From wars to civil rights, this list looks back at the most significant American political speeches of the 20th century, many of them coming at the times of greatest trial.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination, and Kennedy is no stranger to this list, placing six speeches in the top 50 and two in the top 10.
In the spirit of remembering this solemn anniversary, this list highlights some of Kennedy's most impactful speeches.
The list was originally compiled by American Rhetoric.
Delivered June 9, 1954, during the Army-McCarthy Hearings in Washington, D.C.
"You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"
Delivered Nov. 27, 1963.
"Today in this moment of new resolve, I would say to all my fellow Americans, let us continue.
This is our challenge — not to hesitate, not to pause, not to turn about and linger over this evil moment, but to continue on our course so that we may fulfill the destiny that history has set for us."
Delivered in 1919
"There has been no greater advance than this, gentlemen. If you look back upon the history of the world you will see how helpless peoples have too often been a prey to powers that had no conscience in the matter. It has been one of the many distressing revelations of recent years that the great power which has just been, happily, defeated put intolerable burdens and injustices upon the helpless people of some of the colonies which it annexed to itself; that its interest was rather their extermination than their development; that the desire was to possess their land for European purposes, and not to enjoy their confidence in order that mankind might be lifted in these places to the next higher level.
Now, the world, expressing its conscience in law, says there is an end of that, that our consciences shall be settled to this thing. States will be picked out which have already shown that they can exercise a conscience in this matter, and under their tutelage the helpless peoples of the world will come into a new light and into a new hope."
Delivered Sept. 8, 1974, in Washington, D.C.
"Now, therefore, I, Gerald R. Ford, President of the United States, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, have granted and by these presents do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from July 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974."
Speech starts at the 14:30 minute mark.
Delivered April 12, 1999, in Washington, D.C.
"In a way, to be indifferent to that suffering is what makes the human being inhuman. Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger and hatred. Anger can at times be creative. One writes a great poem, a great symphony. One does something special for the sake of humanity because one is angry at the injustice that one witnesses. But indifference is never creative. Even hatred at times may elicit a response. You fight it. You denounce it. You disarm it."
Delivered June 12, 1987, in West Berlin
"There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.
General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate.
Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate.
Mr. Gorbachev — Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
Delivered Aug. 10, 1970, in Washington, D.C.
"The Constitution they wrote was designed to protect the rights of white, male citizens. As there were no black Founding Fathers, there were no founding mothers — a great pity, on both counts. It is not too late to complete the work they left undone. Today, here, we should start to do so."
Delivered April 23, 1995, in Oklahoma City, Ok.
"To all my fellow Americans beyond this hall, I say, one thing we owe those who have sacrificed is the duty to purge ourselves of the dark forces which gave rise to this evil. They are forces that threaten our common peace, our freedom, our way of life. Let us teach our children that the God of comfort is also the God of righteousness: Those who trouble their own house will inherit the wind. Justice will prevail.
Let us let our own children know that we will stand against the forces of fear. When there is talk of hatred, let us stand up and talk against it. When there is talk of violence, let us stand up and talk against it. In the face of death, let us honor life. As St. Paul admonished us, Let us 'not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.'"
Delivered Oct. 10, 1963.
"We want to have just an off-the-cuff chat between you and me — us. We want to talk right down to earth in a language that everybody here can easily understand. We all agree tonight, all of the speakers have agreed, that America has a very serious problem. Not only does America have a very serious problem, but our people have a very serious problem. America’s problem is us. We’re her problem."
Delivered July 15, 1979.
"I have seen the strength of America in the inexhaustible resources of our people. In the days to come, let us renew that strength in the struggle for an energy-secure nation.
In closing, let me say this: I will do my best, but I will not do it alone. Let your voice be heard. Whenever you have a chance, say something good about our country. With God’s help and for the sake of our nation, it is time for us to join hands in America. Let us commit ourselves together to a rebirth of the American spirit. Working together with our common faith we cannot fail."
Delivered April 24, 1952, in New York
"Yes, I was greatly troubled by all this. Why did good hard-working people suffer so? Why were men who were willing, able, and anxious to work, denied jobs? Why was there so much unemployment? Why were there rich people who apparently did little but enjoyed life? I hated poverty. I saw my mother humiliated when unpaid grocery bills could not be met and the landlord stood at the door demanding his rent."
"The leadership of the Mexican-American Community must admit that we have fallen far short in our task of helping provide spiritual guidance for our people. We may say, I don’t feel any such need. I can get along. But that is a poor excuse for not helping provide such help for others. For we can also say, I don’t need any welfare help. I can take care of my own problems But we are all willing to fight like hell for welfare aid for those who truly need it, who would starve without it. Likewise we may have gotten an education and not care about scholarship money for ourselves, or our children. But we would, we should, fight ... to see to it that our state provides aid for any child needing it so that he can get the education he desires."
