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Riding The Tiger

“I discovered that being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed.” Harry S. Truman

This Day in History: Wilson Asks Congress to Declare War on Germany

President Woodrow Wilson asking Congress to declare war on Germany, causing the United States to enter World War I.

President Woodrow Wilson asking Congress to declare war on Germany, causing the United States to enter World War I. Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress, PD.

Today’s guest post comes from Rebecca Lim, a Miller Center Student Ambassador and a second year student at the University of Virginia double majoring in East Asian Studies and Political and Social Thought.

On this day 96 years ago, President Woodrow Wilson delivered an address to Congress requesting a declaration of war against Germany. The request was approved, and four days later, on April 6, 1917, the United States officially entered World War I. The U.S. had remained neutral since the outbreak of the war in 1914, and American public opinion highly opposed entering the war. Just three years later, however, a series of events infuriated the American people and galvanized public opinion in the opposite direction: the revelation of the German empire’s decision to recommence unrestricted submarine warfare on February 1, under which German submarines, called U-boats, could attack both military and non-military vessels without warning; and the interception of the infamous Zimmermann Telegram.

The Zimmermann Telegram, sent by German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann to the German ambassador in Mexico, Heinrich von Eckhardt, in January 1917, was intercepted and decrypted by British intelligence and shared with President Wilson. In it, Zimmermann notified Eckhardt of the plans to resume submarine warfare, and the prediction that this action would pull the United States into the war on the side of the allies. Upon U.S. entry into the war, he instructed Eckhardt to propose a military alliance with Mexico in exchange for the return of formerly Mexican territories of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Finally, they were to broker an alliance with the Japanese Empire.

Wilson understood that war could no longer be evaded. Still, he recognized the gravity of his decision and the effects the war would have on the nation and the world. In his appeal to Congress, Wilson mentioned not only Germany’s offenses, but also the implications of the country’s actions as “warfare against mankind” and “a war against all nations.” Wilson recognized a cause worth fighting for beyond national security—he saw it as America’s duty to not only protect its own borders, but to be the “single champion” of human rights, to which Germany posed a grave threat.

Fun Historical Tidbits About White House Easter Egg Rolling

Easter Egg Rolling at the White House in 1911.

Easter Egg Rolling at the White House in 1911. Photo by Harris & Ewing, courtesy of the Library of Congress. PD.

On Monday April 1, 2013, the First Family will host the 135th annual White House Easter Monday Egg Roll. The White House expects some 35,000 people to attend the event on the South Lawn (that’s still not as many as the more than 51,000 who attended in 1941). The event has become increasingly elaborate in modern times, incorporating celebrities, musical talent and more organized activities. This year, the event will also include more sports activities and cooking demonstrations related to First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative. Here are some fun tidbits from our archives about the history of the Easter Monday Egg Roll.

Calvin Coolidge: That Vision Thing

Official Presidential portrait of Calvin Coolidge

Official Presidential portrait of Calvin Coolidge by Charles Syndey Hopinknson, 1932. PD.

Amity Shlaes new book, Coolidge, has proven that it is vital to examine all the presidents, even the obscure, to fully appreciate historical developments we see today.  Shlaes asks why such a popular president in his own time became largely forgotten.  She argues two main points: his personality was not a big one, especially compared to the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson, and Coolidge’s presidency focused on economics, mainly reducing the federal debt after World War One.  There are other factors, as well.  Coolidge’s reputation got trashed when the Warren Harding administration faced many scandals and people blamed both Coolidge and Herbert Hoover for the Great Depression.  People wanted to forget that past. In his book, Calvin Coolidge, David Greenberg adds another important element to this discussion: Coolidge did not have much of a vision for his presidency.  Robert Sobel, in his 1998 book, Coolidge: An American Enigma, also argues that the popular perception of Coolidge is as an accidental president, someone who had no agenda. Coolidge was buried under a new active presidency that began with Theodore Roosevelt and was fully realized by his cousin Franklin. 

Sobel writes that Coolidge believed in a “passive executive branch” (pp. 14).  For Shlaes, “Coolidge is our great refrainer” (pp. 9).  For modern readers, this is hard to comprehend, a president who does not act or waits to act.  This usually means trouble for a modern president. 

