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Lincoln-Douglas Debates

(1858)

The Lincoln-Douglas debates took place in Illinois from August to October, 1858. Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas were competing for a seat in the U.S. Senate. The debates centered on Douglas’s belief in popular sovereignty and Lincoln’s belief in the equality of mankind. While Lincoln did not win the Senate seat, the debates shot him into the national spotlight and assisted in his presidential election in 1860, a consequence of which was North Carolina’s succession from the Union and the beginning of the Civil War.

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Galesburg, Illinois

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The Lincoln-Douglas Debates in The Chicago Tribune

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 Newspapers around the country began to print transcripts and comment on the debates between Lincoln and Douglas. These articles from the Chicago Tribune highlight what the public thought of the debates and the two men involved. After the debates ended and Douglas took his place in the Senate, Lincoln began to emerge as a possible Republican nominee for the presidency. Ironically, Lincoln and Douglas ran against one another again in 1860, but this time Lincoln won. Stephen Douglas’s party, the Democrats, continued to divide and splinter throughout the election. The doctrine of popular sovereignty, so adamantly defended by Stephen Douglas in the 1858 debates, began to show its faults as civil war raged in “Bleeding Kansas.” Overall, the ideas introduced by Lincoln in 1858 created an outline for Union doctrine during the Civil War. The idea that all men are created equal, white and black, took hold in Yankee hearts and carried Lincoln loyalists through his election and the four bitter years of war.

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Event Details

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Debates:
Alton, Illinois: 15 Oct 1858 1
Charleston, Illinois: September 18, 1958 1
Freeport, Illinois: August 27, 1858 1
Galesburg, Illinois: October 7, 1858 1
Jonesboro, Illinois: September 15, 1858 1
Quincy, Illinois: October 13, 1858 1
Washington Square, Ottawa, Illinois: August 21, 1858 1
Debating Parties:
Abraham Lincoln: Republican Party 2
Stephen Douglas: Democratic Party (Incumbent) 2
Event:
Name: Lincoln-Douglas Debates 2
Main Arguments:
Abraham Lincoln: All men, white and black, are created equal; The nation cannot exist if divided 2
Stephen Douglas: Defended Popular Sovereignty: the idea that the people could decide if slavery would be legal in their territory. 2
Fifth Debate, Galesburg, Illinois:
07 Oct 1858 3
Fifth Debate, Galesburg, Illinois:
Galesburg, Illinois 3
First Debate, Washington Square, Ottawa, Illinois:
21 Aug 1858 3
First Debate, Washington Square, Ottawa, Illinois:
Ottawa, Illinois 3
Fourth Debate, Charleston, Illinois:
This area was very familiar to Lincoln whose father had lived and died here. Lincoln lived and worked here. 3
Fourth Debate, Charleston, Illinois:
18 Sep 1858 1
Fourth Debate, Charleston, Illinois:
Charleston, Illinois 3
Second Debate, Freeport, Illinois:
27 Aug 1858 3
Second Debate, Freeport, Illinois:
Freeport, Illinois 3
Second Debate, Freeport, Illinois:
Over 15,000 people attended the original debate in Freeport. The Freeport Doctrine came out of this debate 3
Seventh Debate, Alton, Illinois:
13 Oct 1858 3
Seventh Debate, Alton, Illinois:
Alton, Illinois 3
Sixth Debate, Quincy, Illinois:
13 Oct 1858 3
Sixth Debate, Quincy, Illinois:
Quincy, Illinois 3
Third Debate, Jonesboro, Illinois:
15 Sep 1858 3
Third Debate, Jonesboro, Illinois:
Jonesboro, Illinois 3
Third Debate, Jonesboro, Illinois:
Union County is south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The debate’s subject split families into Confederate & Union factions. 3
Place:
Location: Illinois, United States 2

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