American Political Rhetoric Resources

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American Political Rhetoric Resources
(From 2007, please excuse dead links)

Rhetoric | Rhetorical Analysis | Political Rhetoric | Campaign Rhetoric | Writing | Research | Document Design

Additional Historical Resources in American Rhetoric

Revolutionary, Abolitionist, and Suffragist Rhetorics

Resources on Civil Rights and the War on Terror

This website provides links to partisan materials for the purpose of teaching rhetorical analyses of their assumptions, arguments, and appeals.  The positions set out in these materials are not endorsed but are only included for analysis.  Every attempt has been made to include a wide range of positions.

If you have other resources and materials to suggest, please email Professor Thomas Miller:


Orator statueRhetoric as a method and object of historical study is a brief handout that lays out basic points about rhetoric.

The Rhetoric of Aristotle has been developed into a well-indexed website by Lee Honeycutt.

The Forest of Rhetoric: silva rhetoricae by Gideon Burton of Brigham Young University provides definitions of common terms and overviews of major developments in classical and renaissance rhetorics.

Ariadne's Threads--Lines of Inquiry by H. Lewis Ulman provides an excellent set of very useful issues in rhetoric with guiding questions and supporting discussions to help you think through lines of research for your writings this semester.

The Bedford Bibliography for Teachers of Writing by Patricia Bizzell, Bruce Herzberg, and Nedra Reynolds is a very valuable resource for on-line research in rhetoric and composition.   It provides a general survey of fields of study in rhetoric and composition and includes a brief history of rhetoric and annotated bibliographies of the history of rhetoric.

Classical Rhetoric: Recommended Sources by Margaret Zulick: This gateway provides links to background materials, primary texts, and numerous bibliographies (also links to other rich pages on later periods in rhetoric through her homepage).

Rhetorical Analysis

Short Handbook to Rhetorical Analysis by William Banks provides an accessible but detailed account of ethos, pathos, and logos as well as related concepts from classical rhetoric.

Persuasion Analysis by Professor Hugh Rank includes accessible resources that can help you move beyond such familiar categories as ethos, pathos, and logos, including a page on Political Rhetoric

Ten Ways to Improve a Rhetorical Analysis Paper by Thomas Kinney provides a checklist of points to consider when revising.

Guidelines on Writing Rhetorical Analyses by Professor Hal Snyder provides a detailed overview of how to develop a rhetorical analysis essay.

Chris Werry’s “Rhetorical Analysis of Framing Devices in John Kerry’s Testimony Before the Senate Relations Committee” provides a good rhetorical analysis for discussion. While the essay has significant strengths, it is also in need of revision to bring the various analyses together into a unified argument. Its weaknesses as well as its strengths make it a good sample for discussion.

"The Framing of Immigration" by George Lakoff and Sam Ferguson uses the concept of framing to argue for a liberal redefinition of the issue of immigration.  One need not accept the political assumptions of the analysis to see how effective the methodology is at opening up assumptions to be reexamined.

"To Catch a Wolf: How to Stop Conservative Frames in Their Tracks" by Christina M. Smith is another liberal analysis using framing.

Frank Luntz interview with Bill Moyers for The Persuaders PBS series details the work with polling and opinion analysis that contributed to the "Contract with America" and the other effective Republican political rhetoric that prompted the liberal concern for "framing."

The Straight Talk report written by the Luntz Research Corporation for the Republican Party leadership is one of the memos by Frank Luntz's research company on message management that infuriated liberals.

The Rhetorica Network, according to its webpage, "offers analysis and commentary about the rhetoric, propaganda, and spin of journalism and politics, including analysis of presidential speeches and election campaigns. This site features the Rhetorica: Press-Politics Journal web log, comprehensive news media links, a rhetoric textbook, a primer of critical techniques, and information for citizens. The character of Rhetorica represents the purposes and canons of classical rhetoric."

"Reading Tea Leaves and Campaign Logos" proves a comic book rhetorical analysis of campaign bumper stickers.

Political Rhetoric

Political Rhetoric is an extensive website with search engines, databases, tutorials, and other resources developed by Atifa Rawan of the UofA Library.  Unlike the sources included below, this website is a portal that is specifically designed to help you do research in our library.

