Great American Speeches

What can you learn from the great American Speeches?

First you need to decide which ones qualify. For this purpose you can rely on other people's lists such as this one. Of course like any list it's just someone's opinion.

The definition of American might be straightforward but surely we give different meanings to the word greatness. I personally would not include Nixon's Checkers speech because for me a great speech demonstrates great wisdom on the part of the speaker. This was a speech that was effective in its own narrow aims, but based on falsehood. But that's just my opinion.

You could then ask yourself was it a great speech in your opinion, or was it merely a speech given to mark a great occasion in American history. There's probably little argument that Martin Luther King's speech deserves its top billing because it clearly did both. For me, there are few other speeches that stir up my emotions in the way this one does. And I'm neither black nor American! Is it a sense of the great struggle he was articulating? Is it the knowledge of his impending doom? Or is it simply the power of the way that magnificent, soaring voice expresses ideas that promise an end to so much human suffering? I don't know but it gets me evry time!

Many great American Speeches make it into the book "Speeches That Changed The World" by Simon Sebag Montefiore, and rightly so. They range from Washington and Jefferson to George W Bush's address on 9/11. Several Presidents make the list but so too do Clarence Darrow, Generals Patton and MacArthur, Oppenheimer, Dr King, Malcolm X and Shirley Chisolm.

Presidents, Generals, Defence Attorney, Nuclear Scientist and Civil Rights Leaders. Most, but not all, from the 20th Century. Only one woman.

What types of people will make the next briliant American Speeches? I hope it won't a General and I certainly hope we've heard the last world changing speech from a scientist developing weapons of mass destruction.

Who would you include on your list? Why do they deserve to be there?

Who would you delete from the American Rhetoric list? Why is that not a great speech?

If you feel strongly about any of this please Contact Us and I'll include your thoughts here.

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