The Historical Inspiration Collection

Explore speeches championing democracy from great leaders in American history.
"What, to the slave, is the fourth of July?"
Frederick Douglass shared that the Fourth of July may have certain meaning to some but a different meaning to others.
July 5, 1852
Susan B. Anthony: Is it a crime for a Citizen of the United States to Vote?
Susan B. Anthony's "On Women's Right to Vote" – excerpt from "Norman Rockwell in Virtual Reality - The Four Seasons"
January 1, 1873
Chief Joseph on Equal Treatment Under the Law
In-mut-too-yah-lat-lat (Chief Joseph) elaborated on the need to acknowledge native Americans.
January 14, 1879
FDR's First Inaugural Address
Franklin D. Roosevelt discussed how much democracy has endured.
March 4, 1933
Margaret Chase Smith's "Declaration of Conscience" Speech
Margaret Chase Smith explained how Americans need to think as citizens and not by political party.
June 1, 1950
President Eisenhower on Love and Mutual Respect
Dwight D. Eisehower gave his farewell address, elaborating on uniting despite differences and providing opportunity to all.
January 17, 1961
President Kennedy's Inaugural Address
John F. Kennedy emphasized the shared fight against the threats to the nation and why freedom, a value meaningful to the nation, must be protected.
January 20, 1961
President Kennedy Establishes the Peace Corps
John F. Kennedy described the enriching benefits and long lasting impact of Peace Corps.
March 1, 1961
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" Speech
Martin Luther King, Jr. called the country to act on the issue of racial injustice.
August 28, 1963
President Nixon on the Essence of Freedom
Richard Nixon gave his first inaugural address, speaking on the importance of bringing the country together and ending segregation, discrimination, and injustice.
January 20, 1969
Rep. Barbara Jordan on Her Belief in the Constitution
Barbara Jordan emphasized her trust in the Constitution.
July 24, 1974
President Ford on the Rule of the People
Gerald Ford justified to the people that the American democratic system works as he spoke of restoring the nation after the Watergate scandal.
August 9, 1974
Reagan on the American Spirit
Ronald Reagan spoke about how service is ingrained in the history of the United States, and how a dedication to giving back should be restored.
July 17, 1980
President Carter: "Human Rights Invented America."
Jimmy Carter's Farewell Address spoke on the subject of human rights and how America was born from the concept.
January 14, 1981
President Reagan on the Infrastructure of Democracy
Ronald Reagan in his Westminster address elaborated on the importance of deciding upon individual beliefs while simultaneously coming together despite differences.
June 8, 1982
President George H.W. Bush on Timeless American Values
George H.W. Bush's first inaugural address emphasized the timelessness of national programs.
January 20, 1989
President Clinton's First Inaugural Address
Bill Clinton gave his first inaugral address and spoke on the subject of American renewal.
January 20, 1993
President Clinton at the National Service Bill Signing
President Clinton delivers remarks at the National Service Bill signing ceremony, which would lay the foundation for what would become AmeriCorps.
September 21, 1993
President Clinton on the Value of Civic Education
In his 1996 State of the Union, Bill Clinton pushed schools to have character education programming.
January 23, 1996
President George W. Bush on Overcoming Evil with Greater Good
George W. Bush, during his 2002 State of the Union, calls Americans to give back suggesting participation in the USA Freedom Corps.
January 29, 2002
President George W. Bush Speaks to the National Endowment for Democracy
President George W. Bush spoke on the 20th anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy, elaborating on the foundation of the American democracy and the nation's fundamental values.
November 6, 2003
Sandra Day O'Connor on Civic Education
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor speaks about reintroducing the importance of civic education to American schools.
July 9, 2012
President Obama on the Meaning of Citizenship
Barack Obama shared how he discovered the importance of citizenship and how the Americorps leads Americans to this same discovery.
September 12, 2014
President Obama Champions Democracy in his Farewell Address
Barack Obama gave his farewell address to the American people on January 10, 2017. At this moment during his speech, he emphasized the importance of looking after our democracy.
January 10, 2017