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ERIC Number: EJ930433
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 13
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0302-1475
Abraham Lincoln, Laurent Clerc, and the Design of the World: Lincoln Day Address at Gallaudet University, February 11, 2009
Baynton, Douglas C.
Sign Language Studies, v10 n4 p396-408 Sum 2010
Protestant ministers often construct their sermons around a text from the Bible that they expand upon to make some broader point. In the nineteenth century, public speakers frequently used the same rhetorical formula, taking their text not necessarily from the Bible but from any well-known source. In his famous Cooper Union speech of 1860, Abraham Lincoln used the technique with ironic intent, taking as his "text" a line from a speech by Stephen Douglass. Douglass had argued, contra Lincoln's Republican party, that the federal government lacked authority under the Constitution to prohibit the spread of slavery: "Our fathers, when they framed the Government under which we live," he said, "understood this question just as well, and even better, than we do now." Lincoln proceeded to demolish Douglass's argument by methodically citing one after another of those very framers to demonstrate that most of them believed the government did have this authority. The author makes use of that technique in this article not to demolish but rather to explore and elaborate an argument made by Laurent Clerc and, for this Lincoln Day celebration, to juxtapose it with the life and ideas of Lincoln. The author takes as his text a passage from Clerc's celebrated address to the Connecticut legislature in 1818, in which he appealed for funds to support the Connecticut Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb, which he had cofounded with Thomas H. Gallaudet the previous year in Hartford. Clerc began his address by explaining to the legislators some of the practical difficulties and benefits of educating deaf people. He then turned to more philosophical matters: "Every creature, every work of God, is admirably well made; but if any one appears imperfect in our eyes, it does not belong to us to criticize it. Perhaps that which we do not find right in its kind, turns to our advantage without being able to perceive it." (Contains 20 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A