation can affect the acts of all our corporate bodies; of towns, cities, counties, states, and of the whole confederated empire. Here then eloquence is recommended by the most elevated usefulness, and encouraged by the promise of the most precious rewards.
Click here for more from John Quincy Adams' Lectures on Rhetoric and Oratory.