Speech of Hon. Abram Lincoln, Before the Republican State Convention, 1858

A House Divided

In 1858, Lincoln spoke before the Republican State Convention as its nominee for the U.S. Senate. Lincoln claimed that his Democratic opponent, the incumbent Stephen A. Douglas, conspired to undermine the Constitution and ultimately hoped to make slavery legal throughout the nation. He used the “house divided” metaphor — which appears in the Bible and was used often by proslavery and antislavery advocates during the 1850s — to warn that “this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.”