The preamble of the Federal Constitution says

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Susan B. Anthony

In the 1800s, women in the United States had few legal rights and did not have the right to vote. This speech was given by Susan B. Anthony after her arrest for casting an illegal vote in the presidential election of 1872. She was tried and then fined $100 but refused to pay.

Friends and fellow citizens: I stand before you tonight under indictment for the alleged crime of having voted at the last presidential election, without having a lawful right to vote. It shall be my work this evening to prove to you that in thus voting, I not only committed no crime, but, instead, simply exercised my citizen's rights, guaranteed to me and all United States citizens by the National Constitution, beyond the power of any state to deny.

The preamble of the Federal Constitution says:

"We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people - women as well as men. And it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government - the ballot.

For any state to make sex a qualification that must ever result in the disfranchisement of one entire half of the people, is to pass a bill of attainder, or, an ex post facto law, and is therefore a violation of the supreme law of the land. By it the blessings of liberty are forever withheld from women and their female posterity.

To them this government has no just powers derived from the consent of the governed. To them this government is not a democracy. It is not a republic. It is an odious aristocracy; a hateful oligarchy of sex; the most hateful aristocracy ever established on the face of the globe; an oligarchy of wealth, where the rich govern the poor. An oligarchy of learning, where the educated govern the ignorant, or even an oligarchy of race, where the Saxon rules the African, might be endured; but this oligarchy of sex, which makes father, brothers, husband, sons, the oligarchs over the mother and sisters, the wife and daughters, of every household - which ordains all men sovereigns, all women subjects, carries dissension, discord, and rebellion into every home of the nation.

Webster, Worcester, and Bouvier all define a citizen to be a person in the United States, entitled to vote and hold office.

The only question left to be settled now is: Are women persons? And I hardly believe any of our opponents will have the hardihood to say they are not. Being persons, then, women are citizens; and no state has a right to make any law, or to enforce any old law, that shall abridge their privileges or immunities. Hence, every discrimination against women in the constitutions and laws of the several states is today null and void, precisely as is every one against Negroes.

Susan B. Anthony – 1873

Post-note: Following her death in 1906, after five decades of tireless work, the Democratic and Republican parties both endorsed women's right to vote. In August of 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was finally ratified, allowing women to vote.

The History Place - Great Speeches Collection

Tony Blair

On Thursday, November 26, 1998, Tony Blair made history by becoming the first British Prime Minister ever to address the Irish Parliament.

That Parliament had been created 80 years earlier in open defiance of the British government which Blair now headed. Ireland had won its independence from Great Britain after a bloody insurrection in the early 1920s, marking the beginning of decades of intense animosity and outright violence. In this speech, Blair recalls his own Irish roots and declares an end to more than 800 years of enmity between England and Ireland.

Members of the Dail and Seanad, after all the long and torn history of our two peoples, standing here as the first British prime minister ever to address the joint Houses of the Oireachtas, I feel profoundly both the history in this event, and I feel profoundly the enormity of the honour that you are bestowing upon me. From the bottom of my heart, go raibh mile maith agaibh.

Ireland, as you may know, is in my blood. My mother was born in the flat above her grandmother's hardware shop on the main street of Ballyshannon in Donegal. She lived there as a child, started school there and only moved when her father died; her mother remarried and they crossed the water to Glasgow.

We spent virtually every childhood summer holiday up to when the troubles really took hold in Ireland, usually at Rossnowlagh, the Sands House Hotel, I think it was. And we would travel in the beautiful countryside of Donegal. It was there in the seas off the Irish coast that I learned to swim, there that my father took me to my first pub, a remote little house in the country, for a Guinness, a taste I've never forgotten and which it is always a pleasure to repeat.

Even now, in my constituency of Sedgefield, which at one time had 30 pits or more, all now gone, virtually every community remembers that its roots lie in Irish migration to the mines of Britain.

So like it or not, we, the British and the Irish, are irredeemably linked.

We experienced and absorbed the same waves of invasions: Celts, Vikings, Normans -- all left their distinctive mark on our countries. Over a thousand years ago, the monastic traditions formed the basis for both our cultures. Sadly, the power games of medieval monarchs and feudal chiefs sowed the seeds of later trouble.

Yet it has always been simplistic to portray our differences as simply Irish versus English -- or British. There were, after all, many in Britain too who suffered greatly at the hands of powerful absentee landlords, who were persecuted for their religion, or who were for centuries disenfranchised. And each generation in Britain has benefited, as ours does, from the contribution of Irishmen and women.

