History’s top 10 speeches

Friends, Romans, SmartCompany readers, lend us your ears. Here are history’s top 10 speeches, courtesy of time.com.

Friends, Romans, SmartCompany readers, lend us your ears. Here are history’s top 10 speeches, courtesy of time.com.

Apology. In the 4th century BC, as told by Plato, Socrates delivered his speech to an Athens jury when under trial for “corrupting youth.” As spirited as the defence was, Socrates was convicted and subsequently executed. His point, that human knowledge is always limited, has remained in popular culture for centuries.

“Give me liberty, or give me death!” American Patrick Henry gathered with other colonists in 1775 to debate the prospect of bearing arms against the British. In a Richmond church in Virginia, he supported the war that would see the birth of the United States.

The hypocrisy of American slavery. Slave abolitionist Frederick Douglass was invited to speak at his hometown in Rochester, New York as part of 4 July festivities in 1852. There he called for an end to slavery across America

Gettysburg address. American president Abraham Lincoln stood on the Gettysburg battlefield and gave the most important address of the civil war.

Women’s rights to suffrage. After being fined $100 for casting an illegal vote in the 1872 American presidential election, Susan B Anthony embarked on a speaking tour encouraging the right of women to vote. In 1920, her battle ended after the United States government granted women voting rights.

Blood, toil, tears and sweat. Giving his first speech as British prime minister in 1940, Winston Churchill called for continuing the war against Nazi Germany in order to ensure Britain’s survival.

Inaugural address. In his first speech as the youngest ever president, John F Kennedy asked his citizens not what their country could do for them, but what they could do for their country.

I have a dream! Perhaps one of the most quoted speeches in history. In 1963, Martin Luther King revealed his plans for what America should, and could, become. The next year he became the youngest ever man to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

The American promise. Motivated by witnessing violence against civil rights advocates in Alabama in 1965, president Lyndon B Johnson called for an end to violence and to give all Americans the right to vote.

Remarks at the Brandenburg Gate. President Ronald Reagan stood in Berlin in 1987 and demanded an end to communism’s tyranny in eastern Europe with the cry “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”. Two years later, the wall was gone and Germany reunified.

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