Presidential Elections

Inaugurations and the First One Hundred Days

What are some of the most notable speeches and documents made by presidents?

In carrying out his roles of popular leader and chief executive, the president often makes compelling speeches in order to rally the American people around a national goal or reassure them during a time of crisis. While it can be argued that each president has made a memorable speech or proffered key words of wisdom, some of the more timeless and poignant orations include George Washington’s farewell address (1796); James Monroe’s State of the Union address proclaiming the Monroe Doctrine (1823); Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (1863) and his Second Inaugural Address (1865); Woodrow Wilson’s war message, advising Congress to declare war on Germany (1917); Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first inaugural address and first fireside chat (1933) and his war message (1941); John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address (1961); Lyndon B. Johnson’s State of the Union address proposing his “Great Society” program (1965); Richard Nixon’s resignation speech (1974); and Ronald Reagan speaking in Germany near the Berlin Wall, imploring Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” (1987).


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