Should slavery be allowed in the United States? This question divided our nation into two separate entities in the late 1800 s and laid the foundation for an ethically compelling speech. On June 16,1858, Abraham Lincoln, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, spoke out to over 1,000 Republican delegates in the Springfield, Illinois, state house for the Republican State Convention. At this gathering, Lincoln delivered an extremely courageous, A House Divided, speech. In this eloquent yet bold speech Lincoln uses evidence that appeals to emotion, evidence revealing credibility and evidence that appeals to reason in hopes of encouraging support in the Republican cause; the formation of a unified nation without slavery.
Lincoln builds an appeal to emotion with the first statement of the speech, Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention. This statement gives each member of the audience a sense of importance and captures their attention by personally addressing the delegates in an honorable and professional manner. Lincoln emotionally involves his audience throughout the speech through rhetorical questions. Lincoln uses these questions to imply that slavery is an unethical and immoral practice that must be eliminated. An example of this would be when Lincoln states that the nation as a whole will either completely legalize slavery or bring slavery to an ultimate extinction. He follows this statement with the rhetorical question, Have we no tendency to the latter condition? With this statement Lincoln evokes the emotion of sympathy from the audience through ethical appeal. Ultimately he hopes to instill the belief that the elimination of slavery is the correct solution to the current problem of the increasing rift between the North and South.
Lincoln uses the metaphor, A living dog is better than a dead lion. Regarding the comments made by those who believe the greatest of the Republican party are small compared to their adversaries. This belittles the Republican delegates and raises them up in anger in hopes that they will take action against this accusation. The reference to the Republican party members as a living dog, plays on the emotion of anger invoked by the Democratic comments. With the uses of this metaphor Lincoln hopes to help in the accomplishment of the Republican cause. In his closing remarks Lincoln states that, those whose hands are free, whose hearts are in the work and who do care for the result are they who must be intrusted with the republican cause. Then he concludes by reminding the delegates of the trails that they endured in forming the Republican party. He then asks, Did we brave them, to falter now? Through the patriotic emotion stirred by this question Lincoln hopes to arouse the delegates to believe that not giving up and standing strong for their beliefs is their only viable option.
Lincoln s credibility was strong before the speech, however, he further strengthened his credibility with the evidence given in two key passages. The allusion to Christ s statement in the Synoptic Gospels, A house divided against itself cannot stand. Is the most credible allusion that supports Lincoln s good sense and character that he could have used. This message, found in St. Matthew 12:25, is verbatim to what Lincoln says in his opening statement of the speech. By alluding to Christ, Lincoln creates an incredible foundation of credibility for his audience. This is because Christ is one of the most highly esteemed human beings who has ever lived and is the keystone in the founding of this nation. Lincoln also supplies evidence that appeals to reason with the phrase, Now as ever I wish not to misrepresent Judge Douglas position, question his motives, or do ought that can be personally offensive to him. This helps solidify the moral and honest nature of Lincoln s character while subtly undermining Douglas s views on the care-not policy.
Lincoln masterfully uses evidence that appeals to logic to support his views on a unified nation without slavery. The passage, A house divided against itself cannot stand, is masterful evidence appealing to logic. This statement forced the delegates to agree due to the fact that past civilizations that have fallen, such as the French during the French Revolution because the nation was divided against itself. Lincoln also uses repetition to strengthen the evidence appealing to reason. This is exemplified though frequent reference to the, care not policy posed by Senator Douglas towards the Dred Scott Decision and the Nebraska Act. Lincoln believed that this was a weakness of the Democratic party, because it tried to persuade people not to care about the issues at hand. Lincoln exploited this policy because this policy was not logical and took away the freedom of the people. Through questioning the Supreme Court decision on the Dred Scott case Lincoln backs his opinion that the Democrats were creating a conspiracy that would lead to the legalization of slavery in all states. Lincoln argued that this nation was founded on, Squatters Sovereignty, and that the decision to give the case to the Supreme court took away the peoples right of freedom.
Lincoln took an assertive approach to strengthen the movement of unifying the United States of America into a nation without slavery. He did this by using a universally known figure of speech that would rouse people to the peril of the times. Lincoln spoke gravely and, as always, slowly, setting the tone importance for the occasion. The use of evidence that appeals to emotion, evidence revealing credibility and evidence that appeals to reason combine to create an eloquent speech with a bold message. Lincoln uses these tools effectively to, Utter sentiments that have been retarded long enough.