In honor of John Kerry’s Cooper Union speech today, here’s a completely off-topic quote from Abraham Lincoln’s May 1860 address there that shows how far back one element of speech goes. In it, he’s addressing the threat of Southern states to secede if an anti-slavery Republican is elected. (As quoted in “The Greatest Republican” by James M. McPherson, from The New York Review of Books, August 12, 2004.)
But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! [Laughter] That is cool. [Great laughter] A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, “Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!” [Continued laughter]
Not that I’m advocating voting Republican this year. Unless Lincoln’s running.