Toward the end of his life, Russell H. Conwell (1843-1925) observed, “I am astonished that so many people should care to hear this story over again. Indeed, this lecture has become a study in psychology; it often breaks all rules of oratory, departs from the precepts of rhetoric, and yet remains the most popular of any lecture I have delivered in the fifty-seven years of my public life.
I have sometimes studied for a year upon a lecture and made careful research, and then presented the lecture just once – never delivered it again. I put too much work on it. But this had no work on it – thrown together perfectly at random, spoken offhand without any special preparation, and it succeeds when the thing we study, work over, adjust to a plan, is an entire failure.”
He then went on to explain to each audience that “Acres of Diamonds” are to be found in this city, and you are to find them. Many have found them. And what man has done, man can do. They are not in far-away mountains or in distant seas; they are in your own back yard if you will but dig for them.”
Russell Herman Conwell (1843-1925) was an American Baptist minister, lawyer, writer, and outstanding orator. He was born in South Worthington, Massachusetts. He studied law at the Albany Law School and became a lawyer. He was a writer for the Boston Evening Traveller newspaper, first visiting and writing on civil war battlefields and then on an around-the-world trip on which he was inducted into the Chinese Freemasons. During the American Civil War he served in the union army from 1862-1864 and was commissioned a Captain.
He was called to the pastorate of the Grace Baptist Church of Philadelphia in 1882. He is best remembered as the founder and first president of Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and for his lecture and book Acres of Diamonds, and His Life and Achievements (1888), which originated as a speech which Conwell delivered over 6,000 times around the world. Amongst his other works are: The Life, Travels, and Literary Career of Bayard Taylor (1879), and The Romantic Rise of a Great American (1924).
Table of Contents
- AN APPRECIATION7
- ACRES OF DIAMONDS9
- HIS LIFE AND ACHIEVEMENTS43
- I. THE STORY OF THE SWORD43
- II. THE BEGINNING AT OLD LEXINGTON51
- III. STORY OF THE FIFTY-SEVEN CENTS59
- IV. HIS POWER AS ORATOR AND PREACHER63
- V. GIFT FOR INSPIRING OTHERS70
- VI. MILLIONS OF HEARERS77
- VII. HOW A UNIVERSITY WAS FOUNDED86
- VIII. HIS SPLENDID EFFICIENCY95
- IX. THE STORY OF ACRES OF DIAMONDS103
- FIFTY YEARS ON THE LECTURE PLATFORM108