Shlaes correctly draws our attention to the fact that Coolidge did do something. Coolidge wanted to balance the books.  He represented fiscal discipline in an environment where people around him, mainly members of Congress and Hoover, wanted to spend federal dollars.  Yes, you read correctly, Herbert Hoover.  Near the end of his term, Coolidge did not favor Hoover, because he worried that Hoover would ruin his budget legacy by spending money on the Colorado River dam project, among others.  By the time Coolidge left office in 1929, he had managed to cut over $10 billion of debt in eight years.  To do this, he had daily meetings with his budget director, Herbert Lord, held the line against Congressional spending, and spent a large amount of political capital on tax reductions with the help of Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon.

Rethinking the Triangle: Washington-Beijing-Taipei

This week, the Miller Center will host an international workshop on "Rethinking the Triangle: Washington-Beijing-Taipei.” The workshop is an attempt to bring the three sides of the Washington-Beijing-Taipei triangle together to discuss the possibility of moving from the Cold War model of an exclusive security triangle to a more realistic inclusive, opportunity-driven triangle. Public sessions on Thursday, March 28 will feature three perspectives from experts from China, Taiwan, and the United States in an attempt to explore a new paradigm for these interrelationships based on inclusiveness and opportunity rather than each hedging against increasingly unlikely crises.

Brantly Womack, the Miller Center’s C. K. Yen Chair, Professor of Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia and the workshop’s organizer, recently published an article in the Asia Times Online explaining the need to rethink the relationship between China, Taiwan and the United States. Although the Cold War defined the relationship between the three states for several decades, since 2008, the relationships have become fundamentally unstable and more complex. According to Womack:

The rivalry in the relationship between Washington and Beijing has become more global but also more cautious since each needs the other in many facets of global governance.

Meanwhile, the relationship across the Taiwan Strait has become a mainstay of Taiwan's economic prospects, and avoiding crisis is now vital to the careers of the leadership on both sides. The Washington-Taiwan relationship was strained by the brinksmanship of Chen Shui-bian, president of Taiwan from 2000 to 2008, and currently doubts are raised about continuing arms sales.

Meanwhile, China has developed the military capacity to render American military assistance to Taiwan either ineffective or too costly. Thus many American analysts consider "the Taiwan problem" the greatest strategic flashpoint in Asia.

Womack argues that the relationships between the states have been too focused on the security aspect and should instead shift to creating new opportunities. Womack asserts that the United States can take concrete steps to facility the transition from a security triangle to an opportunity triangle.

Reagan’s Missile Defense Vision Lives On

Ronald Reagan Addresses the Nation on National Security, March 23, 1983

Thirty years ago, President Ronald Reagan delivered an address to the nation on national security. On March 23, 1983, President Reagan used the bully pulpit of the presidency to convince the American public that Congress was cutting too much from his proposed defense budget. Reagan asserted that his increased defense budget, which he had submitted to Congress the previous month, was designed as “part of a careful, long-term plan to make America strong again after too many years of neglect and mistakes.” He urged the public to lobby Congress to “restore” the nation’s military strength:

There is no logical way that you can say, let's spend x billion dollars less. You can only say, which part of our defense measures do we believe we can do without and still have security against all contingencies? Anyone in the Congress who advocates a percentage or a specific dollar cut in defense spending should be made to say what part of our defenses he would eliminate, and he should be candid enough to acknowledge that his cuts mean cutting our commitments to allies or inviting greater risk or both…

The calls for cutting back the defense budget come in nice, simple arithmetic. They're the same kind of talk that led the democracies to neglect their defenses in the 1930's and invited the tragedy of World War II. We must not let that grim chapter of history repeat itself through apathy or neglect.

In addition to outlining his budget to bolster defenses, Reagan announced a new major program, the Strategic Defense Initiative (also known as “Star Wars”), as part of the president’s broader efforts to build up America’s defense image. The president framed the need for SDI as providing defense from the threat posed by Soviet missiles. While Reagan believed that the United States should continue to negotiate with the former Soviet Union on the mutual reductions of nuclear weapons, he also believed that steps were necessary to deter aggression by means other than the promise of retaliation. President Reagan had come to abhor the policy of mutually assured destruction (MAD). He told the nation:

My predecessors in the Oval Office have appeared before you on other occasions to describe the threat posed by Soviet power and have proposed steps to address that threat. But since the advent of nuclear weapons, those steps have been increasingly directed toward deterrence of aggression through the promise of retaliation…

I've become more and more deeply convinced that the human spirit must be capable of rising above dealing with other nations and human beings by threatening their existence. Feeling this way, I believe we must thoroughly examine every opportunity for reducing tensions and for introducing greater stability into the strategic calculus on both sides.

