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Crafting Equality

America’s Anglo-African Word

Philosophers and historians often treat fundamental concepts like equality as if they existed only as fixed ideas found solely in the canonical texts of civilization. In Crafting Equality, Celeste Michelle Condit and John Louis Lucaites argue that the meaning of at least one key word—equality—has been forged in the day-to-day pragmatics of public discourse.

Drawing upon little studied speeches, newspapers, magazines, and other public discourse, Condit and Lucaites survey the shifting meaning of equality from 1760 to the present as a process of interaction and negotiation among different social groups in American politics and culture. They make a powerful case for the critical role of black Americans in actively shaping what equality has come to mean in our political conversation by chronicling the development of an African-American rhetorical community. The story they tell supports a vision of equality that embraces both heterogeneity and homogeneity as necessary for maintaining the balance between liberty and property.

A compelling revision of an important aspect of America’s history, Crafting Equality will interest anyone wanting to better understand the role public discourse plays in affecting the major social and political issues of our times. It will also interest readers concerned with the relationship between politics and culture in America’s increasingly multi-cultural society.

Table of Contents

1: Introduction: The Story of Equality
Part One: The Rhetorical Foundations of American Equality
2: The British Rhetoric of Revolt, 1760-1774
3: The Anglo-American Revolutionary Rhetoric, 1774-1789
4: The African-American Rhetoric of Equal Rights, 1774-1860
Part Two: Rhetorical Investigations
5: Separate But Equal, 1865-1895
6: Integrated Equality, 1895-1960
7: The New Equalities, 1960-1990


Speech Com Assn Public Address Division: Marie Hochmuth Nichols Award

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