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HARPINE, William E.

Winter 2004, pages 73-88

"We Want Yer, McKinley": Epideictic Rhetoric in Songs from the 1896 Presidential Campaign

Abstract: The 1896 presidential campaign included, among many other campaign techniques, a large number of songs that praised and condemned the opposing candidates, William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan. The campaign songs, whose likely purpose was to inspire the candidates' followers, were epideictic in tone and spirit. By presenting a rhetoric that paralleled epideictic speeches, the songs enabled the opposing candidates themselves to uphold a sense of their own decorum. The songs used values as rhetorical devices; however, the songs' purpose was to gain a practical political end rather than to uphold moral principles.

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