Great Speeches by American Women


Great Speeches by American Women

Edited by James Daley

Dover Thrift Edition, Dover Publications, 2008, 2013

This is a collection of speeches by Great American Women (that’s what the title should be, not Great Speeches by…). I enjoyed reading these speeches; the ones that were given in the 1800’s were a little difficult to read only because previous generation’s voices were much more eloquent and loquacious than this current generation’s. Even though the editor provided a brief background on the speaker and the context of the speech given, I still had to Google some of the events to have even half a clue as to what they were speaking about (for instance, Jane Addams and her comparison of King Lear and the Pullman Company riots – now, you Google it!). So much for learning U.S. history in school! The subjects range from the abolition of slavery, the right to vote for women (it is hard to believe that women haven’t always enjoyed that right!), the horrors of lynching, feminism, and even the right to obtain birth control. It is an excellent book for anyone who loves the history of women, U.S. history, strong women and the basic freedoms that should be enjoyed by all Americans, regardless of gender, race and species.

Rating: 3 of 5 paws for excellent reading but I will probably not read it again (but that won’t mean I won’t keep it on my shelf!).

jack 12 25 14Reviewer: Jack

I have attempted to distill the each speech into a single quote so the reader can get the gist of it.

Sojourner Truth – If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up again! May 29, 1851

Lucretia Mott – They {women} will never make much progress in any moral movement while they depend upon men to act for them. October 18, 1854

Susan B. Anthony – …I believe there is a United States citizenship. I believe that this is a nation, and to be a citizen of this nation should be a guaranty to every citizen of the right to a voice in the Government, and should give to me my right to express my opinion. You deny to me my liberty, my freedom, if you say that I shall have no voice whatever in making, shaping or controlling the conditions of society in which I live….the fundamental right of citizenship, the right to voice in the Government is a national right. January 23, 1880

Elizabeth Cady Stanton – Nature never repeats herself, and the possibilities of one human soul will never be found in another. No one has ever found two blades of ribbon grass alike, and no one will ever find two human beings alike. Seeing, then what must be the infinite diversity in human character, we can in a measure appreciate the loss to a nation when any large class of the people is uneducated and unrepresented in the government. January 18, 1892

Ida Wells-Barnett – The men and women of the South who disapprove of lynching and remain silent on the perpetration of such outrages, are particips criminis, accomplices, accessories before and after the fact, equally guilty with the actual law-breakers who would not persist if they did not know that neither the law nor militia would be employed against them. October 5, 1892

Lucy Stone – By what toil and fatigue and patience and strife and the beautiful law of growth has all this been wrought? These things have not come of themselves. They could not have occurred except as the great movement for women has brought them out and about. They are a part of the eternal order, and they have come to stay. Now all we need is to continue to speak the truth fearlessly, and we shall add to our number those who will turn the scale to the side of equal and full justice in all things. May 15, 1893

Jane Addams – Modern philanthropists need to remind themselves of the old definition of greatness: that it consists in the possession of the largest share of the common human qualities and experience, not in the acquirements of peculiarities and excessive virtues. (1896)

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones – I graduated from the college of hard knocks. That is my college—hunger, persecution, and suffering—and I wouldn’t exchange that college for all the university dudes on the face of God’s earth. August 15, 1912

Emma Goldman – I am a social student. It is my business in life to ascertain the cause of our social evils and of our social difficulties. As a student of social wrongs it is my business to diagnose a wrong. July 9, 1917

Margaret Sanger – Birth Control is an ethical necessity for humanity today because it places in our hands a new instrument of self-expression and self-realization. It gives us control over one of the primordial forces of nature, to which in the past the majority of mankind have been enslaved, and by which it has been cheapened and debased. It arouses us to the possibility of newer and greater freedom. It develops the power, the responsibility and intelligence to use this freedom of living a liberated and abundant life. It permits us to enjoy this liberty without danger of infringing upon the similar liberty of our fellow men, or of injuring and curtailing the freedom of the next generation. November 18, 1921

Mary McLeod Bethune – The true worth of a race must be measured by the character of its womanhood. June 30, 1933

Eleanor Roosevelt – This {Universal Declaration of Human Rights} is based upon the spiritual fact that man must have freedom in which to develop his full stature and through common effort to raise the level of human dignity. December 9, 1948

Margaret Chase Smith – …some of the basic principles of Americanism: The right to criticize; the right to hold unpopular beliefs; the right to protest; the right of independent thought. June 1, 1950

Shirley Chisholm – But frankly, I have never cared too much what people say. What I am interested in is what they do. March 16, 1969

Geraldine Ferraro – Our faith that we can shape a better future is what the American dream is all about. The promise of our country is that the rules are fair. If you work hard and play by the rules, you can earn your share of America’s blessings. Those are the beliefs I learned from my parents. And those are the values I taught my students as a teacher in the public schools of New York City. July 19, 1984

Ann Richards – …we are still the greatest nation on this good earth. And our strength lies in the men and women who go to work every day, who struggle to balance their family and their jobs, and who should never, ever be forgotten. July 19, 1988

Mary Fisher –But not all of you have been so blessed. You are HIV positive, but dare not say it. You have lost loved ones, but you dare not whisper the word AIDS. You weep silently. You grieve alone. I have a message for you. It is not you who should feel shame. It is we—we who tolerate ignorance and practice prejudice, we who have taught you to fear. We must lift our shroud of silence, making it safe for you to reach out for compassion. It is our task to seek safety for our children, not in quiet denial, but in effective action. August 19, 1992

Gloria Steinem – … just remember that even the toughest-minded physicist now admits that the flap of a butterfly’s wing here can change the weather hundreds of miles away. February 13, 2002

Jane Fonda – Women have never yet had a chance in all of history to make a revolution. But if we’re going to lead, we have to become the change that we seek. We have to incubate it in our bodies and embody it. September, 2004

Hillary Rodham Clinton – …we have survived as a nation and as the oldest democracy in part because we’ve had checks and balances and we’ve been under the rule of law, not of men. July 20, 2006

Nancy Pelosi – Our founders envisioned a new America driven by optimism, opportunity, and strength. So confident were they in the America they were advancing, they put on the seal, the great seal of the United States, ‘novus ordo seclorum’—a new order for centuries. Centuries, they spoke of centuries. They envisioned America as a just and good place, as a fair and efficient society, as a source of opportunity for all. ¶This vision has sustained us for over 200 years, and it accounts for what is best in our great nation: liberty, opportunity, and justice. January 4, 2007

James Ryan Daley James Ryan Daley

Other compilations by James Daley:

688901  42855 7998214 10420388 Great Writers on the Art of Fiction: From Mark Twain to Joyce Carol Oates 402749

Fiction by James Daley


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