15 Greatest Speeches That Changed The Course Of History

Speeches Changed Course Of History

14. Frederick Douglass. “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”

July 5, 1852. Rochester, NY.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was an abolitionist, former slave, and an outspoken advocate of the anti-slavery belief. His thinking was way ahead of his times, and his speeches made even liberal people feel uncomfortable and hang their heads in shame; even though he was always unanimously applauded by his audiences when he was finished.

Excerpt:

“I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you this day rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?”

You can read the full speech here.

15. Pericles. Funeral Speech.

431 BC. Athens.

Pericles

Pericles is considered to be one of the greatest orators of all time. He was mentored by the great philosopher, Anaxagoras. His speeches motivated and inspired Athenians to fight to become the greatest power in Greece. In February 431 B.C., when he was asked to give the funeral oration for the fallen heroes, he did not concentrate on the conquests and gave one of the greatest speeches ever. Rather, he focused on the glories of the country and inspired the people to not let the sacrifices go in vain. Did you know that his funeral oration inspired Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address?

Excerpt:

“So died these men as became Athenians. You, their survivors, must determine to have as unfaltering a resolution in the field, though you may pray that it may have a happier issue. And not contented with ideas derived only from words of the advantages which are bound up with the defense of your country, though these would furnish a valuable text to a speaker even before an audience so alive to them as the present, you must yourselves realize the power of Athens, and feed your eyes upon her from day to day, till the love of her fills your hearts; and then, when all her greatness shall break upon you, you must reflect that it was by courage, sense of duty, and a keen feeling of honor in action that men were enabled to win all this, and that no personal failure in an enterprise could make them consent to deprive their country of their valor, but they laid it at her feet as the most glorious contribution that they could offer.”

You can read the full speech here.

We hope you liked this compilation of the greatest speeches of all time. Let us know in the comments down below, which one was your favorite.

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