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Lincoln-Douglas Debates, House Divide Speech (Guelzo, 2008)

Scholarship

Allen C. Guelzo, Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008), 85.

But instead of congratulating Lincoln for rebuking Greeley and catching the Douglasites off-guard, the reactions of the Illinois Republican leadership to the House Divided speech ranged from unease to irritation. Yes, Lincoln had certainly painted Douglas in the most dire proslavery colors, and that would keep the faint-hearts and celebrity-struck “sisters” from running after the Little Giant with their caps in hand. But he had forgotten that Douglas and the eastern Republicans were only one of his problems, and the House Divided speech sounded so much like an abolition tract that the critical Whig moderates Lincoln was counting on would turn away in disgust, even from a former Whig. Norman Judd, who had not been consulted in advance about the speech, told Lincoln that “had I seen the Speech I would have made you Strike out that house divided part.” Leonard Swett believed “these words were hastily and inconsiderately uttered” and “wholly inappropriate.” One visitor to Lincoln's office in Springfield told him plainly that "Lincoln, that foolish speech of yours will kill you—will defeat you in this Contest—and probably for all offices for all time to come.”
How to Cite This Page: "Lincoln-Douglas Debates, House Divide Speech (Guelzo, 2008)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/16816.