President Obama's Commencement Address 2016

President Obama gave the commencement address at Rutgers University in New Jersey this year on May 15, 2016. The speech addressed how the country has confronted our political problems with the intelligence we have derived from our educations, which will help us tell the difference between lofty promises with nothing behind them and vows we can keep. Here are twenty seven vocabulary words from President Obama's address.
27 Words

Sheryl Sandberg Commencement Address 2016

Sheryl Sandberg is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and the author of the book "Lean In." Here, in a commencement address to the students of the University of California at Berkeley, Sandberg discusses what she has been through and what she has learned, "not from life but from death," in the past year. Here are fourteen vocabulary words from Sandberg's address.
14 Words

Donald Trump Foreign Policy Address

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gave his first major foreign policy address on April 27, 2016. Vowing to put "America First," Trump criticized the foreign policy record of President Obama and probable Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as misguided on some issues and ineffective on others. Here are 23 words from the speech. The entire text can be found here.
23 Words

Patrick Henry, "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death"

Perhaps the ultimate call to arms, Patrick Henry's speech makes a case for the inevitability of the American Revolution. On March 23, 1775 Virginian patriots met at St. John’s Church in Richmond to discuss support for fellow colonists in Massachusetts where Parliament had sent four regiments of troops. Leading the call for Virginian’s to act was Patrick Henry. In proposing that Virginia prepare itself to fight he delivered an emotional speech ending with his immortal words, “Give me liberty or give me death!”
63 Words

State of the Union Address 2016

President Obama delivered the annual State of the Union Address on January 12, 2016. The State of the Union is always a speech that covers a wide variety of topics, but for this particular speech, President Obama cast an especially wide net. The address focused on the future of the country -- out beyond his last year in office to the challenges the next president faces. Here are 25 words from President Obama's last State of the Union. A transcript of the entire speech is available here.
25 Words

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech

On August 28, 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I have a dream" speech. Speaking from the steps of the LIncoln Memorial in Washington D.C., King stood before an estimated quarter of a million people who had gathered to demonstrate for passage of the Civil Rights Act.
80 Words

President Obama's Speech to the Nation about Terrorism

In the wake of the attacks in Paris, France, and San Bernardino, California, President Obama delivered an evening address to the nation on December 6, 2015. In the speech he outlined what his administration has been doing and will continue to do to combat ISIL, the terrorist group whose members or sympathizers were responsible for both of these latest attacks. Here are 21 words from the President's remarks.
21 Words

President Obama's U.N. Address

On September 28, 2015, President Obama addressed the U.N. General Assembly. The speech covered several pressing international issues, most notably: the deal his administration recently brokered with Iran, the predicament of Syria and the refugees from that country, and the ongoing crisis in Israel. Here are 24 words from the President's speech.
24 Words

A Word's-Eye View of the Primetime GOP Debate (Aug. 6, 2015)

Following the first debate in the 2016 Republican primary contest aired on Fox News, Vocabulary.com released this list of the candidates’ vocabulary, showcasing the most relevant word for each of the ten candidates. Making full use of the data-driven resources that power Vocabulary.com’s word-learning game, the analysis determines relevance by comparing the frequency with which candidates used words in the debate to the frequency with which those words appear in the Vocabulary.com corpus of texts. The corpus consists of 3.2 billion words (and growing), covering everything from classic literature to the latest news.
10 Words

"The Perils of Indifference," Vocabulary from the speech

As part of the Millennium Lecture series at the White House, Elie Wiesel defined indifference (etext found here) to an audience he knew had the power to recognize and prevent its dangers. Here are links to our lists for other texts by the Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate: Hope, Despair and Memory, Night
20 Words

Obama, on the 50th anniversary of 'Bloody Sunday'

On March 7th, 2015, President Obama spoke at a ceremony for the 50th anniversary of the events of “Bloody Sunday,” when over 600 non-violent protesters were attacked by Alabama state troopers as they attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights.
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Lincoln Inaugural Address (March 1861)

Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office as the 16th President of the United States on March 4, 1861. Since his election the previous November Southern states had met and declared their intent to secede. In his inaugural address Lincoln made it clear that he did not consider the Southern states to be enemies but that it was his duty to protect the Union, by force if necessary.
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The State of the Union Address 2015

The State of The Union address was delivered on January 20, 2015. President Obama's speech highlighted the middle class and the economy, while also dealing with America's concerns on the global stage. As President Obama enters the final two years of his presidency, the speech also took time to express the President's hopes for the future, especially in regards to changing the culture in Washington, D.C. and examining how America handles the issue of race in light of recent events. Full transcript of the speech available here.
30 Words

President Obama's Address to the Nation on ISIS/ISIL

On September 10, 2014, President Barack Obama delivered an Oval Office address about the terrorist threat posed by ISIS/ISIL. Read the transcript here.
20 Words

Bush's Address on 9/11

On September 11, 2001, the US witnessed the tragic loss of life brought about by acts of terrorism in New York and Washington DC. That evening, President George W. Bush addressed the nation.
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Starting Your New Life: Inspiring Words from Commencement Speeches

