Civil War and Reconstruction
September 16, 2011
The Lincoln Douglas Debates
In 1858 Abraham Lincoln and Stephen a Douglas embarked on a series of debates and effort to win a seat in the Senate. This time Lincoln was not very well known in the political arena in contrast to Douglas who was a lifelong political player. However, after the debates Lincoln vaulted into the national spotlight continuing on to eventually win the Presidential election of 1860. Lincoln had originally proposed that he and Douglas engage in these debates, and discuss in depth the issues of the day including the issue of slavery as it related to the new territories of Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, Texas, California and New Mexico. During the last debate, which was held in Alton Illinois on October 16, 1858 where some 6000 people gathered for the event in front of the city hall building, Lincoln continued to campaign on his anti-slavery platform while Douglas maintained that it was a states rights issue. Lincoln's position was that the United States could not survive as a nation of half free and half slave states while Douglas maintained that Lincoln's beliefs was a “slander upon the mortal framers of our Constitution”. Additionally Douglas believed that the government could exist with these divided values and it was the right of each state to determine whether or not they wished to allow slavery, and that they could regulate themselves accordingly however, the events in Kansas displayed some evidence to the contrary. Douglas continually attacked Lincoln claiming that he opposed Dred Scott decision because it deprived blacks of their right of citizenship and accused Lincoln of desiring to bypass state laws that excluded blacks from free states. Lincoln and maintained that the Scott decision could allow slavery to spread into the free states and that Douglas ignored the basic humanity and rights of blacks. Although Lincoln was opposed to slavery because he believed...
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