Delivered Aug. 9, 1974, in the East Room of the White House, Washington, D.C.
"Our Constitution works. Our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here, the people rule. But there is a higher Power, by whatever name we honor Him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice but mercy. As we bind up the internal wounds of Watergate, more painful and more poisonous than those of foreign wars, let us restore the golden rule to our political process, and let brotherly love purge our hearts of suspicion and of hate."
Delivered via broadcast on March 7, 1935, at the National Broadcasting Company in New York.
"What has become of the remainder of those things placed on the table by the Lord for the use of us all? They are in the hands of the Morgans, the Rockefellers, the Mellons, the Baruches, the Bakers, the Astors, and the Vanderbilts — 600 families at the most either possessing or controlling the entire 90 percent of all that is in America. They cannot eat the food, they cannot wear the clothes, so they destroy it. They have it rotted; they plow it up; they pour it into the rivers; they bring destruction through the acts of mankind to let humanity suffer; to let humanity go naked; to let humanity go homeless, so that nothing may occur that will do harm to their vanity and to their greed. Like the dog in the manger, they command a wagon load of hay, which the dog would not allow the cow to eat, though he could not eat it himself."
"This is not the whole of feminism, of course, but it is enough to begin with. 'Oh, don't begin with economics,' my friends often protest, 'Woman does not live by bread alone. What she needs first of all is a free soul.' And I can agree that women will never be great until they achieve a certain emotional freedom, a strong healthy egotism, and some un-personal sources of joy — that in this inner sense we cannot make woman free by changing her economic status. What we can do, however, is to create conditions of outward freedom in which a free woman's soul can be born and grow. It is these outward conditions with which an organized feminist movement must concern itself."
Delivered 22 May 1983, Mills College, Oakland, Calif.
"Success is somebody else’s failure. Success is the American Dream we can keep dreaming because most people in most places, including thirty million of ourselves, live wide awake in the terrible reality of poverty. No, I do not wish you success. I don’t even want to talk about it. I want to talk about failure.
Because you are human beings you are going to meet failure. You are going to meet disappointment, injustice, betrayal, and irreparable loss. You will find you’re weak where you thought yourself strong. You’ll work for possessions and then find they possess you. You will find yourself — as I know you already have — in dark places, alone, and afraid."
Delivered March 1925 in New York, Ny.
"It is not enough to clean up the filth and disorder of our overcrowded cities. It is not enough to stop the evil of Child Labor — even if we could! It is not enough to decrease the rate of infantile mortality. It is not enough to open playgrounds, and build more public schools in which we can standardize the mind of the young. It is not enough to throw millions upon millions of dollars into charities and philanthropies. Don't deceive ourselves that by so doing we are making the world 'Safe for Children.'"
"Now, my friends, I am opposed to the system of society in which we live today, not because I lack the natural equipment to do for myself, but because I am not satisfied to make myself eomfottable knowing that there are thousands upon thousands of my fellow men who suffer for the barest necessities of life. We were taught under the old ethic that man’s business upon this earth was to look out for himself. That was the ethic of the jungle the ethic of the wild beast. Take care of yourself, no matter what may become of your fellowman. Thousands of years ago the question was asked: 'Am I my brother’s keeper?' That question has never yet been answered in a way that is satisfactory to civilized society. Yes, I am my brother’s keeper. I am under a moral obligation to him, inspired, not by any maudlin sentimentality, but by the higher duty I owe to myself. What would you think of me if I were capable of seating myself at a table and gorging myself with food and saw about me the children of my fellow beings starving to death?"
Delivered 14 July 1992, New York, Ny.
"I understand — I understand the sense of frustration and despair in our country, because I know firsthand about shouting for help and getting no answer. I went to Washington to tell Presidents Reagan and Bush that much, much more had to be done for AIDS research and care, and that children couldn't be forgotten. The first time, when nothing happened, I thought, 'They just didn't hear me.' The second time, when nothing happened, I thought, 'Maybe I didn't shout loud enough' But now I realize they don't hear because they don't want to listen."
Delivered Dec. 2, 1964, at The University of California at Berkeley.
"Now, there are at least two ways in which sit-ins and civil disobedience and whatever -- least two major ways in which it can occur. One, when a law exists, is promulgated, which is totally unacceptable to people and they violate it again and again and again till it's rescinded, appealed. Alright, but there's another way. There's another way. Sometimes, the form of the law is such as to render impossible its effective violation — as a method to have it repealed. Sometimes, the grievances of people are more — extend more — to more than just the law, extend to a whole mode of arbitrary power, a whole mode of arbitrary exercise of arbitrary power."
Delivered 4 April 1913.
