Ohio History Journal

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I. The Cincinnati Speech of September, 1859: Did Dayton Hear

It First ?

The words which Abraham Lincoln spoke in Cincinnati upon

the seventeenth of September, 1859, are well known to careful

students of his addresses and writings. They were the words of

one of the most important speeches which the famous Illinoisan

made upon his brief, but important excursion into Ohio. The

address was given in answer to a previous speech made by the

then more noted Stephen Arnold Douglas, and it abounded in

political arguments in opposition to the theories of the "Little

Giant." There is no doubt that Lincoln made an important speech

to the people of Cincinnati; there is a doubt in regard to the fact

that this talk was first addressed to the citizens of the great Ohio

River port. It is possible that the smaller city of Dayton may

have listened to the Cincinnati speech before the people of the

Ohio metropolis heard it. Certain papers in 1859 ignored the

Dayton speech, and asserted that Lincoln was delayed in the "Gem

City." It was while waiting for the Cincinnati train that he is

supposed to have delivered the Dayton address. It is strange

to assume that a speech of two hours length was delivered by

Mr. Lincoln to fill in the time while he waited the arrival of the

cars for Cincinnati, but many writers in 1859 took such a view-


The full text of the speech which was delivered in Cincinnati

is included in the Gettysburg edition of the writings of Abraham

Lincoln; a work of his two secretaries, John Hay and John G.

Nicolay. These men did not include the Dayton speech, for no

exact copy of the words spoken in that city was available. It

was not until the year, 1930, that a resume of the Dayton speech

was made available to the students of Lincolniana. The Dayton

speech became known through the careful research of the Lincoln