Analysis of Abraham Lincoln's "House Divided" Speech

Topics: Abraham Lincoln, American Civil War, Slavery in the United States Pages: 2 (385 words) Published: February 4, 2011
Abraham Lincoln: “House Divided” Speech

The House Divided speech took place on June 16, 1858 in Springfield, Illinois. It was recited by Abraham Lincoln as he accepted the Republican Party nomination as a representative of the United States Senate. The primary issue throughout the course of this speech was the heavily controversial issue of slavery. In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed; this act allowed citizens of new territories would decide whether or not they should have slavery, which could also be defined as “popular sovereignty.” This caused great opposition throughout the country and later led to the founding of the Republican Party. Lincoln’s perspective on slavery was that it should stay in the Southern states only, where it would either not spread or die out, but the Kansas-Nebraska Act made the anti-slavery adherents enraged. To make matters worse, a new debate was added in 1857 – the Dred Scott case, which ruled that the Congress couldn’t prevent slavery from new territories. As agitation continued to stir, Abraham Lincoln – as mentioned above – delivered his House Divided speech to establish his beliefs toward slavery and to differentiate himself from Stephen Douglas and the rest of the seemingly corrupt governmental judgments and transactions.

“A House divided against itself cannot stand.” Lincoln warned that the nation could not survive being half-slave and half-free; he believes that it can only be one or the other, and makes a bold statement that he expects the division will eventually cease. He then impressed upon a theory of pro-slavery forces wanting to spread bondage across the land and indicted popular sovereignty as a terrible guarantee of slavery’s endurance in the country’s free regions and, eventually, the entire region. Although these laws were made by different men, Lincoln claimed that the results fitted perfectly to create a policy to endorse the expansion of slavery – a policy that the Republicans would fight....
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