American History through Its Greatest Speeches
A Documentary History of the United States
by Jolyon P. Girard, Darryl Mace, and Courtney Smith, Editors
December 2016, 1153pp, 8 1/2x11
3 volumes, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-61069-969-3
$339, £261, 295€, A465
eBook Available: 978-1-61069-970-9
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Examining key speeches in American history allows for a deeper understanding of past events.

What did America's greatest orators say regarding significant issues and concerns throughout United States history? This three-volume set examines hundreds of the most historically significant speeches from colonial times to the modern era, allowing readers to consider exactly what the speakers said—and to better understand the motivations behind each speech as well as the effect on the audiences that heard them.

This essential reference work presents the most important and historically significant speeches delivered since colonial times, providing in essence a documentary history of the United States through these public utterances. Readers can witness American history unfold firsthand through these stirring and at times controversial speeches—from Patrick Henry’s fiery words calling for an American revolution, through the words of the 19th-century abolitionists and Lincoln’s immortal Gettysburg Address, and up through the 20th century with President Wilson’s famous “Fourteen Points,” FDR reminding Americans that the only thing they had to fear was fear itself, and George W. Bush responding to the attacks of September 11. For students, teachers, librarians, and general readers, this indispensable work provides essential reference resources on the speeches of great significance in American history.

Each speech is prefaced by a contextual headnote that provides essential background information and specific details about the speech. This three-volume set also includes a timeline, a historical review of each era, biographical sketches of each speaker, and anecdotal sidebars containing additional information about the speech or speakers.


  • Presents chronologically arranged entries that provide a documentary view of American history through the speeches that have shaped the United States
  • Includes background material that gives students primary texts to work with and helps them develop their critical reading, thinking, and writing skills
  • Supplies extensive background information that places each speech in its historical context
Jolyon P. Girard, PhD, is professor emeritus at Cabrini University, Radnor, PA. He is a recipient of the Lindback Award for Teaching Excellence. His published work includes Greenwood's America and the World, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life in America, and Daily Life through American History in Primary Documents. Girard has also published more than a dozen scholarly articles on topics in U.S. history, including several for ABC-CLIO.

Darryl Mace, PhD, is chair of history and political science at Cabrini University. He studies civil rights, the experiences of Africans in the diaspora, media studies, and gender theory. Mace earned his doctorate in history and a graduate certificate in women's studies from Temple University. He has authored book reviews, scholarly articles, and book chapters. His most recent work is In Remembrance of Emmett Till: Regional Stories and Media Responses to the Black Freedom Struggle.

Courtney Michelle Smith, PhD, is associate professor of history and political science and core curriculum director at Cabrini University. She studies American political history, Pennsylvania history, popular culture, and sports history in the United States. Smith earned her bachelor's degree in history and political science from Cabrini College and her master's degree and doctorate in American history from Lehigh University. Her manuscript, The Chief: Ed Bolden and Black Baseball in Philadelphia 1910–1953, is under contract for publication.


"This set will enhance and facilitate inquiry by those studying or teaching U.S. history, political science, and public speaking or communications. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All libraries. All levels."—Choice, June 1, 2017

Top Community College Resource, June 2017—Choice, June 29, 2017

"[T]his encyclopedia goes beyond the usual suspects, pulling together many other important, thought-provoking speeches, especially in Volume 3 (1900–2015), which tackles a time period that hasn’t been as thoroughly explored in primary document collections. VERDICT Recommended for high school students, undergraduates, and nonspecialist researchers."—Library Journal, November 15, 2017
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