There are people all over the world that have given great speeches, but there are definitely some that resonate long after those words were spoken. If you are a history buff, or anyone else that takes great pleasure in knowing a bit more about speeches of the past, this list is for you. Here is a rundown of the Top 10 Greatest Historic Speeches that have ever been given.
10. Sojourner Truth – Ain’t I A Woman (1851)
If you have no idea who Sojourner Truth is, here is a bit of background information. She was the first female slave freed after New York State outlawed slavery. After she was freed, she went on to travel all over the US giving speeches including the above-mentioned speech that was given at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention.
9. Abraham Lincoln – Gettysburg Address (1863)
This is one speech that has been quoted numerous times in American history. Most people are only aware of the general idea of the speech since there are numerous accounts of exactly what was said. The speech was given at the dedication of the National Soldier’s Cemetery. The Civil War was ongoing and the President addressed his opinion of this in the speech.
8. Winston Churchill – We Shall Fight On The Beaches (1940)
After becoming Prime Minister of the UK, Churchill was quite famous for giving great speeches. In fact, this is only one of the three that he was best known for. It was given during the Battle of France after British soldiers were withdrawn. Churchill decided to use German root words and lesser known words like anaphora and asyndeton in order to have a much larger impact on people.
7. Demosthenes – The Third Philippic (342 B.C.)
The Athenian orator and statesman was very fond of where he was from. In fact, many of the speeches he gave during his lifetime addressed fellow Athenians lack of pride in their country. He felt like they were allowing others to disrespect Athens. When Philip the II from Macedonia decided that he was going to have troops take over the area, Demosthenes instructed the Athenians to fight back in order to defend their freedoms. After this speech, his fellow citizens decided to finally take action.
6. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – I Have A Dream (1963)
There are very few lists of historic speeches out there that do not mention this famous speech, which is why it is on this list of the Top 10 Greatest Historic Speeches. In his speech, Dr. King spoke about how he wanted to live to see the day where all races would live in harmony. The speech was given during the March on Washington on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The famous “I have a dream line” was not actually part of the speech King had written for the event. That line was improvised and it became the most prolific of the entire speech.
5. Chief Joseph – Surrender Speech (1877)
Chief Joseph and members of his tribe were ordered to stay on a reservation in Idaho to avoid trouble. Some of his men decided that killing four of their enemies was a much better idea. As a result, Chief Joseph tried to escape to Canada with his men. After five days of being pursued by the US Army, he decided that it was time to give up. He surrendered to General Nelson A. Miles in the middle of the Bear Paw Mountains. What makes this event so memorable is the fact that he and his troops were just 40 miles away from Canada when they gave up.
4. Ronald Reagan – Address To The Nation On The Challenger (1986)
Space travel is one thing that sometimes proves to be risky, and that is exactly the case with the Challenger mission. Less than a minute and a half after takeoff, the nation watched their TV screens as the shuttle blew up. All seven crew members died and President Reagan had the responsibility to console the nation. He used the time to thank the heroic crew for their sacrifice and give everyone affected a peace of mind.
3. The Speech Of Alexander The Great – (326 B.C.)
While trying to fight India for control over territories that once belonged to the Greeks, Alexander’s troop started to lose some of the motivation they once had. They were fighting for 10 years, so this was quite understandable. Instead of being a tyrant and trying to force them to continue, Alexander gave them the boost they needed to continue fighting and win the battle.
2. William Wilberforce – Abolition Speech (1789)
Wilberforce was a member of the British Parliament that converted to Christianity and decided to make changes to his way of thinking. He came to the realization that some of the things being done around him were wrong, and he chose to speech against them. This speech was the first in a series of speeches given before the House of Commons with the purpose of abolishing slavery. It took 18 years of speeches before there were any changes, but this speech was the beginning.
1. John F. Kennedy – Inauguration Speech (1961)
When Kennedy was inaugurated, he decided to take the time to ask everyone to bond together against evils that were bigger than themselves, including poverty, war and disease. To bring home all of the points given here, Kennedy created the Peace Corps that same year. He was assassinated just two years later, but his words that day are remembered by millions of people.
There have been many words spoken since the beginning of time, but these are the Top 10 Greatest Historic Speeches ever given. If any of these speeches are compelling to you, you should do some research in order to read or watch them in their entirety.