Remembering Abraham Lincoln: A Northern State University Noon Forum
February 12 will mark Abraham Lincoln’s 207th birthday. During fall semester, a Noon Forum was given by Dr. Jon Schaff in the library round room. This forum was dedicated to Lincoln, our 16th president, his involvement with slavery, and honoring Constitution Day. During the Noon Forum, Dr. Schaff talked about many speeches Lincoln gave throughout his career as President and his role in putting an end to slavery. When speaking about slavery, Dr. Schaff addressed prudence in moderation, defining it as a “simple pragmatism” that “protects our rights and human dignity by limiting our aspirations.” However, the big question was how to get rid of slavery altogether, particularly in a time when the South was advocating for the use of slavery in the West.
All men are created equal. Declaration of Independence, United States of America
One of Lincoln’s speeches discussed at the Noon Forum was the Lyceum Speech in 1838. Here, Lincoln talked about lawlessness, which can “increase disregard for law which pervades the country.” Furthermore, consequences can occur to “a portion of the population that is worse than useless in the community.” A few examples of lawlessness include the possibility of hurting the innocent, encouraging lawless spirit or having disrespect for the law, and the chance of corrupting good men. Some have equated the idea of lawlessness to any possible downfall of the United States. Indicating that if the United States were to fall, it would not be due to outside forces but inside forces of lawlessness. In May 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was decreed to allow settlers to vote on slave laws in their states. Known as “popular sovereignty,” this historic event let individual states decide whether to become free or slave states. This act hoped to quell the sectional tensions between the North and the South with slavery. However, the act produced the exact opposite. This led to Lincoln arguing against the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The speech Lincoln gave at Peoria in 1854 inspired his speeches and letters later on in his life and career.
As most United States citizens know, it was at this time that Lincoln dedicated a large part of his time and passion to the antislavery movement. He spoke about the issues with the morality of slavery, arguing that slaves are humans, not property. He even referred to the Declaration of Independence, pointing out that it states “all men are created equal.” Lincoln argued that Americans could not ignore this piece of evidence, and no one person should be “making a slave of another.” Slavery may have taken root within the United States, an action from founding fathers, but Lincoln tried to encourage everyone to “return slavery to the position our fathers gave it; and there let it rest in peace.” Abraham Lincoln is remembered as an extremely dedicated president, displaying his passion for his career, especially when it came to his efforts in abolishing slavery. During the President’s Day holiday, we would do well to remember its significance.