The Lyceum Address


The Lyceum Address is Lincoln’s speech to Springfield, Illinois about Freedom and its significance. According to him, the relation between citizens and their country is vice-versa. The people are quite emotional about their country as it is a natural feeling and this relationship gets stronger and stronger if they get their full rights, which include freedom of speech, equality, and protection by the law and self-defense. He says it is the duty of the political government to take care of their people. He stresses over political and religious freedom. He says that it is the duty of the people in the present and future generation to fulfill all the promises made in the Declaration of Independence. He says we need to respect each other’s freedom and by doing so we will have a good relationship between the country and the people. Lincoln talks about mob rule. He does not want this taking over and which would have people disregard the law which keep law and order in America. He feels that his faith in the law will keep America safe from mobs and their controlling of it. This would give self-rule having peopled live according to rules of laws that they choose as a limitation to their freedom. Lincoln makes sure that a “mobocratic sprit is not the ruining of our country. Lincoln feels that the faith in the government is like the faith in the lord, calling it the “political religion” (Donald 167).Which represents the passion and trust needed to ensure the American government? With the political religion you have the political faith which would have you obeying the good laws and also the bad laws.

Lincoln promised to obey “bad laws” when he was also running for president. He promised not to interfere with slavery in the South and promised to uphold the Fugitive Slave law, even though he knew that they were bad laws. Only thought when the south would secede did he start to get rid of the laws and change them. Lincoln feels that if you follow the laws set upon you even if good or bad the country will work for the better of the people. He feels that faith in law and order will keep America together and organized without violence such as mob rule.

The Lyceum Address was given in 1838, during the time of the Panic of 1837. With the panic of 1837 we have the economy failing with the failure of the economy banks failed, thus leading to a high unemployment rate. This panic was made worse by a number of factors: “large debts incurred by states due to over-expansion of canals and the construction of railroads; an unfavorable balance of trade as imports exceeded exports, resulting in a loss of gold and silver to paper currency“(Whitley); and several crop failures in 1835 and 1837. The major cause of the panic, however, was the economic impact of land speculation. It was a period of mania. After the fall of Bank of the United States, state and wildcat banks grew rapidly during the 1830s. Funds were more easily available, and investors borrowed money at a high pace. Not only the small Western farmer, but merchants, manufacturers and traders also borrowed heavily. The business community, rather than paying off their debts and refinancing new ventures, anticipated greater returns if they invested their borrowed money in enterprises investments that, they hoped, would greatly increase in value. The big investments were in the vast amounts of readily available cheap land. Between 1834 and 1836, sales totaled 37 million acres. By 1836, sales were ten times greater than they were in 1830. "Land office business" was the order of the day. President Jackson issued the Specie Circular. This order mandated all land offices to accept only gold and silver, rather than "rag" money, in payment for public lands. Since state banks did not have specie backing, land sales dropped. The mania continued to spread, despite the Federal Government's attempts to halt it, or at least to curb the holding of large pieces of land. During this time we had President Van Buren a Democrat and Lincoln who was a Whig at this time. Lincoln was against his polices. The Whigs such as “Lincoln wanted an activist government that would promote banks, tariffs, and internal improvements” (Wilson96). Lincoln was not pleased with Van Buren because, Van Buren wanted a limited government and laissez-faire economics. Van Buren feels that the people should self-govern where Lincoln feels that what the founding fathers has said in the constitution is what are country should follow that they were not in it for fame but to better the country unlike Buren. Lincoln still feels there are dangers coming in the future that could threaten the American system. He feels that the passion in the people and in the country has helped us but can no longer do anymore. With these ideas Lincoln wants to adopt the “political religion. Lincoln ran for the Illinois legislature in 1832 he was unsuccessful in doing so though. Two years later he was elected to the lower house for the first of four successive terms (until 1841) as a Whig. His membership in the Whig Party was natural. Lincoln's father was a Whig, and the party's ambitious program of national economic development was the perfect solution to the problems Lincoln had seen. His first platform announced that the poorest and most thinly populated countries would be greatly benefited by the opening of good roads, and in the clearing of navigable streams. “There cannot justly be any objection to having rail roads and canals"(Donald 67). As a Whig, Lincoln supported the Second Bank of the United States, the Illinois State Bank, government-sponsored internal improvements (roads, canals, railroads, harbors), and protective tariffs. His Whig vision of the West came from Henry Clay. Unlike most successful American politicians, Lincoln was about agriculture, calling farmers in 1859 "neither better nor worse than any other people." He remained conscious of his origins and, was therefore sympathetic to labor. He admired the American system of economic opportunity in which the "man who labored for another last year, this year labors for himself, and next year he will hire others to labor for him“ (Warfel 58.) Slavery was the opposite of opportunity and mobility, and Lincoln stated his political opposition to it in 1837.

In this time in history people in America were working on farms and Slavery was becoming a big issue. “Lincoln "was losing interest in politics"(Miller) when the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed by Congress in 1854. This legislation opened lands previously closed to slavery to the possibility of its spread by local option (popular sovereignty); Lincoln viewed the provisions of the act as immoral. Although he was not an abolitionist and thought slavery unassailably protected by the Constitution in states where it already existed, Lincoln also thought that America's founders had put slavery on the way to "ultimate extinction" by preventing its spread. He saw this act, which had been sponsored by Democratic Senator Stephen A. Douglas, as a new and alarming development. The Whig and Democratic Party were in conflict to many things. The Democrats were in favor of states rights, meaning less federal involvement in the development of the states, whereas the Whigs were favoring a federal government, faith in the law, and must of them were anti-slavery. The Whigs celebrated Clay's vision of the "American System" that promoted rapid economic and industrial growth in the United States. Whigs demanded government support for a more modern, market-oriented economy, in which skill, expertise and bank credit would count for more than physical strength or land ownership. Whigs sought to promote faster industrialization through high tariffs, a business-oriented money supply based on a national bank, and a vigorous program of government funded "internal improvements," especially expansion of the road and canal systems. To modernize the inner American, the Whigs helped create public schools, private colleges, charities, and cultural institutions. The Democrats went to the Jeffersonian ideal of an egalitarian agricultural society, advising that traditional farm life. In general the Democrats enacted their policies at the national level, while the Whigs succeeded in passing modernization projects in most states. To Lincoln the U.S. Constitution is the political religion of the nation. Lincoln’s political religion is not religious he speaks of religion but is more on a political faith. It represents the passion and trust necessary to ensure the American life. For the political religion is being part of political faith. With this faith you have the understanding and obeying of the laws set forth by the government. This idea of the political religion will shape Lincolns later political goals and policies.

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