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The debates were held as part of the campaign for the Illinois senatorial seat in 1858, pitting the two-term incumbent, Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, against the lesser-known Abraham Lincoln, a successful lawyer and state politician who was the Republican candidate. Held in seven congressional districts around the state, the debates (somewhat reluctantly agreed to by Douglas) focused on issues of critical importance to the nation, resulting in close attention by the public and the media. As it turned out, the question of the extension of slavery into the new territories acquired from Mexico dominated all seven meetings.
This volume includes two speeches -- one by each candidate -- and the texts of all seven debates. Paving the way for modern discussions between political candidates, the Lincoln-Douglas debates fascinated nineteenth-century America and catapulted Lincoln into the spotlight. Although he lost the senatorial race to Douglas, the stature and recognition Lincoln gained during the confrontations with his opponent helped propel him to the presidency in 1860.
Ottawa, August 21, 1858 1
Freeport, August 27, 1858 43
Jonesboro, September 15, 1858 83
Charleston, September 18, 1858 127
Galesburg, October 7, 1858 173
Quincy, October 13, 1858 211
Alton, October 15, 1858 251
Textual Annotation 297
Glossary: Persons, Issues, and Events 319
Posted March 26, 2014