WHAT WAS THE GREATEST SPEECH?

Our latest Big Question considers the art of oratory, and asks, what was the greatest speech? Six writers have chosen a speech and over the next two weeks we will be publishing their views. But now we want your choices too.

Sam Leith, a columnist and the author of "You Talkin' to Me? Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama" introduces the Big Question, explaining that "threads of debt and inheritance tie the earliest recorded oratory to the speeches of the present day".

James Harding, the director of BBC news and former editor of the Times, argues that the 270 words of Lincoln's Gettysburg address deliver "a prose poem unrivalled in political oratory".

Mark Tully, the BBC's bureau chief in India for 22 years, chooses the speech made by Swami Vivekananda at the first World's Parliament of Religion in 1893 on behalf of "the many who claim to be spiritual but not religious".

The playwright and novelist Gillian Slovo picks Nelson Mandela's speech from the dock in 1964. "His convictions were unshakable."

The comedian and author Natalie Haynes goes back the farthest to Pericles's funeral oration in 431BC: "the most beautiful celebration of democracy anywhere".

Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of the Daily Beast and Newsweek, lauds the speech Hillary Clinton gave about women's rights (Beijing, 1995), which "launched a movement".

Finally, there is a speech from the House of Commons. Johnny Grimond, contributing editor for The Economist, praises the combination of reason and emotion in the speech made by Macaulay on Jewish rights in 1833, where his approach was to take "the arguments for maintaining the restrictions one by one and destroy each in turn".

Which of these six speeches gets your vote? Have your say in our poll, below, and please let us know why you chose the speech that you did. Or if you think someone else made the greatest speech—Cicero, perhaps, or Churchill, Wilberforce or Gandhi, Nixon or Obama—do please tell us why.

Swami Vivekananda in Chicago, 1893
54% (362 votes)
The Gettysburg Address, 1863
17% (115 votes)
Pericles's funeral oration, 431BC
6% (41 votes)
Hillary Clinton in Beijing, 1995
5% (37 votes)
Mandela in the dock, 1964
5% (39 votes)
Macaulay on Jewish rights, 1833
3% (22 votes)
Princess Dianas brother gave a most moving tribute at her funeral. It changed our view of the presss & their place in our lives (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Reagan before Parliment ("We will transcend communism") (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Harry Schwarz;Poverty Corrodes Freedom' 1991 (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Lou Gehrigs;luckiest man on the face of the Earth" July 4, 1939 (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Martin Luther King, I have a dream (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
The King;s s-s-s-s-peech. (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
KhanAcademy (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Churchill's speech to Parliament (We shall fight them on the beaches...) 1939 (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Salassi un speach (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream", 1963 (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
RFK impromptu speech delivering news of MLK's assassination to Indianapolis crowd. (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Churchill's Their Finest Hour (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Sir William Deane's speech at Interlaken http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/genpdf/chamber/hansards/1999-08-09/0140/hansard_fra (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Tryst with Destiny, Nehru, 1947 (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Obama's speech on election night 2008 (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Lincoln's Second Inagural Address, 1865 (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Martin Luther King Jr. at Lincoln Memorial, 1963 (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Prophet Muhammad's Farewell Speech (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Prophet Muhammads Farewell Speech, 632 CE. The Prophet Muhammad left an eternal legacy for all mankind in his final sermon. (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
I Have A Dream, M Luther King (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Charlie Chuplin (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
William Faulkner Nobel acceptance speech 1950 (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
JFK Berlin speech (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Described by the New York Times (and reprinted verbatim in the same newspaper) as ‘the greatest speech since President Lincoln’s (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Martin Luther King - "Beyond Vietnam" - Riverside Church, NYC - - 1967 (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Winston Churchill's first broadcast as Prime Minister to the British people, 1940 (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Robert Ingersoll's speech at his brother's grave (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Churchill' s "finest hour" speech. (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Martin Luther King - I have a Dream (march on the national mall, Washington DC) (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Martin Luther King Let freedom ring (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Nehru (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Edmund Burke - Give me liberty or give me death (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Obama Detroit speech (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Nixon (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Steve Jobs -Stanford commencement 2005 (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
JFK on Space, Rice University, 1962 (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Barack Obama's presidential Innauguration speech 2009 (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
I have a dream (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
mother Earth... you are all different to accept this because you live on one Earth (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Tecumseh, Speech to the Osage's 1811-12 (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Lincoins house divided speech (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Cicero's Catiline Oration, 63 BC. (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Jf Kennedy (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Steve Jobs Stanford commencement (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
How disappointing that the links here lead to short discussions of the speeches, not the speeches themselves. (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Charlie Chaplin's final speech in the film the great dictator (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
You must joke. (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Churchill - We shall fight on the beaches, 1940 (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
JFK "moon speech" in joint sessin of congress 25May1961 (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Theodore Roosevelt, The Sorbonne 1910 (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
M. L. King I have a dream (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Nehru at the dawn of Indian Independence (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Winston Churchill "we shall never surrender" (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Winston Churchill's Finest Hour speech, 1940 (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Prophet Muhammad's Farewell Speech (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Prophet Muhammad's Farewell Speech (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Prophet Muhammad's Farewell Speech (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Prophet Muhammad's Farewell Speech (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Prophet Muhammad's Farewell Speech (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Prophet Muhammad's Farewell Speech (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Prophet Muhammad's Farewell Speech (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Prophet Muhammad's Farewell Speech (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Prophet Muhammad's Farewell Speech (Write in)
0% (1 vote)
Total votes: 670