Reverend Ebenezer Porter


Ebenezer Porter was a well known elocutionist in his day. He was born in Cornwall, Connecticut on October 5, 1772 and died in Andover, Massachusetts, April 8, 1834. In 1792 he graduated from Dartmouth College. He then studied theology in Bethlehem, Connecticut and from there became pastor of a Congregational church in Washington, CT, (1796 until 1812). From 1812 to 1832 was professor of sacred rhetoric at Andover Theological Seminary. He was president of Andover from 1827 till his death. Porter received a Masters of Arts degree from Yale University in 1795, and a Doctor of Divinity from Dartmouth College in 1814.

Porter believed that the worst faults in elocution originated from a lack of feeling, but recognized also the faults of diction, monotonous inflections, inappropriate stress, and timing. He believed in the scientific basis of speech training, grounding it in anatomy and physiology.

He divided the study of elocution into five parts: articulation, inflection, accent and emphasis, modulation, and action.

He attributed stammering to "some infidelity of the nervous temperament" and recommended improving the bodily health as a cure in order to give "firmness to the nervous system and practice on the individual components of problem words" (Porter, 1827, pp. 32-33).


Porter contributed to the " Quarterly Register," and published sixteen sermons, two fast sermons (1831), and abridgments of Owen on "Spiritual Mindedness" and on the " 130th Psalm " (1833).

Porter, E. (1813). A well wisher of the family of mankind. Fatal effects of ardent spirits: containing serious thoughts on the traffic in distilled spirituous liquors, and on the customary use of that article, as a common drink: addressed to the particular attention and weighty consideration of the seriously disposed of all denominations. NY: Samuel Wood.

Porter, E. (1815). Great effects result from little causes. A sermon delivered Sept. 13, 1815 at the anniversary of the Moral Society in Andover. NY: American Tract Society.

Porter, E. (1819). The young preacher's manual or a collection of treatises on preaching; Comprising Brown's Address to students in divinity, Fanelon's Dialogues on the eloquence of the pulpit. Claude's Essay on the composition of a sermon. Gregory on the composition and delivery of a sermon. Reybaz on the art of preaching. Boston, MA: Charles Ewer.

Porter, E. (1824) Analysis of vocal inflection as applied to reading and speaking. Andover, (pamphlet)

Porter, E. (1827). An analysis of the principles of rhetorical delivery. NY J. Leavitt. (Micfilm E169.1 .A47, 1974 Reel 369:28, UB)

Porter, E. (1827). Duty of Christians to pray for the missionary cause. A sermon preached in Boston, November 1, 1827, before the Society for propagating the gospel among the Indians and others in North America. Andover: Flagg and Gould.

Porter, E. (1827). Unity of ministerial influence. A sermon, preached in Boston, May 29, 1827, before the Pastoral association of Massachusetts. Andover: Flagg and Gould

Porter, E. (1829). Syllabus of Lectures

Porter, E. (1827, 1831, 1835). The Rhetorical Reader. This was enlarged by James N. MacElligott, New York, 1848, 1855 and used in colleges in every state of the Union in their rhetoric courses. (220 edition, 1835)

Porter, E. (1827, 1828?, 1831, 1849) Analysis of the principles of rhetorical delivery as applied in reading and speaking. (4th edition) Andover: Flagg & Gould.(pub in 1849: Boston Mussey & Co.)

Porter, E. (1832). Lectures on the revivals of religion. Andover, MA.

Porter, E. (1833). Lectures on the cultivation of spiritual habits and progress in study.

Porter, E. (1833). Grace and duty of being spiritually minded. Owen (2003) Kessinger Publishing Company.

Porter, E. (1834, 1835). Lectures on homiletics, preaching, and public prayer, together with sermons and letters. Andover and New York. with notes and appendix by the Reverend J. Jones, of Liverpool, London, 1835).

Porter, E. (1834, 1836). The rhetorical reader: consisting of instructions for regulating the voice, with a rhetorical notation, illustrating inflection, emphasis, and modulation, and a course of rhetorical exercises designed for the use of academies and high-schools. Worcester, MA: Dorr and Howland. (1841 pub by NY: Dayton & Saxton).

Porter, E. (1834). Lectures on homiletics and preaching and on public prayer; together with sermons and letters. Andover, MA: Flagg, Gould and Newman,

This book contains a section on books and reading where Porter recommends, among others, Aristotle, Socrates, Longinus, Cicero, Quintilian, Dionysius Halicarnassus, Horace, Vossius, Ward, Lawson, Blair, Kames, Ogilvie, Burke, Allison, Addison, Beattie, Dugald Stuart [sic], Brown, Harris, Warton, Fenelon, Melmoth, Gregory, Abbe Maury, Campbell, Claude, and Rollin. In a letter to the senior class in this book, he recommends progress in the ancient classic writings, especially those of Cicero and Quintilian. One letter to a professor in a theological seminary describes what Porter teaches and his resources (including Campbell's Philosophy of Rhetoric).

Porter, E. (1835). The rhetorical reader consisting of instructions for regulating the voice, with a rhetorical notation illustrating inflection, emphasis, and modulation, and a course of rhetorical exercises. NY: Mark H. Newman. UB PN 4111 .P63.

Porter, E. (1836). Lectures on eloquence and style. Andover, MA: Gould and Newman. This book contains a brief history of classical rhetoric and suggests the extent to which Porter was influenced by the classical rhetoricians.

Porter, E. (1836). Analysis of principles of rhetorical delivery as applied in reading and speaking. Andover, MA: Gould & Newman.

Porter, E. (1859, 1992) Letters on the religious revivals which prevailed about the beginning of the present century: With Supplementary Material Compiled by Kurt R. Linde. The New Englander, 17.

Writings about Ebenezer Porter

Matthews, Lyman. (1837) Memoir of the Life and Character of Ebenezer Porter, D.D. Boston: Perkins & Marvin

Robb, Mary Margaret (1954). The elocutionary movement and its chief figures. In K. Wallace (ed). A history of speech education in America. NY: Appleton, Century Crofts. (pp181-184).

Yarbrough, R. Clyde (1942). Homilectical theory and practice of Ebenezer Porter. Unpub Ph.D. dissertation, University of Iowa.