How does President Trump’s recent State of the Union Speech rank historically in terms of importance and punch? To answer that question requires looking back in history and the ten most important Presidential speeches given to the nation. Two of the ten that bear mentioning right off the bat come from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower.
Presidential speeches that stand out tend to address the hopes and aspirations of large swathes of America. The really outstanding speeches position the president in a leadership position: President Kennedy assuring Americans that the United States would put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s and President Roosevelt assuring Americans that Allied Forces would prevail would be examples of this kind of moral leadership.
In 1933, President Roosevelt had the chance to address Americans concerns and economic hardships during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s Inaugural Address as the 32nd President of the United States really stands out because it was the first time that a president had assured even the most down-at-heel American that there would be a social safety net should he or she fall on hard times. Roosevelt’s Inaugural Speech also paved the way for the kind of muscular public intervention in private markets that characterized Roosevelt’s New Deal policies and made him a champion on the American people. President Roosevelt went on to get elected three more times.
Another critical moment in American history came twenty years later in 1953 when President Eisenhower delivered his Atoms for Peace Speech to the UN in an attempt to forestall the growing possibility of all-out nuclear way between the United States and Soviet Union. Just like Eisenhower, President Trump has warned nations like North Korea of the consequences (“fire and fury”) of overstepping their authority and threatening world peace.