Top 100 American speeches of the 20th century

Compiled by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Texas A & M University, this list reflects the opinions of 137 leading scholars of American public address. (Full text of news release.)

Rank Title Speaker Date Place
1 "I Have a Dream" Martin Luther King, Jr. 28 Aug 1963 Washington, DC
2 Inaugural Address John F. Kennedy 20 Jan 1961 Washington, DC
3 First Inaugural Address Franklin D. Roosevelt 4 Mar 1933 Washington, DC
4 War Message ("A Date which Will Live in Infamy") Franklin D. Roosevelt 8 Dec 1941 Washington, DC
5 Keynote Speech to the Democratic National Convention Barbara Jordan 12 July 1976 New York, NY
6 "My Side of the Story" ("Checkers") Richard M. Nixon 23 Sept 1952 Los Angeles, CA
7 "The Ballot or the Bullet" Malcolm X 3 Apr 1964 Cleveland, OH
8 Address to the Nation on the Challenger Disaster Ronald Reagan 28 Jan 1986 Washington, DC
9 Speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association John F. Kennedy 12 Sept 1960 Houston, TX
10 Address to Congress on the Voting Rights Act ("We Shall Overcome") Lyndon B. Johnson 15 Mar 1965 Washington, DC
11 Keynote Speech to the Democratic National Convention ("A Tale of Two Cities") Mario Cuomo 17 July 1984 San Francisco, CA
12 Speech at the Democratic National Convention ("The Rainbow Coalition") Jesse Jackson 17 July 1984 San Francisco, CA
13 Statement on the Articles of Impeachment Barbara Jordan 25 July 1974 Washington, DC
14 Farewell Address to Congress ("Old Soldiers Never Die") Douglas MacArthur 19 Apr 1951 Washington, DC
15 "I've Been to the Mountaintop" Martin Luther King, Jr. 3 Apr 1968 Memphis, TN
16 "The Man with the Muckrake" Theodore Roosevelt 14 Apr 1906 Washington, DC
17 Statement on the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Robert F. Kennedy 4 Apr 1968 Indianapolis, IN
18 Farewell Address Dwight D. Eisenhower 17 Jan 1961 Washington, DC
19 War Message ("The World Must Be Made Safe for Democracy") Woodrow Wilson 2 Apr 1917 Washington, DC
20 Farewell Address at the U.S. Military Academy ("Duty, Honor, Country") Douglas MacArthur 12 May 1962 West Point, NY
21 Address to the Nation on the War in Vietnam ("The Great Silent Majority") Richard M. Nixon 3 Nov 1969 Washington, DC
22 "Ich bin ein Berliner" John F. Kennedy 26 June 1963 West Berlin, Germany
23 Plea for Mercy at the Trial of Leopold and Loeb Clarence Darrow 22, 23, and 25 Aug 1924 Chicago, IL
24 "Acres of Diamonds" Russell Conwell 1900-1925 Delivered at many spots across the U.S.