"This is not a day of triumph; it is a day of dedication. Here muster, not the forces of party, but the forces of humanity. Men's hearts wait upon us; men's lives hang in the balance; men's hopes call upon us to say what we will do. Who shall live up to the great trust? Who dares fail to try? I summon all honest men, all patriotic, all forward-looking men, to my side. God helping me, I will not fail them, if they will but counsel and sustain me!"
Delivered Sept. 23, 1932, San Francisco, Calif.
"The issue of government has always been whether individual men and women will have to serve some system of government of economics, or whether a system of government and economics exists to serve individual men and women. This question has persistently dominated the discussion of government for many generations. On questions relating to these things men have differed, and for time immemorial it is probable that honest men will continue to differ."
Delivered 31 March 1968
"Yet, I believe that we must always be mindful of this one thing — whatever the trials and the tests ahead, the ultimate strength of our country and our cause will lie, not in powerful weapons or infinite resources or boundless wealth, but will lie in the unity of our people.
This I believe very deeply. Throughout my entire public career I have followed the personal philosophy that I am a free man, an American, a public servant, and a member of my party — in that order — always and only."
Delivered Aug. 12, 1980, New York, Ny.
"These are not simplistic pledges. Simply put, they are the heart of our tradition, and they have been the soul of our Party across the generations. It is the glory and the greatness of our tradition to speak for those who have no voice, to remember those who are forgotten, to respond to the frustrations and fulfill the aspirations of all Americans seeking a better life in a better land.
We dare not forsake that tradition."
Delivered November 1917, Washington D.C.
"Gentlemen, we hereby petition you, our only designated representatives, to redress our grievances by the immediate passage of the Federal Suffrage Amendment and to use your influence to secure its ratification in your own state, in order that the women of our nation may be endowed with political freedom before the next presidential election, and that our nation may resume its world leadership in democracy.
Woman suffrage is coming — you know it. Will you, Honorable Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, help or hinder it?"
Delivered April 30, 1970, in Washington, D.C.
"It is not our power, but our will and character that is being tested tonight.
The question all Americans must ask and answer tonight is this: Does the richest and strongest nation in the history of the world have the character to meet a direct challenge by a group which rejects every effort to win a just peace, ignores our warning, tramples on solemn agreements, violates the neutrality of an unarmed people, and uses our prisoners as hostages? If we fail to meet this challenge, all other nations will be on notice that despite its overwhelming power the United States when a real crisis comes will be found wanting."
Delivered 4 July 1939 in Yankee Stadium, New York, Ny.
"Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.
I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day?
Sure I’m lucky."
Delivered Sept. 25, 1919, in Pueblo, Co.
"There is one thing that the American people always rise to and extend their hand to, and that is the truth of justice and of liberty and of peace. We have accepted the truth and we are going to be led by it, and it is going to lead us, and through us the world, out into pastures of quietness and peace such as the world never dreamed of before."
Delivered June 8, 1968, at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York.
"My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.
Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world."
Delivered May 9, 1961, at the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington, D.C.
"I say to you ladies and gentlemen — I remind you what the President said in his stirring inaugural. He said: Ask not what America can do for you; ask what you can do for America. I say to you ladies and gentlemen: Ask not what broadcasting can do for you; ask what you can do for broadcasting. And ask what broadcasting can do for America.
I urge you, I urge you to put the people's airwaves to the service of the people and the cause of freedom. You must help prepare a generation for great decisions. You must help a great nation fulfill its future."
Delivered Sept. 7, 1916, Atlanta, Ga.
"Then let us sound a bugle call here and now to the women of the Nation: 'The Woman's Hour has struck.' Let the bugle sound from the suffrage headquarters of every State at the inauguration of a State campaign. Let the call go forth again and, again and yet again. Let it be repeated in every article written, in every speech made, in every conversation held. Let the bugle blow again and yet again. The Political emancipation of our sex calls you: Women of America, arise! Are you content that others shall pay the price of your liberty? Women in schools and counting house, in shops and on the farm, women in the home with babes at their breasts and women engaged in public careers will hear. The veins of American women are not filled with milk and water. They are neither cowards nor slackers. They will come. They only await the bugle call to learn that the final battle is on."
Delivered July 9, 1917, New York, Ny.
"Gentlemen of the jury, whatever you verdict will be, as far as we are concerned, nothing will be changed. I have held ideas all my life. I have publicly held my ideas for twenty-seven years. Nothing on earth would ever make me change my ideas except one thing; and that is, if you will prove to me that our position is wrong, untenable, or lacking in historic fact. But never would I change my ideas because I am found guilty. I may remind you of two great Americans, undoubtedly not unknown to you, gentlemen of the jury; Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. When Thoreau was placed in prison for refusing to pay taxes, he was visited by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Emerson said: 'David, what are you doing in jail?' and Thoreau replied: 'Ralph, what are you doing outside, when honest people are in jail for their ideals?' Gentlemen of the jury, I do not wish to influence you. I do not wish to appeal to you passions. I do not wish to influence you by the fact that I am a woman. I have no such desires and no such designs. I take it that you are sincere enough and honest enough and brave enough to render a verdict according to you convictions, beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt."
