Skip to main content

The Better Speaker

July 2024
1min read

I hadn’t the faintest idea I was having a brush with history one evening in the spring of 1929. I just knew that it was the end of a wearying, happy day.

The afternoon had seen me place well enough in several events to win my track letter. Now here I was being presented with a five-dollar gold piece as my reward for finishing second in Whittier High School’s constitutional oratorical contest. My speech, “John Marshall and the Constitution,” had just lost to one on the subject “Our Privileges under the Constitution.” I didn’t begrudge the winner of the firstplace ten-dollar piece. Richard M. Nixon had simply been the better speaker.

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.