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Several political scientists have argued that the presidential recourse to public rhetoric as a mode of political influence in the twentieth century represents a significant departure from a pre-twentieth-century institutional norm where “going public” was both rare and frowned upon. This article look specifically at the changes in the substance of rhetoric that have accompanied this alleged institutional transformation. Applying computer-assisted content analysis to all the inaugural addresses and annual messages delivered between 1789 and 2000, the author identifies and explores five significant changes in twentieth-century presidential rhetoric that would qualifiedly support the thesis of institutional transformation in its rhetorical dimension: presidential rhetoric has become more anti-intellectual, more abstract, more assertive, more democratic, and more conversational. The author argues that these characteristics define the verbal armory of the modern rhetorical president and suggest areas for further research.