Stump Speeches

This speaker's lectern dating to the early 1900s is believed to have been used for patriotic and community events.

Before the advent of broadcast and recording technology, presidents conveyed information and stimulated popular support by giving speeches in person. Of course, the number of people able to experience directly such presidential performances was limited.

President Theodore Roosevelt delivering an address from the rear platform of a train, about 1907
President Warren G. Harding making an informal outdoor speech, around 1921
Courtesy of Library of Congress

Political cartoon, drawn by Clifford Berryman, Washington Star, 1948
Stump speaking is often a major part of a president’s re-election campaign. In 1948, on a train called the Presidential Special, Harry Truman took to the rails to salvage a campaign many people thought he could not win. Truman’s whistle-stop tour—356 speeches in 35 days over 31,000 miles to perhaps 15 million people—provided great material for editorial cartoonists and was a major factor in his re-election.