Sources on Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Website from the Cumberland County School AVA Office includes links to a wide range of related sources.

The King Papers Project has links to the complete texts of thousands of King's writings, and many other related resources can be found on website of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.

"King and the Civil Rights Movement" by Sanderson Beck includes pages that provide accessible background information on various civil rights groups.

Collections of Speeches

American Rhetoric Online Speech Bank includes hundreds of speeches in text, audio, and video.

The Speech Archive of the Presidential Rhetoric Program at Texas A&M University includes a wealth of major speeches by American presidents.

Sources of Political Commentary

The CATO Institute website provides conservative analyses on various topics.

Inter Press Service is "a Communication Institute and a global news agency" committed to transnational communications aimed at developing civil society resources.

The National Center for Policy Analysis is an interesting group for rhetorical analysis because it advocates conservative efforts to "develop and promote private alternatives to government regulation and control, solving problems by relying on the strength of the competitive, entrepreneurial private sector," while professing the doctrine of "classical liberalism" that parallels libertarian fusions of conservative and liberal philosophies.

Political Advocacy Groups is a webpage created by the Internet Public Library that includes groups from across the political spectrum organized by the issues they address.

Source Watch is a Wiki (a collaboratively produced website) that includes a list of liberal and conservative news outlets and commentary from varied sources.

Public Agenda is a site dedicated to political analysis and civic engagement.

Right Bias provides links to "conservative news 24/7."

AlterNet is a liberal group that represents itself as an "independent" alternative to "the mainstream news sources [that] are compromised by their corporate and political agendas."

Ron Gunzburger’s is billed as a “nonpartisan” and “comprehensive” list of links on parties, issues, and blogs. provides links to editorials and on-line talk radio broadcasts, including most leading conservative commentators.

Fox News Polls provides the latest polling data on the campaign.

Newsmax provides links to most major news services and extracts top political stories from them.

CNN provides a quick source to check on election results, schedules, and related issues.

Sources on Polling and Other Data Analyses

The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research provides extensive information on polls, a survey of other polling sites, and an accessible overview of what to consider in assessing polls.

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press provides nonpartisan surveys and analysis.

Social Research Laboratory at Northern Arizona University provides links dozens of university research centers and state and national statistics, including Gallup polls.

American National Election Studies provides detailed statistics on the American electorate.

PollingPoint is one of the online sources where people answer polling questions, which are then represented as national polls.

Campaign Rhetoric

The Front Runners from the Washington Post is a good place to get started on familiarizing yourself with the candidates if you do not know them because the website includes candidate profiles, analyses of their campaigns, and overviews of their campaign themes.

Resources for Young Voters is an article from Time that includes descriptions and links for groups such as Rock the Vote and other youth groups representing other viewpoints.  "The Year of the Youth Vote" is a related Time article on the marked increase in interest among young voters

Project Vote Smart is another good place to survey candidates' positions on issues.  The nonpartisan group provides biographical and political backgrounds on the candidates and also lists their campaigns' responses to specific questions on the major issues.

US Politics Guide includes links to candidate websites, blogs, other commentary, polls, reasonably nonpartisan candidate biographies, and other resources such as histories of the parties and primary sources from American political history, including speeches by major figures.

Political Campaigns from the Communication Department at the University of Missouri includes links to the major party candidates and accessible introductory overviews of campaign news coverage and understanding opinion polls and the nominating conventions that conclude the primary process. from the St. Petersburg Times provides assessments of the claims of candidates. provides statistics on candidates' donations that can be examined by types of businesses, genders, and other factors.

The Political Issues page of provides overviews and analyses of many of the issues that are being debated in the campaigns as well as links to quite varied sources on funding, volunteer opportunities, past elections, and Federal Election Commission policies.

On the Issues is a nonpartisan site that provides accessible documented details on the candidates' issues.


Need help on a draft?  You have two places on campus to get individual help with your writing:

  • The Writing Center is located on the mall in Bear Down Gym and provides free peer tutoring on drafts at any stage in their development from talking about ideas to help with editing.  You can drop by to make an appointment or call 621-3182.
  • The Writing Skills Improvement Program was established to provide either drop in or ongoing tutoring instruction to students from underrepresented groups, including those on financial aid.  The Writing Skills Program also offers tutoring to other students on a space available basis.  To schedule an appointment, you go by their office at 1201 East Helen Street.  The Writing Skills Program also offers workshops each week on Mondays from 5 to 6:00 on topics related to those we will be working.

