Abraham Lincoln Peoria speech

Abraham Lincoln Peoria speech

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Abraham Lincoln Peoria speech'
Start a new discussion about 'Abraham Lincoln Peoria speech'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Abraham Lincoln's Peoria speech was made in Peoria, Illinois
Peoria, Illinois
Peoria is the largest city on the Illinois River and the county seat of Peoria County, Illinois, in the United States. It is named after the Peoria tribe. As of the 2010 census, the city was the seventh-most populated in Illinois, with a population of 115,007, and is the third-most populated...

 on October 16, 1854. The speech, with its specific arguments against slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

, was an important step in Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

's political ascension.

The 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act
Kansas-Nebraska Act
The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, opening new lands for settlement, and had the effect of repealing the Missouri Compromise of 1820 by allowing settlers in those territories to determine through Popular Sovereignty if they would allow slavery within...

, written to form the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, was designed by Stephen A. Douglas
Stephen A. Douglas
Stephen Arnold Douglas was an American politician from the western state of Illinois, and was the Northern Democratic Party nominee for President in 1860. He lost to the Republican Party's candidate, Abraham Lincoln, whom he had defeated two years earlier in a Senate contest following a famed...

, then the chairman of the Senate Committee on Territories. The Act included language that allowed settlers to decide whether they would or would not accept slavery in their region. Lincoln saw this as a repeal of the 1820 Missouri Compromise
Missouri Compromise
The Missouri Compromise was an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30'...

 which had outlawed slavery above the 36°30' parallel
Longitude
Longitude is a geographic coordinate that specifies the east-west position of a point on the Earth's surface. It is an angular measurement, usually expressed in degrees, minutes and seconds, and denoted by the Greek letter lambda ....

.

Lincoln was compelled to argue his case against the Kansas-Nebraska Act in three public speeches during September and October 1854, all in direct response to Douglas. The most comprehensive address was given by Lincoln in Peoria, Illinois, on October 16. The three hour speech, transcribed after the fact by Lincoln himself, presented thorough moral, legal and economic arguments against slavery, and set the stage for Lincoln’s political future.

Horace White was a young journalist working as the city editor of the Chicago Evening Journal when he first saw Mr. Lincoln: “It was a warmish day in early October, and Mr. Lincoln was in his shirt sleeves when he stepped on the platform. I observed that, although awkward, he was not in the least embarrassed. He began in a slow and hesitating manner, but without any mistakes of language, dates, or facts. It was evident that he had mastered his subject, that he knew what he was going to say, and that he knew he was right.”

White described the speakers: “At the appointed time Douglas and Lincoln entered the hall, the former taking a seat on the front row of benches and the latter advancing to the platform. The two men presented a wide contrast in personal appearance, Lincoln being 6 feet 3 inches high, lean, angular, raw boned, with a complexion of leather, unkempt, and with clothes that seemed to have dropped on him and might drop off; Douglas, almost a dwarf, only 5 feet 4 inches high, but rotund, portly, smooth faced, with ruddy complexion and a lion-like mane, and dressed in clothes of faultless fit.

White described Lincoln’s style of speaking in colorful terms: “Progressing with his theme, his words began to come faster and his face to light up with the rays of genius and his body to move in unison with his thoughts. His gestures were made with his body and head rather than with his arms. His speaking went to the heart because it came from the heart. I have heard celebrated orators who could start thunders of applause without changing any man’s opinion. Mr. Lincoln’s eloquence was of the higher type, which produced conviction in others because of the conviction of the speaker himself. His listeners felt that he believed every word he said, and that, like Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

, he would go to the stake rather than abate one jot or tittle of it. In such transfigured moments as these he was the type of the ancient Hebrew prophet as I learned that character at Sunday-school
Sunday school
Sunday school is the generic name for many different types of religious education pursued on Sundays by various denominations.-England:The first Sunday school may have been opened in 1751 in St. Mary's Church, Nottingham. Another early start was made by Hannah Ball, a native of High Wycombe in...

 in my childhood.”

Lincoln's speech in many ways foreshadowed the political future that he would soon embark upon: "Little by little, but steadily as man's march to the grave, we have been giving up the old for the new faith. Nearly eighty years ago we began by declaring that all men are created equal; but now from that beginning we have run down to the other declaration, that for some men to enslave others is a 'sacred right of self-government.' These principles cannot stand together. They are as opposite as God and Mammon
Mammon
Mammon is a term, derived from the Christian Bible, used to describe material wealth or greed, most often personified as a deity, and sometimes included in the seven princes of Hell.-Etymology:...

; and whoever holds to the one must despise the other."

The actual text of the speech can be found here: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=lincoln;cc=lincoln;rgn=div2;view=text;idno=lincoln2;node=lincoln2:282.1