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on Lincoln�s �House Divided� Speech of June 16, 1858
With his �House
Divided� speech of June 16, 1858, Lincoln accepted the young Illinois
Republican Party�s nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Stephen A.
Douglas. The background of the speech and of the subsequent campaign against
Douglas was the raging debate over the question of slavery in new states and
territories. In 1854, Douglas, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Territories,
had maneuvered the Kansas-Nebraska
Act through Congress with great political skill. The Act provided that
citizens of new territories would in each case decide for themselves the
question of slavery within their borders. As Lincoln makes clear in this speech,
this amounted to the overthrow of the Missouri
Compromise of 1820, under which slavery was prohibited in any part of the
original Louisiana Purchase outside the state of Missouri north of Missouri�s
southern boundary of latitude 36030�. The Kansas-Nebraska Act
provoked great opposition in Illinois and the rest of the old Northwest, and
gave direct rise to the new Republican Party. Lincoln had joined the Illinois
Republican Party shortly after it was formed in 1856 and campaigned that year
for the first Republican candidate for President, John Charles Fremont, who lost
the election to Buchanan.
Lincoln�s position at that time
was that slavery must be contained in its traditional home in the Southern
states, where, he felt, it would eventually die out if not allowed to spread.
[. . . .]
Divided� speech established his position on slavery and solidified his
credentials as a national spokesman on this issue.
from Abraham Lincoln: Great Speeches. New York: Dover, 1991. 24-25.
on the Address Delivered at the Dedication of the Cemetery at Gettysburg,
November 19, 1863
Battle of Gettysburg in southern Pennsylvania early in July 1863 had brought
enormous casualties to both sides�23,000 Union casualties, including over
3,000 killed on the battlefield, and 28,000 Confederate casualties, including at
least 4,000 killed. Yet there was
no question when it was over that Lee�s army had suffered the greater blow, even
though it escaped the total destruction that seemed briefly to be within the
Union forces� grasp. (See
also �Behind the Stonewall� for more images.)
Later that year
a Gettysburg attorney, David Wills, conceived the idea of dedicating a portion
of the battlefield as a National Soldiers� Cemetery.
Lincoln was invited to be present and speak (although Edward Everett of
Boston�a well-known orator and former President of Harvard, Governor of
Massachusetts, U.S. Senator, diplomat and Secretary of State�was to be the
chief speaker). On November 19 a
crowd of between 15,000 and 20,000 listened to Everett speak for two hours
before Lincoln rose and in his high-pitched voice delivered his imperishable
statement on the meaning of the war, which was at that time still far from won.
Witnesses record that he received a sustained ovation.
As military bands played, Lincoln and his party rode through cheering
crowds on their way to the train that would take them slowly back to Washington.
from Abraham Lincoln: Great Speeches. New York: Dover, 1991. 103.
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