One of the best on-line resources is the On-line Writing Lab or OWL at Purdue University, which provides pages on all aspects of writing.  For example, Commas provides a quick overview of the basics.  Other punctuation and grammatical points are listed on the Navigation menu on the right of the page, which includes a link to the Conquering the Comma Powerpoint presentation.  Also useful is Proofreading for Commas, which includes step by step advice on how to find comma problems.

Principles of Clear Writing and Principles of Clarity in Action (printer-friendly version) provide advice on how to create clarity and emphasis by using people subjects and active verbs, moving complicated information out the middle of sentences, and using the ends of sentences for complicated and important points.

Most Commonly Occurring Errors from the Writing Lab at Dartmouth provides an overview of the twenty most common errors in college students' writing.  

Basic Prose Style and Mechanics by Craig Waddell reviews basic principles of how to improve your style and clear up problems with punctuation and grammar.  A more printable version.

Handouts prepared by teachers in the UofA's Writing Program provide advice on how to improve your arguments at the paragraph and essay levels.

    To improve your style and paragraph development, review

    * Body Paragraphs,
    * Lessons on Cohesion Part I, and
    * Lessons on Cohesion Part IV.

    To improve the framing of your arguments in essays, review

    * Some Advice on Introductions,
    * Guidelines for Writing Introductions and Conclusions,
    * The Art of Conclusions
    * What NOT to Do in a Conclusion, and
    * How Introductions and Conclusions Work Together.

Guidelines for writing abstracts can be useful for related assignments


In-Text Citations from the Purdue On-Line Writing Lab provides you with a quick overview of parenthetical references and works cited formats.

MLA formats for In-text citations and the works cited page are detailed on the Research and Documentation website from Bedford St. Martins for the handbooks by Diana Hacker.  Also useful are Finding Sources in the Social Sciences and Tips for Evaluating Sources.

Library Exercise have been developed by UofA librarians to help you assess political stances.

Citation Machine claims to create citations in the correct formats if you simply type in the required information.  However, you need to know precisely which type of text you are citing to generate the correct format.

Document Design

The Principles of Design webpage provides an accessible overview of the principles that will be used to evaluate handouts and PowerPoint presentations (printer friendly version).

The Readability Writing Procedures webpage provides a more detailed overview of basic design considerations.

Sample trifold brochure and additional brochure example provide some models for assessing these principles.

Sales Brochures concepts apply to designing informational pamphlets, to some extent, and there are many accessible sites outlining those concepts.  For example,

Guide to Creating a Great Business Brochure from and Creating a Powerful Brochure and others on

Additional Historical Resources in American Rhetoric

From Revolution to Reconstruction and what happened after. . . provides an extensive archive of primary texts that is more expansive than the title suggests, for texts run from the Magna Charta up through twentieth-century rhetoric, including recent State of the Union speeches.

Social Movements and Culture: A Resource Site includes pages on various social movements, including Abolition/Slavery and Women's Movements and Feminist Sites.

Revolutionary Rhetoricians

The Road to Independence is a chapter of the US Information Agency's richly interactive Outline of American History, which includes links on all the leading figures with further links to their writings.

The Avalon Project of the Yale Law School includes full copies of many eighteenth-century texts.

Map of the Thirteen Colonies at the time of the Revolution
The Art Gallery Foyer from provides a collection of the best known portraits of the leading figures in the American Revolution.

The Declaration of Independence: The Want, Will, and Hopes of the People This website provides a rich set of links to Jefferson's Account, his draft, and that approved by the Continental Congress.

painting founding fathersThe Declaration of Independence: A History This National Archives website provides details on the composition and later history of the original Declaration.

Jefferson Digital Archive from the University of Virginia includes Jefferson's published writings and correspondence.
Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government provides a searchable collection of quotations on Jefferson's major concepts.  See also the writings of Jefferson included in the Outline of American History.

