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Theodore Parker; His Role In Changing The Us.

3558 words - 14 pages

Theodore Parker played a large role in changing the mentality of not only his parishioners but also the entire nation. One way in which Parker was able to achieve change is through the profound influence that he had on Abraham Lincoln. Parker's ideas reached Lincoln through the medium of William Herndon, Lincoln's law partner. Articles and sermons made by Parker were sent out to Springfield, Illinois while Lincoln was practicing law after he lost his first race for office. At first, Lincoln admired this man due to their many shared beliefs. From there Lincoln took to implementing some of Parker's ideas on culture and the impending crisis facing the country. In certain instances Lincoln used Parker's words exactly as they were spoken. The first instance of this was perhaps Lincoln's most profound speech of all. It in fact instantly identified an entire party for years. It was Lincoln's usage of the metaphor House Divided. The first usage of this metaphor was used by Parker in an address in 1854 where he said, "There can be no national welfare, without a national unity of action. That cannot take place unless there is a national Unity of Idea in fundamentals. Without this a nation is a house divided against itself, of course it cannot stand." This quote which became so famous for Lincoln was not first documented in one of his speeches until May 18, 1858 when he used it in Edwardsville, Illinois. After this phrase was introduced it took on the power of, "this metaphor of a house divided became probably the single most important image of the relationship between slavery and the Union, and remains so today. It provided an instant mental picture of what Republicans stood for." Lincoln was further influenced to steal another Parker quip; this time using it in possibly an even more famous speech. From Parker's sermon, "The Effect of Slavery on the American People," Lincoln took and used in the Gettysburg address, "'Democracy is direct self-government, over all the people, for all the people, by all the people.'" Parker played a very influential role in molding Lincoln's thoughts, which he used to mold the entire country.It was not only through Lincoln that Parker was able to challenge and change so much of the country. Parker was a man who held his beliefs very strongly. He often preached of a higher law which superceded all man-made laws. He practiced living by higher laws on many occasions when it came to fighting laws that he felt were unjust. The law he fought most vigorously against was the Fugitive Slave Law. In his sermons and protests against this law, Parker did as much as any one else to agitate society to war. Not only did he fight to keep fugitive slaves safe in Boston and in Albany, but he was part of a small group of men who supported John Brown in his efforts to start a slave rebellion through the South. Though not inclined to do so himself, Parker had no moral recourse to using force when situations called for it. He was known to write...

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