Friday, December 5, 2014

5 famous speeches by women candidates for U.S. president or vice president

The Eloquent Woman Index of Famous Speeches by Women doesn't come close to including every woman who's been a candidate for president or vice-president of the United States. But we do have a representative sample of the women who wanted to represent us through the ages, from the first to the most recent. These women, all candidates for either the top job or the one right behind it in the succession, defy easy description and certainly didn't make easy choices, something their speeches reflect:
  1. Victoria Woodhull's "Principles of Social Freedom," an 1871 speech, is out there on many fronts. She was not only the first woman to run for U.S. president in the year following this speech, but advocated for free love--the ability for women as well as men to choose and discard their sexual partners. And this speech, in the stem-winding traditions of its day, is long...but worth the read.
  2. Shirley Chisholm's 1969 introduction of the Equal Rights Amendment preceded her run for U.S. president in 1972, not the first woman but the first black woman to aim for the job in a major party. She didn't get the convention nod, but in the mold of this speech, used her candidacy to mince no words about the conditions of women and people of color. Her blunt language is a marvel to behold in today's careful world.
  3. Geraldine Ferraro's 1984 Democratic National Convention speech reads like a traditional politician's acceptance speech, but marked a major milestone: With it, she became the first woman to be a major party's candidate for the vice presidential post.
  4. Hillary Clinton's 2008 concession speech is one of four speeches representing her in the Index. In this speech, however, she brought her presidential candidacy to an end--and brought an emotional audience around to support for the eventual president and party candidate Barack Obama.
  5. Sarah Palin's 2008 Republican National Convention speech was already half-written by speechwriters who didn't know the identity of the vice presidential candidate, so close to the convention was her name announced. In a year famous for Clinton's run for the presidency, this woman made it onto a major-party ticket--and made her first major speech a high-impact moment for the campaign.
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