Speeches

During demonstrations in Birmingham, Martin Luther King Jr. took perhaps the most fateful decision made during the civil rights era

On April 12, 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama, Martin Luther King Jr., faced the prospect of failure in his most significant civil rights campaign. Read more >>

Our most talented writer-president always wrote his own material and sweated hours over it

On February 27, 1860, Abraham Lincoln stood before a crowd of 1,500 at Cooper Union Hall in New York City. Until he had declared his candidacy for President of the United States, the former one-term Congressman had drawn little attention outside his home state of Illinois. Read more >>

What would Martin Luther King Jr.—had he been alive today—thought of our latest president’s oratory?

Standing in the cold with 2 million others near the Capitol as Barack Obama delivered his inaugural address, I couldn’t help but recall another crowded day 45 years earlier, when I heard Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” oration at the other end of the National Mall, in Read more >>

He built a career and a fortune out of shocking his fellow Americans

Whatever town he was lecturing in—Chicago or Cheyenne, New York or Denver—Robert Green Ingersoll packed the house. When the seats were full, people would stand in the aisles, on the stage, in the wings. Read more >>

A few dazzling words about that emerging metropolis, delivered in 1871 by Congressman J. Proctor Knott. Edited for 1971 visitors by David G. McCullough