Famous speeches that changed the world

A list of famous speeches that changed the world.

“The Sermon on the Mount.”Jesus Christ (AD 30.) – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

“The Gettysburg Address” (1863) – Abraham Lincoln – “Four score and twenty years ago our father brought forth on this continent a new nation.” 19th November 1863.

Solitude of Self (1892) – Elizabeth Cady Stanton – – Speech delivered to US Congress making passionate case for equal rights for women.

I Have a Dream” – August 28th 1963 – Martin Luther King. Martin Luther King’s finest moment. A speech that seared into the consciousness of America laying the building blocks for civil rights legislation and a new attitude to race relations. A speech listened to by a million people on the steps of Washington D.C.


Address to the World Parliament of Religions” (1896) – Swami Vivekananda – A clarion call for religious tolerance and religious harmony.

“Freedom or Death (1913) – Emily Pankhurst – Call for Women’s suffrage.

“The World Must be made safe for Democracy” (2nd April 1917). – Woodrow Wilson – In this speech were the seeds of the League of Nations, the forerunner of the United Nations and the ideal of international cooperation

“Power to the Soviets” – (September 1917). - Vladimir I. Lenin – The Russian revolution and the triumph of Communism over Tsarist Russia.

Speech to United Nations on UN declaration of Human Rights” (1947). – Eleanor Roosevelt

‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself’ – (March 4th 1933) – Franklin D. Roosevelt – at the height of the Great Depression in America. Roosevelt went on to be president for the next 12 years.

“I have nothing to offer but blood, sweat, toil and tears” (13th May 1940). – Winston Churchill – ” On accepting the job of Prime Minister in Britain’s darkest hour. Firmly rejecting a deal with Nazi Germany, Churchill resolved to carry on the fight.

“We shall Fight them on the Beaches” (June 4th 1940). - Winston Churchill When Great Britain stood alone against the tyranny of the Nazi onslaught.

“The Flame of French Resistance” – (June 18th 1940). – Charles De Gaulle – With French pride humbled from the rapid capitulation to the Nazi invasion. Charles de Gaulle maintained French pride and sowed the seeds of the French resistance movement.

“A Tryst with destiny” – August 14th 1947 Jawaharlal NehruA the stroke of midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awaken to life and Freedom” – On the eve of India’s historic independence Nehru speaks on the challenges and aspirations of the world’s largest democracy.

“The Cult of the Individual” – December 5th 1956. Nikita Khrushchev – For decades Stalin’s repressions had tyrannised the Soviet Union. Khrushchev spoke the unspeakable and implicitly criticised the excesses of the Stalin era.

‘The Winds of Change’ Harold MacMillan – February 3rd 1960. Speaking on South Africa’s need to reform its apartheid system.

“Ask not what your country can do for you” – (January 20th 1961).- John F Kennedy – The young John F Kennedy offered a new vision for America. His youthful exuberance set the tone for the radical decade of change which epitomised the 1960s.

An Idea for which I am prepared to die (April 20th 1964) - Nelson Mandela – Mandela sacrificed over 20 years of his life in prison for the ideal of defeating the system of apartheid.

“Love Begins at Home”Mother Teresa – speech on receiving the Nobel Prize in 1979

“Freedom of choice is a universal principle to which there should be no exceptions.” – 7 December 1988. Mikhail Gorbachev – Speech to UN General Assembly

“Free at Last”Nelson Mandela – Johannesburg 2 May 1994

The Meaning of the Fourth of July to a Negro” (1852) – Frederick Douglass

Page citation: Tejvan Pettinger, 11th July 2014, “Speeches that changed the world“. Oxford, UK.

Speeches That Changed the World

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