Lincoln Landmark - ‘A House Divided Speech’, June 16, 1858

This address was given by Lincoln in Springfield, IL, upon his acceptance of the Illinois Republican Party's nomination for US Senator. The speech, creating a lasting image of the danger of disunion because of slavery, became the launching point for an unsuccessful campaign for the Senate against Stephen A. Douglas, which included the publicized Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858.

6/16/1858 …Under the operation of that policy [the Kansas-Nebraska Act], that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has been augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. ‘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 dissolve—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.  FT 43-51


In a letter to J. Scripps, Lincoln seeks to clarify his ‘A House Divided Speech.’ 

For a further response by Lincoln to his speech, see his 2/14/60 letter.  LL 308-9

6/23/1858  I have declared a thousand times, and now repeat that, in my opinion, neither the General Government, nor any other power outside of the slave states, can constitutionally or rightfully interfere with slaves or slavery where it already exists.

I believe whenever the effort to spread slavery into the new territories, by whatever means, and into the free states themselves, by Supreme Court decisions, shall be fairly headed off, the institution [slavery] will then be in course of ultimate extinction… FT 52