Edmonds’ Attraction to Knowledge in Communication

face of a prisoner

John W. Edmonds thrived in a wide range of communicative circumstances. He grew up in large, two-parent family; he lived for years with his wife, three children, and his widowed mother; and he spent years actively participating in communal life in the place of his birth. Edmonds surely had considerable practice in ordinary communication among family and friends. Edmonds also served in the military and spent time living among native Americans. In those circumstances he would have been exposed to much different practices of communication. As an active participant in the Democratic Party and the New York State legislature, as a lawyer who built a successful law practice in New York City, and though his experience as a Circuit Judge, a Supreme Court Justice, and a judge for the Court of Appeals, Edmonds would have acquired familiarity with different styles of public speaking and their effects. Edmonds was highly capable socially and communicatively.

Edmonds claimed to communicate with spirits of the dead. Much more astonishing than this claim was Edmonds’ public presentation of communicating with the dead. Despite his diverse practices of communication, Edmonds publicly emphasized knowledge-seeking in communicating with the dead. As a leader of the Prison Association of New York, Edmonds also publicly emphasized knowledge-seeking in communicating with prisoners. Within his extraordinary life, Edmonds’ public emphasis on knowledge-seeking indicates a fundamental bias in public values.

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