Lincoln in Winchester
Central Park, Winchester, Illinois
Citizens of Winchester and Scott County, Hardt Pioneer Farms, Inc., Ivan and Doris Hardt, and the Illinois State Historical Society
Here in the Scott County courtroom in Winchester, August 26, 1854, Abraham Lincoln gave his first public speech against the Nebraska Bill. Because it allowed expansion of slavery, Lincoln became so politically "aroused" that he came out of five years of political retirement to defeat it. Drafted by Senator Stephen A. Douglas and coined "Popular Sovereignty," the Nebraska Bill gave new territories and emerging states the right to choose by popular ballot if slavery was to be permitted or banned. The bill effectively cancelled the Missouri Compromise, which during the previous 30 years had allowed limited expansion of slavery in the nation. By re-entering politics, his anti-Nebraska speeches and historical 1858 debates with Stephen A. Douglas gained him much political recognition nationally. Although he failed twice to be elected U.S. Senator he was elected in 1860 as the 16th President of United States. War came to the nation, and in 1863, he signed the Emancipation Proclamations, a document that set the stage for the end of slavery in America. Lincoln's signing of the 13th Amendment in 1865 made the Nebraska Bill moot, and set 4 million African-American slaves free. Lincoln surely concluded his "masterly effort" that day in Winchester with a very profound prediction about the Union, one he repeated later in Peoria. "We shall have so saved it (from slavery), that the millions of free happy people, the world over, shall rise up, and call us blessed to the latest generation."
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