A great speech can do amazing things. It can bring about social change, inspire wars and revolutions, and bring encouragement and comfort to millions. It can also bore you to tears. In the age of Twitter, no one has time to listen to hour-long orations, no matter how golden-tongued the speaker may be. Brevity is not only the soul of wit, it’s the only way to connect with people. If you can’t get your point across in 140 characters, you’ll lose the crowd.
That’s why I’ve condensed some of the history’s most noteworthy speeches into single tweets.
The Sermon on the Mount
It was year 30, and Jesus of Nazareth was at the peak of his popularity. His Sermon on the Mount, as depicted in the New Testament in Matthew Ch. 5-7, epitomizes all his teachings. The Beatitudes, numerous parables, the Lord’s Prayer, blah blah blah. Honestly, the guy wouldn’t shut up. Here it is as a tweet:
|@jeezyC You guys are my advocates on Earth. I’ll take care of you, but don’t make me look bad by being assholes. Deal?
17 Aug 0030
Ain’t I a Woman?
At a women’s rights conference in Dayton, Ohio in 1851, former slave and vocal abolitionist Sojourner Truth moved the crowd with a stunning speech proclaiming women to be the equals of men, and decrying the abuses of the white male power structure. Here it is in brief:
|@TheSojourna Tired of your bullshit, man. One of these daysimma kick you in the dick.
29 May 1851
Abraham Lincoln should get a lot of credit for keeping his most well-known speech short. At the dedication of Soldier’s National Cemetery in Gettysburg, PA in 1861, he was able to honor the sacrifice of the fallen and galvanize the Union forces of the U.S. Civil War with just a few sentences. But he could have done better, in my opinion:
|@LincolnLoggedIn If we don’t win this thing, these poor bastards died for nothing, and America loses 150 years of moral high ground.
19 Nov 1863
FDR’s 1st Inaugural Address
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s landslide victory over Hoover in the 1932 election came in the midst of the Great Depression, and with a second World War looming in Europe. A desperate country turned to him for inspiration and hope, and his inaugural address, remembered for the line “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”, gave it just that. It was a little long-winded, to be honest:
|@rollerprez Are you all gonna sit and bitch, or are you gonna help Daddy Roosevelt whoop some ass? #FearDeezNuts
4 Mar 1933
The Sportpalast Speech
Not every noteworthy speech was made by history’s winners. In early 1943, with Germany facing heavy losses in WWII on all fronts, Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbles ranted bombastically to a carefully selected audience, exhorting the German people to engage in Totaler Kreig, or Total War, to regain the upper hand. It went something like this:
|@TMNGoebbles In two years I’ll poison my kids and die an ignoble suicide, because I’m a monster. *prolonged wet fart noises* I love to eat dog turds.
18 Feb 1943
JFK’s 1st Inaugural Address
Post-WWII America was economically prosperous, but it was also a frightening time. Science had introduced nuclear weaponry to the world, and in 1961 the U.S. and the Soviet Union were entrenched in the Cold War, an enormous dick-waggling contest whose stakes were nothing less than the continued existence of life on planet Earth. Enter our new, fresh-faced president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. His speech (which included the line “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”) injected a much needed dose of optimism. But at 14 minutes, it took foreeeeeeeeeever.
|@JackPT109 Let’s everybody just chill the fuck out here a second. Put down the nukes. We good? Okay *lips on mic* FUCK COMMIES. *leads chant* USA! USA!
20 Jan 1961
I Have a Dream
The quintessential speech of the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream Speech” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC before a crowd of over 250,000 supporters. With a deep, resonant voice, he called for an end to racism in America and painted a vivid picture of a peaceful future where people of all races would “not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”. It was powerful, effective, memorable, and probably could have been way shorter.
|@TheRevMLK_69 #ThisCouldBeUsButYouRacist28 Aug 1963|
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