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The Power of Words: Most Inspiring Speeches in History

Inspiring Speeches
The Power of Words: Most Inspiring Speeches in History
on August, 01 2017

As a language services provider, we're continually dealing with words. There are over 7,000 languages in the world constituting an incontemplatable amount of words and inspiring speeches among them.

When you come to think of it, while knives and guns seem to be among the most dangerous weapons of all, words often have the power to do more harm.

Wars have been won and lost on the power of words, human races almost entirely wiped out and the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, because of a catastrophic translation error.

Related Post: Catastrophic Translation Mistakes: How The Bomb Was Dropped


Famous author, speaker and Co-Director of the Kabbalah Centre, Yehuda Berg, said “words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity,” and he wasn’t wrong.

We should never underestimate the awesome magnitude of words in any language. Just one wrong word or misconstrued meaning can have dire consequences.

But just to get you all worked up and misty-eyed, let’s take a look at some of the most inspiring speeches in history, from philosophy to the battlefield.

Inspiring Speeches About Philosophy

Socrates, 4th Century, BC

Socrates Louvre

By Sting, CC BY-SA 2.5,

Some of the most inspiring speeches have outlasted hundreds of generations and thousands of years. Arguably among the most powerful words of all time were delivered by Greek Philosopher, Plato’s, Socrates, as he was sentenced to death by a jury for corrupting the youth.

As the condemned man spoke his last powerful words, they fell on deaf ears. But the underlying questions behind one of the most inspiring speeches ever highlights the limitations of human knowledge and underscores a centuries-old debate in philosophy. What do we really know about the afterlife?

Most powerful line from the speech:

"The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways — I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows."

Mahatma Gandhi, 1869 - 1948


Leader of the Indian Independence Movement against British rule, and unofficially known as the father of the nation, Gandhi was able to achieve independence for India through non-violent means. Delivering powerful, inspiring speeches that were able to move not only a nation, but have greater repercussions throughout the world.

Gandhi has been quoted in so many places on many subjects, but perhaps one of his best contributions to philosophy and the way we act with other people was the below.

“You can't change how people treat you or what they say about you. All you can do is change how you react to it.”

Related Post: A Closer Look at India's Languages


Inspiring Speeches About Freedom

In a world tainted by oppression, enslavement and encroachment on civil liberty, there have been many human beings who have cruelly had their freedom snatched away from them.

But the people who have stood out and given the most inspiring speeches have allowed others to overcome the turmoil and keep on going throughout the darkest times. With words powerful enough to change a mindset, overturn oppression, or fight for women’s rights, words have been responsible for them all.

Frederick Douglass, 1852

Frederick Douglass

By George Kendall Warren 

Speaking out against slavery in the United States, the inspiring speeches of Douglass are enough send a chill down the spine. Born into slavery, Douglass was able to escape in 1838 and wrote an autobiography about his experiences being deprived of freedom.

Speaking in his hometown of Rochester, New York at the July 4th celebrations, his words ran rampant through the audience like wild flames, forcing them deal with their shame.

Most powerful line from the speech:

"America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future."

Susan B. Anthony, 1873


One of the most famous suffragettes and defender of women's rights, Anthony cast an illegal vote in 1872 in the presidential election. Illegal for one reason: because she was a woman. She gave one of history's all-time inspiring speeches, reeling at the injustice and awakening the passion in the hearts of the masses, with her words in 1920.

Most powerful line from the speech:

"It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people — women as well as men."

Related Post: Do Women Make Better Translators Than Men?


Martin Luther King, 1963

Martin Luther King

“I Have a Dream” may just be the most quoted words of all time, and certainly among the most inspiring speeches mankind has ever heard. King was the youngest man to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize, and spoke out about black rights and his vision of an America living in racial harmony.

Most powerful line from the speech:

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

Inspiring Speeches From The Battlefield

No where is it more imperative to have a strong and valiant leader than on the battlefield, and in wartime situations. These incredible inspiring speeches have been responsible for changing the fate of mankind and stirring them to win battles. Let’s take a look at some of the best ones to come out of the military.

Menachem Begin, 1948

Menachem Begin

USAF personnelderivative work: Ladislav Faigl (talk) - Menachem Begin

Begin spoke to the Israeli people on the radio, preparing them for an impending attack from the Arabs. They may have been frightened and terrified even, but Begin was able to muster up collective courage, stronger than a shield through his words.

Best line from the speech:

“We shall go our way into battle . . And we shall be accompanied by the spirit of millions of our martyrs, our ancestors tortured and burned for their faith, our murdered fathers and butchered mothers, our murdered brothers and strangled children. And in this battle we shall break the enemy and bring salvation to our people, tried in the furnace of persecution, thirsting only for freedom, for righteousness, and for justice.”

Winston Churchill, 1940

Winston Churchill

Great Britain’s endearingly great leader was a born orator. Responsible for delivering inspiring speeches that rallied the pride of a nation, that rose the weary and bolstered the spirits of the wounded.

He lead a tired and bruised nation into victory over tyranny and bombarded the people with inspiring speeches, one after another. His Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat speech is stuff of legends.

Best line from the speech:

“You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalog of human crime.”

Abraham Lincoln, 1863

Abraham Lincoln

During his infamous Gettysburg Address, Lincoln delivered another of the most inspiring speeches of all time. It was only a short speech, at just about three minutes, but packed with emotion and admiration.

It was memorable and poignant, as he dedicated a cemetery to the fallen soldiers of the Gettysburg battle and paid tribute to them by promising to stay true to the values of liberty and equality, that were worth dying for.

Best line from the speech:

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

Whatever language you speak, remember that your words have the power to harm or heal, to evoke strong emotions for good and bad. Use your words with all the caution of a loaded weapon, because that’s exactly the effect they can have.

What's the most inspiring speech or quote you've ever heard? How has it affected your life? Let us know in the comments below!

Christina Comben

Christina Comben is Content Manager at Day Translations. Qualified to MBA level and motivated by challenge, change, and continued learning, Christina has lived and worked her way around the world, garnering in-depth knowledge of diverse office environments and varying industries, from media and entertainment to education, health, and information technology.

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