What Are Some of the Most Notable Public Speeches in History?


Quick Answer

Some of the most notable speeches in history are Chief Joseph's surrender speech, Lou Gehrig's farewell speech, the Gettysburg address and Patrick Henry's "give me liberty or give me death" speech. Some others are Martin Luther King, Jr's "I have a dream" speech, Socrates' apology speech and Susan B. Anthony's speech on women's right to vote.

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Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce tribe gave a short and solemn speech announcing his surrender to U.S. military forces. In it, he spoke the now-famous words, "I will fight no more forever." On July 4, 1939, baseball legend Lou Gehrig delivered a farewell address to his fans at Yankee Stadium. His career had been cut short by ALS, a debilitating disease that would afterward be dubbed "Lou Gehrig's disease," but his speech focused on all the things he was grateful for. The unifying Gettysburg Address was delivered by President Abraham Lincoln at the dedication of a national cemetery. Lincoln's assertion that "the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here" turned out to be wrong, as the speech is one of the most famous in U.S. history.

Martin Luther King's powerful "I have a dream" speech was given during a 1963 protest march and is considered one of the most important speeches in civil rights and American history. Socrates gave his poignant "apology" speech in a court of law, where he tried unsuccessfully to defend himself against charges of corrupting youth. In it, he spoke the famous line, "the hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways - I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows." Susan B. Anthony gave her rousing speech on women's suffrage in the wake of being fined for voting illegally.

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