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.
Following Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech, the table was set for the most famous battle in the history of American Senate campaigns. Douglas agreed to a series of seven debates, which became known as the “Lincoln-Douglas debates.” The debate trail covered over four thousand miles and drew tens of thousands of spectators. Ultimately, Douglas won the election. However, Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech and his subsequent battle against Douglas cemented his name in the national mind and paved the way for his successful run for president two years later.
Read our complete coverage of the “House Divided” speech, including in-depth analysis by the historian Robert R. Montgomery.