To learn about the speaker and what he or she was talking about, click on the background link. To skip the background and read the text of the speech only, click on the speech link. To listen to an audio sample, click on the audio link, and to watch a short video excerpt, click on the video link. Additional background stories and audio and video links will be added as each episode of Great American Speeches airs on PBS over the next five weeks.
Speeches are arranged sequentially by era. To find a particular speech, scroll down through the page, or you can jump to a specific decade by using the 10-year timebar below.
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- pre 1900 -
Former slave Booker T. Washington founds Tuskeegee Institute to educate black Americans, 1881.
Supreme Court overturns Civil Rights Act of 1875 which had guaranteed black Americans equal access to public facilities, 1883.
Statue of Liberty is dedicated, Oct. 28, 1886.
Workers strike at Carnegie steel mills in Homestead, PA; 18 people killed on July 6, 1892.
Financial panic leads to bank foreclosures and four-year national economic depression, 1893.
Booker T. Washington speaks at The Cotton State Exposition, Atlanta, GA, Sep. 18, 1895. Speech
Supreme Court, in Plessy vs. Ferguson, upholds "separate-but-equal" racial segregation policies, 1896.
William Jennings Bryan delivers his "Cross of Gold" at the Democratic National Convention, Chicago, Il, Jul. 9, 1896. Background - Speech - Audio - Audio
Bourke Cockran, Democratic...