June 16th 1858: Lincoln’s ‘House Divided’ speech
On this day in 1858 in Springfield Illinois, Abraham Lincoln gave his famous ‘House Divided’ speech after receiving the Republican nomination for an Illinois Senate seat. The House Divided speech focused on the dangers posed by slavery to the Union and is one of future President Lincoln’s best known speeches. Lincoln then fought, unsuccessfully, against incumbent Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas for the seat. Douglas was a prominent politician, famed for his role in authoring the controversial Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. The campaign, especially the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, rescued Lincoln from obscurity and set him on the path that would lead him to the White House in 1861. The election of a firmly anti-slavery candidate whose only support came from the North prompted the secession of the Southern states and the young nation soon descended into civil war.
“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”
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