Sometimes Words Can Change The Course Of History!

These famous speeches are an important part of our history. They include the Gettysburg address and more than one speech by JFK and Ronald Reagan.

Words can make a difference in our lives. And many of these famous speeches were at times of great difficulty in the world. For example, President Roosevelt's speech to the nation after the bombing at Pearl Harbor signaled that the United States would be forced into WWII.

Susan B. Anthony's speaking tour resulted in voting rights for women via the 19th Amendment. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream Speech" in 1963 outlined King's vision of racial harmony in the United States.

The best famous speeches in all of history are numerous. I will list my favorites along with my favorite lines in those speeches.

Abraham Lincoln, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan

The 273 word Gettysburg Address, given on November 19, 1863 is my favorite speech. In fact, years ago, I committed it to memory. It was not hastily written on the train in route to Gettysburg, however. President Lincoln was too well prepared to do that. It was written in the White House prior to leaving.

(favorite lines) "But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

"...that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

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President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's inaugural speech is memorable for its enthusiasm and foresight.

(favorite line) "My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country."

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President Ronald Wilson Reagan oration at the Brandenburg Gate is remembered by the German newspaper Bild, as a speech that "changed the world." It was delivered on June 12, 1987 in West Berlin, Germany.

(favorite line) "There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr.,
and Winston Churchill

On December 8, 1941 FDR announced that the United States was entering WWII.

(favorite line) "Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."

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At the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., on August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a historic piece of oratory. He was born Michael King 34 years earlier.

(favorite lines) "Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children. It would be fatal for the nation to over-look the urgency of the moment."

" I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at  table of brotherhood." 

 "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where  they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. "

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On May 13, 1940, Winston Churchill delivered his first speech as Prime Minister of Britain.

(favorite line) "You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy."

Susan B. Anthony, Jesus Christ, Patrick Henry, and Mark Twain

Susan B. Anthony was arrested on November 18, 1872 for voting in the 1872 presidential election. She traveled the United States and Europe giving speeches on women's rights. The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote, was ratified on August 18, 1920 - fourteen years after Anthony died.

(favorite line from 1873 speech) "It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people — women as well as men."

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The moral teaches of Jesus Christ in the "Sermon on the Mount" are found in the Gospel of Matthew. It includes the best known teachings of Jesus.

(favorite lines) "Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift."

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In 1775, as the colonists were revolting and a nation was being born, Patrick Henry gave an impassioned speech in support or the revolution.

(favorite line)  "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! — I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

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On July 4, 1872, Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens), in London, was addressing a gathering of Americans.

(favorite line) "It has taken nearly a hundred years to bring the English and Americans into kindly and mutually appreciative relations, but I believe it has been accomplished at last. It was a great step when the two last misunderstandings were settled by arbitration instead of cannon. "


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