The works of Abraham Lincoln preceding the famous LincolnDouglas debates illuminate the political career of one of our most courageous presidents and reveal his extraordinary gifts as a writer Covering the yearsto , this Library of America volume containsspeeches, letters, drafts, and fragments that record his emergence as an eloquent antislavery advocate and defender of the ConstitutionFrom the beginning, Lincoln’s career and the style of his writing nurtured each other During his years as a lawyer, he argued hundreds of cases before judges and juries As a stump speaker, he became familiar with the ebb and flow of public sentiment He never spoke down to the “common people” and his engaging idiomatic style is free of irrelevant ornamentation and resounds with the wordplay, sarcasm, and selfmockery of frontier humor as well as with the cadences of the Bible His speeches and letters echo the political philosophy of and his “beau ideal of a statesman” Henry Clay and the rhetoric of Daniel Webster, while reflecting the ambition of a resolute politician who hoped to be “truly esteemed by my fellow men”His private letters show how much Lincoln learned about politics as a stalwart of the Illinois Whigs in the s and s—how to measure his support, to form alliances, and to avoid divisive quarrels His public writings reveal his abilities as a party spokesman and orator, equally adept at articulating positions and ridiculing opponents Included are his speech in Congress attacking the war against Mexico, his fervent call before the Springfield Lyceum for a reverent obedience to the law, and the satiric “Rebecca” letter that nearly involved him in a duel with its enraged target There are in addition personal letters and poems that further testify to the complexities of his characterThe renewed threat of slavery’s expansion into the territories transformed Lincoln’s political life inThis volume includes several speeches on the subject, notably from hisSenate race against Stephen A Douglas, along with the complete texts of their seven debates The exchanges are marked by personal jibes, accusations of falsehood, appeals to human sympathies and racial prejudices, and profound disagreements on whether the spread of slavery was merely a local question or one that imperiled the future of free government Still the most famous confrontation in American political history, the debates have the tense drama of two powerful minds disagreeing with all the intensity that characterized midnineteenthcentury American democracy

10 thoughts on “Speeches and Writings 1832–1858

  1. Hock Tjoa Hock Tjoa says:

    Nothing that I have ever read is as sobering and inspiring as the letters and speeches of President Lincoln. Is it possible that he had only two years of schooling? Can it be that he was driven to run for president even in those times? When Mrs. Douglass, widow of the man who debated him, applied for a safe conduct to go back to Virginia, he replied with grace and delicacy assuring her that he would do anything she needed but raised the question whether it would be helpful to her to have such a document from him .... Where indeed have all the flowers gone?

  2. Jeremy Jeremy says:

    Even after reading the letters and speeches here and from later in his life, Lincoln remains inscrutable and aggravating. When digging into his writing, I found it almost impossible to tell when to take him at face value, and when to try and read between the lines. Even reading the old standards like the Gettysburg Address or the Cooper Union speech, I found myself just utterly mystified by what exactly he was or wasn't trying to say or imply. On one level, I kind of want to hate him for being so cloyingly sanctimonious, but on another level, I almost admire just how weirdly he tries to communicate so much of his thought. It's weird to go back and read these sort of classically American texts and to just think about how disconcerting their ideas are, even when wrapped in such poetic language. Lincoln really can be a beautiful writer, but I always just found myself sort of confused to to what the exact intentions of anything he said was.

  3. Luther Wilson Luther Wilson says:

    Lincoln is an interesting man to approach. Right now I'm using this volume as the way to read the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and it's an amazing snapshot of the country at the time. Also, Lincoln is an amazing writer, when he wants to be, as some of his letters and written speeches prove. This & the companion volume are perfect for my needs, as far as being able to sample large parts of Lincoln's writings.

  4. Chris Wolfington Chris Wolfington says:

    There are many reasons this book is a classic. Lincoln's own intelligence, style, humor, and tragic poetry are worth the read alone. In this first volume, Lincoln makes some of the best known arguments for the Whig party, against the Mexican War, and the crisis resulting from the Kansas-Nebraska Act. His writings after 1854 are pretty much a history book on that time period, giving a very clear and engaging picture of the slavery issue.

  5. Jesse Broussard Jesse Broussard says:

    Truly astonishing. The prevalence of racism is staggering. His simple assumption is that the slaves are obviously inferior and should be removed not so that they would be freed, but so that they would never end up mixing with any Americans stupid enough to marry them. Ouch.

  6. Sinan Öner Sinan Öner says:

    American President, American Democracy and Freedom Leader Abraham Lincoln's Speechs and Writings, 1832-1858, about 900 pages, describes the history of America in 19. Century in Lincoln's views. Lincoln's philosophies of politics, law and society reflect in his book. Lincoln, before the Civil War in America, writes his opinions and thoughts for democracy, freedom and the development of people's contract in American society. Lincoln defensed and improved the tradition of George Washington, Jefferson and Franklin in American political life and ruling America which suggests and projects to end the slavery in production and in social relations. Lincoln researchs the conditions of freedom in America by studying the American social geography and the international relations of America.

  7. Tim Tim says:

    The debates with Douglas are interesting, though repetitive and a bit modern-sounding in the twist each candidate puts on the other’s words. There are some noteworthy speeches. Some of the letters are interesting, particularly in showing early glimpses of Lincoln and of ordinary events in his life. There are many other letters included, however, that are not particularly illuminating.

  8. Ramesh Ramesh says:

    His writings and speeches has inspired me a lot. He was a world-class personality who has transformed the concept of democracy.

  9. Doris Raines Doris Raines says:


  10. Donna Donna says:

    This is a collection of Lincoln's speeches and letters. The best way to get to know this man is through is own words. I was impressed by how consistent he was in his views on slavery through the entire course of this political era. From his first public statements on the slavery he said it was immoral and unjust, we can't remove it in the states where it exists, it shouldn't be allowed to spread into the territories, slavery should be put on the course of ultimate extinction. For 30+ years (through his presidency) he stayed with the same statements. What other politician do you know who never waivers in his political statements?