The complete collection of Franklin's Writings,  including his famous "Poor Richard" essays and Autobiography.  This facsimile copy of Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette provides a sense of the colonial periodical press.  Benjamin Franklin Links on the WWW includes links to additional resources on Franklin.

The Men Behind the American Revolution: Thomas Paine provides an introduction to the leading propagandist for human rights during the American Revolution.  Thomas Paine's writings are also available in the Secular Web Library.

Biographies of America's Founding Fathers are provided by, which also includes related documents for signers of the Declaration and Independence and Constitution and over 100 other figures.

The Portraits of the Presidents at the National Portrait Gallery provides thumbnail biographies as well as portraits of such figures as John Adams, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson.

The Founder's Constitution from the University of Chicago includes a richly annotated archive of the Constitution and a host of related documents for each of its parts.

A Short Biography of Madison is included on the University of Virginia website dedicated to his published papers.

Madison's speech proposing the Bill of Rights is available on the From Revolution to Reconstruction website.

Federalist Papers from the Library of Congress

Constitutional Interpretation schools are surveyed on the US Constitution Online website.

The Principles of Constitutional Interpretation page from provides another overview of schools of interpretation.

Abolitionist Rhetoricians

Frederick DouglassWhat, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity. Frederick Douglass The Meaning of July Fourth to the Negro, July 5, 1852

African American Voices from Digital History provides introductory overviews of various aspects of slavery, including writings by slaves organized topically.

"I will Be Heard!" Abolitionism in America from Cornell University provides an accessible overview of historical developments as well as a brief analysis of the abolitionists' rhetorical strategies and access to a rich array of primary texts such as Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Frederick Douglass's My Bondage and My Freedom. New York, 1855.
The Columbian Orator,  which Douglass studied to teach himself to read and write.
Other writings about and by freed slaves. from the Documenting the South Archives

Sojourner Truth's Narrative of Sojourner Truth; a Bondswoman of Olden Time.  Boston, 1875.

Sojourner Truth page includes links to her speeches and related resources.  It is part of the Women in History: Living Vignettes of Notable Women from U.S. History, which has also developed a list of links on other leading female Historical Figures.

African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship from the Library of Congress provides an overview of African American history with links to facsimile editions of primary works from the slave era to the Civil Rights movement.

African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship from the Library of Congress provides an overview of African American history with links to facsimile editions of primary works from the slave era to the Civil Rights movement.

Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938 includes a searchable database of interviews and photographs of former slaves.

Suffragist Rhetoricians

Created Equal is a comprehensive website for the Women's Rights National Historical Park that was developed by the National Parks Service. The site includes writings and information on the leading abolitionist and suffragist rhetoricians who participated in the First Women's Rights Convention at Seneca Falls in 1848 as well as background materials such as timelines for the abolition, women's rights, and temperance movements.

Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 includes related links and materials, many of which must be accessed through the UofA library or other subscribing libraries.  To access the full archives of Women and Social Movements,  you must go through the UofA Library and provide your cat card number.

Votes for Women: Selections from the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection, 1848-1921 provides access to writings from the Library of Congress, which has also developed the By Popular Demand: "Votes for 'Women' Suffrage Pictures, 1850-1920."

One Hundred Years toward Suffrage by Susan Barber and Barbara Orbach Natanson includes a timeline with links to background information and writings for figures ranging from Abigail Adams to twentieth-century suffragists.

The Trial of Susan B. Anthony  is one of the archives of Famous Trials created by Douglas Linder on cases ranging from Socrates to O.J. Simpson.

Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony is the website for the PBS documentary that was co-directed by Ken Burns.

Women Writers: 18th Century is an accessible page from, which includes many distracting ads on their page.

Resources on Civil Rights

Civil Rights are usefully distinguished from natural and human rights in this entry from Wikepedia.

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights was established in 1948.

The Patriot Act

The Justice Department's defense of the Patriot Act.

A criticism of the Patriot Act by the American Civil Liberties Union

The War on Terror

Terrorism website from the Library of Congress includes links on terrorism in various countries and stories on Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

"Linguistics professor George Lakoff dissects the 'war on terror' and other conservative catchphrases" is an accessible background piece on the leading advocate of framing theory.

"Speak Truth to Power" advocates the Quaker doctrine of nonviolence in response to the War on Terror.