Delivered July 14, 1948, in Philadelphia, Pa.
"For all of us here, for the millions who have sent us, for the whole two billion members of the human family, our land is now, more than ever before, the last best hope on earth. And I know that we can, and I know that we shall began [sic] here the fuller and richer realization of that hope, that promise of a land where all men are truly free and equal, and each man uses his freedom and equality wisely well.
My good friends, I ask my Party, I ask the Democratic Party, to march down the high road of progressive democracy. I ask this convention to say in unmistakable terms that we proudly hail, and we courageously support, our President and leader Harry Truman in his great fight for civil rights in America!"
Delivered October 1966 in Berkeley, Calif.
"And then, therefore, in a larger sense there's the question of black people. We are on the move for our liberation. We have been tired of trying to prove things to white people. We are tired of trying to explain to white people that we’re not going to hurt them. We are concerned with getting the things we want, the things that we have to have to be able to function. The question is, Can white people allow for that in this country? The question is, Will white people overcome their racism and allow for that to happen in this country? If that does not happen, brothers and sisters, we have no choice but to say very clearly, 'Move over, or we’re going to move on over you.'"
Delivered July 16, 1964, in San Francisco, Calif.
"Anyone who joins us in all sincerity, we welcome. Those who do not care for our cause, we don't expect to enter our ranks in any case. And — And let our Republicanism, so focused and so dedicated, not be made fuzzy and futile by unthinking and stupid labels.
I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.
And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."
Delivered Sept. 3, 1937, in Washington, D.C.
"Out of the agony and travail of economic America the Committee for Industrial Organization was born. To millions of Americans exploited without stint by corporate industry and socially debased beyond the understanding of the fortunate, its coming was as welcomed as the dawn to the night watcher. To a lesser group of Americans, infinitely more fortunately situated, blessed with larger quantities of the world’s goods and insolent in their assumption of privilege, its coming was heralded as a harbinger of ill, sinister of purpose, of unclean methods and non-virtuous objectives. But the Committee for Industrial Organizations is here. It is now henceforth a definite instrumentality, destined greatly to influence the lives of our people and the internal and external course of the republic."
Delivered via broadcast nationally from Joseph P. Kennedy's home on July 25, 1969.
"I have requested this opportunity to talk to the people of Massachusetts about the tragedy which happened last Friday evening. This morning I entered a plea of guilty to the charge of leaving the scene of an accident. Prior to my appearance in court it would have been improper for me to comment on these matters. But tonight I am free to tell you what happened and to say what it means to me."
Delivered Sept. 13, 1984, at the University of Notre Dame's Department of Theology.
"The America of the late twentieth century is a consumer society, filled with endless distractions, where faith is more often dismissed than challenged, where the ethnic and other loyalties that once fastened us to our religion seem to be weakening.
In addition to all the weaknesses, dilemmas and temptations that impede every pilgrim's progress, the Catholic who holds political office in a pluralistic democracy -- who is elected to serve Jews and Muslims, atheists and Protestants, as well as Catholics -- bears special responsibility. He or she undertakes to help create conditions under which all can live with a maximum of dignity and with a reasonable degree of freedom; where everyone who chooses may hold beliefs different from specifically Catholic ones — sometimes contradictory to them; where the laws protect people's right to divorce, to use birth control and even to choose abortion.
Delivered June 6, 1984, in Pointe Du Hoc, Normandy, France.
"We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, two hundred and twenty-five Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs.
Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here, and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance."
Delivered Oct. 6, 1917, at the U.S. Senate Chamber in Washington, D.C.
"I think all men recognize that in time of war the citizen must surrender some rights for the common good which he is entitled to enjoy in time of peace. But sir, the right to control their own Government according to constitutional forms is not one of the rights that the citizens of this country are called upon to surrender in time of war.
Rather in time of war the citizen must be more alert to the preservation of his right to control his Government. He must be most watchful of the encroachment of the military upon the civil power. He must beware of those precedents in support of arbitrary action by administrative officials, which excused on the plea of necessity in war time, become the fixed rule when the necessity has passed and normal conditions have been restored."
Delivered July 19, 1984, at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, Calif.
"Our faith that we can shape a better future is what the American dream is all about. The promise of our country is that the rules are fair. If you work hard and play by the rules, you can earn your share of America's blessings. Those are the beliefs I learned from my parents. And those are the values I taught my students as a teacher in the public schools of New York City."
Delivered Sept. 28, 1948, in Paris, France.
