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“sectional Crisis Leading to the Civil War”

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“sectional Crisis Leading to the Civil War”

When Abraham Lincoln gave his Cooper Union Address it is doubtful that he knew its impact on the country and ultimately the future of the Union. In his Cooper Union Address, future president Abraham Lincoln thoroughly rebuked the southern Democrats Stephen A. Douglas’ statements about the Republicans’ slavery stance by using not only the oppositions wording against them, he supported his arguments with true examples sited from the signatories of the Constitution and their past voting record, from information gleaned during his career as a lawyer, and from his sense of honor and ethics. Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party had some very strong constituents, mainly those with very strong Free Soil tendencies. For this reason along with personal beliefs on Lincoln’s part the Republicans, led by Lincoln in the presidential election, were strongly against the expansion of slavery into the territories

By using past precedents Lincoln gave some serious weight to his arguments on the nature of the Republican’s stance on slavery and the federal government’s rights to limit slavery in the Territories. Since the opposing party’s argument was that the framers knew more about the issue of slavery and its expansion than they did now. Lincoln turned this argument for the use of the Republicans by explaining the voting records of the majority of the men who signed the Constitution. When the question of slavery in the Northwest Territory became an issue Lincoln sites the fact that of six who voted, five voted against slavery and only one voted for the ‘peculiar institution’. By voting and the majority of who voted feeling it was not only right to prohibit slavery they showed that, “in their understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything else, properly forbids the Federal Government to control as to slavery in Federal territory.” Overall twenty-three of the original thirty-six men who signed the Constitution voted or took action on the question of expanding slavery practices into the territories, of those twenty-three, twenty-one of them found it right for them to vote in favor of prohibition. “Thus the twenty-one acted; and, as actions speak louder than words, so actions, under such responsibility, speak still louder.” By seeing that the founding fathers took this action, Lincoln finds historical evidence backing his statements on the Republican views of the expansion of slavery.

As Abraham Lincoln started his professional life as a lawyer, his speech at Cooper Union was much like a law brief, stating his opponents’ points, then his rebuke and finally his proof of statement. Since twenty-one of the founding fathers voted in favor of the prohibition of slavery in the territories they give evidence for the legitimacy of the federal government to pass laws to prohibit slavery in federal territories. “This shows that, in their understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything in the Constitution, properly forbade Congress to prohibit slavery in the federal territory…” for this reason Congress is and would be perfectly within its powers to create such laws as Lincoln and the Republican party wished to make and uphold. Many of the allegations made by the Democrats centered on the Constitution’s take on slavery yet, as Lincoln pointed out, the Constitution says nothing about ‘slaves’ or ‘slavery’ when he said, “this

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