Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Despite the fact that there is nothing in the Constitution requiring it, nor prescribed by any other federal law, the President's delivery of an inaugural address has become a de facto requirement of the official Presidential inauguration. The Presidential inaugural address is an anticipated feature of all inaugural ceremonies because it is where the newly elected president outlines, among other things, his perspective on the manner, conduct and overall form of the American government. Within this outline, the rhetoric utilized by the President during inaugural addresses shapes the way in which the American people understand our system of government on both a theoretical and functional level. This research examines the utilization of the term “democracy” in presidential inaugural speeches as a rhetorical device and the impacts of this terminology upon conceptions of American governance. This rhetorical analysis provides a lens to view the changing dynamics of American political thought.

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