This Day In History: The Cancer Close to the Presidency

Portrait of White House Counsel John Dean

Portrait of John Dean, counsel to the President, May 7, 1973. Photo courtsey of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Forty years ago today, White House Counsel John Dean told President Richard Nixon, “We have a cancer within-close to the presidency, that's growing.”  During a taped conversation, Dean recapped the history of the bungled bugging and burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters and the subsequent cover-up for the President. Dean advised Nixon to remove the cancer by coming clean to the public on the Watergate scandals, otherwise his presidency would be in danger. Instead, Nixon continued the cover-up and doled out hush money in attempts at damage control, and Dean’s warning proved painfully correct.

Listen to the “Cancer Close to the Presidency” conversation in the Miller Center's Presidential Recordings Program archives here.

Reflecting on Iraq at Ten Years

Montage of Iraq War Images.

Clockwise from top: Delta Force of Task Force 20 alongside troops of 3rd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, at Uday Hussain and Qusay Hussein’s hideout.; Iraqi insurgents in northern Iraq; an Iraqi insurgent firing a MANPADS; the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue in Firdos Square. PD.

Today’s guest post is by Nicholas Sparks, a Miller Center Student Ambassador and intern in the Presidential Recording Program. Sparks is a fourth year student studying History, Political Philosophy, Policy and Law at the University of Virginia.

This week marks the tenth anniversary Operation Iraqi Freedom. On March 20, 2003, a U.S.-led invasion force entered Iraq through the Persian Gulf and began to secure southern port cities and oil fields in a quick and decisive operation. By April 9, Baghdad had fallen and Saddam Hussein’s 24-year reign was over. The Iraq War, however, would not end until late 2011, by which time it had claimed countless Iraqi lives, over 4,400 American lives, and cost the U.S. economy trillions of dollars, not to mention other geopolitical side effects.

For good or for bad, the War in Iraq will forever be tied to the legacy of President George W. Bush. In his last year in office, Bush marked the ongoing war’s fifth anniversary by praising the coalitions forces that had “removed a tyrant, liberated a country, and rescued millions from unspeakable horrors.” Explaining broad, long-term strategic goals, Bush argued that by nurturing democracy in Iraq, “we will help free societies take root [in the Middle East].” He had stressed similar themes in his 2004 State of the Union address, framing the mission as a means of building goodwill and defeating seeds of terrorism in the region. “As long as the Middle East remains a place of tyranny and despair and anger,” Bush explained, “it will continue to produce men and movements that threaten the safety of America and our friends.”

Ten years later, Operation Iraqi Freedom leaves a complicated legacy for many Americans. Liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman remembers the lack of critical media coverage during the initial months of the invasion in 2003. To oppose the war in the media ten years ago, Krugman writes, was a “career-ending” decision. International news outlets continue to grapple with the ramifications of the Iraq War as well. This month, for instance, London-based The Guardian reported a public inquiry regarding the treatment of Iraqi prisoners by British and American forces in 2004. More noticeable, though, is the general lack of intense media coverage of the anniversary. Krugman calls it suspect. Perhaps it is the product of a people that is eager to move on.

Immigration Federalism: Why It Matters for National Reform

In the wake of the 2012 election, immigration reform is one of the seemingly most critical priorities for both Republicans and the Obama administration. Yet, immigration remains one of the most divisive issues in politics today. Given the partisan differences over approaches to immigration reform and ongoing divisions within both parties, it is unclear what, if any, major federal reforms can actually be achieved in Barack Obama’s second term. While the nation waits for a breakthrough on immigration reform, states and local governments have increasingly taken on responsibilities pertaining to immigration in response to the failure of the federal government to act. Last week, the Miller Center hosted a GAGE colloquium featuring Carol Swain of Vanderbilt University, who discussed immigration federalism and the prospects for policy innovation and change as a result of state and local involvement. Swain argued that “state invention can be a positive force for change because it offers new possibilities for innovative policy solutions” and that “state action can become the needed boost that Congress needs to stop kicking the can down the road and begin to exercise its power under the Supremacy Clause to reform the policy.”

