Mr. Lincoln's Lost Speech

Andersonh1

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Here is an intriguing historical tidbit, Abraham Lincoln's "lost speech" from May 1856. Apparently never written down, knowledge of it only survived in contemporary accounts, and in notes on the speech by Lincoln's friend Henry C. Whitney, who reconstructed the speech as best he could in 1895 at the behest of McClure's Magazine. The speech was apparently an early example of anti-South, anti-slavery, pro Union rhetoric from Lincoln, and it so enraptured the listeners that even the reporters in the crowd neglected to take notes, they were so caught up in the moment.

https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/blog/mr-lincolns-lost-speech/
“May 29, 1856​
“Abraham Lincoln, of Sangamon, came upon the platform amid deafening applause. He enumerated the pressing reasons of the present movement. He was here ready to fuse with anyone who would unite with him to oppose slave power; spoke of the bugbear disunion which was so vaguely threatened. It was to be remembered that the Union must be preserved in the purity of its principles as well as in the integrity of its territorial parts. It must be “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable.” The sentiment in favor of white slavery now prevailed in all the slave state papers, except those of Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri and Maryland. Such was the progress of the National Democracy. Douglas once claimed against him that Democracy favored more than his principles, the individual rights of man. Was it not strange that he must stand there now to defend those rights against their former eulogist? The Black Democracy were endeavoring to cite Henry Clay to reconcile old Whigs to their doctrine, and repaid them with the very cheap compliment of National Whigs.” (Emphasis in original) “Alton Weekly Courier“ of June 5, 1856 quoted from The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Roy P. Basler, Editor, Marion Dolores Pratt and Lloyd Dunlap, Assistant Editors, Copyright 1953 by The Abraham Lincoln Association, History Book Club Edition, Vol. II, p. 341.​
This mere paragraph is the only public mention of the speech. It is all the Collected Works editors could find. “This brief report is the only contemporary account of the so-called ‘Lost Speech’ delivered at the Bloomington convention. The lengthy reconstruction by Henry C. Whitney in 1896, which has appeared in other collections of Lincoln’s writings and speeches, is not, in the opinion of the editors, worthy of serious consideration.” Ibid. fn. p. 341. The editors refer to a reconstruction published in McClure’s Magazine in 1896 from notes made 40 years prior in 1856. No other contemporaneous notes in any form have ever come forward.​
 

DanSBHawk

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The author's bias is evident. Much of it is a rehash of other anti-Lincoln arguments, such as:

"Eight years before, in 1848, as a Congressman standing before the US Congress, he defended secession for “Any people, anywhere …”, Collected Works, Vol. I, at 438 But in 1856 his mind changed."​

The account of the speech is virtually all assumptions and interpretation, based on a 40 year old account. Then the excuses for the caning of Sumner, and the attempt to blame the war on Lincoln. It seems to me to be a typically biased article from that website.
 

Dave DuBrucq

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I would be disinclined to give credence to this. As Dan points out this is based on a 40 year old hearsay account of a "lost speech".
 

Andersonh1

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The speech was genuine and was given by Lincoln. Whether the reconstruction of it 40 years later was accurate is certainly worth questioning, but he did in fact give a speech which was noted in several local papers. I had never heard of it before running across the article in the OP, but it interested me and I've gone looking for press accounts. I have found a few so far.

The daily Gate City. [volume] (Keokuk, Iowa) 1855-1916, June 02, 1856
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Weekly hawk-eye and telegraph. [volume] (Burlington, Iowa) 1855-1857, June 04, 1856
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Andersonh1

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln's_Lost_Speech#:~:text=Lincoln's
Lincoln's Lost Speech was given at the since demolished building at the corner of East and Front Streets in downtown Bloomington, Illinois, known as Major's Hall on May 29, 1856.[1] Lincoln gave the speech at the Anti-Nebraska Bloomington Convention that culminated with the founding of the state Republican Party.[1]
There are no known transcripts or written accounts of the Lost Speech, other than a brief summary in the local press. Eyewitnesses have offered snippets of some of Lincoln's content that day. William Herndon asserted that some of Lincoln's House Divided Speech was not based on new concepts at the time of its delivery. He wrote that Lincoln's "house divided against itself cannot stand" originated with the famous Bloomington speech of 1856.[2] Editor of the Chicago Tribune Joseph Medill claimed that Chicago lawyer Henry Clay Whitney's transcript of the speech was accurate; Whitney's version was later debunked.[3][4]
It is thought that the speech was a strongly worded derision of slavery.[5][unreliable source?]​ It is known that Lincoln's condemnation of the expansion of slavery was strong.[6]
 

