The Lost Speech

The Lost Speech (HM12YH)

Location: Bloomington, IL 61701 McLean County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 28.72', W 88° 59.563'

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"I look upon that enactment not as a 'law,' but as 'violence' from the beginning. It was conceived in violence, passed in violence, is maintained in violence, and is being executed in violence. I say it was 'conceived' in violence, because the destruction of the Missouri Compromise, under the circumstances, was nothing less than violence. It was 'passed' in violence, because it could not have passed at all but for the votes of many members in violence of the known will of their constituents. It is maintained in violence because the elections since, clearly demand its repeal, and this demand is openly disregarded." Such was Lincoln's anger regarding the Kansas-Nebraska Act displayed in an 1855 letter to friend and slaveholder Joshua Speed. Lincoln's speech here launched him as the leader of the Illinois Republican Party. In his new role as party leader, Lincoln was to lead Illinoisans in opposing their own Sen. Stephen A. Douglas and his policies. And in their political combat, across the 1858 senatorial race and the 1860 presidential race, Lincoln advanced the platform adopted in Bloomington, on May 29, 1856

Illinois Sen. Stephen Douglas created a national crisis by legislation, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which permitted the expansion of slavery in the United States. Slavery was the defining characteristic of half of the United States in 1856. it was accepted in the Constitution, but its spread had been stopped through the Missouri Compromise in 1820. Many people though that opening the Kansas and Nebraska territories to slavery would result in a country dominated by slavery. In late May 1856, Illinoisans who despised that act gathered at a political convention, here at Major's Hall. Their intent was to collectively oppose the expansion of slavery through political action. The result was the formation of a new political party.

The speech Lincoln gave here in Major's Hall became known in the twentieth century as "The Lost Speech." No reliable text of that speech exists. Whatever he said, the disparate political elements who made up the convention were satisfied with it. The speech was a unifier. The Chicago Press reported, "Abraham Lincoln...made the speech of the occasion....Mr. Lincoln must write it out and let it go before all the people. For an hour and a half he held the assemblage spell-bound by the power of his argument, the intense irony of his invective and the deep earnestness and fervid brilliance of his eloquence. When he concluded, the audience sprang to their feet, and cheer after cheer told how deeply that hearts had been touched and their souls warmed up to a generous enthusiasm.

HM NumberHM12YH
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, October 9th, 2014 at 12:48am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16T E 331090 N 4482793
Decimal Degrees40.47866667, -88.99271667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 28.72', W 88° 59.563'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 28' 43.20" N, 88° 59' 33.78" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)309
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 101-199 E Front St, Bloomington IL 61701, US
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