A Rhetorical Analysis of Selected Speeches by James Robb, 1851-1852

Date of Award

Spring 1-1968

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Mixon, Harold M.

Second Advisor

Braden, Waldo W.

Third Advisor

Bradford, Clinton W.


The speeches by James Robb affected the railroad movement, the political structure and the economy of antebellum Louisiana. The purpose of this thesis was to make a rhetorical study of six of Robb's speeches delivered during his most prolific period of public speaking, April 18, 1851 to July 5, 1852. The procedure of this study was to investigate the economic and political issues which influenced him as a speaker, to examine the characteristics of each audience and setting and to analyze various aspects of his speeches. Robb developed five major themes in his speeches: (1) economic diversification, (2) restoration of public credit, (3) expansion of railroads, (4) leadership in government, and (5) objections to political partisanship. Inadequate evidence diminished the logical support of his ideas, but ethical and emotional proof lent cogency to his arguments. He used ethical appeals to enhance his image as a public-spirited citizen. This study concluded that his speaking was effective. His speeches gained generally favorable responses, not only in the immediate speaking situation, but ever a long period of time as well. By March 16, 1852, Robb was a well-known Southern orator whose speeches helped elect him to public office and aided the railroad men in their efforts to unite the South and the West.



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