Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 2.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

Speech at Princeton, Illinois [1]

July 4, 1856

After the company had secured their refreshments, and had walked around and enjoyed themselves for near an hour, the chairman again called the meeting to order and introduced to them Hon.A. Lincoln, of Springfield, who then proceeded to address the assembled multitude. Mr. Lincoln commenced back at the formation of the American government, and made a hasty review of our history, glancing at all the most important features in our legislation. He spoke in the first place of that Declaration made to the world, by our Fore Fathers, ``That all men are born free and equal,'' and from that time he moved on down to the famous ordinance of 1787, the ordinance that was passed and under which Virginia, [if our memory serves us aright] [2] granted the five states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, to the general government, and in that vast territory, slavery and involuntary servitude, except for crime was forever prohibited. He then came to speak of the Missouri Compromise, and on this point he dwelt at full length, as the repeal of this act is the measure that is now causing so much excitement throughout our country. He said the people had lived in comparative peace and quiet, with only an occasional brush. During Gen. Jackson's administration, the Calhoun Nullifying doctrine sprang up, but Gen. Jackson, with that decision of character that ever characterized him, put an end to it. Then again in 1845, when TexasPage  347 knocked at the door and requested admission there sprang up another excitement on the slavery question. That finally passed off until the excitement in regard to the territories of Washington and Utah, came up which was the cause of the passage of the Compromise measures of 1850. It then ran on until 1854, when Douglas, in announcing his bill for the organization of the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, recommended Congress to repeal the Missouri Compromise, which move raised such an excitement around the White House and throughout the country as never before was heard of in this Union. Mr. Lincoln took his seat amid loud and enthusiastic cheers.


[1]   Tiskilwa, Illinois, Independent, July 11, 1856. Lincoln was preceded by Burton C. Cook of Ottawa and Joseph Knox of Rock Island, and followed by Owen Lovejoy. According to the Independent ``from 8,000 to 10,000 people'' attended the celebration.

[2]   Brackets are in the source.