Monday, 27 August 2012

Inspirational Speeches in History

Words are a powerful weapon. Words have the power to evoke any form of emotion. Words have the power to inspire others. In recognition of 10 of the world’s greatest orators whose words inspired millions around the world, gave hope to the discouraged in tough times, honoured the dead, and changed the course of history, I present to you the list of10 of the most inspirational speeches in history.

1. Alexander the Great

Image source - Wikipedia
Colin Farrell may have tried to recreate the Great Alexander’s speech in the film, with his dodgy blonde highlights and a lazy attempt at trying to hide his Irish accent,  but the great leader studied Aristotle and always seemed to find the words to motivate his army of men. After ten years of fighting in Greece, Egypt and the Persian Empire, Alexander moved his men on to India, where they had grown tired of combat and lacked the will to fight on. Read the full speech Alexander the Great gave his men to inspire them to carry on by clicking on the link.

2. William Wilberforce

Image source - Wikipedia
A member of the British Parliament and a reborn Christian, after Wilberforce had found God he believed it was duty to abolish slavery. In 1789 he gave his first speech to the House of Commons on the subject of quashing the slave trade but it only succeeded in falling on deaf ears. Wilberforce never gave up though and continued to present a speech each year until 1807 when he finally managed to convince the members of Parliament. The Slave Trade Act was finally passed and Wilberforce’s duty to God and his fellow man was complete. Read the complete speech by William Wilberforce here.

3. George Washington

Image source - Wikipedia
Even the greatest orators of all time got nervous before giving a monumental speech. Just look at George Washington for example. Two days before Christmas in 1783, Washington gave his famous resignation speech.  The Revolutionary War had drawn to a close and everyone assumed that Washington, Major General and Commander-in-Chief, would go on to move for supreme power. Many people had hoped so, due to his inspirational leadership. Yet, he shocked them all by resigning and so nervous was he at giving his final speech in front of the Continental Congress that he trembled uncontrollably. In order to control himself he had to hold the parchment with both hands in order for him to read from it. You can read George Washington’s moving speech here.

4. Theodore Roosevelt

Image source - Wikipedia
Roosevelt was a genuine man’s man, the 26th President of the USA and a legendary orator. During his tenure he gave many renowned inspirational speeches, but this speech in particular, directed at men to show strength and decency, could and should apply to today’s modern world too. He believed in men honouring their family and showing responsibility to help inspire the next generation. You can read this speech by Theodore Roosevelt in full by clicking on the link.

5. Winston Churchill

Image source - Wikipedia
Though you would never think it, Winston Churchill was born with a speech impediment. Yet he became one of the best orators of the 20th century and one of the most inspirational leaders of all time. Churchill led Britain through its darkest moments in history and gave many famous speeches. Yet, his “We shall fight on the beaches” speech given to the House of Commons on 4 June 1940 could arguably go down as his greatest speech of all. Read the full Winston Churchill speech by clicking on the link or video below

6. John F. Kennedy

Image source - Wikipedia
The 35th President of America was young, smart and charismatic. He’s tragically remembered for being assassinated less than three years after being sworn in, but it was on that day – 20 January 1961 – when he took the oath that people were filled with hope. JFK is the youngest president to have ever taken office (43) and therefore represented a new era. During his short tenure he encountered some tough events, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Bay of Pigs Invasion and the African-American Civil Rights Movement, yet he still managed to win a Pulitzer Prize, the only president in history to have done so. Read JFK’s inaugural speech here or video below

7. Mahatma Gandhi

Image source - Wikipedia
The peaceful freedom fighter demonstrated to the world how peace can overcome war. Fighting for the liberation of India, who had been under British rule for almost a century, Gandhi represented the people. His non-violent movement was aimed at the Brits to “Quit India”, demanding complete independence for his country and freedom from the British rule. Read Gandhi’s Quit India speech by clicking on the link.

8. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Everyone around the world recognises the “I have a dream speech.” As a result of this Martin Luther King, Jr. is hands down one of the greatest orators to have ever lived and one of the most inspirational human beings. It was a century since slavery had been abolished, yet in 1963 black people in America were still being subjected to cruel racism. Black children would be hosed down in the streets and forced to attend different schools to caucasian children. Black families were taunted outside their homes, spat on in public and denied treatment if they fell ill or service if they were in a shop. It therefore took an extremely courageous individual to stand up and defend black people. Read the complete speech by Martin Luther King here.or look at video here

9. Abraham Lincoln

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“Four score and seven years ago…” These famous words were spoken by Lincoln in1863 when giving the Gettysburg Address. We will all be familiar with them from the numerous films and TV shows we’ve seen where young American children have partaken in a school play and spoken these words. The Gettysburg Address is recognised as one of the most famous speeches documenting American freedom. You can read the complete speech byAbraham Lincoln by clicking on the link.

10. Nelson Mandela

Image source - Wikipedia
We are all aware of the history behind Nelson Mandela so what he has experienced in life is pure inspiration to us all itself.

Spending nearly 30 years in prison for leading a movement against apartheid in his country is mind boggling but the fact that his spirit was never broken is testament to his character. In 1964 he gave a powerful speech from the dock at the beginning of his trial. You can read the full speech given by Nelson Mandela here