The following list ranks the top 100 American speeches of the 20th century as determined in a nationwide survey of 137 communication scholars, conducted by Stephen E. Lucas (University of Wisconsin) and Martin J. Medhurst (Texas A&M University). The speeches were rated on two criteria: rhetorical artistry and historical impact. To be eligible for consideration, a speech did not need to have been presented in the United States, but the speaker had to be a U.S. resident. There were no restrictions on the genres or topics of speeches, or on the number of speeches from a single speaker.
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Following the title of each speech is at least one link to a website with a transcript of that speech. In all but a few cases, the websites provide complete texts. Many also furnish historical background about the speech and/or links to additional sites with information about the speaker, speech or occasion.
Whenever possible, a site has been included that contains a full or partial audio presentation of the original speech. Links to websites with audio of the speech are indicated by this icon: (0.0K) To hear the audio you will need the appropriate plug-in installed in your Web browser either RealNetworks RealPlayer® or Apple QuickTime Player[TM] depending on the website.
Every effort has been made to provide stable, accurate and high-quality websites. Inevitably, however, there will be changes in some of the sites after they have been posted. If you discover that you cannot access a speech using the link provided here, try searching for the speech by title using a search engine such as Google, Alta Vista, or All the Web. In addition, please e-mail McGraw-Hill Customer Service with any problems that you encounter.