The thing about great speeches is that no matter how many years pass, they always leave an indelible impression on people’s minds.
Memorable, motivating, and historical are just some of the many things that great speeches do for generations to come. The greatest speeches of all time have this capability of making you feel powerful and driven to always stand up for what is right, and just.
Here Are Some Of The Greatest Speeches That Changed The Course Of History
1. John F. Kennedy, Inauguration Address.
January 20, 1961. Washington D.C.
Popularly and lovingly known as JFK, he was probably one of the most loved Presidents’ of the United States of America. His greatest speeches were the perfect combination of optimism, style, and leadership that catapulted his popularity and established him as one of the best orators of all time. When he made his famous inaugural address, it was clear that the helms of the country were in strong hands.
“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it — and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”
2. Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have a Dream”.
August 28, 1963. Washington, D.C.
Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream” speech is one of the most talked-about and greatest speeches of this lifetime. 100 years after slavery was abolished, black people were still discriminated against. They were spat on the streets, hosed down with water, denied entry into public places like restaurants, and were not treated like human beings. It was during this tumultuous time that MLK Jr. made his famous speech, which spoke about hope and basic human decency.
“I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification – one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. The land where my father’s died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!”
3. Chief Joseph, Surrender Speech.
October 5, 1877. Montana Territory.
In the year 1877, the military had announced that the leader of the tribe Nez Perce, Chief Joseph along with his tribe had to shift to an Idaho reservation, or face consequences. In order to avoid any kind of confrontation and bloodshed, he heavily emphasized unity, togetherness, and peace. Unfortunately, some of the men in the tribe ended up killing four white men. After traveling for 1700 miles, and fighting the American army, they surrendered General Nelson A. Miles, in the Bear Paw Mountains of Montana Territory. The speech he made while surrendering was nothing short of heartbreaking.
“Tell General Howard I know his heart. What he told me before, I have it in my heart. I am tired of fighting. Our Chiefs are killed; Looking Glass is dead, Ta Hool Hool Shute is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led on the young men is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets; the little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are – perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my Chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.”