Speech Writing History: World Changing Speeches Buried Under a Rock

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Clearly not all speeches are created equal, just like every thing else in life. However, have you ever thought about all the speeches that were penned, only to never be breathed into existence? After all, when you hire speech writers, typically you anticipate giving said speech. Yet event after event, public speaker after public speaker, features an array of  just-in-case speeches.

Just-in-case speeches are as important as those speeches that are actually audible. In fact, if you are planning on winning or losing a contest, or you are giving a speech in which you are unclear of the audience, it is not a bad plan to have a backup speech, yourself. Without further ado, here are some of those just-in-case speeches that never saw the light of day.

Sarah Palin

Whether or not you are a fan, supporter, or hater of this political figure, you may be interested in the Palin just-in-case speeches. First of all, let’s just make it clear: Palin did not write her own speeches; Matthew Scully wrote them both. Still, she had two just-in-case speeches–one for her victory and one for her concession, as noted by Mental Floss.

For her victory, one of her most notable sentences would have been, “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.’”

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As for her concession speech, hubby Todd was also a star: “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!”

Richard Nixon

Nixon’s speech writer, William Safire , was a brilliant writer who loved his job. In fact, Safire convinced Nixon that he should have a speech, “In Event of Moon Disaster,” given the space exploration program of that era. Letters of Note notes that, in this just-in-case speech, Nixon would’ve said:

“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. In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much of the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

When it was first proposed, there was a great chance that D-Day would be a failure — and, as in all events with a chance of failure, there was the need for a just-in-case speech. Giving such a speech would have marked the end of Eisenhower’s political career but, thankfully, we never had to read about this speech in the history books:

“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.”

Along these lines, did you know that there are five different versions of Abraham Lincoln’s monumental “Gettysburg Address”? That’s right, there isn’t a single person alive today that can be sure we are reading the actual words Lincoln wrote and spoke on that fateful day. So while Lincoln did not write a just-in-case speech, his most famous speech is just as curious as those listed above.


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