History for the Rest of Us

Abraham Lincoln’s ‘House Divided’ Speech

Abraham Lincoln’s ‘House Divided’ Speech

Jun 16, 2015

Abraham Lincoln delivered his ‘House Divided speech, one of the best known of his career, on June 16, 1858 in the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. He had won the Republican Party’s nomination as Illinois’ US Senator. He was unsuccessful in his campaign for the seat which was held by Stephen A. Douglas, a campaign memorable for the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. The most well known section of the speech is: “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 be dissolved — 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. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.” The following is the text of Abraham Lincoln’s ‘House Divided’ Speech delivered June 16, 1858; Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention: If we could first know where we are and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do and how to do it. We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object and confident promise of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased but has constantly 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 be dissolved; 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. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it...

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death

Mar 23, 2013

Patrick Henry’s ‘Give me Liberty, or Give me Death!’ speech was made to the Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775. Delivered at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, the speech is credited with swinging the balance in convincing the Virginia House of Burgesses to pass a resolution that would deliver Virginia Troops to the Revolutionary War. Attendees at the Convention included George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. March 23, 1775 by Patrick Henry No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the house. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the house is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at the truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings. Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the numbers of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost,...

Chief Joseph Surrenders

Chief Joseph Surrenders

Dec 7, 2012

Chief Joseph was Chief of a tribe of Nez Perce Indians. He had led his people in resistance to the white men settling in the Nez Perce’s lands in the Oregon Territory. Ordered to move to Idaho in 1877, or face retribution, the Nez Perce agreed to move onto a reservation. After tribe members killed four white settlers, he and his people fled for Canada with the U.S. Army in pursuit. They had several battles as they moved through Washington, Idaho, and Montana on their way to Canada. The tribe had traveled approximately 1700 miles and, after a five-day battle, they found themselves in dire conditions. Within 40 miles of Canada, Chief Joseph surrendered on October 5, 1877 in the Bear Paw Mountains of Montana Territory. The following is Chief Joseph’s speech: October 5, 1877 Tell General Howard I know his heart. What he told me before, I have it in my heart. I am tired of fighting. Our Chiefs are killed; Looking Glass is dead, Ta Hool Hool Shute is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led on the young men is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets; the little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are – perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my Chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever. Related Stories: Chief Joseph Sitting Bull Rain in the Face Two Strike Red...

Abraham Lincoln – State of the Union – December 1, 1862

Abraham Lincoln – State of the Union – December 1, 1862

Dec 1, 2012

FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES—Since your last annual assembling another year of health and bountiful harvests has passed; and while it has not pleased the Almighty to bless us with a return of peace, we can but press on, guided by the best light he gives us, trusting that in his own good time and wise way all will yet be well. The correspondence touching foreign affairs which has taken place during the last year is herewith submitted, in virtual compliance with a request to that effect, made by the House of Representatives near the close of the last session of Congress. If the condition of our relations with other nations is less gratifying than it has usually been at former periods, it is certainly more satisfactory than a nation so unhappily distracted as we are might reasonably have apprehended. In the month of June last there were some grounds to expect that the maritime powers which, at the beginning of our domestic difficulties, so unwisely and unnecessarily, as we think, recognized the insurgents as a belligerent, would soon recede from that position, which has proved only less injurious to themselves than to our own country. But the temporary reverses which afterward befell the national arms, and which were exaggerated by our own disloyal citizens abroad, have hitherto delayed that act of simple justice. The civil war, which has so radically changed, for the moment, the occupations and habits of the American people, has necessarily disturbed the social condition, and affected very deeply the prosperity, of the nations with which we have carried on a commerce that has been steadily increasing throughout a period of half a century. It has, at the same time, excited political ambitions and apprehensions which have produced a profound agitation throughout the civilized world. In this unusual agitation we have forborne from taking part in any controversy between foreign states, and between parties or factions in such states. We have attempted no propagandism and acknowledged no revolution, but we have left to every nation the exclusive conduct and management of its own affairs. Our struggle has been, of course, contemplated by foreign nations with reference less...

The Threat of Nazi Germany

The Threat of Nazi Germany

Nov 19, 2012

On November 16, 1934 Winston Churchill delivered the following speech about the rising threat of Nazi Germany. Listen to the speech: The Threat of Nazi Germany Many people think that the best way to escape war is to dwell upon its horrors and to imprint them vividly upon the minds of the younger generation. They flaunt the grisly photographs before their eyes. They fill their ears with tales of carnage. They dilate upon the ineptitude of generals and admirals. They denounce the crime as insensate folly of human strife. Now, all this teaching ought to be very useful in preventing us from attacking or invading any other country, if anyone outside a madhouse wished to do so, but how would it help us if we were attacked or invaded ourselves? That is the question we have to ask. Would the invaders consent to visit Lord Beaverbrook’s exposition, or listen to the impassioned appeals of Mr. Lloyd George? Would they agree to meet that famous South African, General Smuts, and have their inferiority complex removed in friendly, reasonable debate? I doubt it. I have borne responsibility for the safety of this country in grievous times. I gravely doubt it. But even if they did, I am not so sure we should convince them, and persuade them to go back quietly home. They might say, it seems to me, “you are rich; we are poor. You seem well fed; we are hungry. You have been victorious; we have been defeated. You have valuable colonies; we have none. You have your navy; where is ours? You have had the past; let us have the future.” Above all, I fear they would say, “you are weak and we are strong.” After all, my friends, only a few hours away by air there dwells a nation of nearly seventy million of the most educated, industrious, scientific, disciplined people in the world, who are being taught from childhood to think of war as a glorious exercise and death in battle as the noblest fate for man. There is a nation which has abandoned all its liberties in order to augment its collective strength. There is a nation which, with all...

Richard M. Nixon – ‘I Am Not a Crook’

Richard M. Nixon – ‘I Am Not a Crook’

Nov 17, 2012

The following is a transcript of a Question and Answer session with Richard M. Nixon at the Annual Convention of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association (APME). During the session, President Nixon delivered the now infamous line, ‘I am not a crook’. The Convention was held November 17, 1973 in Orlando Florida at the Contemporary Hotel at Walt Disney World. Listen to an excerpt of the session: Richard M. Nixon ‘I am not a crook.’ The President: President Quinn [president of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association] and Ladies and Gentlemen: When Jack Horner, who has been a correspondent in Washington and other places around the world, retired after 40 years, he once told me that if I thought that the White House press corps answered (asked) tough questions, he (I) should hear the kind of questions the managing editors asked him. Consequently, I welcome this opportunity tonight to meet with the managing editors of the Nation’s newspapers. I will not have an opening statement, because I know, with 400 of you, it will be hard to get through all of the questions you have. And I understand the president has a prerogative of asking the first question. Q & A WATERGATE AND THE FUTURE Q. [Mr. Quinn:] Mr. President, this morning, Governor Askew of Florida addressed this group and recalled the words of Benjamin Franklin. When leaving the Constitutional Convention he was asked, “What have you given us, sir, a monarch or a republic?” Franklin answered, “A republic, sir, if you can keep it.” Mr. President, in the prevailing pessimism of the lingering matter we call Watergate, can we keep that republic, sir, and how? The President: Well, Mr. Quinn, I would certainly not be standing here answering these questions unless I had a firm belief that we could keep the republic, that we must keep it, not only for ourselves but for the whole world. I recognize that because of mistakes that were made-and I must take responsibility for those mistakes–whether in the campaign or during the course of an administration, that there are those who wonder whether this republic can survive. But I also know that the hopes of the whole...