Today the links between our parliaments are continued by the British-Irish Parliamentary Body, and last month 60 of our MPs set up a new all-party "Irish in Britain Parliamentary Group."

Irish parliamentarians have made a major contribution to our shared parliamentary history. Let me single out just two:

  • Daniel O'Connell, who fought against injustice to extend a franchise restricted by religious prejudice;

  • Charles Stewart Parnell, whose statue stands today in the House of Commons and whose political skills and commitment to social justice made such an impact in that House.

So much shared history, so much shared pain.

And now the shared hope of a new beginning.

The peace process is at a difficult juncture. Progress is being made, but slowly. There is an impasse over the establishment of the executive; there is an impasse over decommissioning. But I have been optimistic the whole way through. And I am optimistic now. Let us not underestimate how far we have come; and let us agree that we have come too far to go back now.

Politics is replacing violence as the way people do business. The Good Friday Agreement, overwhelmingly endorsed by the people on both sides of the Border, holds out the prospect of a peaceful long-term future for Northern Ireland, and the whole island of Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Bill provides for the new Assembly and Executive, the North-South Ministerial Council, and the British-Irish Council. It incorporates the principle of consent into British constitutional law and repeals the Government of Ireland Act of 1920. It establishes a Human Rights Commission with the power to support individual cases. We will have an Equality Commission to police a new duty on all public bodies in Northern Ireland to promote equality of opportunity. We have set up the Patten Commission to review policing. We are scaling down the military presence. Prisoners are being released.

None of this is easy. I get many letters from the victims of violence asking why we are freeing terrorist prisoners. It is a tough question but my answer is clear: the agreement would never have come about if we had not tackled the issue of prisoners. That agreement heralds the prospect of an end to violence and a peaceful future for Northern Ireland. Our duty is to carry it out. That is a duty I feel more strongly than ever, having seen for myself the horror of Omagh. This was not the first such atrocity. But with all of my being, I will it to be the last. I will never forget the meeting I had, with Bill Clinton, with survivors, and with relatives of those who died. Their suffering and their courage was an inspiration. They will never forget their loved ones. Nor must we. We owe it to them above all to build a lasting peace, when we have the best opportunity in a generation to do so.

The Taoiseach's personal contribution has been immense. I pay tribute to his tireless dedication. I value his friendship. I also salute the courage of our predecessors, Deputy Albert Reynolds, Deputy John Bruton and John Major; and I also salute Deputy Dick Spring, whose role in this process goes back a long way.

Like us, you are living up to your side of the bargain too. You have voted to end the territorial claim over Northern Ireland, essential to the agreement.

It is time now for all the parties to live up to all their commitments. Time for North/South bodies to be established to start a new era of co-operation between you and Northern Ireland -- I hope agreement on these is now close. Time to set up the institutions of the new government. Time for the gun and the threat of the gun to be taken out of politics once and for all; for decommissioning to start.

I am not asking anyone to surrender. I am asking everyone to declare the victory of peace.

In Belfast or Dublin, people say the same thing: make the agreement work.

It is never far from my mind. My sense of urgency and mission comes from the children in Northern Ireland. I reflect on those who have been victims of violence, whose lives are scarred and twisted through the random wickedness of a terrorist act, on those who grow up in fear, those whose parents and loved ones have died.

And I reflect on those, who though untouched directly by violence, are nonetheless victims -- victims of mistrust and misunderstanding who through lack of a political settlement miss the chance of new friendships, new horizons, because of the isolation from others that the sectarian way of life brings.

I reflect on the sheer waste of children taught to hate when I believe passionately children should be taught to think.

Don't believe anyone who says the British people don't care about the peace process. People in my country care deeply about it, are willing it to work. And in our two countries, it is not just the politicians who have a role to play.

No one should ignore the injustices of the past, or the lessons of history. But too often between us, one person's history has been another person's myth.

We need not be prisoners of our history. My generation in Britain sees Ireland differently today and probably the same generation here feels differently about Britain.

We can understand the emotions generated by Northern Ireland's troubles, but we cannot really believe, as we approach the 21st century, there is not a better way forward to the future than murder, terrorism and sectarian hatred.

