Over the course of his career, Henry M. Jackson delivered speeches to diverse audiences within Washington state and around the nation, as well as before Congress and in numerous international venues. Speech writing was handled with the utmost care, with input from knowledgeable staff members as well as outside experts. A finished speech reflected the Senator's desire to consolidate his argument -- however complex -- into precisely what needed to be said. Once the central thrust of Jackson's message had been established, it would be supplemented by a call to action.
For all of the careful attention that went into the writing of speeches, Jackson himself was not a rousing orator, and as a result he was generally most effective meeting with a smaller, more intimate audience, where he could more easily establish a sense of connection with individuals. Though at times criticized for his lack of charisma, he often turned this critique to his advantage by joking about it in the opening remarks of a speech.
Jackson's success in meeting with and speaking to smaller audiences and groups of constituents served him well in Washington State, where he was re-elected for five consecutive terms in the U.S. House and six in the Senate. But his reputed lack of charisma may have impeded his efforts to connect with a larger, national audience during his two unsuccessful bids to win the Democratic presidential nomination, first in 1972 and again in 1976.
Documentation in the Henry M. Jackson Papers
Evidence of Jackson's extensive record of speech writing and speech making can be found in Speeches and Writings sections throughout his papers. Photographic and Graphic Materials, Moving Images, and Sound Recordings series are also rich in resources that document Jackson's speeches and the manner and style of his delivery before a variety of audiences.
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