Andersonh1

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http://www.mrlincoln.com/blog/?p=579
The traditional story is that the speech was ‘lost’ because the newspapermen and others were so enthralled that they stopped taking notes. William Herndon, Lincoln’s friend and law partner, claimed that he “attempted for about fifteen minutes … to take notes, but at the end of that time I threw pen and paper away and lived only in the inspiration of the hour. If Mr. Lincoln was six feet, four inches high usually, at Bloomington that day he was seven feet, and inspired at that.”​
It is just as likely, however, that Lincoln and other party leaders deliberately suppressed its publication, given that he directed his words to a highly partisan crowd. In an election year, it wasn’t the kind of message that would have been politically expedient to share with a broader audience.​
But this doesn’t mean that the newspapers, as well as individuals, didn’t report on Lincoln’s speech. Herndon called it “full of fire and energy and force: it was logic; it was pathos; it was enthusiasm; it was justice, equity, truth, and right set ablaze by the divine fires of a soul maddened by the wrong; it was hard, heavy, knotty, gnarly, backed with wrath”. Editor ‘Long John’ Wentworth of the Chicago Democrat reported that “Abraham Lincoln for an hour and a half held the assemblage spellbound by the power of his argument, the intense irony of his invective, the brilliancy of his eloquence. I shall not mar any of its fine proportions by attempting even a synopsis of it.”​
The only paper that did attempt a synopsis appears to be the Alton Weekly Courier, which reported: “Abraham Lincoln, of Sangamon, came upon the platform amid deafening applause. He enumerated the pressing reasons of the present movement. He was here ready to fuse with anyone who would unite with him to oppose slave power; spoke of the bugbear disunion which was so vaguely threatened. It was to be remembered that the Union must be preserved in the purity of its principles as well as in the integrity of its territorial parts. It must be ‘Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable’. The sentiment in favor of white slavery now prevailed in all the slave state papers, except those of Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri and Maryland. Such was the progress of the National Democracy. Douglas once claimed against him that Democracy favored more than his principles, the individual rights of man. Was it not strange that he must stand there now to defend those rights against their former eulogist? The Black Democracy were endeavoring to cite Henry Clay to reconcile old Whigs to their doctrine, and repaid them with the very cheap compliment of National Whigs.”​
Lincoln’s primary objective seems to have been to unite all the disparate elements then coalescing into the new Republican Party, inspiring them to put aside their differences and commit wholeheartedly to the movement to fight against the extension of slavery. The increasingly violent slave power must be resisted, Kansas must be free, republican principles must be preserved, and the Union must be maintained.​
 

Andersonh1

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https://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/lincoln2/1:365?rgn=div1;view=fulltext
May 29, 1856​
Abraham Lincoln, of Sangamon, came upon the platform amid deafening applause. He enumerated the pressing reasons of the present movement. He was here ready to fuse with anyone who would unite with him to oppose slave power; spoke of the bugbear disunion which was so vaguely threatened. It was to be remembered that the Union must be preserved in the purity of its principles as well as in the integrity of its territorial parts. It must be ``Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable.'' The sentiment in favor of white slavery now prevailed in all the slave state papers, except those of Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri and Maryland. Such was the progress of the National Democracy. Douglas once claimed against him that Democracy favored more than his principles, the individual rights of man. Was it not strange that he must stand there now to defend those rights against their former eulogist? The Black Democracy were endeavoring to cite Henry Clay to reconcile old Whigs to their doctrine, and repaid them with the very cheap compliment of National Whigs.​
[1] Alton Weekly Courier, June 5, 1856. This brief report is the only contemporary account of the so-called ``Lost Speech'' delivered at the Bloomington convention. The lengthy reconstruction made by Henry C. Whitney in 1896, which has appeared in other collections of Lincoln's writings and speeches, is not, in the opinion of the editors, worthy of serious consideration.​
 
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