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The speaker of “A House Divided” is Abraham Lincoln. Today Lincoln is known as one of the most important US Presidents, who led the country through the Civil War and ended slavery. At the time of the speech (1858), he was not yet well known as a politician, however (he would become President in 1861).

In 1858, Lincoln was known as a lawyer and a former member of the Whig Party, which he represented in the House of Representatives. He reentered politics in 1854 when he became one of the leaders of the newly formed Republican Party. He delivered the speech “A House Divided” as the official nominee of the Republican Party in Illinois for the US Senate, against the Democratic Senator Stephen A. Douglas.

At that time, the Republican Party was new to the political scene and its creation was a response to the Kansas-Nebraska Act that the speaker opposes in ...

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