lincoln's audiences in the 1840s could anticipate in their public speakers an enthusiastic personal testimony of belief in progress toward individual and social perfection. On the Illinois frontier, seated in a new building in a new country, they expected a pledge of allegiance to America's freedom to reform itself of all the deep-rooted institutional evils which their forefathers had imported from the Old World. To this first generation of native-born Americans, God's hand was then obvious; after years of conflict, of revolutionary war, of constitutional crisis, of conspiracy and intrigue, they, the chosen, were at last free to work God's purpose, which was their individual perfection, and in which, through the exhilarating sweep of American energy and innocence, the world itself might find salvation.
Surely the most abundant of their prospects were the apparently endless opportunities of the western frontier than open to those whom God in His wisdom had chosen to lead the world toward freedom. To most Americans of the first generation, freedom, in its larger meanings, was measured in economic and social and spiritual opportunities: the freedom to move, to respond to new wealth and new ideas, the opportunity to acquire land and status and also to advance and to create, to test and to enrich human life. Fulfillment would begin in the rejection of Old World geographic, political, religious, and economic restrictions and in the circumvention of Old World corruptions. The new American would not be bound by the