Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas: The Men Behind America's Most Famous Debates

ISBN: 9781492343363
*Includes pictures of Lincoln, Douglas, and important people, places, and events.
*Comprehensively covers the scene of each debate and important quotes from both candidates.
*Includes a Bibliography for further reading.
*Includes a Table of Contents.

The most famous debates in American history were held over 150 years ago, and today they are remembered and celebrated mostly because they included future President Abraham Lincoln, one of the nation’s most revered men. But in the Fall of 1858, Lincoln was just a one-term Congressman who had to all but beg his U.S. Senate opponent to debate him. That’s because his opponent, incumbent U.S. Senator Stephen Douglas, was one of the most famous national politicians of the era.

Though Douglas is remembered today almost entirely for his association to Lincoln, in 1858 he was “The Little Giant” of American politics and a leader of the Democratic Party. In particular, it was Douglas who had championed the idea of “popular sovereignty”, advocating that the settlers of federal territory should vote on whether their state would become a free state or a slave state. When Congress created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska in 1854, it followed this model, and Douglas believed it was a moderate position that would hold the Union together. But many in the North considered popular sovereignty a deliberate attempt to circumvent the Missouri Compromise, which was supposed to have banned slavery in any state above the parallel 36°30′ north. As a result, the Lincoln-Douglas debates would be almost entirely about issues pertaining to slavery.
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