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Dave’s Greatest Speeches

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Actually the speeches that Dave Schuler of The Glittering Eye considers the greatest – not speeches made by Dave himself. Though, being an erudite fellow, he probably can give a good speech.

The Greatest Speeches

…..Another reasonable criticism is that some of the speeches, in my view probably anything from before about 1500 CE, are fictional.

But it’s a good, interesting, thought-provoking list that includes George Washington’s Farewell Address, Lincoln’s Second Inaugural, his Gettysburg address, several memorable speeches from Theodore Roosevelt, FDR’s first inaugural speech, several of Churchill’s wartime speeches, Douglas MacArthur’s farewell address, several of John Kennedy’s speeches, and several of Ronald Reagan’s speeches.

Ignoring speeches less than twenty years old which can reasonably be thought not to have withstood the test of time and just off the top of my head, here are several speeches in chronological order that I think are worthy of consideration in a “best” list:

  • Elizabeth I’s Golden Speech
  • Napoleon’s farewell to the Old Guard
  • John Quincy Adams’s speech on the Fourth of July, 1837
  • Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman” speech
  • Garibaldi’s speech of 1860 to the troops
  • Bismarck’s “Blood and Iron” speech
  • Lenin’s speech on the Soviet power
  • Nehru’s “Tryst With Destiny” speech
  • Mao’s speech of June 30, 1949, the 28th anniverary of the Chinese communist party
  • Khrushchev’s “We will bury you” speech

I think Dave’s criticism of the ancient speeches in the Art of Manliness list is reasonable, though saying they are entirely “fictional” might be going too far ( though in some cases that might be true). Real events often become “mythologized” and accrue a thick crust of romanticism but attain a historical staying power because, unlike with pure fiction, there was a real event underneath acting to legitimize the story. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address will probably still be remembered in 2500 AD by someone, even if we Americans have vanished but how they reconstruct it may involve some invented context.

ADDENDUM:

On a humorous note, Schmedlap points to Peter’s Evil Overlord List

… 55)  The deformed mutants and odd-ball psychotics will have their place in my Legions of Terror. However before I send them out on important covert missions that require tact and subtlety, I will first see if there is anyone else equally qualified who would attract less attention.

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