25 Televised Speech on Behalf of Barry Goldwater ("A Time for Choosing") Ronald Reagan 27 Oct 1964 Los Angeles, CA
26 "Every Man a King" Huey Pierce Long 23 Feb 1934 Washington, DC
27 "The Fundamental Principle of a Republic" Anna Howard Shaw 21 June 1915 Ogdensburg, NY
28 "The Arsenal of Democracy" Franklin D. Roosevelt 29 Dec 1940 Washington, DC
29 Speech to the National Association of Evangelicals ("The Evil Empire") Ronald Reagan 8 Mar 1983 Orlando, FL
30 First Inaugural Address Ronald Reagan 20 Jan 1981 Washington, DC
31 First Fireside Chat ("The Banking Crisis") Franklin D. Roosevelt 12 Mar 1933 Washington, DC
32 Address to Congress on Greece and Turkey ("The Truman Doctrine") Harry S Truman 12 Mar 1947 Washington, DC
33 Speech Accepting the Nobel Prize in Literature William Faulkner 10 Dec 1950 Stockholm, Sweden
34 Statement to the Court Eugene V. Debs 14 Sept 1918 Cleveland, OH
35 Address to the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women ("Women's Rights Are Humans Rights") Hillary Rodham Clinton 5 Sept 1995 Beijing, China
36 "Atoms for Peace" Dwight D. Eisenhower 8 Dec 1953 New York, NY
37 American University Speech John F. Kennedy 10 June 1963 Washington, DC
38 Keynote Speech to the Democratic National Convention Ann Richards 18 July 1988 Atlanta, GA
39 Address to the Nation Resigning the Presidency Richard M. Nixon 8 Aug 1974 Washington, DC
40 "The Fourteen Points" Woodrow Wilson 8 Jan 1918 Washington, DC
41 "Declaration of Conscience" Margaret Chase Smith 1 June 1950 Washington, DC
42 "The Four Freedoms" Franklin D. Roosevelt 6 Jan 1941 Washington, DC
43 Speech at Riverside Church ("A Time to Break Silence") Martin Luther King, Jr. 4 Apr 1967 New York, NY
44 "What It Means to Be Colored in the Capital of the United States" Mary Church Terrell 10 Oct 1906 Washington, DC
45 Speech Accepting the Democratic Presidential Nomination ("Against Imperialism") William Jennings Bryan 8 Aug 1900 Indianapolis, IN
46 "A Moral Necessity for Birth Control" Margaret Sanger 1921-1922 Delivered several times for the American Birth Control League
47 Commencement Speech at Wellesley College ("Choices and Change") Barbara Bush 1 June 1990 Wellesley, MA
48 Address to the Nation on Civil Rights ("A Moral Issue") John F. Kennedy 11 June 1963 Washington, DC
49 Address to the Nation on the Cuban Missile Crisis John F. Kennedy 22 Oct 1962 Washington, DC
50 "Television News Coverage" Spiro Agnew 13 Nov. 1969 Des Moines, IA
51 Speech to the Democratic National Convention ("Common Ground and Common Sense") Jesse Jackson 20 July 1988 Atlanta, GA
52 Speech to the Republican National Convention ("A Whisper of AIDS") Mary Fisher 19 Aug 1992 Houston, TX
53 "The Great Society" Lyndon B. Johnson 22 May 1964 Ann Arbor, MI
54 "The Marshall Plan" George C. Marshall 5 June 1947 Cambridge, MA
55 "Truth and Tolerance in America" Edward M. Kennedy 3 Oct 1983 Lynchburg, VA
56 Speech Accepting the Democratic Presidential Nomination ("Let's Talk Sense to American People") Adlai Stevenson 26 July 1952 Chicago, IL
57 "The Struggle for Human Rights" Eleanor Roosevelt 28 Sept 1948 Paris, France
58 Speech Accepting the Democratic Vice-Presidential Nomination Geraldine Ferraro 19 July 1984 San Francisco, CA
59 "Free Speech in Wartime" Robert M. La Follette 6 Oct 1917 Washington, DC
60 Address at the U.S. Ranger Monument on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day Ronald Reagan 6 June 1984 Pointe du Hoc, Normandy, France
61 "Religious Belief and Public Morality" Mario Cuomo 13 Sept 1984 Notre Dame, IN
