Top 10 Speeches That Changed The World
10. Duties of American Citizenship
A speeches given by Theodore Roosevelt in Buffalo, New York on January 26, 1883, it probed into the theoretical reasons why every citizen must be involved in politics and the practicality of serving in that capacity. People must not excuse themselves from politics just because they are too busy and then blame the government for its ineptitude.
9. Inauguration Address
Incoming presidents around the world give their inaugural addresses, but there has never been anything more gripping than the one delivered by a very young, ambitious John F. Kennedy. As the 35th president of the United States, he embodied the fresh optimism of a nation that had just risen out of decades of war. As the citizens listened to his inaugural speech, they felt that the nation was headed towards a new frontier.
8. Speech of Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great was known for his great conquests but only a few knew of his oratory prowess. His talent for oration was developed while he was studying under Aristotle and he made used of it at the latter end of his conquests to motivate his men. After lording it over the Persian Empire for 10 years, Alexander decided to continue his conquest into India where they faced defeat against King Porus and his army. His men were weary from ten years of battle and they longed to go home. He then delivered a speech in 326 BC to inspire his men to continue on to fight and win which was just the motivation they needed.
7. Abolition Speech
William Wilberforce was a member of the British Parliament who converted to Christianity and later became an abolitionist. As a Christian, he sought to reform the evils within himself and the world and since one of the glaring moral issues of his day was slavery, he read up on the subject and met some anti-slavery activists. On May 12, 1789, he delivered his Abolition Speech before the House of Commons where he passionately made his case as to why the slave trade must be abolished. He also introduced a bill to abolish the trade and though it failed, it did not stop him from attempting to pass the bill year after year until finally, the Slave Trade Act was passed in 1807.
6. Quit India
Mahatma Gandhi has become popular for pioneering non-violent civil disobedience tactics in gaining independence. As wars raged all over the world, India was fighting for its liberty as well from the rule of the British crown, which ruled the country for over a century. Quit India was delivered by Gandhi on August 8, 1942 as he espoused a completely non-violent movement to oust the British with the help of the National Indian Congress. This led to the passing of the Quit India Resolution, which gave the country independence from British rule.
5. Funeral Oration
Pericles, which was dubbed by Thuciydies as “the first citizen of Athens,” delivered this oratory piece in Athens in 431 BC. A statesman, general and an orator, he was a product of Sophistas, tutored personally by the great philosopher Anaxagoras. He was a highly persuasive orator who influenced Athenians to build hundreds of temples, including the famous Pantheon. His speeches also inspired Athenians to become the most powerful in Greece. However, his skills in rhetoric were put to the test on February 431 BC during the annual public funeral for those who were slain in the war. He stood to the occasion to laud the glory of Athens and in inspiring the Athenians that their fallen heroes have not died in vain, like what Abraham Lincoln did during the Gettysburg Address, two thousand years later.
4. Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death
One of the most famous pieces of rhetoric in recent history, this was delivered by Patrick Henry in Richmond, Virginia on March 23, 1775. Henry had always been in the center of the brewing revolutionary sentiments in Virginia, but was particularly embroiled in the Stamp Act of 1764. He delivered his alleged “treason speech” for the Virginians to ban the act. As the tensions between the colonies and the Crown escalated with Massachusetts patriots preparing for war, he also persuaded his fellow Virginians to strengthen their defenses with this famous line, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
3. Citizenship in a Republic
Theodore Roosevelt was at the end of his term and to give his successor, President Taft, time to adjust to the position, he traveled to Africa and Europe. In Paris, France, he was invited to speak at the University of Paris where he delivered this famous speech on April 23, 1910. This powerful address delved on the requirements of citizenship and how democratic countries like the United States and France can stay tough and forceful amidst the fascist ideals of other nations. It was made famous by the “man in the arena” quote.
2. I Have a Dream
A speech given by Martin Luther King Jr. on August 28, 1963 in Washington DC, it is also considered one of the greatest oratory pieces in American history. A century after the Gettysburg Address and the emancipation proclamation, the promise of full equality was not yet fulfilled. Black Americans still experienced racial discrimination, but amidst all these, the voice of Dr. King sent out a message of hope.
1. Sermon on the Mount
Given by Jesus Christ in 33 AD, believers and non-believers alike often consider the Sermon on the Mount to be one of the most influential speeches ever given. In fact, one would be hard pressed to find a more quoted, discussed, or revered piece of oration in all of history.