Main Links

SITE SEARCH

Home Page
Speech Bank
Top 100 Speeches
Great New Speeches
Obama Speeches
GWB Speeches
Movie Speeches
Rhetorical Figures
Christian Rhetoric
9/11 Speeches
News & Research

For Scholars

Rhetoric Defined
Corax v. Tisias
Plato on Rhetoric
Aristotle on Rhetoric
Comm Journals
Comm Associations

Cool Exercises

Rodman & de Ref
Speech Quiz #1

Reviews/Traffic

Features/Awards
Net Rank/Links In

Legal/Privacy

Copyright Info
Privacy Policy

Contact

E-mail Contact

 THE TOP 100 SPEECHES is an index to and substantial database of full text transcriptions of the 100 most significant American political speeches of the 20th century, according to a list compiled by Professors Stephen E. Lucas and Martin J. Medhurst. Dr. Lucas is Evjue-Bascom Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Dr. Medhurst is Distinguished Professor of Rhetoric and Communication at Baylor University (Texas).

137 leading scholars of American public address were asked to recommend speeches on the basis of social and political impact, and rhetorical artistry.

See this news release about the top 100 speeches list for more information.

 

 

 

TOP 10 SPEECHES

MLK - I Have A Dream

JFK - Inaugural Address

FDR - Inaugural Address
FDR - Pearl Harbor
BJordan - 1976 DNC Address
RNixon - Checkers
MX - Ballot or Bullet [Off Site]
RReagan - Shuttle Challenger
JFK - Houston Ministers
LBJ - We Shall Overcome
 

See also the Oxford University Press anthology by Lucas and Medhurst: Words of a Century: The Top 100 American Speeches, 1900-1999.


MOMENTS FROM THE TOP 100 SPEECHES

John F. Kennedy

Inaugural Address

"We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans -- born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world."

 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

First Inaugural Address

Text,  Audio, Video of Address

 

"This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. 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."

 

Barbara Jordan

1976 DNC Address

Text,  Audio, Video of Address

 

"It was one hundred and forty-four years ago that members of the Democratic Party first met in convention to select a Presidential candidate. Since that time, Democrats have continued to convene once every four years and draft a party platform and nominate a Presidential candidate. And our meeting this week is a continuation of that tradition. But there is something different about tonight. There is something special about tonight. What is different? What is special?

I, Barbara Jordan, am a keynote speaker."

 

Jesse Jackson

1984 DNC Address

Text,  Audio, Video of Address

 

"The Democratic Party -- which is the best hope for redirecting our nation on a more humane, just, and peaceful course."

"This is not a perfect party. We are not a perfect people. Yet, we are called to a perfect mission. Our mission: to feed the hungry; to clothe the naked; to house the homeless; to teach the illiterate; to provide jobs for the jobless; and to choose the human race over the nuclear race."

 

Richard Nixon

"Checkers"

Text,  Audio, Video of Address

 

"Now, the usual political thing to do when charges are made against you is to either ignore them or to deny them without giving details. I believe we've had enough of that in the United States, particularly with the present Administration in Washington, D.C. To me the office of the Vice Presidency of the United States is a great office, and I feel that the people have got to have confidence in the integrity of the men who run for that office and who might obtain it."

"I have a theory, too, that the best and only answer to a smear or to an honest misunderstanding of the facts is to tell the truth. And that's why I'm here tonight. I want to tell you my side of the case."

 

Ronald Reagan

Space Shuttle Challenger

Text,  Audio, Video of Address

 

"We've grown used to wonders in this century. It's hard to dazzle us. But for twenty-five years the United States space program has been doing just that. We've grown used to the idea of space, and, perhaps we forget that we've only just begun. We're still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers."

"And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle's take-off. I know it's hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons. The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted."

 

Hillary Clinton

UN 4th World Conference

Text,  Audio, Video of Address

 

"If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely -- and the right to be heard."

"Women must enjoy the rights to participate fully in the social and political lives of their countries, if we want freedom and democracy to thrive and endure."

 

Barbara Bush

Wellesley Commencement

Text,  Audio, Video of Address

 

"In the world that awaits you, beyond the shores of Waban -- Lake Waban, no one can say what your true colors will be. But this I do know: You have a first class education from a first class school. And so you need not, probably cannot, live a "paint-by-numbers" life. Decisions are not irrevocable. Choices do come back. And as you set off from Wellesley, I hope that many of you will consider making three very special choices.

The first is to believe in something larger than yourself, to get involved in some of the big ideas of our time."

 

Douglas MacArthur

Farewell Address to Congress

Text,  Audio, Video of Address

 

"I stand on this rostrum with a sense of deep humility and great pride -- humility in the wake of those great American architects of our history who have stood here before me; pride in the reflection that this forum of legislative debate represents human liberty in the purest form yet devised. Here are centered the hopes and aspirations and faith of the entire human race."

"I do not stand here as advocate for any partisan cause, for the issues are fundamental and reach quite beyond the realm of partisan consideration. They must be resolved on the highest plane of national interest"

 

Elie Wiesel

The Perils of Indifference

Text,  Audio, Video of Address

 

"To be indifferent to...suffering is what makes the human being inhuman. Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger and hatred. Anger can at times be creative. One writes a great poem, a great symphony. One does something special for the sake of humanity because one is angry at the injustice that one witnesses. But indifference is never creative. Even hatred at times may elicit a response. You fight it. You denounce it. You disarm it."

"Indifference elicits no response. Indifference is not a response. Indifference is not a beginning; it is an end. And, therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor -- never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten."

 

Eleanor Roosevelt

Declaration of Human Rights

Text,  Audio, Video of Address

 

"The long and meticulous study and debate of which this Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the product means that it reflects the composite views of the many men and governments who have contributed to its formulation."

"Not every man nor every government can have what he wants in a document of this kind. There are of course particular provisions in the Declaration before us with which we are not fully satisfied. I have no doubt this is true of other delegations, and it would still be true if we continued our labors over many years."

"Taken as a whole the Delegation of the United States believes that this is a good document -- even a great document -- and we propose to give it our full support."

 

Ann Richards

1988 DNC Keynote Address

Text,  Audio, Video of Address

 

"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Buenas noches, mis amigos. I'm delighted to be here with you this evening, because after listening to George Bush all these years, I figured you needed to know what a real Texas accent sounds like."

"Twelve years ago Barbara Jordan, another Texas woman, Barbara made the keynote address to this convention, and two women in a hundred and sixty years is about par for the course."

"But if you give us a chance, we can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels."

 

compassionintl.gif (13360 bytes)

Rhetorical Figures in Sound

Online Speech Bank

Movie Speeches

Top 100 Speeches

© Copyright 2001-2018. 
American Rhetoric.
Created by Michael E. Eidenmuller.
All rights reserved.