For approximately four decades, from shortly before the Civil War until his death in 1887, the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher dominated the pulpit and the public platform. Halford Ryan argues that although the ministry was Beecher's career, public speaking was his calling. Combining important orations with a critical analysis of Beecher's rhetoric, this book examines all facets of the Reverend's speaking and preaching. Particularly, it demonstrates that Beecher was unusually skilled in the art of refutative rhetoric, that is, he often paid more attention to rebutting the claims of his opponents than he did to building his own arguments. Of special note is the fact that Ryan's analysis is grounded in original research conducted in the Beecher Family Papers. These primary sources, described fully in the endmatter, are the core materials for the critical chapters, the chronology of speeches and sermons, and the bibliography. Ryan's thesis that Beecher was aware of the importance of delivering his speeches and paid special attention to the presentation of his orations is supported by these resources. The book also contains a bibliography of works by and about Henry Ward Beecher, texts of his important speeches and sermons, and a "Chronology of Sermons and Speeches" that is keyed to Beecher's various publications. This study provides a penetrating analysis of Beecher's impact on issues of sacred and secular interest during a critical period in American history. It should be read by both historians and those interested in rhetoric and communications.