On February 12, 1809 a boy was born unto Thomas and Nancy Lincoln in a one room log cabin on Nolin Creek near Hodgenville, Kentucky. Who would know that this son of a farmer and a boy with not much education would grow up to be not only the 16th President of the United States but also one of the most famous speakers in history. I will chronicle for you some of the most remembered and effective public addresses of President Abraham Lincoln.
Lincolns rise to presidency was a lengthy one. His first political speech came in 1830 after he and his family moved to Illinois where they settled on undeclared land along the Sangamon River; he was in favor of improving navigation on this river.
At age 24, Lincoln is elected to the Illinois General Assembly and begins his studies in law. Two years later he is re-elected to the Illinois Gen. Assembly and is now a leader of the Whig party. September 9th, 1836 Lincoln receives his law license and in June of 1840 he argues his first case before the Illinois Supreme Court.
After being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, he delivers a speech on the floor of the House against President Polks war policy regarding Mexico. In March of 1849 he makes an appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the Illinois statute of limitations, but is unsuccessful and leaves politics to practice law. Lincolns aptitude in public speaking soon gains him a reputation as an outstanding lawyer and is nicknamed honest abe.
In 1854 he decides to re-enter politics and is elected to Illinois legislature but declines the seat in order to try to become U.S. Senator; however he is again unsuccessful and does not get chosen by the Illinois legislature to be U.S. Senator.
Abe Lincoln was well known in history for his views on anti-slavery laws. On June 26th, 1857, he first speaks against slavery at the Dredd Scott ruling. Dredd Scott was an African-American slave whom was taken by his master, an officer in the U.S. Army from the slave state of Missouri to the free territory of Wisconsin where he lived on free soil for a long period of time. When the Army ordered his master back to Missouri, he took Scott back to that slave state where his master died. In 1846, Scott was helped by Abolitionist lawyers to sue for his freedom in court, claiming his right to be free since he had lived on free soil for a long time. In March of 1857, Scott lost the decision as the Supreme Court declared no slave could be a U.S. citizen and as a non-citizen, the court stated he had no rights and could not sue and must remain a slave. Lincoln reacted with disgust to the ruling and was spurred into political action, publicly speaking out against it. Overall, this decision had the effect of widening the political and social gap between North and South and took the nation closer to the brink of Civil War.
Lincoln is nominated to be the Republican senator from Illinois and gives the House Divided Speech at the state convention in 1858.
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.
Mr. Lincoln gives forth an impassioned political Speech at New Haven in New Haven, Connecticut. He wishes to get on with the question of slavery so other matters can be attended to.
It is true that all of us- and by that I mean, not the Republican party
alone, but the whole American people, here and elsewhere- all of us
wish this question settled and wish it out of the way. It stands in the
way, and prevents the adjustment, and the giving of necessary
attention to other questions of national house-keeping.
November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln is elected as the 16th president and is the first Republican to hold this office. He delivers his first inaugural address in March of 1861. At 4:30 a.m., April 12, 1861, the Confederates opened fire on Fort Sumter and the Civil War begins.
One of the most eventful declarations in history was given in 1863 as President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves in territories held by confederates.
That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one
thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as
slaves within any States or designated part of a State, the people
whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States,
shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.
The most famous and important Civil War Battle occurred over three summer days, July 1-3, 1863, around the small market town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Lincoln was outraged at the number of casualties and on November 19th delivers the Gettysburg Address dedicating the battlefield as a national cemetery. He spoke in his high, penetrating and in a little over two minutes delivered the address, surprising many by its shortness and leaving others quite unimpressed. Over time, however, the speech and its words- government of the People, by the People, for the People- have come to symbolize the definition of democracy itself.
Unfortunately, Lincolns next tenure as President, is cut short by his untimely death. During the play Our American Cousin at Fords Theater on April 14, 1865, Lincoln was killed by a bullet to the head by John Wilkes Booth. President Abraham Lincoln dies at 7:22 in the morning on April 15, 1865.
The public addresses of Abraham Lincoln allow us to learn fundamental aspects of public speaking. Due to his outstanding ability to communicate, teaches us still today, the effectiveness of great speech communication.