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12 Historical Speeches Nobody Ever Heard
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P r e s i d e n t i a l r e t n a m e d a f t e r D w i g r a n d s o n .

Lucas Reilly

filed under: polit ics , t op- st ory

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For every speech, t here are a bunch of versions t hat ended up on t he writ ers' room f loor. Here are 12 speeches t hat were writ t en but , f or a variet y of reasons, never delivered.

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1. “IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER”
As t he world nervously wait ed f or Neil Armst rong and Buzz Aldrin t o land on t he moon, Nixon speechwrit er William Saf ire penned a speech in case t he ast ronaut s were st randed in space. T he memo was addressed t o H.R. Haldeman, Nixon’s Chief of St af f , and includes chilling direct ions f or t he president , NASA, and clergy in case somet hing went awry.

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Here's t he t ext : IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER: Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace. These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice. These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for

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truth and understanding. They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown. In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man. In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood. Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts. For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.

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2. EISENHOWER’S “IN CASE OF FAILURE” MESSAGE
General Dwight D. Eisenhower sounded conf ident bef ore t he Normandy Invasion. “T his operat ion is planned as a vict ory, and t hat ’s t he way it ’s going t o be. We’re going down t here, and we’re t hrowing everyt hing we have int o it , and we’re going t o make it a success,” he said. Operat ion Overlord was a massive campaign—an invasion of 4000 ships, 11,000 planes, and nearly t hree million men. Despit e a year of st rat egizing and a boat load of conf idence, Eisenhower had a quiet plan in case his mission f ailed. If t he armada couldn’t cross t he English Channel, he’d order a f ull ret reat . One day bef ore t he invasion, he prepared a brief speech just in case:

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"Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone." Alt hough t he allies suf f ered about 12,000 casualt ies—wit h an est imat ed 4900 U.S. t roops killed—155,000 successf ully made it ashore, wit h t housands more on t he way. Wit hin a year, Germany would surrender.

3. WAMSUTTA JAMES’S 1970 PLYMOUTH ANNIVERSARY SPEECH
T he people of Plymout h, Massachuset t s want ed t o celebrat e. It was t he 350t h anniversary of t he arrival of t he Pilgrims, and a day of f est ivit ies was planned. For t he celebrat ion dinner, organizers invit ed Wamsut t a James—a descendent of t he Wampanoag—t o speak. T hey hoped James would give a cheery address recount ing t he f riendly Pilgrim-Indian relat ionship. But James was not int erest ed in t hat airbrushed version of hist ory: "It is with mixed emotion that I stand here to share my thoughts. This is a time of celebration for you—celebrating an anniversary of a beginning for the white man in America. A time of looking back, of reflection. It is with a heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my People." From t here, James debunked a slew of cult ural myt hs. T he relat ionship bet ween Pilgrims and Nat ive Americans was always uneasy, he said. Wampanoag ancest ors had lived in New England f or nearly 10,000 years bef ore t he Europeans had arrived. But , in just a f ew years, t he newcomers had brought disease and gobbled up land. T he relat ionship event ually burst in 1675, when King Philip’s War erupt ed, decimat ing t he Nat ive American populat ion and Wampanoag cult ure. "History wants us to believe that the Indian was a savage, illiterate, uncivilized animal. A history that was written by an organized, disciplined people, to expose us as an
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unorganized and undisciplined entity. Two distinctly different cultures met. One thought they must control life; the other believed life was to be enjoyed, because nature decreed it. Let us remember, the Indian is and was just as human as the white man. The Indian feels pain, gets hurt, and becomes defensive, has dreams, bears tragedy and failure, suffers from loneliness, needs to cry as well as laugh. He, too, is often misunderstood." When James submit t ed his address f or approval, t he organizers reject ed it . T hey asked him t o read a speech prepared by a public relat ions writ er inst ead. James walked away.

4. “I DON’T FEEL LIKE RESIGNING”

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Wit h swat hs of damning evidence around him and no support behind him, Richard Nixon st ared int o a t elevision camera August 8, 1974, and announced his resignat ion. It wasn’t supposed t o be t hat way. T hat was Plan B. A f ew days earlier, Nixon’s speechwrit er, Raymond Price, prepared t wo draf t s f or t hat address. In one—t it led “Opt ion B”—Nixon announced his resignat ion. In t he ot her speech, he vowed t o f ight f or his job. Here’s an excerpt : “Whatever the mistakes that have been made—and there are many—and whatever the measure of my own responsibility for those mistakes, I firmly believe that I have not committed any act of commission or omission that justifies removing a duly elected official from office. If I did believe that I had committed such an act, I would have resigned long ago. . .” “If I were to resign, it would spare the country additional months consumed with the ordeal of a Presidential impeachment and trial. But it would leave unresolved the questions that have already cost the country so much in anguish, division and uncertainty. More important, it would leave a permanent crack in our Constitutional structure: it would establish the principle that under pressure, a President could be removed from office by means short of those provided by the Constitution.” Short ly af t er t he speech was writ t en, t he “smoking gun” was released—a t ape-recording of Nixon’s plan t o halt t he FBI’s Wat ergat e invest igat ion. His polit ical support evaporat ed overnight . Impeachment became a cert aint y: “Opt ion B” was t he only opt ion lef t .