We see a changed Republic of Ireland today:

  • a modern, open economy;

  • after the long years of emigration, people beginning to come back for the quality of life you now offer;

  • a country part of Europe's mainstream, having made the most of European structural funds but no longer reliant on them;

  • some of the best business brains in the business world;

  • leaders in popular culture, U2, the Corrs, Boyzone, B-Witched;

  • a country that had the courage to elect its first woman president and liked it so much, you did it again; and the politics of Northern Ireland would be better for a few more women in prominent positions too.

And you see, I hope, a Britain emerging from its post-Empire malaise, modernizing, becoming as confident of its future as it once was of its past.

The program of the new Labor government: driving up standards in education; welfare reform; monetary and fiscal stability as the foundation of a modern economy; massive investment in our public services tied to the challenge of modernization; a huge program of constitutional change; a new positive attitude to Europe -- it is a program of national renewal as ambitious as any undertaken in any western democracy in recent times.

It is precisely the dramatic changes in both countries that allow us to see the possibilities of change in our relationship with each other.

It will require vision, but no more than the vision that has transformed Ireland. It will require imagination, but no more than that shown by the British people in the last two years. The old ways are changing between London and Dublin. And this can spur the change and healing in Northern Ireland too. The old notions of unionist supremacy and of narrow nationalism are gradually having their fingers pried from their grip on the future.

Different traditions have to understand each other. Just as we must understand your yearning for a united Ireland, so too must you understand what the best of unionism is about. They are good and decent people, just like you. They want to remain part of the UK -- and I have made it clear that I value that wish. They feel threatened. Threatened by the terrorism with which they have had to live for so long, and threatened, until the Good Friday Agreement, that they would be forced into a united Ireland against the will of the people of Northern Ireland.

Yet they realize now that a framework in which consent is guaranteed is also one in which basic rights of equality and justice are guaranteed, and that those who wish a united Ireland are free to make that claim, provided it is democratically expressed, just as those who believe in the Union can make their claim.

It is all about belonging: the wish of unionists to belong to the UK; the wish of nationalists to belong to Ireland. Both traditions are reasonable. There are no absolutes. The beginning of understanding is to realize that.

My point is very simple. Those urges to belong, divergent as they are, can live together more easily if we, Britain and the Irish Republic, can live closer together too.

Down through the centuries, Ireland and Britain have inflicted too much pain, each on the other. But now, the UK and Ireland as two modern countries, we can try to put our histories behind us, try to forgive and forget those age-old enmities.

We have both grown up now. A new generation is in power in each country.

We now have a real opportunity to put our relations on a completely new footing, not least through working together in Europe. I know that is what our peoples want and I believe we can deliver it.

Our ties are already rich and diverse: -- the UK is the largest market for Irish goods. And you are our fifth most important market in the world;

  • in trade unions, professional bodies and the voluntary sector, our people work together to help their communities; in culture, sport and academic life there is an enormous crossover. Our theatres are full of Irish plays. Our television is full of Irish actors and presenters. Your national football team has a few English accents too;

  • above all, at the personal level, millions of Irish people live and work in Britain, and hundreds of thousands of us visit you every year.

As ties strengthen, so the past can be put behind us. Nowhere was this better illustrated than at the remarkable ceremony at Messines earlier this month. Representatives of nationalists and unionists travelled together to Flanders to remember shared suffering. Our army bands played together. Our heads of state stood together. With our other European neighbors, such a ceremony would be commonplace. For us it was a first. It shows how far we have come. But it also shows we still have far to go.

The relationships across these islands are also changing in a significant way.

The Taoiseach has spoken of the exciting new relationships that will unfold as the people of Scotland and Wales, as well as Northern Ireland, express their wishes through their own parliaments and assemblies. The new British Irish Council must reflect and explore these opportunities. We have much to gain by co-operating better across these islands in areas like transport, education, the fight against illegal drugs.

But I want our co-operation to be wider and more fundamental still -- above all in Europe.

It is 25 years since we both joined what was then the EEC. We have had different approaches to agriculture, to monetary union, to defense, but increasingly we share a common agenda and common objectives:

  • completion of the Single Market and structural economic reform;

  • better conditions for growth and jobs in Europe;

  • successful enlargement;

  • a united and coherent foreign policy voice for Europe;

  • a more effective fight against crime, drugs, illegal immigration and environmental damage;

  • flexible, open and accountable European institutions.