Swain argued that the rise in state action on immigration has been the result of a growing incentive to be involved as states respond to the necessity of local enforcement, the lack of federal enforcement, and the need to integrate new immigrants into their societies. According to Swain, changes in immigration patterns have brought noncitizens into new regions of the country and the cost of unauthorized immigration has fallen unevenly across levels of government. Furthermore, since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the federal government has increasingly relied on states to assist with immigration law enforcement.

This Day in History: Roosevelt Delivers First Fireside Chat

Title 	Franklin D. Roosevelt having a fireside chat in Washington, D.C.

Title Franklin D. Roosevelt having a fireside chat in Washington, D.C., April 28, 1935. Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration. PD.

Eighty years ago today, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered the first “fireside chat” evening radio address to the nation. By the time of his inauguration the week before, nearly all of the banks in the nation had temporarily closed in response to mass withdrawals by a panicked public. In the March 12, 1933 “fireside chat,” Roosevelt sought to calm the nation’s fears and outlined his plan to restore confidence in the banking system. As he would in future addresses, FDR used common language to explain the complex problem that had developed and what the administration was doing about it. Roosevelt told the nation:

I want to tell you what has been done in the last few days, why it was done, and what the next steps are going to be. I recognize that the many proclamations from State Capitols and from Washington, the legislation, the Treasury regulations, etc., couched for the most part in banking and legal terms should be explained for the benefit of the average citizen. I owe this in particular because of the fortitude and good temper with which everybody has accepted the inconvenience and hardships of the banking holiday. I know that when you understand what we in Washington have been about I shall continue to have your cooperation as fully as I have had your sympathy and help during the past week.

After explaining the problem and the administration’s actions, FDR made an appeal for the public’s sympathy and support, soliciting trust and contributing to a sense of national unity in confronting the crisis:

After all there is an element in the readjustment of our financial system more important than currency, more important than gold, and that is the confidence of the people. Confidence and courage are the essentials of success in carrying out our plan. You people must have faith; you must not be stampeded by rumors or guesses. Let us unite in banishing fear. We have provided the machinery to restore our financial system; it is up to you to support and make it work.
It is your problem no less than it is mine. Together we cannot fail.

In all, Roosevelt delivered thirty “fireside chat” radio addresses between 1933 and 1944. FDR used the new form of communication to reshape the presidency and the chats were a significant development in building a direct and intimate bond between the president and the public.

This Day in History: Reagan Delivers “Evil Empire” Speech

President Ronald Rean delivers “Evil Empire” Speech, March 8, 1983

Thirty years ago today, Ronald Reagan delivered one of his most influential addresses to the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida, referring to the Soviet Union as an “evil empire” and calling the Soviets “the focus of evil in the modern world.” In the decades before his presidency, Reagan had read and thought deeply about American foreign policy and brought with him to the White House a number of strong convictions. He regarded Communism as an immoral and destructive ideology and believed that the Soviet Union was bent on world domination. Reagan told the audience on March 8, 1983:

They preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the Earth. They are the focus of evil in the modern world....

Reagan used the speech to lobby the evangelical group to support the administration’s peace through strength approach to negotiating with the Soviet Union and to oppose a “nuclear freeze” that Congress was debating at the time. The Congressional resolution in support of a "nuclear freeze” would have prevented the deployment of U.S. cruise and Pershing II Missiles in Europe. Reagan made the case for deploying NATO nuclear-armed missiles in Western Europe as a response to the Soviets installing new nuclear-armed missiles in Eastern Europe.

Using the bully pulpit of the presidency, Reagan told the crowd:

The truth is that a freeze now would be a very dangerous fraud, for that is merely the illusion of peace. The reality is that we must find peace through strength…

So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride, the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.

Carl Hayden: From County Sheriff to U.S. Senator

Carl Hayden, Sheriff of Maricopa County

Carl Hayden, pictured here as sheriff of Maricopa County. PD.

