• Seventh Lincoln-Douglas Debate

     |  Crisis of Constitutionalism

    Seventh Lincoln-Douglas Debate Seventh Lincoln-Douglas Debate 1 Lincoln and Douglas agreed to debate in all nine of the state's congressional districts, with their recent speeches in Chicago and Springfield counting as the opening salvos. Seven debates ensued, each lasting three hours. This seventh and last debate, held in Alton, drew more than 5,000 spectators. Local and national papers—most in the service of one of the two main parties—reprinted each speech, leading to widespread circulation. After the debates concluded, Lincoln published an edited version. The book's popularity throughout the North paved the way for his eventual presidential campaign. October 15, 1858 Senator Douglas's Speech ...The issue thus being made up between Mr. Lincoln ...
  • Fragment on the Constitution and the Union

     |  The Apple of Gold/Frame of Silver

    Fragment on the Constitution and the Union Fragment on the Constitution and the Union 1 Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) This never appeared in Lincoln's public speeches, but it is possible that he composed it while writing his First Inaugural Address. It draws upon the King James translation of Proverbs 25:11—"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver"—to describe the relationship between the principles of the Declaration and the purpose of the Constitution. January 1861 All this is not the result of accident. It has a philosophical cause. Without the Constitution and the Union, we could not have attained the result; but even these, are not the primary cause of our great prosperity. There is something back of these, entwining ...
  • Speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act

     |  Crisis of Constitutionalism

    Speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act Speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act 1 Abraham Lincoln Supporters of the Compromise of 1850 lauded it as a continuation of the Missouri Compromise, which had helped maintain peace for thirty years. But four years later, the Missouri Compromise was eviscerated by the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Authored by Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas, it was in fact two provisions, one providing for the territory of Nebraska and the other for the new territory of Kansas. Breaking with the Missouri Compromise's ban on slavery in this part of the country, it established the policy of "popular sovereignty": Slavery would be voted on by the citizens of each territory, and made legal or illegal according to the will of the majority. For Lincoln, this ...
  • Speech on the Dred Scott Decision

     |  Crisis of Constitutionalism

    Speech on the Dred Scott Decision Speech on the Dred Scott Decision 1 Abraham Lincoln Lincoln argues that Chief Justice Taney's opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford violated America's founding principles and rewrote American history. June 26, 1857 ...And now as to the Dred Scott decision. That decision declares two propositions—first, that a negro cannot sue in the U.S. Courts; and secondly, that Congress cannot prohibit slavery in the Territories. It was made by a divided court—dividing differently on the different points. Judge Douglas does not discuss the merits of the decision; and, in that respect, I shall follow his example, believing I could no more improve on McLean and Curtis, than he could on Taney. He denounces all who question ...
  • A House Divided

     |  Crisis of Constitutionalism

    A House Divided A House Divided 1 Abraham Lincoln Lincoln delivered this speech upon his nomination as the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Illinois, where he would square off against incumbent Senator Stephen Douglas. Drawing the leading metaphor from a passage in the Gospel of Matthew, Lincoln held that pro-slavery forces—Douglas, Franklin Pierce (president when the Kansas-Nebraska Act was adopted), Roger Taney, and James Buchanan (president when Dred Scott was decided)—were working in concert to effect a national policy legalizing slavery in all states and territories. Papers throughout the North reprinted the text of the speech, propelling Lincoln to new prominence. June 16, 1858 Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention: If ...
  • Address at Cooper Institute

     |  Crisis of Constitutionalism

    Address at Cooper Institute Address at Cooper Institute 1 Abraham Lincoln With an eye to the Republican presidential nomination of 1860, Lincoln campaigned vigorously across the North. Responding to Stephen Douglas's "Dividing Line" speech, he used this address to claim the mantle of America's Founders for the Republican Party. Employing original research on the anti-slavery views of "our fathers," Lincoln cast himself as a conservative. The speech caught the attention of the Eastern political establishment, while at the same time distinguishing him from the radical abolitionists. February 27, 1860 ...But enough! Let all who believe that "our fathers, who framed the Government under which we live, understood this question just as well, and even ...
  • First Inaugural Address

     |  Secession and Civil War

    First Inaugural Address First Inaugural Address 1 Abraham Lincoln Lincoln's First Inaugural Address, delivered a month after the formation of the Confederacy, served as a final plea for Americans to reunite. Lincoln makes clear that he has no intention to change the status of slavery in the states where it exists, having no constitutional authority to do so. He makes equally clear that secession is not a constitutional option. March 4, 1861 Fellow citizens of the United States: In compliance with a custom as old as the government itself, I appear before you to address you briefly, and to take, in your presence, the oath prescribed by the Constitution of the United States, to be taken by the President "before he enters on the execution of ...
  • Message to Congress in Special Session

     |  Secession and Civil War

    Message to Congress in Special Session Message to Congress in Special Session 1 Abraham Lincoln On April 12, 1861, a Confederate commander informed the Union forces stationed at Fort Sumter, in the Charleston harbor, of his plans to attack. The Civil War began an hour later. President Lincoln immediately called for 75,000 volunteers. Four states from the upper South seceded over the following month. With Congress out of session, Lincoln led the military effort without congressional approval for nearly three months. In this speech to Congress, which convened on Independence Day, he depicts the Confederacy as a section of the Union in insurrection rather than a foreign nation requiring a declaration of war. July 4, 1861 Fellow-citizens of the ...
  • The Emancipation Proclamation

     |  Secession and Civil War

    The Emancipation Proclamation The Emancipation Proclamation 1 Abraham Lincoln The Emancipation Proclamation, issued on September 22, 1862, promised emancipation for slaves residing in the Confederacy, unless the rebellious states returned to the Union by January 1 of the following year. The three-month deadline came and went, and slavery ceased to have legal sanction in much of the South. Although complete emancipation did not occur until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, Lincoln's actions earned him the nickname "The Great Emancipator." January 1, 1863 By the President of the United States of America: A Proclamation. Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ...
  • Second Inaugural Address

     |  Secession and Civil War

    Second Inaugural Address Second Inaugural Address 1 Abraham Lincoln The South's surrender was a month away when Lincoln delivered his Second Inaugural. Lincoln looks back on the war and ahead to the task of rebuilding the nation. A little over a month later, he was assassinated. March 4, 1865 Fellow Countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention, and engrosses ...
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