62 Televised Statement to the People of Massachusetts ("Chappaquiddick") Edward M. Kennedy 25 July 1969 Boston, MA
63 "Labor and the Nation" ("The Rights of Labor") John L. Lewis 3 Sept 1937 Washington, DC
64 Speech Accepting the Republican Presidential Nomination ("Extremism in the Defense of Liberty Is No Vice") Barry Goldwater 16 July 1964 San Francisco, CA
65 "Black Power" Stokely Carmichael Oct 1966 Berkeley, CA
66 Speech at the Democratic National Convention ("The Sunshine of Human Rights") Hubert H. Humphrey 14 July 1948 Philadelphia, PA
67 Address to the Jury Emma Goldman 9 July 1917 New York, NY
68 "The Crisis" Carrie Chapman Catt 7 Sept 1916 Atlantic City, NJ
69 "Television and the Public Interest" ("A Vast Wasteland") Newton W. Minow 9 May 1961 Washington, DC
70 Eulogy to Robert Kennedy Edward M. Kennedy 8 June 1968 New York, NY
71 Statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee Anita Hill 11 Oct 1991 Washington, DC
72 Final Address in Support of the League of Nations Woodrow Wilson 25 Sept 1919 Pueblo, CO
73 Farewell to Baseball Lou Gehrig 4 July 1939 New York, NY
74 Address to the Nation on the Cambodian Incursion Richard M. Nixon 30 Apr 1970 Washington, DC
75 "Address to the United States Congress" Carrie Chapman Catt Nov 1917 Washington, DC
76 Speech at the Democratic National Convention ("The Dream Shall Never Die") Edward M. Kennedy 12 Aug 1980 New York, NY
77 Address to the Nation on Vietnam and the Decision Not to Seek Re-Election Lyndon B. Johnson 31 Mar 1968 Washington, DC
78 Speech to the Commonwealth Club Franklin D. Roosevelt 23 Sept 1932 San Francisco, CA
79 First Inaugural Address Woodrow Wilson 4 Mar 1913 Washington, DC
80 "An End to History" Mario Savio 2 Dec 1964 Berkeley, CA
81 Speech at the Democratic National Convention ("AIDS: A Personal Story") Elizabeth Glaser 14 July 1992 New York, NY
82 "The Issue" Eugene V. Debs 23 May 1908 Girard, KS
83 The Children's Era Margaret Sanger Mar 1925 New York, NY
84 "A Left-Handed Commencement Address" Ursula Le Guin 22 May 1983 Oakland, CA
85 "Now We Can Begin" Crystal Eastman Sept-Oct 1920 New York, NY
86 Radio Broadcast of March 7, 1935 ("Share Our Wealth") Huey Pierce Long 7 Mar 1935 Washington, DC
87 Address on Taking the Oath of Office ("Our Long National Nightmare Is Over") Gerald Ford 9 Aug 1974 Washington, DC
88 Speech on Ending His Fast Cesar Chavez 10 Mar 1968 Delano, CA
89 Statement at the Smith Act Trial Elizabeth Gurley Flynn 2 Feb 1953 New York, NY
90 Address to the Nation on Energy and National Goals ("A Crisis of Confidence") Jimmy Carter 15 July 1979 Washington, DC
91 "Message to the Grassroots" Malcolm X 10 Nov 1963 Detroit, MI
92 Speech at the Prayer Service for Victims of the Oklahoma City Bombing Bill Clinton 23 Apr 1995 Oklahoma City, OK
93 "For the Equal Rights Amendment" Shirley Chisholm 10 Aug 1970 Washington, DC
94 Address at the Brandenburg Gate Ronald Reagan 12 June 1987 West Berlin, Germany
95 "The Perils of Indifference" Elie Wiesel 12 Apr 1999 Washington, DC
96 Address to the Nation on Pardoning Richard M. Nixon Gerald Ford 8 Sept 1974 Washington, DC
97 "For the League of Nations" Woodrow Wilson 6 Sept 1919 Des Moines, IA
98 Address to Congress after Assuming the Presidency ("Let Us Continue") Lyndon B. Johnson 27 Nov 1963 Washington, DC
99 Defense of Fred Fisher at the Army-McCarthy Hearings ("Have You No Sense of Decency?") Joseph Welch 9 June 1954 Washington, DC
100 "Adoption of the Declaration of Human Rights" Eleanor Roosevelt 9 Dec 1948 Paris, France