On a recent trip to Mesa, Arizona, I found myself at the Natural History Museum.  Most of the museum is in the old city hall building where one exhibit was the territorial jail, an intimidating series of metal prison cells.  A sign hanging on the wall read that Carl Hayden was once sheriff of Maricopa County from 1907-1912.  Wait…I know that name as my political history brain began to click.  After some quick digging, I was impressed by the fact that Hayden and Daniel Inouye of Hawaii were the only 20th century politicians who saw their territory become a state, became their state’s first Representative in the House, and served long terms in Congress. 

Hayden’s state-wide political career took off, in part, because he was sheriff.  He got to know the law enforcement and court officials who would help him win a seat in the House of Representatives in 1912.  Hayden then served as Senator from 1927 until his retirement in 1969 – 56 consecutive years.  It is unusual to have such longevity, but also to experience the vast changes in the country while serving in Congress.  When he left the sheriff’s office, Maricopa County was a quiet farming community.  By the time he departed the Senate, Hayden left a considerable legacy, mainly from the federal highway system and the Central Arizona Project that brought water to Arizona from the Colorado River, thus creating modern Arizona as we know it. Both of these issues are back in the headlines today as the state’s population nearly doubled in the last two decades, now at over 6 million people.  Traffic congestion and air pollution remain a concern, especially in the state’s population center, Maricopa County. Furthermore, Arizona could face water shortages due to climate change and growing demand.

In our Presidential Recordings series at the Miller Center, we hear a couple of interactions between Senator Hayden and President Lyndon Johnson in 1964.  This was a crucial year as Johnson was facing Arizona’s junior senator, Barry Goldwater, in the 1964 presidential election.  In one conversation, Johnson asked Hayden for help in Arizona, but Goldwater won the state anyway.  However, Goldwater managed to win only five other states in the wake of Johnson’s landslide.

This Day in History: Reagan Addresses the Nation on Iran-Contra

President Ronald Reagan Addresses the Nation on Iran-Contra, March 4, 1987

In a March 4, 1987 broadcast, President Ronald Reagan addressed the American people from the Oval Office, promising to tell the nation the truth regarding the Iran-Contra scandal, and admitting he had made mistakes. Reagan told the nation:

A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not. As the Tower board reported, what began as a strategic opening to Iran deteriorated, in its implementation, into trading arms for hostages.

In the address, Regan also promised to go beyond the recommendations of the Tower Commission’s recommendations by taking action in three basic areas: personnel, national security policy, and the process for making sure that the system works. Various inquiries into the affair had revealed lax management and enormous detachment on Reagan's part, as well as appalling conduct by members of the National Security Council staff. The president announced new national security personnel, including former Senator Howard Baker as Chief of Staff, Frank Carlucci as national security adviser, and William Webster as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He also announced a comprehensive review of covert operations and new processes to ensure the integrity of future national security decisions.

The Iran-Contra Affair actually involved two separate initiatives. The first was the clandestine sale of U.S. military equipment to Iran, which had the support of the Israeli government, in contradiction of the Reagan administration's public policy of remaining neutral in the Iran-Iraq War. In exchange for the arms sales, American hostages being held by terrorists in Lebanon were released. The second was the attempt by a small group of National Security Council staff members and former military men to funnel proceeds from the sale of these weapons to the Contra rebels opposing the Nicaraguan government. While President Reagan attached great importance during this period to the success of the contra effort, he insisted he had no knowledge of the diversion of funds to the Contras. However, he wrote in his diary and eventually acknowledged to the American people that he authorized the Iran arms sales.

Mehrotra in Bloomberg on the Income Tax and the Fiscal State

Ajay K. Mehrotra, a former Miller Center National Fellow and a professor of law and history at the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University, Bloomington, has published an op-ed in Bloomberg in which he reflects on the significance of the 100th anniversary of the federal income tax. Mehrotra writes:

As Tennessee Representative Cordell Hull, one of the chief architects of the new law, explained, the goal of the 1913 income tax was to ensure that the rich were paying their fair share of increasing government expenses. “I have no disposition to tax wealth unnecessarily or unjustly,” Hull said on the floor of Congress, “but I do believe that the wealth of the country should bear its just share of the burden of taxation and that it should not be permitted to shirk that duty.” Hull intended the income tax to counterbalance the regressive elements of the existing regime. “Something is needed to restore the equilibrium,” he said, “and that something can scarcely take any form except that of an income tax.”

