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Words of a Century

The Top 100 American Speeches, 1900-1999

Stephen E. Lucas and Martin J. Medhurst

Publication Date - December 2008

ISBN: 9780195168051

704 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

This unique anthology contains the complete--and authentic--texts of the best American speeches of the twentieth century as delivered to their immediate audiences.


Boldly breaking the mold of previous anthologies, Words of a Century: The Top 100 American Speeches, 1900-1999 contains the complete--and authentic--texts of the best American speeches of the twentieth century as delivered to their immediate audiences. It features a remarkable array of speakers, from Woodrow Wilson, Clarence Darrow, and Carrie Chapman Catt to Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, and Barbara Jordan.

As diverse in type as they are in subject matter, the speeches open a unique window on the twentieth century, and many continue to resonate in our own time. Each is preceded by a headnote with background on the speaker, the occasion, and the impact of the speech. More than 2,000 annotations identify people, events, and textual references that help bring the speeches to life for today's readers.

This exceptional anthology is ideal for courses in rhetoric, political communication, and twentieth century American history, as well as for anyone interested in the artistry and impact of the spoken word.

About the Author(s)

Stephen E. Lucas is Evjue-Bascom Professor in the Humanities, Department of Communication Arts, at University of Wisconsin.

Martin J. Medhurst is Distinguished Professor of Rhetoric and Communication at Baylor University.


"Words of a Century is simply the best anthology of its kind. It is edited by two of the best rhetorical critics in the business, and the speeches were chosen on the basis of their artistry and impact through a survey of 137 communication scholars. The headnotes are insightful and historically accurate, and the texts have been painstakingly authenticated--a rarity in such works. There is no comparable collection of great American speeches. No serious student of rhetoric should be without it."--J. Michael Hogan, Pennsylvania State University

"Moments of political crisis beget some of the best and most memorable instances of political oratory. This magnificently researched and carefully annotated collection reminds us just how close the connection is between our shared political life and our public speech. This volume is a unique and invaluable resource for students and scholars alike on the history, politics, and oratory of the twentieth century."--Mary E. Stuckey, Georgia State University

