In the past year, we have heard many political debates, interviews and speeches. What are the most memorable presidential speeches in U.S. history? There are thousands to choose from and obviously it’s a difficult task to narrow it down to five. Here is our list:
Top 5 Presidential Speeches in U.S. History
1. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
Every American that has passed fifth grade has learned about the famous Gettysburg Address and can identify the iconic phrase, “Four score and seven years ago…”
The speech was delivered on November 19, 1863. During the American Civil War, after the Union had defeated the Confederacy in Gettysburg. The speech was only 2 minutes long but has been deemed as one of the most powerful speeches of all time helping the nation come together after Civil War. Only hours after Lincoln gave the speech he was described as feverish, weak and very ill. Later Lincoln was diagnosed with Smallpox and is thought to have had the virus during the speech.
2. Richard Nixon’s Resignation Speech
President Nixon still remains the only U.S. president to resign from office to avoid what most consider eminent impeachment. With the Watergate investigations raging and Nixon’s waning popularity, the president was defeated. On August 8, 1974 Nixon addressed the nation and officially resigned as the president of the U.S. The next day Gerald Ford was sworn into office and became the 38th president of the U.S.
3. George Washington’s Farewell Speech
On September 19, 1796, President George Washington announced that he would not run for reelection as President. Perhaps the most iconic figure in American history, Washington was instrumental in developing many of the freedoms we enjoy today. In typical noble fashion, the speech gave Americans hope and ushered in the first presidential transition with grace and dignity. The Address became a blueprint of our countries government for many years and created unity among the states.
4. JFK’s Cuban Missile Speech
On October 22, 1962, President Kennedy delivered an honest and powerful speech declaring that the U.S. would not back down from possible nuclear war. An American spy plane secretly took photos on the island of Cuba of Soviet Union nuclear missiles. After days of discussing the appropriate action, Kennedy placed a naval blockade around Cuba and demanded the missiles be removed.
Luckily the Soviet Union leader Khrushchev backed down and soon after the two countries began to establish peace.
5. Clinton’s Confession Speech
After vehemently denying having sexual relations during the Clinton/Lewinsky Scandal, President Clinton changed his original stance and confessed to having inappropriate relations with Monica Lewinsky.
The confession speech was aired live on the major TV networks on August 17, 1998 as President Clinton admitted to having “a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was inappropriate.”
Clinton was later impeached by the House of Representatives as the 42nd President of the U.S. on two charges: perjury and obstruction of justice. The president was then acquitted by the Senate but was only 17 votes short of being removed from his office. The required two-thirds majority was not obtained and Clinton maintained his Presidency.