Should-Read: The end of the second volume of Sidney Blumenthal's Political Life of Abraham Lincoln: Sidney Blumenthal: Wrestling With His Angel: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln Vol. II, 1849-1856: "When [Lincoln] hurtled on a train to Bloomington for the founding of the Illinois Republican Party on May 29, 1856, it was a familiar trip to a place he had visited many times to practice the law...
...the home of his friends David Davis and Jesse Fell.
But this time the uproar of events heralded his entrance. On May 21, [Senator] David Atchison led an army of nearly one thousand pro-slavery Missourians under a red banner inscribed “Southern Rights” into the free state town of Lawrence to ransack it. The next day, in the Senate, while Charles Sumner sat writing at his desk, Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina battered him with a cane, nearly killing him, in retribution for Sumner’s mocking of Brooks’s cousin, Senator Andrew Butler, patriarch of the F Street Mess, in his speech entitled “Crime Against Kansas.” Two days later, on May 24, along Pottawatomie Creek in Kansas, John Brown and his band of volunteers hacked five pro-slavery men to death....
Lincoln’s political education was long, but the moment of Lincoln’s awakening from his political slumber was sudden. In early 1855, traveling the county court circuit, staying overnight in a boardinghouse, his discussion with a former judge and fellow lawyer, T. Lyle Dickey, a conservative Old Whig, went on deep into the night.
“Judge Dickey contended that slavery was an institution, which the Constitution recognized, and which could not be disturbed. Lincoln argued that ultimately slavery must become extinct,” recalled another Illinois lawyer, William Pitt Kellogg.
“After a while,” said Dickey, “we went upstairs to bed. There were two beds in our room, and I remember that Lincoln sat up in his nightshirt on the edge of the bed arguing the point with me. At last, we went to sleep. Early in the morning I woke up and there was Lincoln half sitting up in bed.”
“Dickey,” said Lincoln, “I tell you this nation cannot exist half slave and half free.”
“Oh, Lincoln,” replied Dickey, “go to sleep.”
“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” MARK 3:24–25