Listen to Some of the Most Famous Presidential Speeches From History

You’ve likely heard snippets of these famous addresses—now’s your chance to tune into the full versions.
Barack Obama giving his inauguration speech, 2009.
Barack Obama giving his inauguration speech, 2009. / Alex Wong/GettyImages

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is one of the most notable presidential addresses in history, but that doesn’t mean other U.S. presidents haven’t had their fair share of memorable speeches. The podcast platform Acast gathered up one such speech from each president since John F. Kennedy through Barack Obama, collecting audio from some of the most important addresses of the last 50 years.

The first speech—JFK’s inaugural address—is only 14 minutes long. Even if you’ve never tuned into the whole thing, you’ve probably heard one snippet of it repeated often. The speech contains the famous quote, “My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

Most recordings in the collection are inaugural addresses, but a few notable speeches midway through presidents’ tenures made the cut, like the voting rights speech Lyndon B. Johnson delivered to Congress in 1965 and Jimmy Carter’s 1979 “Crisis of Confidence” speech.

In Johnson’s speech, he urged Congress to create the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That act, which became effective on August 6 of that same year, guaranteed racial minorities the right to vote and put an end to southern states’ discriminatory voting practices. According to the National Archives, “The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was the most significant statutory change in the relationship between the federal and state governments in the area of voting since the Reconstruction period following the Civil War.”

Carter’s speech—famously also known as his “Malaise” speech, even though that word itself isn’t in his address—addressed the nation’s low morale after the 1970s energy crisis and ensuing recession. Before giving the speech, Carter had retreated to Camp David, where he sought advice from a whole spectrum of people. His address earned him a brief popularity boost.

Take a listen to some of the things our past leaders have had to say to the country. All 10 can be found here. And if that’s too modern, there are some audio files available of presidential speeches from the early 20th century here.

A version of this story originally ran in 2017; it has been updated for 2024.