Famous Short Speeches

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As these famous short speeches prove, it's not always about the quantity of words spoken that make a difference, it's more about the quality of the words chosen to make an impact and go down in history. What are some of the best famous short speeches? From the notable Gettysburg Address given by Abraham Lincoln to words of wisdom and inspiration shared by Winston Churchill to young children, these short speeches by men and women will be remembered for generations to come.

Many of these famous speeches are remembered for the impact they made on the world, be it reacting to a historical or political situation, like Roosevelt's speech after the bombing of Pearl Harbor; saying farewell to a career, like the notable sports speech Loui Gherig gave to say goodbye to baseball; or discussing the end of an era, like Napoleon Bonapart's Farewell to the Old Guard Speech. Some of the shortest speeches ever given were also the most memorable.

What are the most famous short speeches? Are you looking for a few-minute-long easy speech to memorize and recite? Whatever the reason for the speech, these words of wisdom remain notable decades after the fact and will continue to be notable for decades to come.

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    The Gettysburg Address

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    One of the most famous speeches in United States history, President Abraham Lincoln spoke during the Civil War on November 19, 1863.

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    Lou Gehrig's Farewell to Baseball Address

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    Speaking to fans at "Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day" at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939, legendary baseball player Lou Gehrig explained how he was "the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

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    Napoleon Bonaparte's Farewell to the Old Guard

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    After the failed invasion of Russia and a defeat by the Allies, Napoleon Bonapart addressed his troops on April 20, 1814, to issue his farewell.

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    Winston Churchill's Never Give In Speech

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    Speaking to a group of school children on October 29, 1941, United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill provided inspiration and advice to the crowd in this notable short speech.

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    Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Infamy Speech

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    United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the Joint Session of Congress on December 8, 1941, just one day after Japan attacked the Pearl Harbor Naval Base in Hawaii. The short speech was later dubbed the "Infamy Speech" due to Roosevelt describing the attack as "a date which will live in infamy."

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    Ronald Reagan's Challenger Disaster Speech

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    Addressing the nation after the Space Shuttle Challenger tragically exploded 73 seconds after launch on January 28, 1986, President Ronald Reagan attempted to console a shaken nation with this speech.

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    John F. Kennedy's Ich Ben Ein Berliner Speech

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    Considered one of the best from President John F. Kennedy, the Ich bin ein Berliner speech was given on June 26, 1963, in West Berlin, Germany, during the Cold War. Though the Soviet Union, which he denounced in the speech, didn't fall for another 30 years, Kennedy's words remain a uniting force to this day.

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    Martin Luther King, Jr.'s I Have a Dream Speech

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    Empowering a generation and beyond, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his legendary I Have a Dream speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963.

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    Douglas MacArthur's Duty, Honor, Country

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    On May 12, 1962, General Douglas MacArthur delivered an acceptance speech for the Sylvanus Thayer Award at the United States Military Academy at West Point that mirrored the values and motto of the Academy, "Duty, Honor, Country".

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    William Faulkner's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech

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    On December 10, 1950, William Faulkner delivered his speech accepting the award for the Nobel Prize in Literature at the City Hall in Stockholm, Sweden. 

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    Richard Nixon's Resignation Speech

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    On August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon became the first person to ever resign the office of the President of the United States when he gave this speech from the White House in Washington, DC.

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    King George VI's Address to Britain

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    Popularized by the 2010 film The King's Speech, King George VI's speech on September 3, 1939 addressed the involvement of Britain in WWII.

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    Charles De Gaulle's The Appeal of 18 June

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    As the new Prime Minister of France seemed poised to surrender control of the country to German forces, General Charles de Gaulles escaped to England and was granted permission by Winston Churchill to read this appeal on the BBC. The speech, delivered on June 18, 1940 was an attempt to persuade the French forces to continue resisting the German occupation.

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