A stirring lesson on the power of a memorable and logical opening argument
It wasn’t one of Abraham Lincoln’s most eloquent speeches, says speechwriter Hal Gordon, but Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech, delivered 150 years ago last month, delivers a stirring lesson for communicators on the power of a memorable and logical opening argument.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” said Lincoln in a speech to the Illinois Republican convention in June 1858. Lincoln was accepting his party’s nomination for Illinois Senator, and launching what would be his unsuccessful campaign against Stephen A. Douglas. Following Douglas’ speeches supporting the idea of popular sovereignty—allowing states and territories to choose whether they wanted to allow slavery—Lincoln responded.