Read Abraham Lincoln’s A House Divided (1858) speech:
Next, place yourself in 1858; you have a chance to hear Lincoln’s speech or read a transcript of his speech. What do you believe are the most important elements of the speech? Why? Do you believe that these elements can be accomplished successfully in 1858?
In your response to one of your classmates, consider how the central construct that “A house divided against itself cannot stand” could be appliable in a variety of ways in today’s divisive society. How can we use the lessons of Lincoln to unify our society?
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Abraham Lincoln was warning the people that the choice to exclude slavery was not as transparent as being advertised from politicians. That the legal system was using the Constitution to try to protect the means of slavery. And if the United States wanted to be free, than it needed to act now before it was too late to abolish slavery. “A house divided against itself cannot stand”. This was a great way of expressing what the status of the country was during this time in regards to slavery. There was no clear distinction and slavery in regards to the right to freedom, were being treated indifferently. The main element to this speech was to create a foundation of equality. He expresses great concern over the expansion of slavery, that the United States will constantly be in a state of divide if not demolished, but closes with an inspired and promising hope to bring it to extinction. The most important elements were the exposure of what was really going on within the legal system at the time and the Dredd Scott decision during the presidential affairs. This gave great insight to the people that what they were being “told” was not what was being “done”. His argument was simply that slavery needed to be voted on a foundation of one sound decision. I think that this was not an immediate decision that could be implemented during those times but it was definitely one that could be put into works of creating a foundational act of abolishment that could be built upon.
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