5. JFK’S DALLAS TRADE MART SPEECH
It was lat e November 1963, and President Kennedy had begun a t wo-day, f ive-cit y t our of Texas. Af t er a speedy 13-minut e f light f rom Fort Wort h, a mot orcade picked up JFK at t he Dallas airport and t ook him on a t en-mile t our t hrough downt own. T he president was bound
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f or t he Trade Mart , where he was scheduled t o speak at a luncheon. He never made it . Here’s a short excerpt of Kennedy’s undelivered Trade Mart speech. “There will always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternatives, finding faults but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility. Those voices are inevitable. But today other voices are heard in the land—voices preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality, wholly unsuited to the sixties, doctrines which apparently assume that words will suffice without weapons, that vituperation is as good as victory and that peace is a sign of weakness. . . We cannot expect that everyone, to use the phrase of a decade ago, will ‘talk sense to the American people.’ But we can hope that few people will listen to nonsense. And the notion that this Nation is headed for defeat through deficit, or that strength is but a matter of slogans, is not but just plain nonsense. T hat day, Americans sorely needed t o hear Kennedy’s unread closing: “[Our] strength will never be used in pursuit of aggressive ambitions—it will always be used in pursuit of peace. It will never be used to promote provocations—it will always be used to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes.” A second undelivered Dallas speech, f or t he Texas Democrat ic Commit t ee in Aust in, can be f ound here.

6. ANNA QUINDLEN’S 2000 VILLANOVA COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS
Pulit zer-Prize winning journalist Anna Quindlen had already writ t en Villanova’s keynot e speech when prot est s at t he Cat holic universit y began t o roil. A handf ul of st udent s disagreed wit h Quindlen’s views on abort ion, and t he issue boiled over so badly t hat Quindlen bowed out f rom t he event . Alt hough never delivered, her speech “A Short Guide t o a Happy Lif e” has been widely circulat ed on t he int ernet :

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“Get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger paycheck, the larger house. . . Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over Seaside Heights, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over the water gap or the way a baby scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a Cheerio with her thumb and first finger. "And realize that life is the best thing ever, and that you have no business taking it for granted. . . It is so easy to waste our lives: our days, our hours, our minutes. It is so easy to take for granted the color of azaleas, the sheen of the limestone on Fifth Avenue, the color of our kid’s eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again. It is so easy to exist instead of live.”

7. CONDOLEEZZA RICE’S 9/11 ADDRESS

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On Sept ember 11, 2001, Condoleezza Rice was slat ed t o deliver a speech at Johns Hopkins Universit y, addressing “t he t hreat s and problems of t oday and t he day af t er.” Terrorist s made t heir own st at ement t hat morning, f orcing Rice t o scrap her speech. In 2004, excerpt s f rom Rice’s address leaked t o The Washington Post . T he speech did not ment ion Al Qaeda or Osama Bin Laden. Rat her, it promot ed missile def ense as an upgraded securit y st rat egy. Of t he f ew lines released publicly, one read: “We need to worry about the suitcase bomb, the car bomb, and the vial of sarin released in the subway [but] why put deadbolt locks on your doors and stock up on cans of Mace then decide to leave your windows open?”

8. NINOY AQUINO JR’S LAST REMARKS
Philippine Senat or Benigno Aquino Jr. was not a f an of President Ferdinand Marcos. When Aquino st irred up t he polit ical pot , Marcos’s regime—ruled by mart ial law—t ossed Aquino in jail. Years lat er, Aquino made his way out of prison and exiled himself in t he Unit ed St at es. In 1983, upon hearing t hat lif e in t he Philippines was get t ing worse, Aquino ret urned home t o help. He came armed wit h a st irring speech: “I have returned on my free will to join the ranks of those struggling to restore our rights and freedoms through nonviolence. I seek no confrontation. I only pray and will strive for a genuine national reconciliation founded on justice. . . A death sentence awaits me. Two more subversion charges, both calling for death penalties, have been filled since I left three years ago and are now pending with the courts. . . I return voluntarily armed only with a clear conscience and fortified faith that in the end justice will emerge triumphant. According to Gandhi, the willing sacrifice of the innocent is the most powerful answer to insolent tyranny that has yet been conceived by God and man.” Aquino never read t he address. Over 1000 armed soldiers await ed his landing. He was immediat ely arrest ed and, while wait ing f or his prison escort , was shot in t he head. T he assassinat ion spurred a revolt against Marcos’s regime, which crumbled t hree years lat er.

