Stephen Douglas was very passionate about the issue of slavery. He believed that slavery should be decided by popular sovereignty. He felt that the people who lived in a area should decide whether or not there should be slavery in their area. Douglas blamed this issue on the Northern abolitionist because they were very agitating. He felt that giving the National government power of the issue of slavery would restrict states rights, individual liberty, and ultimately, damage the Union. Douglas's Kansas-Nebraska Act repealed the Missouri Compromise's ban on slavery in the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, and then replaced it with the doctrine of popular sovereignty. He also argued that both Whigs and Democrats believed in popular sovereignty. Douglas charged Lincoln with opposing the Dred Scott decision because "it deprives the negro of the rights and privileges of citizenship." He also accused Lincoln of wanting to overthrow state laws that excluded blacks from states such as Illinois, which were popular with the northern Democrats.
Lincoln, on the other hand, believes we shouldn't support slavery because the nation's founders opposed slavery and the spreading of it into new territories. Lincoln had many other opinions like that he felt that a divided nation would eventually lead to war; he felt that slaves were people of God, therefore we should treat them equally; and that a country based on freedom in fact, does not have freedom but slavery. Lincoln was deeply and morally concerned with the needs of the people and was very sympathetic towards slaves. In the debates, Lincoln explained the Nebraska issue on slavery and concluded that Douglas and the South "had departed from the ideals of the Founding Fathers and altered the national position on slavery." Lincoln knew the Union could not stay half slave and half free permanently. He knew it had to become either completely slave or completely free.
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