The Truman Doctrine

By proposing a program of $400 million in military and economic aid to back anti-Communist forces in Turkey and Greece, United States President Harry Truman created a prime model for Cold War containment of Communism. Truman’s critics claimed that he was being unduly alarmist for suggesting that the effect of failure would be “far reaching […]

Continue Reading

The Monroe Doctrine

In his annual message to Congress in 1823, United States president James Monroe declared that the United States had the right to exclude foreign powers from colonizing in the western hemisphere. Monroe’s bold assertion was primarily intended to prevent Spain from reclaiming its former colonies in the Americas. The statement became known as the Monroe […]

Continue Reading

Tecumseh: "Once a Happy Race"

Early in the 19th century, Governor William Henry Harrison of the Indiana Territory made a number of treaties with Native Americans that involved the ceding of land to the United States government. Shawnee chief Tecumseh attempted to prevent the loss of additional lands by forming an alliance of tribes and asserting that one tribe could […]

Continue Reading

Sojourner Truth: "Ain't I a Woman?"

Sojourner Truth was a former slave who became a preacher, abolitionist, and supporter of women’s rights. She made her famous speech “Ain’t I a Woman?” (retold here by Frances D. Gage) at a convention on women’s rights in 1851 in Akron, Ohio. According to Gage, Truth made this speech in response to Protestant ministers’ claims […]

Continue Reading

Robespierre: "Louis Must Perish"

French lawyer Maximilien Robespierre became involved in politics when he was elected to the Estates-General in 1789. In 1790 he became a leader of the Jacobins, a radical group that played a dominant role in the French Revolution (1789-1799). When King Louis XVI was overthrown in August 1792, Robespierre called for a republic to replace […]

Continue Reading

Nixon's Resignation Speech

Nixon’s Resignation Speech August 8, 1974 Richard Milhous Nixon was the first United States president in history to resign from office. The continuing Watergate scandal and the likelihood of impeachment prompted Nixon to resign, although he admitted to no wrongdoing. He was eventually pardoned for all possible crimes by his successor, President Gerald Ford. Good […]

Continue Reading

Nixon's Checkers Speech

Under attack for having used a secret campaign fund for his personal expenses, Richard M. Nixon, then a California senator and vice presidential candidate, made this famous speech on national television. The speech has come to be named the Checkers Speech, because of a reference to the Nixon family’s dog, Checkers. Checkers Speech Richard M. […]

Continue Reading

Nelson Mandela's Inaugural Address

Nobel Peace Prize winner and former political prisoner, Nelson Mandela, was elected president of the Republic of South Africa in April 1994 in the country’s first multiracial elections. Previously, South Africa had been ruled under the restrictions of apartheid, a policy of racial segregation. Mandela delivered the following inaugural address on May 10, 1994, in […]

Continue Reading

Kennedy's Cuban Missile Broadcast

On October 22, 1962, after receiving information gathered by high-altitude spy planes, United States president John F. Kennedy made one of the most dramatic presidential addresses ever delivered to the American people. Kennedy revealed that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) had delivered missiles with nuclear warheads to Cuba. He announced a naval blockade […]

Continue Reading

John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address

John F. Kennedy delivered his inaugural address on January 20, 1961, at the height of Cold War tensions. The speech set the tone for the foreign-policy activism of the youngest president elected in the United States. President Kennedy reached out to the world’s newly developing countries, which at the time were being courted by the […]

Continue Reading

Lincoln: "A House Divided"

At the 1858 state Republican convention in Springfield, Illinois, the Republican Party’s United States Senate candidate for Illinois and future president Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous “House Divided” speech. Many politicians viewed Lincoln’s speech as radical. Stephen A. Douglas, the Democratic Party’s candidate, accused Lincoln of taking an unreasonably hard line against slavery and said […]

Continue Reading