Presidents Day

Presidents’ Day

The Peoria Speech


Before his presidency, Abraham Lincoln was a hard worker, champion wrestler, self-educated lawyer, and a good man with a reputation for honesty and integrity.  His political career made a major turn in autumn 1854. In May of that year congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which would allow the settlers of the new territories of Kansas and Nebraska to decide for themselves whether slavery would be legal there.

On October 16, 1854, Lincoln made his stance on slavery clear in an address in Peoria, Illinois. His Peoria Speech was a powerful and persuasive response to the Kansas-Nebraska Act that thrust him to the forefront of the growing pro and anti-slavery conflict that would eventually lead to the American Civil War.

National Archives Photo: Abraham Lincoln. Photographer: Mathew Brady.  1860 – 1865


Lincoln despised what he perceived to be love for the spread of slavery.

In his Peoria address he said, “I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself.”

This speech ignited the resolve of all like-minded citizens and set in motion a movement that would change the world. 

Lincoln stated, “If the negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that “all men are created equal;” and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man’s making a slave of another…,” and added, “Our Declaration of Independence says: ‘We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’

Some other important quotes from the Peoria speech:

“…no man is good enough to govern another man, without that other’s consent.”

“Allow ALL the governed an equal voice in the government, and that, and that only, is self-government.”

“Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man’s nature – opposition to it is his love of justice.”


Abraham Lincoln’s Peoria Speech was one of the key turning points in the evolution of the United States of America. On this Presidents’ Day, 2024, we look back to this moment in time and history.

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Honor and Justice

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