We must work to make the single currency a success. Unlike Ireland, we are not joining in the first wave. But we have made clear that we are prepared to join later if the economic benefits are clear and unambiguous. For my government, there is no political or constitutional barrier to joining. There is no resistance to full-hearted European co-operation wherever this brings added value to us all.

Enlargement will increasingly test our political and economic imaginations, as we struggle with policy reform and future financing. The international financial system must be reformed. We must learn to apply real political will and harness our skills and resources far more effectively to solve regional problems -- notably in the Balkans and the Middle East. Above all, Europe must restate its vision for today's world, so that our people understand why it is so important. This means defining the priorities where common European action makes obvious sense and can make a real difference, like economic co-ordination, foreign and security policy, the environment, crime and drugs. It also means distinguishing them from areas where countries or regions can best continue to make policy themselves, to suit local circumstances, while still learning from each other -- for example, tax, education, health, welfare.

That is why I want to forge new bonds with Dublin. Together we can have a stronger voice in Europe and work to shape its future in a way which suits all our people. It is said there was a time when Irish diplomats in Europe spoke French in meetings to ensure they were clearly distinguished from us. I hope those days are long behind us. We can accomplish much more when our voices speak in harmony.

Our ministers and officials are increasingly consulting and coordinating systematically. We can do more. I believe we can transform our links if both sides are indeed ready to make the effort. For our part, we are.

This must also involve a dramatic new effort in bilateral relations, above all to bring our young generations together. We need new youth and school exchanges, contact through the new University for Industry, better cultural programs in both directions. We need to work much more closely to fight organized crime and drugs. We can do much more to enrich each other's experience in areas like health care and welfare.

None of this threatens our separate identities. Co-operation does not mean losing distinctiveness.

What the Taoiseach and I seek is a new dimension to our relationships -- a real partnership between governments and peoples, which will engage our societies at every level.

We have therefore agreed to launch a new intensive process. The Taoiseach and I will meet again next spring in London, with key ministerial colleagues, to give this the necessary impetus and agenda, and will thereafter meet at least once a year to review progress. This will be part of the work of the new Intergovernmental Conference. The objective is threefold:

  • first, revitalized and modernized bilateral relations where we can finally put the burden of history behind us;

  • second, a habit of close consultation on European issues, marked by a step-change in contacts at every level, particularly in key areas such as agriculture, justice and home affairs, employment and foreign and security policy;

  • third, working together on international issues more widely, for example UN peacekeeping, to which both our countries have been important contributors, arms proliferation and the Middle East.

What I welcome above all is that, after keeping us apart for so long, Northern Ireland is now helping to bring us closer together. But I do not believe Northern Ireland can or should any longer define the relationship between us. Our common interests, what we can achieve together, go much, much wider than that.

Our two countries can look to the future with confidence in our separate ways. But we will be stronger and more prosperous working together.

That is my ambition. I know it is shared by the Taoiseach. I believe it is an ambition shared by both our nations. The 21st century awaits us. Let us confront its challenge with confidence, and together give our children the future they deserve.

Tony Blair - November 26, 1998

The History Place - Great Speeches Collection

President George W. Bush: After September 11, 2001

On Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history occurred as four large passenger jets were hijacked then crashed, killing nearly 3,000 persons. The attack was carried out by four separate teams of terrorists from the Middle East, all operating from inside the U.S. Each team had boarded an early-morning flight, posing as passengers, then forcibly commandeered the aircraft.

Two fully-fueled jumbo jets, American Airlines Flight 11 carrying 92 persons and United Airlines Flight 175 carrying 65 persons, had departed Boston for Los Angeles. Both jets were diverted by the hijackers to New York City where they were piloted by the terrorists themselves into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. The impact and subsequent fire caused both 110-story towers to collapse, killing 2,752 persons, including hundreds of fire-rescue workers and persons employed in the towers.

United Airlines Flight 93, which had departed from Newark for San Francisco, and American Airlines Flight 77, which had departed from Dulles (Virginia) for Los Angeles, were also hijacked. Flight 77, with 64 persons on board, was diverted to Washington, D.C., then piloted by the terrorists into the Pentagon building, killing everyone on board and 125 military personnel inside the building. Flight 93, with 44 persons on board, was also diverted toward Washington but crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers attempted to overpower the terrorists on board.

On Thursday, September 20th, President George W. Bush gave this much-anticipated speech before a Joint Session of Congress, outlining America's reaction to the unprecedented attack against its people.

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