Aware of This? The 10 Most Eloquent Presidents People Loved their Speeches

History has given us a plethora of incredible role models and inspirational sayings by some of the world’s most influential people. It is gratifying to know that many of those motivational speeches and eloquently spoken quotes were initiated by none other than our very own presidents.

The impact of many presidential speeches went well beyond the borders of the United States, stretching across the globe to instill emotions like courage, compassion, and love in people who were not even citizens of America. And in our own country, patriotism ran rampant after the empowering speeches of some of history’s most renowned presidents.

Here are excerpts from ten of the most eloquent presidents and their incredibly powerful speeches.

10 Presidential Speeches the World Will Never Forget

 

1. John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address

Arguably the most patriotic speech ever penned by a politician, our 35th president rocked the nation with his impassioned plea in 1961 for the citizens of the United States to come together for the good of the country rather than for each individual person.

His entire speech was eloquent in its entirety, but is summed up with these two sentences:

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–
ask what you can do for your country.  My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

 

2. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chat”

Roosevelt chose a casual setting to discuss a real problem that affected every person in the country, but his whole presidency was based on this familiarity, too. When he was beginning to implement his New Deal legislation, he sat down and explained everything crucial for citizens to know, without the interference of the media polluting the truth. This began a tradition of presidents directly speaking to the citizens on important matters and encouraging people to make their own decisions without listening to rumors. For more on the New Deal and Roosevelt’s campaign slogan, read this blog.

His fireside chat in March 1933 addressed the audience as “friends,” and Roosevelt quickly garnered the approval of the majority of the country after this speech:

“My friends, I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about banking…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..It is your problem, my friends. Your problem no less than it is mine. Together, we cannot fail.”

 

3. Dwight Eisenhower’s Farewell Address

When Eisenhower was leaving the office and welcoming in JFK as our new president in 1961, he gave a speech that warned the world that a modern era was approaching. In this new era, he predicted that the government, the military, and big business all would join together and this “misplaced power” could turn “disastrous.”

He pleaded with the country to keep the combination of the three big forces from endangering the foundations of the United States with this speech:

“Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. But we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense…In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic process.”

 

4. Ronald Reagan’s Address on the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster

In January 1986, the United States dealt with a tragedy when the much-awaited space shuttle Challenger was set to go into space, but instead exploded while millions of people looked on in terror. Not only was this a harsh blow to NASA and the space industry, but it also was an emotional time for many people as they felt the wave of pain and sadness.

Although it was a devastating tragedy, it tied millions of Americans together and united them in one common bond of grief. Then President Ronald Reagan assisted in tying the bond tighter with his speech:

“The future doesn’t belong to the faint-hearted but to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them…The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye, and slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God.”

 

5. Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” Speech at the University of Michigan

Lyndon B. Johnson was another notable president in the ‘60s. In 1964, his “Great Society” speech, delivered at the University of Michigan on May 22, was so on point that it was almost like he was predicting the future. Johnson’s impassioned words asked the nation to focus on creating wealth, but not to use it for personal gain. Instead, he urged that we use our wealth to improve the nation and each other.

Johnson’s speech could easily be repeated today as many Americans feel the lack of idealism and patriotism and focus on wealth for the individual. The reminder that when the country is successful, the individuals are successful can be heard here:

“The challenge of the next half-century is whether we have the wisdom to use that wealth to enrich and elevate our national life and to advance the quality of our American civilization. Your imagination and your initiative and your indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs or a society where old values and new visions are buried under unbridled growth. For in your time, we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society. “

 

6. George W. Bush’s “Get On Board” Speech

George W. Bush was president during one of the biggest acts of terrorism the United States had ever seen. On 9/11/2011, the country was attacked by terrorists in a tragedy that left thousands of people dead and hundreds of millions of others shocked, terrified and devastated. Bush had to step in and save the country from the emotional damage that would follow the devastation without a rock to hold everyone together.

He did this in the simple, eloquent way that he was famous for, with few words and a common sense truth:

“When they struck they wanted to create an atmosphere of fear, and one of the great goals of this war is…to tell the traveling public: Get on board. Do your business around the country. Fly and enjoy America’s great destination spots. Get down to Disney World in Florida. Take your families and enjoy life the way we want it to be enjoyed.”

 

7. Barack Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” Speech

The nation’s first non-white president, Barack Obama, was elected in 2008. He knew that this fact would cause dissension in the country, so he addressed it in his inaugural speech looking to create “ a more perfect union.” He was direct and to the point, discussing a topic that had previously been hushed up and considered taboo. His reasoning was that he felt that Americans were finally able to make their own educated opinions by evaluating history and the effects and seeing how racial intolerance had caused so many problems.

In Obama’s speech, he gave the gift of hope to the nation that the citizens could get beyond racial boundaries and become a more perfect union:

“But I have asserted a firm conviction, a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people, that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact, we have no choice. We have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union…What we know, what we have seen, is that America can change. That is the true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope, the audacity to hope, for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.”

 

8. Theodore Roosevelt’s “The Man with the Muck Rake” Speech

Way back in 1906, over a century ago, Theodore Roosevelt knew that money was going to bring down the compassion of man to man. He pleaded with citizens to work together to give everyone equal opportunity to succeed, and to remember that an individual’s character was the foundation of life.

“More important than aught else is the development of the broadest sympathy of man for man. The welfare of the wage worker, the welfare of the tiller of the soil, upon these depend the welfare of the entire country; their good is not to be sought in pulling down others; but their good must be the prime object of all our statesmanship.”

 

9. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

One of the most famous presidential speeches ever, and one with far-reaching impacts across the country, is Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 dedication of the Battle of Gettysburg’s site as a national cemetery. In this speech, Lincoln urged American citizens to continue to do the unfinished work of all who died in battle – to fight for freedom for the country.

“The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

 

10. George Washington’s First Inaugural Address

Our first president, George Washington , set the stage for all other presidents with his inaugural speech in 1789.

“Having thus imparted to you my sentiments as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together… so His divine blessing may be equally ‘conspicuous’ in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.”

 

 

Are You Aware of These Motivational Speeches?

For more motivation from our country’s most powerful leaders, read the entire speeches, but these main excerpts have resounded over centuries as inspirations for millions of people during some of their darkest hours.

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