On This Day, June 16, 1858 – Abe Lincoln Warns ‘A House Divided Cannot Stand’

abraham-lincoln-while-campaigning-for-the-u-s-senate-taken-in-chicago-illinois

1858 – Newly nominated senatorial candidate Abraham Lincoln addresses the Illinois Republican Convention in Springfield and warns that the nation faces a crisis that could destroy the Union. Speaking to more than 1,000 delegates in an ominous tone, Lincoln paraphrased a passage from the New Testament: “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

The issue dividing the nation was slavery’s place in the growing western territories and the extent of federal power over individual states’ rights. Lincoln declared that only the federal government had the power to end slavery. While the southern states relied on an economy and lifestyle dependent upon the cheap labor provided by African-American slaves, the North opposed slavery on moral grounds. The northern states also considered industrialization and manufacturing the key to America’s economic future, not farming. The entrance of new states into the Union, such as Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska, brought to a head unresolved conflicts over which government entity–state or federal–should make the final decision regarding slavery. For his part, Lincoln firmly believed that slavery was immoral and was wholly incompatible with the principles of the Declaration of Independence embodied in the phrase “all men are created equal.” However, Lincoln prioritized preserving the Union above all else.

After Lincoln’s speech, several of his friends expressed dismay at its “radical” content. Leonard Swett, a lawyer and friend of Lincoln’s, later wrote that Lincoln’s talk of using federal power to end slavery was “unfortunate and inappropriate,” although Swett admitted that in retrospect Lincoln was ultimately correct. At the time, the people of Illinois ultimately agreed with Swett: Lincoln lost the close Senate race of 1858 to the more moderate Stephen Douglas, who advocated states’ sovereignty. Lincoln’s eloquent speech, though, earned him national attention and his strong showing in the polls encouraged the people to back his ultimately successful bid for the presidency in 1860.


0455 – Rome was sacked by the Vandal army.

1487 – The War of the Roses ended with the Battle of Stoke.

1567 – Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle in Scotland.

1815 – Napoleon defeated the Prussians at the Battle of Ligny, Netherlands.

1884 – At Coney Island, in Brooklyn, NY, the first roller coaster in America opened.

1883 – The New York Giants baseball team admitted all ladies for free to the ballpark. It was the first Ladies Day.

1897 – The U.S. government signed a treaty of annexation with Hawaii.

1903 – Ford Motor Company was incorporated.

1907 – The Russian czar dissolved the Duma in St. Petersburg.

1909 – Glenn Hammond Curtiss sold his first airplane, the “Gold Bug” to the New York Aeronautical Society for $5,000.

1922 – Henry Berliner accomplished the first helicopter flight at College Park, MD.

1932 – The ban on Nazi storm troopers was lifted by the von Papen government in Germany.

1941 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the closure of all German consulates in the United States. The deadline was set as July 10.

1952 – “Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl” was published in the United States.

1955 – The U.S. House of Representatives voted to extend Selective Service until 1959.

1955 – Pope Pius XII excommunicated Argentine President Juan Peron. The ban was lifted eight years later.

1961 – Rudolf Nureyev defected from the Soviet Union while in Paris, traveling with the Leningrad Kirov Ballet.

1963 – 26-year-old Valentina Tereshkova went into orbit aboard the Vostok 6 spacecraft for three days. She was the first female space traveler.

1967 – The Monterey Pop Festival began at the Monterey Fairgrounds in Northern California. The festival lasted three days.

1972 – Ulrike Meinhof was captured by West German police in Hanover. She was co-founder of the Baader-Meinhof terrorist group and the Red Army Faction (Rote Armee Fraktion).

1976 – In Soweto, thousands of school children revolted against the South African government’s plan to enforce Afrikaans as the language for instruction in black schools.

1977 – Leonid Brezhnev was named the first Soviet president of the USSR. He was the first person to hold the post of president and Communist Party General Secretary. He replaced Nikolai Podgorny.

1978 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos ratified the Panama Canal treaties.

1992 – U.S. President George H.W. Bush welcomed Russian President Boris Yeltsin to a meeting in Washington, DC. The two agreed in principle to reduce strategic weapon arsenals by about two-thirds by the year 2003.

1996 – Russian voters had their first independent presidential election. Boris Yeltsin was the winner after a run-off.

1999 – The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that a 1992 federal music piracy law does not prohibit a palm-sized device that can download high-quality digital music files from the Internet and play them at home.

2000 – U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson reported that an employee at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico had discovered that two computer hard drives were missing.

2008 – California began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

 

Source: On-This-Day.com; History.com