Great speeches leave a mark on society for generations

Human history has always been shaped by catastrophes, revolutions, migrations, discoveries and wars. But the intensity of these events made some people stand up and deliver epochal speeches that give hope and create determination to stand the trials of great social change. 

The power of a great speech lies not so much in what is said but more in how it is said and how well that resonates with the sign of its time. But a great speech goes even further. It transcends time and place, offering wisdom that stirs souls long after the original speakers have been silenced.

DocsOnline has rounded the most powerful televised speeches of the 20th and 21st centuries. These selected speeches rise above the rest because of the passion with which they were delivered, the importance of the moment at which they were held, and their impact on history. Below we have conveniently placed these speeches on a timeline to visualize their historic significance. 


Post World War I
1918 USA
The End Of World War I
WWi Deaths U.S._soldier_in_barbed_wire

In 1918 the war itself was over, but the implications were not. The melancholy of the era was intensified by the inconceivable death toll of the Spanish Flu. Countries imposed restrictions on trade, capital flow, and immigration. People became suspicious of foreigners, causing protectionism. Russia installed communism, which alienated the largest country in the world from the flow of free-market capitalism. Germany, France, and England had lost 80% of its male (working) population between 18 and 46. Countries suspended the gold standard to pay for the war but suffered from hyperinflation. These circumstances set the stage for the Great Depression.

Watch  Topic Page World War I 6 excellent documentaries to cover World War I

Watch The Spanish Flu a warning from history

Post World War I
1920-1929 USA
Laissez-Faire of the Roaring 20s
Roaring 20s party

The 1920s were characterized by dynamic economic and socio-cultural growth around the world. The world was recovering from the devastating consequences of World War I, and the population was spending more on consumer goods and boosting economic growth. It was a time of rebuilding, trying to enjoy life in a frantic effort to forget the horrors of the past.

The United States, which suffered significantly less than major European countries during World War I, became the largest economy in the world.  In accordance with the sign of the time, Americans consistently voted for conservative republican Presidents that were all typically in favor of free market and bussiness  This attitude towards business was typified by Calvin Coolidge’s statement that “the man who builds a factory builds a temple.”  This sort of attitude on the part of the Republican presidents created a situation in which businesses were relatively free to operate as they pleased.


1929 October 29
Black Tuesday
News Paper black tuesday

During the “Roaring Twenties”, the U.S. economy and the stock market experienced rapid expansion, and stocks hit record highs, year after year. It was a time of irrational exuberance. Therefore many ordinary working-class citizens had became interested in stock investments, and many purchased stocks “on margin,” meaning they paid only a small percentage of the value and borrowed the rest from a bank or broker. This together with an argrigultural crisis, cheap loans, let to a bubble that exploded on tuesday morning, 29 october.


1929 - 1940 Worldwide
The Great Depression
stories of the great depression

The Great Depression was the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world, lasting from the stock market crash of 1929 to 1939. It began as an American crisis, specifically a huge stock market crash, but had knock-on effects around the world. The Great Depression was severely felt in Germany, where it caused widespread unemployment, starvation and misery. These conditions were instrumental in the rise to power of Adolf Hitler. 

Watch Stormy Weather, an in-depth historical documentary about the Great Depression 

Franklin D. Rooselvelt's first inauguration address

One of the first recorded speeches in history is Franklin D. Roosevelts inauguration address to the nation, 90 years ago on March 4th. 


March 4

The great depression

We have nothing to fear but fear itself...

When Franklin Roosevelt was inaugurated as president 80 years ago on March 4th 1933 the Unided States was in the grips of the Great Depression. Several million Americans heard Roosevelt’s address which was broadcast on radio nationwide. He had won a landslide victory over the incumbent Herbert Hoover and in his speech he began laying the groundwork for his New Deal policies and economic policies.

Rise of Fascism
1919 -1933 Berlin
End of the Weimar Republic
weimar republic

The Weimar Republic was Germany’s government from 1919 to 1933, the period after World War I until the rise of Nazi Germany. It was named after the town of Weimar where Germany’s new government was formed by a national assembly after Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated. From its uncertain beginnings to a brief season of success and then a devastating depression, the Weimar Republic experienced enough chaos to position Germany for the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.

Watch In-depth Interview with historian Patrick Dassen about the Weimar Republic 

1920 -1940
Rise of Fascism in Europe

The years leading up to World War II were tumultuous times for people across the globe. The Great Depression had started a decade before, leaving much of the world unemployed and desperate. Fascism was sweeping through Japan, Germany and many other countries in Europe.

infamy speech

President Franklin D. Roosevelt Declares War on Japan

december 8, 1941

A day that will live in infamy...

The Infamy Speech,  also commonly known as the Pearl Har Speech, was a speech delivered by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a Joint Session of the U.S. Congress on December 8, 1941, one day after the Empire of Japan’s attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and the Japanese declaration of war on the United States and the British Empire. The name derives from the first line of the speech: Roosevelt describing the previous day as “a date which will live in infamy“. 

Within an hour of the speech, Congress passed a formal declaration of war against Japan and officially brought the U.S. into World War II. The address is one of the most famous of all American political speechesa