HIS271Y1 Chapter Notes -Joshua Fry Speed, Missouri Compromise

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18 Apr 2012
Towards Civil War
1. So far in the readings I have found Lincoln’s speeches and writings to be quite
powerful. He appeals to the listener/reader’s emotions and is able to keep them
engaged. For example, during the debates with Stephen A. Douglas, “laughter”
and “applause” was included in the printing of the debates as proof of how well
Lincoln’s audience reacted to him.
a. Lincoln’s life experiences prepared him for the Presidency because he was
able to hone and cultivate his skills as an orator through his time spent as a
lawyer and a politician. Lincoln was born into a poor family who made their
living on a farm and so he was able to empathize with those less fortunate.
Lincoln knew that it was not only the rich people who were affected by
federal and state legislatures and he made sure to consider all of the Union’s
citizens in the work that he did.
2. Lincoln was so opposed to the Kansas-Nebraska Act because he believed that it
was a repeal of the Missouri Compromise. He felt that the Kansas-Nebraska Act
wrong in effect by allowing slavery into Kansas and Nebraska and wrong in the
principle which would allow slavery to spread to “every part of the wide world”
(16). In essence, Lincoln hated the Kansas-Nebraska Act because he was against
the spread of slavery.
Lincoln opposed the Supreme Court’s decision regarding Dred Scott because he
felt that the decision had been made not out of a unanimous agreement among
the judges, but instead because of party loyalty and bias. He also felt that Chief
Justice Taney’s claim that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution
did not apply to blacks was false and was an opinion of the judge and not a
complete fact.
3. Lincoln discussed the “all men are created equal” aspect of the Declaration of
Independence throughout this section of the reader. Lincoln felt that this phrase
was extremely important and that there was no interpretation that could be
taken from it. It was very straightforward and, basically, should be taken at face
value. In his letter to Joshua Speed Lincoln described some of these
interpretations. He tells Speed that as a nation “we now practically read it, as ‘all
men are created equal, except negroes.’” (24). He went even further to say
“when the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal,
except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics’”. (24) Lincoln also believed that
the Constitution was in place in order to protect all of the people, not only those
who were considered citizens. He uses this point as well to prove that the
founding fathers felt that regardless of colour, all men were to be included under
the Declaration and the Constitution but that not everyone was equal in all
respects. Lincoln continues to say that the founding fathers “meant simply to
declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as
circumstances should permit…for free society.” (28). I agree with his
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