compromise and by repressing agitation, Lincoln voiced the new opinion in a slightly altered Scriptural quotation, "A house divided against itself cannot stand. " He declared that the government could not endure permanently half slave and half free; it must become all one thing or all the other. Whether Lincoln foresaw that the astute Douglas would construe this statement into a desire to dissolve the Union is a matter of doubt, as is also the question whether he appreciated the danger that his criticism of the Dred Scott decision would be twisted by Douglas into a revolutionary attack on the Supreme Court.
Since the campaign was to be waged against Senator Douglas, Lincoln devoted a large part of his speech to showing the unfitness of the Illinois senator to lead Republicans in their attempt to check the growing territorial power of the slaveholding dynasty, and to ridiculing the pretended greatness of the senator. "They remind us," said he, "that he is a great man and that the largest of us are very small ones. Let that be granted. But 'a living dog is better than a dead lion.' Judge Douglas, if not a dead lion, for his work, is at least a caged and toothless one. How can he oppose the advances of slavery? He don't care about it. . . . . But clearly, he is not now with us—he does not pretend to be—he does not promise ever to be." He insinuated that the Dred Scott decision was a part of a Democratic programme. "We cannot absolutely know," said he, "that all these exact adaptations are the result of preconcert. But when we see a lot of framed timbers, different portions of which we know have been gotten out at different times and places by different workmen—Stephen, Franklin, Roger, and James, for instance—and we see these timbers joined together,
- "And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand."—Mark 3:25.