Lincoln and Douglas Debates

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Lincoln and Douglas Debates

The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 were a series of seven debates between Abraham Lincoln, the republican candidate, and the incumbent Senator Stephen Douglas, a Democratic Party candidate, for a seat in the United States Senate. During the time period of the debates, Senators were elected by state legislators; therefore Lincoln and Douglas were competing for their respective parties to win control of the Illinois Legislature. The main issue for the debates was overwhelmingly about slavery and anything tied into dealing with slavery. “As the fifties wore on, an exhaustive, exacerbating and essentially futile conflict over slavery raged to the exclusion of nearly all other topics.” So, with slavery at the center of attention, you had two politicians at the end of both spectrums. First, you had the incumbent Senator Stephen Douglas, who was definitely pro-slavery. Then, of course, you had Abraham Lincoln who opposed Stephen Douglas’s ideas. The debates were to be held in each of the nine congressional districts in Illinois. The debates themselves were a very big deal. They came at a time in which our nation was at a crossroads of very important issues to come, with slavery at the helm. The debates drew very large crowds which were enormously in-tune with what was going on and were deeply entrenched to which side they were on. Newspapers also sent court reporters to type the complete text of the debates, which would be released nationally. The newspaper coverage of the debates was deeply biased as well, with each side having different newspapers in their corner. “For the first time reporters were assigned to cover candidates throughout the long campaign season. The Chicago Press and Tribune, the most influential Republican paper in the state, sent the skilled shorthand expert Robert R. Hitt to report every word of the debates, and James B. Sheridan and Henry Binmore performed the same service for Douglas’s organ, the...
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