I Believe That These Are The Best of the Best!

The greatest speeches ever are the best or top speeches of all time. The speakers are usually famous and often presidents. The best lines from each speech are included.

Of course, it was difficult to select the greatest speeches ever. Usually they are given by men as men, historically, were the leaders. You will notice that often the speeches were given in times of war and conflict.

For a speech to be great, it must have an appeal to the audience. It must have substance and be persuasive. There are many speakers, but few orators.

It is possible, even likely, that many of these are personal favorites of mine. For example, Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford University and the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln are beloved.

Martin Luther King - Franklin D. Roosevelt - George Washington - Socrates

Martin Luther King Jr., on August 28, 1963 gave the "I Have a Dream" speech.

He ended the speech with these words:

"And 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.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!"

Franklin D. Roosevelt, on March 4, 1933 gave his "First Inaugural Address".

Excerpt:

"This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

George Washington, on December 23, 1784 gave his "Resignation Speech".

Excerpt:

"Having now finished the work assigned to me, I retire from the great theatre 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."

Socrates in 339 B.C. gave his "Apology"

Excerpt:

"The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways — I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows."

Abraham Lincoln - Susan B. Anthony - JFK - Patrick Henry - Theodore Roosevelt

Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863 gave the "Gettysburg Address".

Excerpt:

"But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate - we cannot consecrate - we cannot hallow - this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here."

Susan B. Anthony in an 1873 speech.

Excerpt:

"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."

John F. Kennedy on January 20, 1961 gave his only "Inauguration Address".

Excerpt:

"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country. 25   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."

Patrick Henry on March 23, 1775 gave a speech known as "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death".

Excerpt that ended the speech:

"Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? 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!"

Theodore Roosevelt on January 26, 1883 gave a speech referred to as "Duties of American Citizenship"

Excerpt:

"No man can be a good citizen who is not a good husband and a good father, who is not honest in his dealings with other men and women, faithful to his friends and fearless in the presence of his foes, who has not got a sound heart, a sound mind, and a sound body; exactly as no amount of attention to civil duties will save a nation if the domestic life is undermined, or there is lack of the rude military virtues which alone can assure a country's position in the world."

Steve Jobs - Franklin D. Roosevelt - Winston Churchill - Ronald Reagan

Steve Jobs gave the 2005 Commencement Address at Stanford University.

Excerpts:

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking back. so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future."

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life."

Franklin D. Roosevelt on December 8, 1941 gave his "Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation".

Excerpts:

"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."

"No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory."

Winston Churchill on June 4, 1940 gave his "We Shall Fight on the Beaches" speech.

Excerpt:

"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."


Ronald Reagan on June 12, 1987 gave a speech at the "Brandenburg Gate".

Excerpt:

"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!" 


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