Historical perspective 

Alexander Stephens’ Cornerstone speech was delivered only a few weeks before the American Civil War broke out. The war between the south and north of the United States went on for four years and became one of the costliest and deadli…


Textual perspective

Abraham Lincoln’s “A House Divided” speech offers a different perspective from Stephens’ Cornerstone speech. Lincoln’s address was delivered in 1858, before Lincoln became president. In his speech, Lincoln argues that the United States is divided into people who support slavery and those who do not, and this will cause a conflict. Two years later, Lincoln was elected as President of the United States and his abolitionist beliefs caused the southern states to secede.

Another significant speech to consider is Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. He delivered his speech following one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War which took place at Gettysburg. Lincoln’s speech aimed to honor those who fought in the ongoing American Civil War and to remind citizens of the core values of the American nation, as inscribed in the Declaration of Independence – liberty and equality. 

Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech is similar to Alexander Stephens’ Cornerstone speech. In his address, Henry argues that the Thirteen American Colonies must act against the British Empire as war is no longer avoidable. Similarly to the formation of the Confederate States of America, the Thirteen Colonies broke off from the British Empire as they disagreed with their beliefs. However, unlike Stephens who wrongly argued that a war between the two opponents would not happen, Henry accurately predicted how the conflict would play out and managed to convince the colonies to start a war against the British Empire and ultimately gain their independence. 

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