The speech “A House Divided” by Abraham Lincoln is a political speech focusing on the topic of slavery in the US, prior to the American Civil War. The main two aspects the speaker explores are the debate over slavery and a political conspiracy (in favor of slaver…


Exposing the political conspiracy

The speaker’s general intention is to expose how pro-slavery supporters conspire to expand slavery in all US states.

When discussing this, the speaker wants to send a warning to those who oppose slavery, to show them that pro-slavery forces could win and that the US cannot continue to be divided by the slavery issue: “Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it (…) or its advocates will push it forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the states…”

To achieve his intentions, Lin…


Discrediting his opponent

Given that the speech marked the start of the electoral race for a US Senate seat, one of the speaker’s overall intentions is to discredit his political opponent Senator Douglas, accusing him of being as a key pro-slavery conspirator. To this end, Lincoln also appeals to irony: “…the latter declares that all he wants is a fair vote for the people, and that he cares not whether slavery be voted down or voted up…”; “The reputed author of the Nebraska Bill finds an early occasion to make a speech at this capital endorsing the Dred Scott deci…

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