9. JFK’S OTHER CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS SPEECH
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Keystone/Getty Images America soiled it s collect ive pant s Oct ober 22, 1962. T he count ry’s eyes were glued t o t he t elevision as President Kennedy said what everyone f eared: Cuba had missiles, and t hey were “capable of hit t ing any cit y in t he west ern hemisphere.” T he Unit ed St at es was a giant bullseye. Kennedy announced a Cuban “quarant ine,” a milit ary blockade t hat rest rict ed weapons and ot her mat erials t o t he island. Ot her opt ions, however, were on t he t able—a second, more aggressive, address announced plans f or an airst rike. Kennedy’s speechwrit er, Ted Sorensen, didn’t writ e t he second speech, but he did read it , and he was dist urbed by it s opening: “I have ordered—and the United States Air Force has now carried out—military operations with conventional weapons to remove a major nuclear weapons build-up from the soil of Cuba.” T he alt ernat e speech said t hat America would use nuclear weapons if necessary—a bold st at ement t hat never appeared in Kennedy’s t elevised address. It ’s unknown who wrot e t he speech and if Kennedy ever saw it . “T here is st ill a minor myst ery as t o who, if anyone, was asked t o draf t an alt ernat ive speech announcing and just if ying an air st rike on t he missiles,” Sorensen lat er wrot e.

10. ROMNEY’S 47 PERCENT FIXER-UPPER

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Rick Friedman/Corbis When Mit t Romney’s “47 percent ” comment s leaked in Sept ember, his campaign scrambled f or a f ix. A f lurry of press conf erences f ollowed as t he Romney camp t ried t o pat ch t he damage. Lat er in Sept ember, an undelivered speech was leaked t o t he Wall Street Journal . Here’s a t ast e of what it said: “One tragedy of the Obama Presidency is how many more Americans have become dependent on the government. I know it’s not their fault. Most want to be self-sufficient, to provide for their families, they can’t because there aren’t enough jobs. . . This is a national scandal. Not because those fellow Americans are free-loaders, but because they aren’t able to get a good job that pays enough to be self-sufficient and lets them fulfill their human potential. . . I don’t want to take food stamps away from Americans in need. I want fewer Americans to need food stamps.”

11. SARAH PALIN’S VICTORY AND CONCESSION SPEECHES

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Getty Images Sarah Palin’s relat ionship wit h John McCain was never very warm and f uzzy. T he Palin and McCain camps const ant ly clashed along t he campaign t rail. As one McCain of f icial explained in a New York Times int erview, “It was a dif f icult relat ionship… McCain t alked t o her occasionally.” T he duo’s biggest duel occurred on elect ion night . Palin’s speechwrit er, Mat t hew Scully, had drawn up t wo speeches: a vict ory and concession address. Hours bef ore t he candidat es t ook t he st age, McCain’s senior st af f ers t old Palin t hat she couldn’t read eit her. According t o The Daily Beast , McCain aides “lit erally t urned t he light s out on Palin when she ret ook t he st age lat er t hat night t o t ake pict ures wit h her f amily, f earing t hat she would give t he concession speech af t er all.” Here’s t he best of Palin’s undelivered addresses: Victory Speech:
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“As for my own family, well, it’s been quite a journey these past 69 days. We were ready, in defeat, to return to a place and a life we love. And I said to my husband Todd that it’s not a step down when he’s no longer Alaska’s 'First Dude.' He will now be the first guy ever to become the 'Second Dude.' Concession Speech: “I told my husband Todd to look at the upside: Now, at least, he can clear his schedule, and get ready for championship title number five in the Iron Dog snow machine race!. . . But far from returning to the great State of Alaska with any sense of sorrow, we will carry with us the best of memories. . . and joyful experiences that do not depend on victory.” “America has made her choice. . . Now it is time for us go our way, neither bitter nor vanquished, but instead confident in the knowledge that there will be another day… and we may gather once more. . . and find new strength. . . and rise to fight again.”

12. FDR’S FINAL WORDS

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Getty Images April 12, 1945, was a beaut if ul day in Warm Springs, Georgia. Franklin D. Roosevelt relaxed inside his woodland cot t age, t he “Lit t le Whit e House,” and was having his port rait paint ed. But during lunch, a bolt of pain shot t hrough t he back of his head, causing him t o collapse. By 3:35 pm, doct ors had pronounced t he president dead of a cerebral hemorrhage. A speech sat in FDR’s st udy, unread. Roosevelt had edit ed t he speech t he night bef ore. It was an address f or Jef f erson Day, a celebrat ion of T homas Jef f erson, and was supposed t o be delivered April 13 via a nat ional radio broadcast . Here’s an excerpt of FDR’s last words t o t he American people: “Let me assure you that my hand is the steadier for the work that is to be done, that I move more firmly into the task, knowing that you—millions and millions of you—are joined with me in the resolve to make this work endure. The work, my friends, is peace, more than an end of this war—an end to the beginning of all wars, yes, an end, forever, to this impractical, unrealistic settlement of the differences between governments by the mass killing of peoples. Today as we move against the terrible scourge of war—as we go forward toward the greatest contribution that any generation of human beings can make in this world—the contribution of lasting peace—I ask you to keep up your faith. . . The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.”

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Lucas Reilly

Fo llo w @ me nt al_f lo ss

Lucas is the Assistant Editor at mental_floss . A recent graduate of Lafayette College, he grew up in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, where he played a lot of piano and toiled as a chocolatier. He writes about science, history, and everything in between —including the highly coveted Bob Ross beat.

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