"We must not be confused about what freedom is. Basic human rights are simple and easily understood: freedom of speech and a free press; freedom of religion and worship; freedom of assembly and the right of petition; the right of men to be secure in their homes and free from unreasonable search and seizure and from arbitrary arrest and punishment.
We must not be deluded by the efforts of the forces of reaction to prostitute the great words of our free tradition and thereby to confuse the struggle. Democracy, freedom, human rights have come to have a definite meaning to the people of the world which we must not allow any nation to so change that they are made synonymous with suppression and dictatorship."
Delivered July 26, 1952, in Chicago, Il.
"With your help, there will be no desertion now. Better we lose the election than mislead the people, and better we lose than misgovern the people. Help me to do the job in this autumn of conflict and of campaign. Help me to do the job in these years of darkness, of doubt, and of crisis which stretch beyond the horizon of tonight's happy vision, and we will justify our glorious past and the loyalty of silent millions who look to us for compassion, for understanding, and for honest purpose. Thus, we will serve our great tradition greatly."
Delivered Oct. 3, 1983, at Liberty Baptist College in Lynchburg, Va.
"I have come here to discuss my beliefs about faith and country, tolerance and truth in America. I know we begin with certain disagreements; and I strongly suspect that at the end of the evening some of our disagreements will remain. But I also hope that tonight and in the months and years ahead, we will always respect the right of others to differ, that we will never lose sight of our own fallibility, and that we will view ourselves with a sense of perspective and a sense of humor. After all, in the New Testament, even the Disciples had to be taught to look first to the beam in their own eyes, and only then to the mote in their neighbor’s eyes."
Delivered June 5, 1947, at Harvard University.
"But to speak more seriously, I need not tell you that the world situation is very serious. That must be apparent to all intelligent people. I think one difficulty is that the problem is one of such enormous complexity that the very mass of facts presented to the public by press and radio make it exceedingly difficult for the man in the street to reach a clear appraisement of the situation. Furthermore, the people of this country are distant from the troubled areas of the earth, and it is hard for them to comprehend the plight and consequent reactions of the long-suffering peoples of Europe and the effect of those reactions on their governments in connection with our efforts to promote peace in the world."
Delivered May 22, 1964, in Ann Arbor, Mi.
"The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents. It is a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness. It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community. It is a place where man can renew contact with nature. It is a place which honors creation for its own sake and for what is adds to the understanding of the race. It is a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goals than the quantity of their goods.
But most of all, the Great Society is not a safe harbor, a resting place, a final objective, a finished work. It is a challenge constantly renewed, beckoning us toward a destiny where the meaning of our lives matches the marvelous products of our labor.
So I want to talk to you today about three places where we begin to build the Great Society — in our cities, in our countryside, and in our classrooms."
Delivered Aug. 19, 1992, in Houston, Tx.
"Less than three months ago at platform hearings in Salt Lake City, I asked the Republican Party to lift the shroud of silence which has been draped over the issue of HIV and AIDS. I have come tonight to bring our silence to an end. I bear a message of challenge, not self-congratulation. I want your attention, not your applause."
Delivered July 19, 1988, at the Omni Coliseum in Atlanta, Ga.
"All of us — All of us who are here think that we are seated. But we're really standing on someone's shoulders."
Delivered Nov. 13, 1969, in Des Moines, Iowa.
"When Winston Churchill rallied public opinion to stay the course against Hitler’s Germany, he didn’t have to contend with a gaggle of commentators raising doubts about whether he was reading public opinion right, or whether Britain had the stamina to see the war through. When President Kennedy rallied the nation in the Cuban missile crisis, his address to the people was not chewed over by a roundtable of critics who disparaged the course of action he’d asked America to follow."
Delivered Oct. 22, 1962, in Washington, D.C.
"Neither the United States of America nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small. We no longer live in a world where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nation's security to constitute maximum peril. Nuclear weapons are so destructive and ballistic missiles are so swift, that any substantially increased possibility of their use or any sudden change in their deployment may well be regarded as a definite threat to peace."
Delivered June 11, 1963, in Washington, D.C.
"I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened."
Delivered June 1, 1990, Wellesley, Ma.
"We are in a transitional period right now - We are in a transitional period right now, fascinating and exhilarating times, learning to adjust to changes and the choices we, men and women, are facing. As an example, I remember what a friend said, on hearing her husband complain to his buddies that he had to babysit. Quickly setting him straight, my friend told her husband that when it's your own kids, it's not called babysitting."
Delivered Nov. 18, 1921, in Park Theatre, Ny.
"We stand on the principle that Birth Control should be available to every adult man and woman. We believe that every adult man and woman should be taught the responsibility and the right use of knowledge. We claim that woman should have the right over her own body and to say if she shall or if she shall not be a mother, as she sees fit. We further claim that the first right of a child is to be desired. While the second right is that it should be conceived in love, and the third, that it should have a heritage of sound health."
