A good speech should give hope, inspire people and even change the course of history. Great speeches have been spoken throughout history by great men, who used their oratory skills to make a difference and to encourage people to do the same thing. But how can you define a good orator and a good speech?
Despite the fact that a speech should be well written and presented to the audience without boring them, most importantly, it should make an impact on the people. Not many have the gift to make an impact, but for those who did, here is a list of some of the best speeches that made history.
1. Alexander the Great
“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.” Alexander the Great was a great warrior, but after years of fighting and being away from home, his soldiers lost their motivation. He was a good orator, mostly because of his teacher Aristotle, and using his gift, he convinced his army to continue on, to fight, and to win.
2. Jesus Christ
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” This is an excerpt from “Sermon on the Mount,” a speech given by Jesus Christ, a person so influential that started a whole new religion out of his words. The “Sermon on the Mount” is considered to be one of the greatest and most influential speeches of all time, by believers and non-believers.
3. Susan B. Anthony
“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.” In the 1800s women in the USA had few legal rights, and thy didn’t have the right to vote. After Susan B. Anthony was arrested because of illegal voting; she embarked on a speaking tour in support of female voting rights, during which she gave this speech.
4. Abraham Lincoln
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Written in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln, the former US President, is the Gettysburg Address speech. It is considered to be one of the best speeches in the history of the United States and one of the three founding documents of American freedom. It was written in honor of the 8.000 dead soldiers after the Battle of Gettysburg.
5. Mother Theresa
“The poor people are very great people. They can teach us so many beautiful things. The other day one of them came to thank and said: You people who have vowed chastity you are the best people to teach us family planning. Because it is nothing more than self-control out of love for each other.” These words were spoken by Mother Theresa as a part of her Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. She was a great influence over many people and helped the ones in need.
6. Mahatma Gandhi
“People may laugh, nevertheless that is my claim. At a time when I may have to launch the biggest struggle of my life, I may not harbour hatred against anybody.” Mahatma Gandhi was a big man that changed the history only with the power of his words. He did not use any kind of force and yet he succeeded in his cause, to liberate India from Britain. He has many famous speeches but this excerpt is a part of the “Quit India” speech from 1942.
7. Martin Luther King JR
August 28th, 1963, thousands of people were out on the streets listening to what might be the best speech in the history of mankind, the Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. This man was the leader of the African-American civil rights movement, and with a single phrase he joined Jefferson and Lincoln in the ranks of men who’ve shaped modern America “ I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”
8. Charles de Gaulle
“Believe me, I who am speaking to you with full knowledge of the facts, and who tell you that nothing is lost for France. The same means that overcame us can bring us victory one day. For France is not alone! She is not alone! She is not alone! She has a vast Empire behind her.” This is a part from the “Appeal of 18th June”, the speech that Charles de Gaulle presented as a resistance to the German occupation during World War II. He spoke to his people from London, after the fall of France. He declared that the war was not over, and that France will not be defeated.
9. Winston Churchill
“I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this Government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” It’s an excerpt from Winston Churchill‘s first out of three major speeches given around the period of the Battle of France. He was the the Prime Minister of Britain in the time of war. The other two very important speeches were “We shall fight on the beach” and “This was their finest hour“ and they were a great inspiration and unifying force to Britain after its defeats in the first year of the war.
10. John F. Kennedy
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” On September 12th, 1962, during a fierce space race with the Soviet Union, U.S. President John F. Kennedy delivered a speech to a large crowd gathered at Rice Stadium in Texas, which is known as “We choose to go to the moon” speech. It was one of Kennedy’s earlier speeches meant to persuade the American people to support the national effort to land a man on the Moon.