Lincoln's Speech Addressing The Civil War & National Situation

Lincoln's Speech Addressing The Civil War & National Situation

Who Is Abraham Lincoln?


You’ve probably already learned a few things about Abraham Lincoln during your time in school. In this unit, you’ll read some of his speeches.

Take a moment to brainstorm with your class.

  • What do you already know about Abraham Lincoln?
  • What questions do you have about his presidency and his life?

Addresses to the New Jersey Senate and Assembly

Work Time

After Lincoln was elected president, but before his inauguration, he gave two short speeches to the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly. The congressmen he addressed had not been his supporters during the election campaign, but he was going to be their president.

  • With a partner, read the two short speeches.
  • Stop every three or four sentences to check in with each other about what you understand.
  • Record any questions you have.
  • Annotate any unfamiliar words or phrases.

Share your thoughts and questions with the class, and add to the class list of questions and facts about Abraham Lincoln.

New Jersey Speeches Paraphrase

Work Time

Follow along as your teacher demonstrates how to chunk and paraphrase the text.

  • With your partner, read through the speeches again and write paraphrases of every two or three sentences.
  • Once you’ve finished paraphrasing, make a list of the ideas that you think are most important in these two speeches.

Open Notebook

Share your ideas about what’s most important in Lincoln’s two speeches. Did you come up with some of the same ideas as your classmates?

The Great Struggle

Work Time

In his address to the New Jersey Senate, Lincoln said the following:

“I shall be most happy indeed if I shall be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this, his almost chosen people, for perpetuating the object of that great struggle.”

Consider this quote carefully and complete a Quick Write.

  • What do you think Lincoln meant by “great struggle”?
  • Refer back to the speech as you write to support your answer.

Open Notebook

Support From Non-Supporters


Frequently in a democracy a newly elected president needs the support of people who did not elect him. This is the situation that Lincoln was in as he addressed the New Jersey Senate and Assembly.

Complete a Quick Write.

  • How did Lincoln respond to the potentially embarrassing fact that the majority of the senators and representatives did not vote for him for president?
  • How do you think you would respond to Lincoln’s speech if you were a New Jersey senator who didn’t vote for him?

Open Notebook

Share your response with your classmates. Take notes on any new information your teacher gives about these two short speeches.

Lincoln and Slavery


In the next lesson, you’ll be reading an excerpt from Lincoln’s first inaugural address. But before you do that, it’s important to review what was going on in the nation at this point in time. The article “Lincoln and Slavery” will provide some context.

  • Read and annotate “Lincoln and Slavery.”
  • Keep an eye out for information that’s relevant to the speeches to the New Jersey Senate and Assembly that you read today.