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Lincoln in 1854





lincoln and stone's protest



while lincoln was a state representative in illinois, he and another representative, dan stone, wrote a document which proclaimed that slavery was wrong, but that the federal government could not interfere with individual states' rights to decide the fate of slavery 

letter to joshua speed



in this letter to speed, a dear friend of lincoln's from his early days in illinois, lincoln expresses his concern to his friend over the kansas-nebraska act. in addition, he mentions speed's right to own slaves, one that he acknowledges is guaranteed to him under the constitution, however, he states that he does not want to see slavery spread

fragment on slavery 



this document is a fragment from a longer speech where lincoln discusses the conflict of slavery in a republic; he concludes that everyone has the right to the fruits of their labor 



From his earliest writings, Lincoln makes his opinion about slavery very clear. In one document, he calls it a "monstrous injustice," in another he claims that it is a system that is "founded on both injustice and bad policy." This page attempts to prove Lincoln's unwavering attitude towards the institution of slavery itself, while firmly believing that it is not constitutionally permissible for the federal government to interfere with slavery where it already existed. Instead, Lincoln, early on in his career, argued that slavery should be contained. With the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, Lincoln began to be more outspoken on the subject of slavery as it threatened to spread to portions of the country closed to it by the Missouri Compromise. 

"a monstrous injustice"




house divided speech

june 16, 1858

Often cited as one of the most important speeches in the Lincoln canon, the House Divided Speech helps to prove that he was certain that slavery was endangering the future of the country. In the speech, he does not speak out against slavery, rather he speaks out against those who would not fight to see nation endure. 

click on the map below for link to close reading 

peoria speech

october 16 1854

In May of 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed, which historian James M. McPherson argues "may have been the most important single event pushing the nation toward civil war." It is in this speech that Lincoln expresses his fear for the spread of slavery in areas where it was previously restriced by the Missouri Compromise in 1820. In this speech, Lincoln famously declares slavery a "monstrous injustice", and at the same time sympathizes with the Southern people saying that "they are just what we would be in their situation." Lastly, this act marked the transition of old Whigs into Republicans as this act sharply divided the Whig Party. 

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