Table of Contents

    Alternate Table of Contents: Speeches by Rank
    The Century Begins
    Russell Conwell, Acres of Diamonds
    William Jennings Bryan, Against Imperialism
    Theodore Roosevelt, The Man with the Muckrake
    Eugene Debs, The Issue
    Woodrow Wilson, First Inaugural Address
    World War I, Dissent, and Woman's Suffrage
    Anna Howard Shaw, The Fundamental Principle of a Republic
    Carrie Chapman Catt, The Crisis
    Woodrow Wilson, War Message
    Emma Goldman, Address to the Jury
    Robert La Follette, Free Speech in Wartime
    Carrie Chapman Catt, Address to the Congress of the United States
    Woodrow Wilson, The Fourteen Points
    Eugene Debs, Statement to the Court
    Woodrow Wilson, For the League of Nations
    Woodrow Wilson, Final Address for the League of Nations
    Crystal Eastman, Now We Can Begin
    The Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression
    Clarence Darrow, Plea for Leopold and Loeb
    Margaret Sanger, The Children's Era
    Franklin D. Roosevelt, Address to the Commonwealth Club
    Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address
    Franklin D. Roosevelt, The Banking Crisis
    Huey Long, Every Man a King
    Huey Long, Share Our Wealth
    John L. Lewis, Labor and the Nation
    Lou Gehrig, Farewell to Baseball
    World War II and the Emergence of the Cold War
    Franklin D. Roosevelt, The Arsenal of Democracy
    Franklin D. Roosevelt, The Four Freedoms
    Franklin D. Roosevelt, War Message
    Harry S. Truman, The Truman Doctrine
    George C. Marshall, The Marshall Plan
    Hubert H. Humphrey, The Sunshine of Human Rights
    Eleanor Roosevelt, The Struggle for Human Rights
    Eleanor Roosevelt, Adoption of the Declaration of Human Rights
    McCarthyism, Korea, and the Nuclear Era
    Margaret Chase Smith, Declaration of Conscience
    William Faulkner, Speech Accepting the Nobel Prize in Literature
    Douglas MacArthur, Old Soldiers Never Die
    Adlai Stevenson, Let's Talk Sense to the American People
    Richard M. Nixon, Checkers
    Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Statement at the Smith Act Trial
    Dwight D. Eisenhower, Atoms for Peace
    Joseph Welch, Defense of Fred Fisher at the Army-McCarthy Hearings
    The Age of Camelot
    John F. Kennedy, Speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association
    Dwight D. Eisenhower, Farewell Address
    John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address
    Newton W. Minow, Television and the Public Interest
    Douglas MacArthur, Duty, Honor, Country
    John F. Kennedy, Address on the Cuban Missile Crisis
    John F. Kennedy, Speech at American University
    John F. Kennedy, Civil Rights: A Moral Issue
    John F. Kennedy, Ich Bin ein Berliner
    Race, Poverty, and Dissension
    Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have a Dream
    Malcolm X, Message to the Grassroots
    Lyndon B. Johnson, Let Us Continue
    Malcolm X, The Ballot or the Bullet
    Lyndon B. Johnson, The Great Society
    Barry Goldwater, Speech Accepting the Republican Presidential Nomination
    Ronald Reagan, A Time for Choosing
    Mario Savio, An End to History
    Lyndon B. Johnson, We Shall Overcome
    Robert F. Kennedy, Day of Affirmation
    Stokely Carmichael, Black Power
    Vietnam and Other Discontents
    Martin Luther King, Jr., Speech at Riverside Church
    Cesar Chavez, Speech on Ending His Fast
    Lyndon B. Johnson, Address on Not Seeking Reelection
    Martin Luther King, Jr., I've Been to the Mountaintop
    Robert F. Kennedy, Statement on the Assassination of Martin Luther King
    Edward M. Kennedy, Eulogy to Robert Kennedy
    Edward M. Kennedy, Chappaquiddick
    Richard M. Nixon, The Great Silent Majority
    Spiro T. Agnew, Television News Coverage
    Richard M. Nixon, Address on the Cambodian Incursion
    Shirley Chisholm, For the Equal Rights Amendment
    John Kerry, Vietnam Veterans Against the War
    Watergate and Its Aftermath
    Barbara Jordan, Statement on the Articles of Impeachment Against Richard M. Nixon
    Richard M. Nixon, Address Resigning the Presidency
    Gerald R. Ford, Our Long National Nightmare Is Over
    Gerald R. Ford, Address on Pardoning Richard M. Nixon
    Barbara Jordan, Who Then Will Speak for the Common Good?
    Jimmy Carter, Energy and the Crisis of Confidence
    Edward M. Kennedy, The Dream Shall Never Die
    Conservatism, Liberalism, and the End of the Cold War
    Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address
    Ronald Reagan, The Evil Empire
    Ursula K. Le Guin, A Left-Handed Commencement Address
    Edward M. Kennedy, Tolerance and Truth in America
    Ronald Reagan, Address on the Fortieth Anniversary of D-Day
    Mario Cuomo, A Tale of Two Cities
    Jesse Jackson, The Rainbow Coalition
    Geraldine Ferraro, Speech Accepting the Democratic Vice Presidential Nomination
    Mario Cuomo, Religious Belief and Public Morality
    Ronald Reagan, Address on the Challenger Explosion
    Ronald Reagan, Speech at the Brandenburg Gate
    Ann Richards, Keynote Address at the Democratic National Convention
    Jesse Jackson, Common Ground and Common Sense
    The 1990s
    Barbara Bush, Choices and Change
    Anita Hill, Statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee
    Elizabeth Glaser, AIDS: A Personal Story
    Mary Fisher, A Whisper of AIDS
    Bill Clinton, Speech for Victims of the Oklahoma City Bombing
    Hillary Rodham Clinton, Women's Rights Are Human Rights
    Elie Wiesel, The Perils of Indifference

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