Delivered Aug. 8, 1900, Indianapolis, In.
"When the President finally laid before the Senate a treaty which recognized the independence of Cuba, but provided for the cession of the Philippine Islands to the United States, the menace of imperialism became so apparent that many preferred to reject the treaty and risk the ills that might follow rather than take the chance of correcting the errors of the treaty by the independent action of this country."
Delivered Oct. 10, 1906, at the United Women's Club, in Washington, D.C.
"Washington, D.C., has been called 'The Colored Man's Paradise.' Whether this sobriquet was given to the national capital in bitter irony by a member of the handicapped race, as he reviewed some of his own persecutions and rebuffs, or whether it was given immediately after the war by an ex-slaveholder who for the first time in his life saw colored people walking about like free men, minus the overseer and his whip, history saith not. It is certain that it would be difficult to find a worse misnomer for Washington than 'The Colored Man's Paradise' if so prosaic a consideration as veracity is to determine the appropriateness of a name."
Delivered 4 April 1967, Riverside Church, New York, Ny.
"I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join you in this meeting because I'm in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam. The recent statements of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart, and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: 'A time comes when silence is betrayal.' And that time has come for us in relation to Vietnam."
Delivered Jan. 6, 1941, Washington, D.C.
"What I seek to convey is the historic truth that the United States as a nation has at all times maintained opposition -- clear, definite opposition -- to any attempt to lock us in behind an ancient Chinese wall while the procession of civilization went past. Today, thinking of our children and of their children, we oppose enforced isolation for ourselves or for any other part of the Americas."
Delivered June 1, 1950, Washington, D.C.
"It is ironical that we Senators can in debate in the Senate directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to any American, who is not a Senator, any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming an American -- and without that non-Senator American having any legal redress against us -- yet if we say the same thing in the Senate about our colleagues we can be stopped on the grounds of being out of order."
Delivered Jan. 8, 1918, Washington, D.C.
"It will be our wish and purpose that the processes of peace, when they are begun, shall be absolutely open and that they shall involve and permit henceforth no secret understandings of any kind. The day of conquest and aggrandizement is gone by; so is also the day of secret covenants entered into in the interest of particular governments and likely at some unlooked-for moment to upset the peace of the world. It is this happy fact, now clear to the view of every public man whose thoughts do not still linger in an age that is dead and gone, which makes it possible for every nation whose purposes are consistent with justice and the peace of the world to avow nor or at any other time the objects it has in view."
Delivered Aug. 8, 1974, Washington, D.C.
"This is the 37th time I have spoken to you from this office, where so many decisions have been made that shape the history of this nation. Each time I have done so to discuss with you some matter that I believe affected the national interest. In all the decisions I have made in my public life I have always tried to do what was best for the nation."
Delivered July 19, 1988, in Atlanta, Ga.
"Twelve years ago Barbara Jordan, another Texas woman, Barbara made the keynote address to this convention, and two women in a hundred and sixty years is about par for the course.
But if you give us a chance, we can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels."
Delivered June 10, 1963.
"Professor Woodrow Wilson once said that every man sent out from a university should be a man of his nation as well as a man of his time, and I am confident that the men and women who carry the honor of graduating from this institution will continue to give from their lives, from their talents, a high measure of public service and public support. 'There are few earthly things more beautiful than a university,' wrote John Masefield in his tribute to English universities -- and his words are equally true today. He did not refer to towers or to campuses. He admired the splendid beauty of a university, because it was, he said, 'a place where those who hate ignorance may strive to know, where those who perceive truth may strive to make others see.'"
Delivered Dec. 8, 1953, at the United Nations General Assembly
"The atomic age has moved forward at such a pace that every citizen of the world should have some comprehension, at least in comparative terms, of the extent of this development, of the utmost significance to everyone of us. Clearly, if the peoples of the world are to conduct an intelligent search for peace, they must be armed with the significant facts of today’s existence."
Delivered Sept. 5, 1995, Beijing, China
"It is also a coming together, much the way women come together every day in every country. We come together in fields and factories, in village markets and supermarkets, in living rooms and board rooms. Whether it is while playing with our children in the park, or washing clothes in a river, or taking a break at the office water cooler, we come together and talk about our aspirations and concern. And time and again, our talk turns to our children and our families. However different we may appear, there is far more that unites us than divides us. We share a common future, and we are here to find common ground so that we may help bring new dignity and respect to women and girls all over the world, and in so doing bring new strength and stability to families as well."
Delivered Sept. 1918, Cleveland, Ohio
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
Delivered Dec. 10, 1950, Stockholm, Sweden
"I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work - a life's work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before. So this award is only mine in trust. It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate with the purpose and significance of its origin. But I would like to do the same with the acclaim too, by using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will some day stand here where I am standing."
