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Top 100 American Speeches of the 20th Century

Compiled by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Texas A & M University, this list reflects the opinions of 137 leading scholars of American public address.

Eight life changing ideas from the best graduation speeches

Title
Rank Title Speaker Date Place
1
28 Aug 1963
Washington, DC
2
Inaugural Address
20 Jan 1961
Washington, DC
3
4 Mar 1933
Washington, DC
4
War Message ("A Date which Will Live in Infamy")
8 Dec 1941
Washington, DC
5
Keynote Speech to the Democratic National Convention
Barbara Jordan
12 July 1976
New York, NY
6
"My Side of the Story" ("Checkers")
23 Sept 1952
Los Angeles, CA
7
"The Ballot or the Bullet"
Malcolm X
3 Apr 1964
Cleveland, OH
8
Address to the Nation on the Challenger Disaster
28 Jan 1986
Washington, DC
9
Speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association
12 Sept 1960
Houston, TX
10
Address to Congress on the Voting Rights Act ("We Shall Overcome")
Lyndon B. Johnson
15 Mar 1965
Washington, DC
11
Keynote Speech to the Democratic National Convention ("A Tale of Two Cities")
Mario Cuomo
17 July 1984
San Francisco, CA
12
Speech at the Democratic National Convention ("The Rainbow Coalition")
Jesse Jackson
17 July 1984
San Francisco, CA
13
Statement on the Articles of Impeachment
Barbara Jordan
25 July 1974
Washington, DC
14
Farewell Address to Congress ("Old Soldiers Never Die")
Douglas MacArthur
19 Apr 1951
Washington, DC
15
3 Apr 1968
Memphis, TN
16
"The Man with the Muckrake"
14 Apr 1906
Washington, DC
17
Statement on the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Robert F. Kennedy
4 Apr 1968
Indianapolis, IN
18
Farewell Address
Dwight D. Eisenhower
17 Jan 1961
Washington, DC
19
War Message ("The World Must Be Made Safe for Democracy")
2 Apr 1917
Washington, DC
20
Farewell Address at the U.S. Military Academy ("Duty, Honor, Country")
Douglas MacArthur
12 May 1962
West Point, NY
21
Address to the Nation on the War in Vietnam ("The Great Silent Majority")
3 Nov 1969
Washington, DC
22
"Ich bin ein Berliner"
26 June 1963
West Berlin, Germany
23
Plea for Mercy at the Trial of Leopold and Loeb
Clarence Darrow
22, 23, and 25 Aug 1924
Chicago, IL
24
"Acres of Diamonds"
Russell Conwell
1900-1925
Delivered at many spots across the U.S.
25
Televised Speech on Behalf of Barry Goldwater ("A Time for Choosing")
27 Oct 1964
Los Angeles, CA
26
"Every Man a King"
Huey Pierce Long
23 Feb 1934
Washington, DC
27
"The Fundamental Principle of a Republic"
Anna Howard Shaw
21 June 1915
Ogdensburg, NY
28
"The Arsenal of Democracy"
29 Dec 1940
Washington, DC
29
Speech to the National Association of Evangelicals ("The Evil Empire")
8 Mar 1983
Orlando, FL
30
First Inaugural Address
Ronald Reagan
20 Jan 1981
Washington, DC
31
First Fireside Chat ("The Banking Crisis")
Franklin D. Roosevelt
12 Mar 1933
Washington, DC
32
Address to Congress on Greece and Turkey ("The Truman Doctrine")
Harry S Truman
12 Mar 1947
Washington, DC
33
Speech Accepting the Nobel Prize in Literature
William Faulkner
10 Dec 1950
Stockholm, Sweden
34
Statement to the Court
Eugene V. Debs
14 Sept 1918
Cleveland, OH
35
Address to the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women ("Women's Rights Are Humans Rights")
Hillary Rodham Clinton
5 Sept 1995
Beijing, China
36
"Atoms for Peace"
8 Dec 1953
New York, NY
37
American University Speech
10 June 1963
Washington, DC
38
Keynote Speech to the Democratic National Convention
Ann Richards
18 July 1988
Atlanta, GA
39
Address to the Nation Resigning the Presidency
8 Aug 1974
Washington, DC
40
"The Fourteen Points"
8 Jan 1918
Washington, DC
41
"Declaration of Conscience"
Margaret Chase Smith
1 June 1950
Washington, DC
42
"The Four Freedoms"
6 Jan 1941
Washington, DC
43
Speech at Riverside Church ("A Time to Break Silence")
4 Apr 1967
New York, NY
44
"What It Means to Be Colored in the Capital of the United States"
Mary Church Terrell
10 Oct 1906
Washington, DC
45
Speech Accepting the Democratic Presidential Nomination ("Against Imperialism")
William Jennings Bryan
8 Aug 1900
Indianapolis, IN
46
"A Moral Necessity for Birth Control"
Margaret Sanger
1921-1922
Delivered several times for the American Birth Control League
47
Commencement Speech at Wellesley College ("Choices and Change")
Barbara Bush
1 June 1990
Wellesley, MA
48
Address to the Nation on Civil Rights ("A Moral Issue")
11 June 1963
Washington, DC
49
Address to the Nation on the Cuban Missile Crisis
22 Oct 1962
Washington, DC
50
"Television News Coverage"
Spiro Agnew
13 Nov. 1969
Des Moines, IA
51
