"This Government Cannot Endure Permanently Half Slave And Half Free"
Context: Lincoln made this speech at the close of the convention, which had just chosen him as candidate for the United States Senate. In it he is concerned about the bitter slavery debate, which is destroying the nation. He is also concerned about the spread of slavery, which had recently been sanctioned by the Nebraska Bill and the Dred Scott decision. The "dynasty" of the Supreme Court must be overthrown. If Republicans unite for the Union and against slavery, "the victory is sure to come." "Slavery agitation" has greatly increased in the last five years:
. . . 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, 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 alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new–North as well as South.Have we no tendency to the latter condition?