Delivered March 12, 1947, in Washington, D.C.
"At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life. The choice is too often not a free one. One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression. The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio, fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms."
Delivered March 12, 1933, Washington D.C.
"After all, there is an element in the readjustment of our financial system more important than currency, more important than gold, and that is the confidence of the people themselves. Confidence and courage are the essentials of success in carrying out our plan. You people must have faith; you must not be stampeded by rumors or guesses. Let us unite in banishing fear. We have provided the machinery to restore our financial system, and it is up to you to support and make it work.
It is your problem, my friends, your problem no less than it is mine.
Together we cannot fail."
Delivered Jan. 20, 1981, Washington, D.C.
"To a few of us here today this is a solemn and most momentous occasion. And, yet, in the history of our nation it is a commonplace occurrence. The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place as it has for almost two centuries and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every-four-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle."
Delivered March 8, 1983, Orlando, Fl.
"An evangelical minister and a politician arrived at Heaven's gate one day together. And St. Peter, after doing all the necessary formalities, took them in hand to show them where their quarters would be. And he took them to a small, single room with a bed, a chair, and a table and said this was for the clergyman. And the politician was a little worried about what might be in store for him. And he couldn't believe it then when St. Peter stopped in front of a beautiful mansion with lovely grounds, many servants, and told him that these would be his quarters.
And he couldn't help but ask, he said, 'But wait, how -- there's something wrong -- how do I get this mansion while that good and holy man only gets a single room?' And St. Peter said, 'You have to understand how things are up here. We've got thousands and thousands of clergy. You're the first politician who ever made it.'"
Delivered Dec. 29, 1940, in Washington, D.C.
"This is not a fireside chat on war. It is a talk on national security; because the nub of the whole purpose of your President is to keep you now, and your children later, and your grandchildren much later, out of a last-ditch war for the preservation of American independence, and all of the things that American independence means to you and to me and to ours."
Delivered June 21, 1915, Ogdenburg, Ny.
"When I came into your hall tonight, I thought of the last time I was in your city. Twenty-one years ago I came here with Susan B. Anthony, and we came for exactly the same purpose as that for which we are here tonight. Boys have been born since that time and have become voters, and the women are still trying to persuade American men to believe in the fundamental principles of democracy, and I never quite feel as if it was a fair field to argue this question with men, because in doing it you have to assume that a man who professes to believe in a Republican form of government does not believe in a Republican form of government, for the only thing that woman's enfranchisement means at all is that a government which claims to be a Republic should be a Republic, and not an aristocracy."
Delivered Feb. 23, 1934, in Washington, D.C.
"We have a marvelous love for this Government of ours; in fact, it is almost a religion, and it is well that it should be, because we have a splendid form of government and we have a splendid set of laws. We have everything here that we need, except that we have neglected the fundamentals upon which the American Government was principally predicated."
Air date Oct. 27, 1964, Los Angeles, Calif.
"I have spent most of my life as a Democrat. I recently have seen fit to follow another course. I believe that the issues confronting us cross party lines. Now, one side in this campaign has been telling us that the issues of this election are the maintenance of peace and prosperity. The line has been used, 'We've never had it so good.'"
Delivered over 5,000 times at various times and places from 1900-1925
"The old guide was leading my camel by its halter along the banks of those ancient rivers, and he told me story after story until I grew weary of his story-telling and ceased to listen. I have never been irritated with that guide when he lost his temper as I ceased listening. But I remember that he took off his Turkish cap and swung it in a circle to get my attention. I could see it through the corner of my eye, but I determined not to look straight at him for fear he would tell another story. But although I am not a woman, I did finally look, and as soon as I did he went right into another story. Said he, 'I will tell you a story now which I reserve for my particular friends.' When he emphasized the words 'particular friends,' I listened and I have ever been glad I did. I really feel devoutly thankful, that there are 1,674 young men who have been carried through college by this lecture who are also glad that I did listen."
Delivered September 1924, Washington, D.C.
"We read of killing one hundred thousand men in a day. We read about it and we rejoiced in it -- if it was the other fellows who were killed. We were fed on flesh and drank blood. Even down to the prattling babe. I need not tell you how many upright, honorable young boys have come into this court charged with murder, some saved and some sent to their death, boys who fought in this war and learned to place a cheap value on human life. You know it and I know it. These boys were brought up in it. The tales of death were in their homes, their playgrounds, their schools; they were in the newspapers that they read; it was a part of the common frenzy -- what was a life? It was nothing. It was the least sacred thing in existence and these boys were trained to this cruelty."
Delivered June 26, 1963, West Berlin, FRG.
"Two thousand years ago -- Two thousand years ago, the proudest boast was 'civis Romanus sum.' Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is 'Ich bin ein Berliner.'"
Delivered Nov. 3, 1969, in Washington, D.C.
