Most Decisive Speech in History

May 2018
782
Michigan
#1
While we often speak of decisive battles, I am soliciting thoughts on what the most influential, decisive or memorable speech, statement or literary work in history might be? It does not have to be an individual speech or writing: Cicero's Phillipics likely influenced the course of history.

Some contenders would the the Phillipics, Mark Antony's speech at Caesar's funeral, Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, or Reagan's Time for Choosing or Lloyd Bentson's famous "You're no Jack Kennedy" rebuke. Perhaps even Sparta's reply to Phillip of Macedon: "If." Churchill's "Fight them on the beaches" speech is also a solid contender.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,345
Las Vegas, NV USA
#2
My choice would be Churchill's "finest hour" speech. It came at arguably the most critical time in British history and the country needed to hear it. In hindsight, an invasion was unlikely but at the time it appeared imminent.
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,592
#7
If works of literature are included Uncle Tom's Cabin has to be up there. It played a significant role in fueling abolitionist sentiment in the United States, which in turn triggered the slave drivers.

Abraham Lincoln was alleged to have said when meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe, "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!'"

*There is quite a bit of doubt that Lincoln said it, and the story may well be apocryphal, but he was alleged to have said it by the author's son.

In any case the book was one of the more impactful in American history.
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,782
At present SD, USA
#8
For America, the most decisive speech could well be the declaration of war against Germany in 1917. Not for the intended message, going to war and listing the grievances the US had with Germany to cause the war, but for the line "to make the world safe for democracy."

That one line would become a focal point of American foreign policy that has largely lasted to this day, in that America has generally looked on democratic regimes with great favor, and when for whatever political means that the US has aligned itself with governments that aren't democratic, it has still tried to portray the image that its actions were intended to either support democratic regimes or spread democracy as a point of policy.

In this, that one line has had a lot of influence with regard to American foreign policy.
 

RoryOMore

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
3,395
USA
#9
James Otis, Boston attorney, represented colonial merchants who challenged the legality of the Crown's writs of assistance. He delivered a 5-hour speech in 1761 that John Adams identified as the root from which independence grew.
 

Similar History Discussions