As we commemorate the centennial of the 16th Amendment and look ahead to looming budgetary battles, we ought to keep in mind that the foundations of our modern fiscal state are rooted not in efforts to radically redistribute wealth, but in attempts to balance fiscal duties and civic responsibilities. The progressives who bequeathed this state to us certainly knew the difference.

Read the full op-ed here.

This Day in History: George H.W. Bush Announces End of Gulf War

Address on the End of the Gulf War (February 27, 1991)

On this day in 1991, President George H.W. Bush delivered an address to a joint session of Congress announcing the end of the Gulf War. President Bush told the nation in his address:

We must now begin to look beyond victory and war. We must meet the challenge of securing the peace. In the future, as before, we will consult with our coalition partners. We've already done a good deal of thinking and planning for the postwar period, and Secretary Baker has already begun to consult with our coalition partners on the region's challenges. There can be, and will be, no solely American answer to all these challenges. But we can assist and support the countries of the region and be a catalyst for peace. In this spirit, Secretary Baker will go to the region next week to begin a new round of consultations.

Following the war, President Bush and his administrative team seized the opportunity to build upon the success of bringing together Arab countries that cooperated during the war to revive the Arab-Israeli peacemaking process. It was also a politically ripe moment as the president enjoyed unprecedented domestic popularity. For the next eight months, Secretary of State James Baker engaged in shuttle diplomacy, with efforts culminating in the 1991 Madrid Conference, during which Israel entered into direct, face-to-face negotiations with Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Palestinians for the first time. The Madrid Conference served as a catalyst for the 1994 peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, as well as for non-public talks between Israel and Palestinian Arabs in what became known as the Oslo peace process.

The Bush administration’s peace process efforts were interrupted by the 1992 elections. Although Bush was the strongest candidate among voters concerned with international issues in the general election campaign and although the president believed his record of foreign policy would be rewarded electorally, the campaign narrative focused instead on the economy, advantaging the Democratic candidate, William Clinton.

Read more about the Madrid Conference in the Miller Center’s Oral History interview with Secretary Baker here.

This Week in History: The Speech that Won Lincoln the Republican Nomination

Photograph of Abraham Lincoln

The most famous of the beardless poses, taken by Mathew B. Brady on Monday morning, February 27, 1860, only a few hours before Lincoln delivered his Cooper Union address. That speech and this portrait, Lincoln afterwards said, put him in the White House.

Last night, Daniel Day Lewis took home an Oscar for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln and became the first actor to win three lead Oscars. This week also marks an important milestone in the life of the real Abraham Lincoln, without which there likely would have been no president, and perhaps no movie or third Oscar for Lewis.

On February 27, 1860, Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech that played a pivotal role in his gaining the 1860 Republican Presidential nomination. In the well-researched Cooper Union Address, President Lincoln argued that of the 39 signers of the Constitution, 21 had voted at least once, some more than once, for the restriction of slavery in National Territories, thus “showing that, in their understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything else, properly forbade the federal government to control as to slavery in federal territory.” The address was a stunningly effective argument demonstrating that the founding fathers intended Congress to regulate slavery and it provided a coherent justification for the Republican Party's opposition to slavery's extension.

Lincoln told the crowd of 1,500 New Yorkers, some of them prominent members of the Republican Party:

It is surely safe to assume that the 39 framers of the original Constitution, and the 76 members of the Congress which framed the amendments thereto, taken together, do certainly include those who may be fairly called "our fathers who framed the government under which we live." And so assuming, I defy any man to show that any one of them ever, in his whole life, declared that, in his understanding, any proper division of local from federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbade the federal government to control as to slavery in the federal territories. I go a step further. I defy any one to show that any living man in the whole world ever did, prior to the beginning of the present century, (and I might almost say prior to the beginning of the last half of the present century,) declare that, in his understanding, any proper division of local from federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbade the federal government to control as to slavery in the federal territories. To those who now so declare, I give, not only "our fathers who framed the government under which we live," but with them all other living men within the century in which it was framed, among whom to search, and they shall not be able to find the evidence of a single man agreeing with them.