Thursday, June 19, 2008

House Divided Speech

On June 16, 1858, Abraham Lincoln was unanimously chosen by the Republican state convention as the Republican candidate for the United States Senate from the State of Illinois. Meeting in the House of Representatives chamber in the State Capitol, the Republican party went wild when a banner was displayed with the motto "Illinois is for Abraham Lincoln." The new Republican party, started in Ripon, Wisconsin in 1854, felt they had a winner in their new candidate.

That evening Lincoln gave his acceptance speech. In it he said, "If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it. We are now far into the fifth year, since a policy was initiated, with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed. A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved--I do not expect the house to fall--but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new--North as well as South..."

Many historians believe that this speech cost Lincoln the Senate race. However, it set the moral tone for the country about an issue that had to be addressed. The ensuing Civil War divided the country, but in the end the union was preserved and the house stands free.

Source: Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler

1 comment:

Charity for all said...

Interesting information