Newly nominated Senate candidate Abraham Lincoln, on this day in 1858, addresses the Illinois Republican Convention, warning that the nation faces a crisis that it may not be able recover from if steps aren't taken.
Paraphrasing Mark 3:25, Lincoln tells the more than 1000 delegates that "a house divided cannot stand."
Slavery was dividing our nation with deep gashes to our collective and moral consciousness. However, his argument was one of states' rights rather then one of slavery. Lincoln argued that only the federal government had the power to abolish slavery – implying that the states had but secondary authority in this particular matter.
While the southern states relied on an economy and lifestyle dependent upon the cheap labor provided by African-American slaves, the North opposed slavery on moral grounds – also considering industrialization and manufacturing the future of America's economy.
Lincoln's "radical" speech was not immediately taken to sympathetic ears and he lost his Senate bid in 1858 to the more "moderate" Stephen Douglas who advocated for states' sovereignty.
Although losing this Senate race, Lincoln went on to win the presidency in 1860.
This is one of the most prominent cases in history where a moral concern triumphed over law.
The rest, they say, is history.