[T]he central conflict of the 30th Congress was whether the new states would enter the union free or slave. Lincoln, who craved a larger role in the workings of the world, now had his chance. Always the futurist, Lincoln used the federal post system like some pre-electric internet, promoting his speeches to correspondents throughout the country. Mailing by mailing, Lincoln remade himself into Congress’ most outspoken agitator against the president’s justifications for war and a leader in the fight to halt the extension of slavery. In two short years he had risen from a backwoods legislator to a national voice on the hottest topics of the day.
(Lincoln in 1846 or 1847, via Wikimedia Commons)