The speech made Lincoln the acknowledged leader of the Republican Party in Illinois and set him on the path to the presidency. At the time it was said to be “the greatest speech ever made in Illinois”.
Though many of Lincoln’s speeches have come down to us, this one, perhaps the most important, has been lost. It was lost despite the presence of hundreds of witnesses, including a large number of newspapermen. As Kearns Goodwin explains, “So enthralled were those in the audience that reporters cast aside their pens to concentrate on what Lincoln said.”
From contemplation of the loss, a number of conclusions are possible. These include:
The devotion of the note-taker is blemished by greed.
The greatest devotion is silent. Its form is pure attention.
The desire to rescue is a distraction.
Loss is an attribute of greatness.