Illinois Republican Senate Hopeful Delivers Speech on Threat of Divided Nation
Illinois Republican candidate
for U.S. Senate, Abraham Lincoln
Springfield, IL -- At the Illinois state capitol, Abraham Lincoln, 49, accepted the nomination of the fledgling Republican party to run for the U.S. Senate against the Democrat incumbent, Stephen A. Douglas. Upon accepting the nomination, Lincoln delivered a speech about how the United States has become like a "House Divided," drawing on the biblical verse found in Mark 3:25.
A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South
Lincoln used the speech to differentiate himself from Douglas, who has long advocated popular sovereignty, under which settlers in U.S. territories decide their own status as slave or free state. Lincoln argued that the Dred Scott decision had closed the door on Douglas's preferred option and left the Union with only two remaining outcomes: the United States will either become all slave, or all free. The fact that the North and South have come to hold distinct opinions on the question of slavery, and that the issue permeates every other political question indicates a time is coming soon when the Union will no longer be able to function under the current divide.
Lincoln was born in Hardin County, Kentucky. His family moved first to Indiana, and later to Illinois. As an adult, Lincoln settled in New Salem, Illinois in Sangamon County. Lincoln served as a captain in the Illinois Militia during the Black Hawk War. After the war, Lincoln ran for the Illinois General Assembly and finished eighth out of 13 candidates. Lincoln served as New Salem's postmaster and later as county surveyor. He then decided to become a lawyer and began teaching himself law by reading Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England and other law books.
In 1834, Lincoln ran a second campaign for the state legislature and won. Though he ran as a Whig, many Democrats favored him. He served four successive terms in the Illinois House of Representatives as a Whig representative from Sangamon County.
In 1836, Lincoln was admitted to the bar. He moved to Springfield, Illinois and began to practice law under John T. Stuart. Lincoln became a successful lawyer with a reputation as a formidable adversary during cross-examination. In 1840, Lincoln was married to Stuart's cousin, Marry Todd. In 1844 he began his own law practice.
In 1846, Lincoln was elected to the U.S. House of representatives, where he served one two-year term. He was the only Whig in the Illinois delegation, but he showed party loyalty by participating in almost all the votes and making speeches that echoed the party line. He partnered with abolitionist Congressman Joshua R. Giddings in writing a bill that abolished slavery in the District of Columbia. The bill compensated former owners, enforced fugitive slave laws and proposed a popular vote on the matter. Lincoln abandoned the bill when it failed to garner sufficient Whig support.
Lincoln spoke out against the Mexican-American War, which he attributed to President Polk's desire for "military glory." He also supported the Wilmot Proviso, which, if adopted, would have banned slavery in U.S. territory won from Mexico.
Following the split in the Whig party caused by the Kansas Act, Lincoln was instrumental in forging the shape of the new Republican Party, drawing on Whigs, disenchanted Free Soil, Liberty and Democrat party members. At the 1856 Republican National Convention, Lincoln placed second in the contest to become the party's candidate for vice president.
Douglas remains popular. During his career, he has tried to steer a middle course on the slavery issue. His popular sovereignty doctrine has been satisfactory to Southerners who don't want outside interference with slavery and Northerners who don't want to take sides over it. It has been famously said of him that he doesn't care whether slavery is voted up or down, as long as it is voted on by the people. Despite this, Douglas has taken the side against President James Buchanan and his Southern allies to admit Kansas Territory as a slave state. It is said the two have become bitter enemies. Slavery has been a divisive issue between Northern and Southern Democrats and could eventually splinter the party.
War in Mexico: Liberals Establish New Capital in Veracruz
Ousted President Benito Juárez and his Liberal supporters have set up a new capital in Veracruz after being forced to flee from Mexico City during a coup led by army general Félix Zuloaga.
Juárez and other liberals gained political control in Mexico following the loss of about half of Mexico's colonial territory to the United States in the Mexican-American War.
Believing the Church and military were the source of most of Mexico's problems, the Liberals passed a series of Reform Laws that allowed the government to confiscate Church land and convert it to private property. The laws also prohibited corporate bodies from owning lands, which included communal land owned by Indian villages. Also, religious celebrations outside churches was forbidden as was the use of church bells and clerical dress in public.
These laws met strong resistance from Conservatives, the Church and the military. General Tomás Mejía rebelled against the Liberal government in the defense of the Catholic identity of Mexico in the Sierra Gorda region of Querétaro.
Opposition to the these laws culminated in a take over of Mexico City by Conservative forces. This operation was called the Plan of Tacubaya and was led by Zuloaga. The Plan of Tacubaya deeply divided the country, with each state deciding whether to support the Liberals' Reform Constitution or the Conservatives' takeover of Mexico City. Juárez who was imprisoned, escaped and fled to the city of Querétaro. Júarez was recognized as the Liberals' interim president. As Zuloaga and the army have taken more of the central part of Mexico, Juárez and his government was forced to retreat to the city of Veracruz. From there, the Liberal government has control over the state of Veracruz and a number of allied states in the north and central-west.