At just 272 words long, Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" is widely considered to be one of the most powerful battlefield orations of all time. On November 19, 1863, Lincoln delivered the speech on the site of the Battle of Gettysburg, considered to be a turning point in the Civil War.
Sojourner Truth's speech at the 1851 Women's Rights Convention in Ohio asked a question that could not be denied in order to draw attention to the humanity, abilities, thus rights, of both women and slaves. The overall tone was passionate and provocative. In a version published in an 1863 issue of the Anti-Slavery Standard, the presiding officer of the convention Frances Dana Gage quoted the speech within her descriptions of the setting, audience, and speaker. E-text available here.
President Trump delivered his second State of the Union Address on February 5, 2019. The President broadly outlined his agenda on both foreign and domestic issues. Here are 25 vocabulary words drawn from the President's address. The full transcript of the speech can be found here.
Learn the vocabulary that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used to inspire a generation to break free from the "manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination." On August 28, 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. Speaking from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., King stood before an estimated quarter of a million people who had gathered to demonstrate for passage of the Civil Rights Act. This list focuses on King's use of figurative language.
In September, 1952, Richard Nixon, a young senator from California, was nominated to run for Vice President. Days later, however, he was accused of accepting funds from campaign donors to use for personal expenses. Nixon chose to use the new medium of television to defend himself. In a televised speech, he admitted to receiving one gift — a cocker spaniel named Checkers. He explained that his two young daughters loved the dog and would not give it up. The speech was a tremendous success, and Nixon went on to serve two terms as Vice President. Ironically, another television performance, a debate with John Kennedy in 1960, cost him the election that year. Nixon was elected President in 1968, but ultimately resigned in the wake of the Watergate scandal.
On October 22, 1962, President John F. Kennedy delivered a televised address to the American public regarding the former Soviet Union’s military presence in Cuba. Kennedy reported the presence of offensive missile sites presumably intended to launch a nuclear attack against Western nations. The President characterized this move on the part of the U.S.S.R. as an imminent threat to American security and laid out his proposed course of action.
As he prepared to leave the office of President in 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a farewell speech in which he warned Americans about the growing influence of what he called the "military-industrial complex." Eisenhower, the former World War II general and D-Day Commander, feared the increasing power of corporations that had grown to supply the United States with military equipment and weapons.
Born on October 2, 1869, Mahatma Gandhi was an activist and leader who changed the course of history by helping to lead India to independence. These words are from the speech Gandhi's delivered on August 8, 1942 urging a non-violent fight against British colonial rule. The "Quit India" speech is one of Gandhi's most famous public addresses.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered this, his last speech, on April 3, 1968, at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee. On the following day, he was assassinated. In the speech, King challenges the United States to live up to its ideals and calls for acts of nonviolent protest against institutionalized racism. Toward the end of the speech, King references the possibility of his own untimely death.
President Trump delivered his first State of the Union Address on January 30, 2018, broadly outlining his agenda for the coming year on matters both foreign and domestic. Here are 20 vocabulary words drawn from the President's speech. The full transcript of the speech can be found here.
On December 7, 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States naval base located at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Over 2,400 Americans died. The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed Congress to ask for a declaration of war. He began by referring to December 7th as "a date that will live in infamy." The Pearl Harbor attack brought the United States into World War II and was the most deadly foreign attack on American soil until the 9/11 attacks by al Qaeda in 2001.
The son of a blacksmith, Herbert Hoover earned millions through his work as a geologist and mining engineer. While his economic successes led to political positions, he believed that American progress is rooted in the separation of government and business. Here are some words from the October 22, 1928 speech that capped his campaign to become the 31st President.
President Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly for the first time on September 19, 2017. The speech touched on a range of topics including the state of the U.N. itself, the political situation in Venezuela, the Iran nuclear deal, and North Korea's ongoing nuclear efforts. Here's a list of vocabulary words drawn from the president's speech. The entire speech can be read here.
At the dedication of the John Brown Memorial Park in Kansas, former president Theodore Roosevelt attacked the administration of his successor, President William H. Taft, and started a campaign for a third term. Here are some words from the August 31, 1910 speech that introduced the philosophy of the Progressive Party.
On May 22, 1964, the graduating students of the University of Michigan were personally asked by the President to join him in a battle to make America great. Here are some of the words used by Lyndon B. Johnson to inspire a commitment to end poverty and injustice.
Learn these words from Roosevelt's April 14, 1906 speech that calls the press to treat its subjects with objective moderation. During his two terms in office, Theodore Roosevelt made the White House the center of news every day, which he facilitated by giving reporters a special room. Coverage was mostly favorable, but when Joseph Pulitzer published accusations of misconduct in the building of the Panama Canal, the President tried to charge him with libel.
The son of a minister, divinity school graduate Ralph Waldo Emerson found his calling as a lecturer across the nation. Before live audiences, he presented his thoughts on a wide range of topics, which he often revised for publication. From his February 7, 1844 address to the Mercantile Library Association in Boston, here are some words calling for American leadership. Read the full text here. Here are links to our lists for other works by Ralph Waldo Emerson: Nature, Self-Reliance
1800 was a bitter election year. The incumbent Federalist president ran against his Democratic-Republican vice-president. John Adams lost, but two rival candidates tied. The House of Representatives decided that Aaron Burr would get the secondary title. On March 4, 1801, in the new capital of Washington D.C., Thomas Jefferson was sworn in as the third president. Here are some of his words urging reconciliation.
Riding on the success of the Democratic-Republicans in concluding the War of 1812, James Monroe won the presidency with a wide margin of electoral votes (183-34). On March 4, 1817, he was sworn in as the fifth president. Here are some of the words that ushered in the Era of Good Feelings.
The Democratic response to President Trump's Address to Congress was delivered from Kentucky by Steve Beshear, the former Governor of that state. Beshear focused on the issue of health care, after President Trump's call to "Repeal and Replace Obamacare" earlier in the evening. Beshear also highlighted what he views as the mistakes President Trump has made in his first 40 days in office. Here are fifteen vocabulary words from Steve Beshear's Democratic response to President Trump. Vocabulary words from President's Trump speech are featured here.
President Trump delivered his first speech to Congress on February 28, 2017. President Trump outlined wide-ranging goals which emphasized bringing jobs back to America, strengthening the nation's infrastructure and military, and establishing a new healthcare system. Here are fifteen vocabulary words from President Trump's address to Congress. The speech was followed by a response from the Democrats, with fifteen of those words here.
Donald Trump gave his inaugural address on January 20, 2017. Newly sworn-in as President, Trump promised to serve the people of America, and to put America first in weighing all decisions. He also pledged to bring jobs and wealth back to the United States. Here are twenty words from President Trump's inaugural address.
President Obama delivered his farewell address on January 10, 2017. The speech detailed what President Obama holds to be the core components that make up American democracy and outlined what he considers to be the continuing threats, located both home and abroad. It was also a speech rich in gratitude, both personal and professional, as President Obama prepares to leave office on January 20, 2017. Here are 28 vocabulary words from the speech.