The Great Speeches

American Rhetoric has listed the top 100 speeches of all time. The text is available for all speeches. But what’s particularly amazing is that audio exists for a substantial chunk of these. The obvious ones are here. But the site is a fantastic trip down memory lane. This speech takes me back to fifth grade sitting at a desk with other stunned kids watching the television, while this speech, which I was not alive to hear, continues to amuse me with its hypocrisies.

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  1. What I’d like to see is a tournament of the greatest sports-related orations:

    First round: Ricky Henderson’s “Today I am the greatest of all time” vs. Jimmy V’s “Never Give Up” speech.

  2. Well, it’s an ok list for the 20th century. But, it definitely doesn’t represent US history very well. In the 19th century, oratory was America’s pastime.

    To take the most obvious example, haven’t they ever heard of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address? Or the 2nd inaugural? Not to mention Webster, Douglass, Clay, Emerson, Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech…and that’s even notwithstanding the Founding Fathers.

  3. Ok, I retract my snarkiness — the intro page calls this “the 100 most significant American political speeches of the 20th century.” That’s a different criteria.

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