Delvian, WI – Henry Clay, (1777-1852) was a senator and presidential candidate during the time of American expansion and the politics leading to the Civil War. While still a lawyer, the story is told in The Essential American, that one night he stayed so long at the wine that in the morning he mistakenly argued for the wrong side. He won. The defendant said to him “you have ruined me!” Henry Clay then argued the case for the other side, and won again.
Facts are stubborn things, but theories are more stubborn. Nearly anything can be placed in any light. Just as things are seen through the color of the light shown on them, it is the same with facts.
Words are not only easy to use to manipulate facts, but so is the way they are said. St. Augustine said that speech making was completely dependent upon delivery. Many times in history troops have been moved to great actions by their generals. The generals used words to move them, saying only certain things, not mentioning the hardships to come, but only ones that are past.
It is the same with many army recruitment campaigns. Such songs as “You’re a lucky fellow Mr. Smith” of World War II, were a part of a campaign to make the army glamorous. But during the same war another campaign was used to frighten the men into signing by warning them of the Germans. It was the way the words were said and the words they used.
Words are powerful. But they cannot do everything. Many politicians can speak well of how they will save the world, but they have done that since the time of Greece and before. It is easy to sway people momentarily, or even for a period of years, with words and rhetoric. However, it is not words that will build a city, or a nation, it is deeds.
After a time words fade, the sounds begin to sounds hollow and old, and the once new phrases begin to sound cliché. But actions must take place. In the end, they are all that will count. We only have the book the Acts of the Apostles, not the speeches of the apostles; it was the acts we were to remember. When it all burns up, our tombstones will not tell what we said; it will tell what we did.
Through His Strength We Will Conquer,
Andrew C. Abbott