"Let us all understand that the question before us is not whether some Americans are for peace and some Americans are against peace. The question at issue is not whether Johnson’s war becomes Nixon’s war. The great question is: How can we win America’s peace?"
Delivered 12 May, 1962, West Point, Ny.
"As I was leaving the hotel this morning, a doorman asked me, 'Where are you bound for, General?' And when I replied, 'West Point,' he remarked, 'Beautiful place. Have you ever been there before?'"
Delivered April 2, 1917, in Washington, D.C.
"I have called the Congress into extraordinary session because there are serious, very serious, choices of policy to be made, and made immediately, which it was neither right nor constitutionally permissible that I should assume the responsibility of making."
Delivered Jan. 17, 1961, in Washington, D.C.
"Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society."
Delivered April 4, 1968, Indianapolis, In.
"Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it's perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in."
Delivered April 14, 1906, in Washington, D.C.
"Now, it is very necessary that we should not flinch from seeing what is vile and debasing. There is filth on the floor, and it must be scraped up with the muck rake; and there are times and places where this service is the most needed of all the services that can be performed. But the man who never does anything else, who never thinks or speaks or writes, save of his feats with the muck rake, speedily becomes, not a help but one of the most potent forces for evil."
Delivered April, 3 1968, in Memphis, Tenn.
"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind."
Delivered April 19, 1951.
"I am closing my 52 years of military service. When I joined the Army, even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all of my boyish hopes and dreams. The world has turned over many times since I took the oath on the plain at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have long since vanished, but I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barrack ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that "old soldiers never die; they just fade away."
And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty."
Delivered 25 July 1974, House Judiciary Committe, Washington, D.C.
"Earlier today, we heard the beginning of the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States: 'We, the people.' It's a very eloquent beginning. But when that document was completed on the seventeenth of September in 1787, I was not included in that 'We, the people.' I felt somehow for many years that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton just left me out by mistake."
Delivered July 18, 1984, in San Francisco, Calif.
"There is the call of conscience, redemption, expansion, healing, and unity. Leadership must heed the call of conscience, redemption, expansion, healing, and unity, for they are the key to achieving our mission. Time is neutral and does not change things. With courage and initiative, leaders change things."
Delivered July 16, 1984, in San Francisco, Calif.
"In many ways we are a shining city on a hill. But the hard truth is that not everyone is sharing in this city's splendor and glory. A shining city is perhaps all the President sees from the portico of the White House and the veranda of his ranch, where everyone seems to be doing well. But there's another city; there's another part to the shining the city; the part where some people can't pay their mortgages, and most young people can't afford one; where students can't afford the education they need, and middle-class parents watch the dreams they hold for their children evaporate."
Delivered March 15, 1965, in Washington, D.C.
"I speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of democracy. I urge every member of both parties, Americans of all religions and of all colors, from every section of this country, to join me in that cause."
Delivered Sept. 12, 1960, in Houston, Tx.
"While the so-called religious issue is necessarily and properly the chief topic here tonight, I want to emphasize from the outset that I believe that we have far more critical issues in the 1960 campaign; the spread of Communist influence, until it now festers only 90 miles from the coast of Florida -- the humiliating treatment of our President and Vice President by those who no longer respect our power -- the hungry children I saw in West Virginia, the old people who cannot pay their doctors bills, the families forced to give up their farms -- an America with too many slums, with too few schools, and too late to the moon and outer space. These are the real issues which should decide this campaign. And they are not religious issues -- for war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no religious barrier."
Delivered Jan. 28, 1986, in Washington, D.C.
"We've grown used to wonders in this century. It's hard to dazzle us. But for twenty-five years the United States space program has been doing just that. We've grown used to the idea of space, and, perhaps we forget that we've only just begun. We're still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers."
Delivered April 3, 1964, in Cleveland, Ohio.
"The question tonight, as I understand it, is 'The Negro Revolt, and Where Do We Go From Here?' or 'What Next?' In my little humble way of understanding it, it points toward either the ballot or the bullet."
Delivered and broadcast live on television 23 September 1952
"My Fellow Americans, I come before you tonight as a candidate for the Vice Presidency and as a man whose honesty and — and integrity has been questioned."
Delivered July 12, 1976, New York, NY
"A lot of years passed since 1832, and during that time it would have been most unusual for any national political party to ask a Barbara Jordan to deliver a keynote address. But tonight, here I am. And I feel — I feel that notwithstanding the past that my presence here is one additional bit of evidence that the American Dream need not forever be deferred."
Delivered Dec. 8, 1941 in Washington, D.C.
"Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."
Delivered March 4, 1933 in Washington, D.C.
"Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This Nation is asking for action, and action now."
Delivered Jan. 20, 1961, Washington, D.C.
"And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."
Delivered Aug. 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'"