7. Alexander, The Great.
326 B.C.; Hydaspes River, India
When Alexander decided to conquer India, he bit off more than he could chew. After fighting for 10 years, his men were exhausted and did not want to fight another battle. They simply wanted to go back home. In order to instill motivation in his men, he made this rousing speech to drive them to fight and win.
“I could not have blamed you for being the first to lose heart if I, your commander, had not shared in your exhausting marches and your perilous campaigns; it would have been natural enough if you had done all the work merely for others to reap the reward. But it is not so. You and I, gentlemen, have shared the labor and shared the danger, and the rewards are for us all. The conquered territory belongs to you; from your ranks, the governors of it are chosen; already the greater part of its treasure passes into your hands, and when all Asia is overrun, then indeed I will go further than the mere satisfaction of our ambitions: the utmost hopes of riches or power which each one of you cherishes will be far surpassed, and whoever wishes to return home will be allowed to go, either with me or without me. I will make those who stay the envy of those who return.”
8. George Washington. Resignation Speech.
December 23, 1784. Annapolis, Maryland.
When the Revolutionary War was on the verge of ending, almost everyone believed that George Washington would make a grab for supreme power. But he surprised everyone by doing the exact opposite because he realized that that would be detrimental for America. He made his famous Resignation Speech in front of the Continental Congress and emphasized oh how doing the right thing is not always easy. It still remains one of this greatest speeches.
“I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my Official life, by commending the Interests of our dearest Country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them, to his holy keeping.
Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theater of Action; and bidding an Affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my Commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.”
You can read the full speech here.
9. Socrates. The Apology Speech.
399 B.C. Athens.
Being the open-minded person Socrates was, and not to forget one of the greatest, he was swiftly arrested on charges for “corrupting the minds of the youth”. But Socrates never begged for his freedom, rather he accepted the charges and tried to convince his jury. However, he was sentenced to death by hemlock.
“Someone will say: Yes, Socrates, but cannot you hold your tongue, and then you may go into a foreign city, and no one will interfere with you? Now I have great difficulty in making you understand my answer to this. For if I tell you that to do as you say would be a disobedience to the God, and therefore that I cannot hold my tongue, you will not believe that I am serious; and if I say again that daily to discourse about virtue, and of those other things about which you hear me examining myself and others, is the greatest good of man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living, you are still less likely to believe me.”
10. Mahatma Gandhi. Quit India Movement.
August 8, 1942. India.
When India was fighting to win back it’s freedom and respect from the ruthless British empire, Mahatma Gandhi was at its forefront. Gandhi along with other leaders pushed the British to quit India, hence the name. Since he believed in the principle of non-violence, he started the Quit India Movement with one of the greatest speeches known to mankind.
“I believe that in the history of the world, there has not been a more genuinely democratic struggle for freedom than ours. I read Carlyle’s French Resolution while I was in prison, and Pandit Jawaharlal has told me something about the Russian revolution. But it is my conviction that inasmuch as these struggles were fought with the weapon of violence they failed to realize the democratic ideal. In the democracy which I have envisaged, a democracy established by non-violence, there will be equal freedom for all. Everybody will be his own master. It is to join a struggle for such democracy that I invite you today. Once you realize this you will forget the differences between the Hindus and Muslims, and think of yourselves as Indians only, engaged in the common struggle for independence.”