Abraham Lincoln: “House Divided” Speech

(ca. 1858)

On June 16, 1858, the Republican Party of Illinois convened at Springfield to nominate its candidate for the U.S. Senate. Taking a first step toward the popular election of U.S. senators, the convention bypassed the state legislature and unanimously nominated Abraham Lincoln as its candidate. Anticipating his nomination, Lincoln had been preparing his acceptance speech a month before the convention, writing out parts on scraps of paper and depositing them in his stovepipe hat. It would be known to history as the “House Divided” Speech.

The threat of the spread of slavery into new territories had impelled Lincoln in 1854 to join the new Republican Party, which existed for one purpose: to prevent slavery’s expansion. By 1857 the Supreme Court ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford had convinced him of the real danger that slavery would become legal throughout the United States. This possibility persuaded him to run for the U.S. Senate in 1858. Stephan Douglas, Lincoln’s opponent...

Image for: Abraham Lincoln: “House Divided” Speech

Abraham Lincoln (Library of Congress)

View Full Size