The House Divided Speech. June 16, 1858
If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it. 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 an passed.
“A house divided against itself can not stand.”
I believe this Government can not endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—-I don 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 course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward till it shall come alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new, North as well as South.