Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Friday, March 20, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On March 20, 1844

On this day in 1844, at least according to the Illinois State Register and the Sangamo Journal, Lincoln 'utterly demolished' nearly every position taken by fellow debater John Calhoun.

Lincoln took part in a series of debates, commencing on March 20th and continuing through the 25th, where representatives of both parties discussed (ie debated) the issues of the day in anticipation of an upcoming presidential election. It appears that Lincoln's debating skill was already drawing notice as early as 1844.

Debates with John Calhoun and Alfred W. Cavarly in Springfield, Illinois [1]
March 20-25, 1844

This being the first week of our Circuit Court, arrangements have been made by the public speakers, of both parties, to devote the evening hours, to the discussion of the great questions involved in the coming Presidential election. . . . Judge CAVARLY. . . . quoted . . . from a speech of Mr. Stuart, [2] made in Congress, an admission that the consumer of imported articles paid the duty. . . . This only bright spot in Mr. Stuart's speech, so disturbed Mr. Lincoln, that he promised to forfeit his ``ears'' and his ``legs'' if he did not demonstrate, that protected articles have been cheaper since the late Tariff than before. . . .

. . . . Mr. Calhoun's first speech on Wednesday evening was . . . unanswerable. . . . Though Mr. Calhoun triumphantly established the first proposition, yet Mr. Lincoln had the hardihood to assert that it might probably fall upon the manufacturer, after Mr. Calhoun had shown that it positively fell upon the consumer. . . . Mr. Lincoln very candidly acknowledged his inability to prove that the tariff had anything to do with the late low prices throughout this country and Europe. . . .

There has been an interesting public discussion at the Court Room, on the political questions which divide the country, every evening of last week and Monday evening of this week. Mr. Cavarly of Green, lead off; and was followed by Wm. Brown, Esq. of Morgan---the two occupying two evenings. Mr. Calhoun followed Mr. Brown, and he by Mr. Lincoln, and these gentlemen continued the discussion five evenings.

The discussion has been well attended, and we readily accord to Mr. Calhoun due praise for making most of a bad cause. The efforts of Mr. Lincoln, were distinguished for ability, and in all candor we must say, that we did not discover a single position raised by Mr. Calhoun, that he did not entirely demolish.


[1] Illinois State Register, March 22, 29, 1844; Sangamo Journal, March 28, 1844.

[2] John T. Stuart.

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