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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 1851
AUTHOR: Abraham Lincoln (1809–65)
QUOTATION: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.
ATTRIBUTION: ABRAHAM LINCOLN, speech delivered at the close of the Republican state convention, which named him the candidate for the United States Senate, Springfield, Illinois, June 16, 1858.—The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, ed. Roy P. Basler, vol. 2, p. 461 (1953). The quotation is a slight paraphrase of the Bible, Mark 3:25.

This “was probably the most carefully prepared address of Lincoln’s life. The majority of his friends thought the sentiments nothing short of political suicide. Herndon writes that before delivering the oration Lincoln had declared … that ‘the time has come when those sentiments should be uttered and if it is decreed that I should go down because of this speech, then let me go down linked with the truth—let me die in the advocacy of what is just and right.’”—Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, new and enl. ed., ed. John G. Nicolay and John Hay, vol. 3, pp. 1–2, footnote 1 (1905).