Speech to the Democratic National Convention ("Common Ground and Common Sense")
Jesse Jackson
20 July 1988
Atlanta, GA
52
Speech to the Republican National Convention ("A Whisper of AIDS")
Mary Fisher
19 Aug 1992
Houston, TX
53
"The Great Society"
Lyndon B. Johnson
22 May 1964
Ann Arbor, MI
54
"The Marshall Plan"
George C. Marshall
5 June 1947
Cambridge, MA
55
"Truth and Tolerance in America"
Edward M. Kennedy
3 Oct 1983
Lynchburg, VA
56
Speech Accepting the Democratic Presidential Nomination ("Let's Talk Sense to American People")
Adlai Stevenson
26 July 1952
Chicago, IL
57
"The Struggle for Human Rights"
Eleanor Roosevelt
28 Sept 1948
Paris, France
58
Speech Accepting the Democratic Vice-Presidential Nomination
Geraldine Ferraro
19 July 1984
San Francisco, CA
59
"Free Speech in Wartime"
Robert M. La Follette
6 Oct 1917
Washington, DC
60
Address at the U.S. Ranger Monument on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day
6 June 1984
Pointe du Hoc, Normandy, France
61
"Religious Belief and Public Morality"
Mario Cuomo
13 Sept 1984
Notre Dame, IN
62
Televised Statement to the People of Massachusetts ("Chappaquiddick")
Edward M. Kennedy
25 July 1969
Boston, MA
63
"Labor and the Nation" ("The Rights of Labor")
John L. Lewis
3 Sept 1937
Washington, DC
64
Speech Accepting the Republican Presidential Nomination ("Extremism in the Defense of Liberty Is No Vice")
Barry Goldwater
16 July 1964
San Francisco, CA
65
"Black Power"
Stokely Carmichael
Oct 1966
Berkeley, CA
66
Speech at the Democratic National Convention ("The Sunshine of Human Rights")
Hubert H. Humphrey
14 July 1948
Philadelphia, PA
67
Address to the Jury
Emma Goldman
9 July 1917
New York, NY
68
"The Crisis"
Carrie Chapman Catt
7 Sept 1916
Atlantic City, NJ
69
"Television and the Public Interest" ("A Vast Wasteland")
Newton W. Minow
9 May 1961
Washington, DC
70
Eulogy to Robert Kennedy
Edward M. Kennedy
8 June 1968
New York, NY
71
Statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee
Anita Hill
11 Oct 1991
Washington, DC
72
Final Address in Support of the League of Nations
25 Sept 1919
Pueblo, CO
73
Farewell to Baseball
Lou Gehrig
4 July 1939
New York, NY
74
Address to the Nation on the Cambodian Incursion
30 Apr 1970
Washington, DC
75
"Address to the United States Congress"
Carrie Chapman Catt
Nov 1917
Washington, DC
76
Speech at the Democratic National Convention ("The Dream Shall Never Die")
Edward M. Kennedy
12 Aug 1980
New York, NY
77
Address to the Nation on Vietnam and the Decision Not to Seek Re-Election
Lyndon B. Johnson
31 Mar 1968
Washington, DC
78
Speech to the Commonwealth Club
23 Sept 1932
San Francisco, CA
79
First Inaugural Address
4 Mar 1913
Washington, DC
80
"An End to History"
Mario Savio
2 Dec 1964
Berkeley, CA
81
Speech at the Democratic National Convention ("AIDS: A Personal Story")
Elizabeth Glaser
14 July 1992
New York, NY
82
"The Issue"
Eugene V. Debs
23 May 1908
Girard, KS
83
The Children's Era
Margaret Sanger
Mar 1925
New York, NY
84
"A Left-Handed Commencement Address"
Ursula Le Guin
22 May 1983
Oakland, CA
85
"Now We Can Begin"
Crystal Eastman
Sept-Oct 1920
New York, NY
86
Radio Broadcast of March 7, 1935 ("Share Our Wealth")
Huey Pierce Long
7 Mar 1935
Washington, DC
87
Address on Taking the Oath of Office ("Our Long National Nightmare Is Over")
Gerald Ford
9 Aug 1974
Washington, DC
88
Speech on Ending His Fast
Cesar Chavez
10 Mar 1968
Delano, CA
89
Statement at the Smith Act Trial
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
2 Feb 1953
New York, NY
90
Address to the Nation on Energy and National Goals ("A Crisis of Confidence")
15 July 1979
Washington, DC
91
"Message to the Grassroots"
Malcolm X
10 Nov 1963
Detroit, MI
92
Speech at the Prayer Service for Victims of the Oklahoma City Bombing
23 Apr 1995
Oklahoma City, OK
93
"For the Equal Rights Amendment"
Shirley Chisholm
10 Aug 1970
Washington, DC
94
Address at the Brandenburg Gate
12 June 1987
West Berlin, Germany
95
"The Perils of Indifference"
Elie Wiesel
12 Apr 1999
Washington, DC
96
Address to the Nation on Pardoning Richard M. Nixon
Gerald Ford
8 Sept 1974
Washington, DC
97
"For the League of Nations"
6 Sept 1919
Des Moines, IA
98
Address to Congress after Assuming the Presidency ("Let Us Continue")
Lyndon B. Johnson
27 Nov 1963
Washington, DC
99
Defense of Fred Fisher at the Army-McCarthy Hearings ("Have You No Sense of Decency?")
Joseph Welch
9 June 1954
Washington, DC
100
"Adoption of the Declaration of Human Rights"
Eleanor Roosevelt
9 Dec 1948
Paris, France

**Source: http://www.news.wisc.edu/misc/speeches/

 

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