Spring is in the air. So are graduation caps and words of wisdom. See how notable speakers from various fields (including a cartoonist, scientist, and president) have inspired the rising of new generations. For more motivation, click here.
20 Words

Elie Wiesel's "Hope, Despair and Memory" (1986)

Elie Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his lifetime struggle against indifference, which he sees as synonymous to the struggle for peace. As an author, philosopher, and humanist, Wiesel focuses on drawing attention to the crimes committed by the Nazis during World War II, in order to prevent such a holocaust from happening again. In accepting the prize on December 11, 1986, Wiesel gave a lecture titled "Hope, Despair and Memory" in which he shows, through a combination of biblical stories, history, and his own story, how those three perspectives must be balanced to remind each person that we have the power and duty to save ourselves, our neighbors, and humanity. E-text available here.
25 Words

Learned Hand's "Spirit of Liberty" (1944)

I Am An American Day was first designated by Congress in 1940 to be celebrated on the third Sunday of May, but was later moved in 1952 to September 17 and renamed Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. Learned Hand's "Spirit of Liberty" speech was delivered on May 21, 1944 at an event in New York City's Central Park. With the world still in the middle of a war, the speech reaffirmed the country's faith that freedom is worth fighting for. The overall tone is uplifting. It starts by recognizing the physical gathering of the audience, and ends by uniting everyone in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. E-text available here.
15 Words

Chief Joseph's Words to Washington D.C. (1879)

Chief Joseph, also known as In-mut-too-yah-lat-lat (which means "Thunder-Traveling-to-Loftier-Mountain-Heights"), surrendered on October 5, 1877 in Idaho. Realizing his Nez Perce tribe could not keep their lands against the US army, he said, "Hear me, my chiefs; my heart is sick and sad. From where the Sun now stands, I will fight no more forever." These heartbroken words are not in the formal speech he later delivered in Washington D.C. In the published version in the North American Review, Chief Joseph accuses the Government of cheating and mistreating the tribe, but he ends with a hope for peace, freedom, and equality. E-text available here.
20 Words

Vocabulary from Vladimir Putin's Speech on Crimea

The issues surrounding the Russian state and the area of Ukraine known as Crimea involve centuries of history and complex issues of sovereignty and self-determination. In an effort to untangle at least some of these issues, below are 60 vocabulary words drawn from Putin's speech of March 18, 2014. Whatever one thinks of Putin and his methods, and whether the situation in Ukraine is the beginning of something or the end, it is this speech that history will likely turn to to examine Putin's public persona at this time. The entire text of the speech can be found here The Prague Post, March 19, 2014.
60 Words

Margaret Chase Smith's "Declaration of Conscience" (1950)

Margaret Chase Smith's address to the US Senate on June 1, 1950 was a "Declaration of Conscience" in response to Joseph R. McCarthy's accusations about Communist subversives in the government. The overall tone shames the other senators into soul searching. It expresses the hope that the government will find its way back to upholding the individual freedoms that unite and strengthen America. E-text available here.
20 Words

Ronald Reagan's Address at Moscow State University (1988)

Ronald Reagan's visit to Moscow State University on May 31, 1988 included remarks and a brief question and answer session with students and faculty. The question and answer session covered topics from Soviet dissidents to the president's retirement plans. The overall tone of the remarks praises America's commitment to freedom and democracy, while reassuring the young Russians that these ideals were within their grasp. In addition to outlining the possibilities with the technological revolution, Reagan proposed an increased student exchange program as steps towards tearing down the walls that keep people apart. E-text available here.
30 Words

Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address (1865)

Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address was delivered on March 4th, 1865 during the fourth year of the Civil War. The overall tone shows weariness with the ongoing conflict, while also reaffirming a faith in God's will. It starts with a comparison to the first inaugural address (in which more words were needed to describe the plans of a new administration), and ends with the hope that reconciliation and reconstruction can soon heal the nation's wounds. E-text available here.
20 Words

Steve Jobs's Commencement Address (2005)

Steve Jobs's Commencement Address at Stanford University on June 12, 2005 focuses on three personal stories from the entrepreneur's life that touch upon larger themes. The overall tone is both humorously self-deprecating and seriously uplifting. Jobs admitted that he had never graduated from college, but through a series of setbacks that turned out to be the best things to happen to him at those moments, he stayed hungry and foolish enough to make each day worth living. E-text available here.
20 Words

Hillary Clinton's APEC Speech (2011)

Hillary Clinton's remarks at the close of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Women and the Economy Summit on September 16, 2011 focus on affirming the organization's commitment to developing the skills of women, improving their access to economic opportunities, and supporting their rise to leadership roles. The overall tone encourages transformation, while acknowledging that the journey ahead will be long and difficult. It outlines past gains and present obstacles for women, but Clinton's vision extends beyond one gender to the goal of shared prosperity for all humankind. E-text available here.
30 Words