1875 15¢ Lincoln, black
US #108 – 1875 Lincoln issue similar to the 1866 mourning stamp

On June 16, 1858, Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous House Divided Speech in Springfield, Illinois.

In June 1858, 49-year-old Abraham Lincoln was nominated as the Republican Party’s choice for United States Senator. Lincoln prepared a special speech for the occasion, one that would “rouse people to the peril of the times.” That speech became known as the House Divided Speech. Lincoln took the name, and most famous phrase, from the Bible (Mark 3:25).

On June 16, 1858 at 5:00 p.m., the delegates to the Republican State Convention officially selected Lincoln as their candidate. Three hours later, at 8:00 p.m., he delivered his speech to his fellow Republicans in the Hall of Representatives.

1966 4¢ Prominent Americans: Abraham Lincoln, perf 10 vertical
US #1303 – Lincoln stamp from the Prominent Americans Series

The focus of Lincoln’s speech was slavery, particularly concerning the Dred Scott decision. In this controversial case, the Supreme Court had ruled that Dred Scott could live in a free state, but must still remain a slave. To this, Lincoln responded, “what Dred Scott’s master might lawfully do with Dred Scott, in the free state of Illinois, every other master may lawfully do with any other one, or one thousand slaves, in Illinois, or in any other free state.”

Lincoln’s other point of concern in his speech was the passage of the Kansas and Nebraska Act of 1854, which repealed the 1820 Missouri Compromise. The Act supported popular sovereignty, which allowed for the white residents of territories, rather than Congress, to determine the future of slavery in each state. Lincoln claimed that, “individual men may now fill up the Territories with slaves,” and that instituting popular sovereignty would guarantee continued slavery across the nation.

1958 4¢ Lincoln-Douglas Debates
US #1115 pictures a scene from the subsequent Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Although many of Lincoln’s friends believed his speech was too radical for the time, it was one of the driving forces behind the eventual Lincoln-Douglas debates that were held just a few months later. Lincoln ended up losing the Senate seat to Stephen Douglas, but many credit the exposure Lincoln received from the speech as contributing to his popularity in the presidential campaign of 1860.

2009 42¢ Abraham Lincoln
US #4380-83 pictures Lincoln throughout his life, including a scene from the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Lincoln regarded the speech as one of his favorites, once saying, “If I had to draw a pen across my record, and erase my whole life from sight, and I had one poor gift or choice left as to what I should save from the wreck, I should choose that speech and leave it to the world unerased.”

Click here for more Lincoln stamps.

Click here to read the full text of Lincoln’s House Divided speech.

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  1. So many good points and a great political comeback. From a losing senatorial candidate to winning the presidency in two years. Incredible..

  2. The greatest president this nation has ever had. Delivered speeches promoting what he felt was right and just even if it cost him votes. Our nation needs leaders like this today but I have to wonder if we would elect them our be persuaded by the ones who raised the most money to fund their campaigns.

  3. Amen, brother, or be fooled by those controlling social media outlets and the mass media news.

  4. It’s not so much the so-called mass media. It’s the unlimited money that corporations and the super wealthy can pump into political campaigns thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in the “Citizens United” case.

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