Lincoln-Douglas Debates Facts

Lincoln-Douglas Debates Facts
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates was a series of seven debates in 1858 in the state of Illinois between incumbent Democratic Senator Stephen A. Douglas (1813-1861) and Republican challenger Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865). The debates were important and unique for a number of reasons. First, although they were ostensibly for the Illinois US Senate seat that Douglas held, at the time senators were picked by the state legislatures, so essentially both men were campaigning for their parties to win control of the Illinois legislature. Second, although not unheard of, campaign debates were relatively rare and having nine for a particular office in one election cycle was unheard of in 1858. Third, although the Republicans didn't win the majority of the seats in the Illinois legislature, which mean that Douglas held the senate seat, Lincoln impressed Americans with his image and debating style. The debates were heavily covered by the national media and overnight Lincoln became a household name and the most popular figure in the Republican Party, helping catapult him to the presidency in 1860.
Interesting Lincoln-Douglas Debates Facts:
Douglas made it clear during the debates that although he personally didn't believe in slavery, he thought that each territory or state should decide the issue under the idea of "popular sovereignty."
On the other hand, Lincoln made it clear that although he didn't believe in racial equality, he was opposed to the idea of slavery.
The seven debates took place in seven of Illinois' nine congressional districts. The two candidates had already given dueling speeches in Springfield and Chicago, to they agreed to skip the districts of those two cities.
The debates took place from August 21 to October 15.
The cities where the debates took place were: Ottawa, Freeport, Jonesboro, Charleston, Galesburg, Quincy, and Alton.
Thousands would attend the debates, especially those held along the border with Missouri.
The debates followed a strict format. The first candidate would speak for an hour, then the second candidate would speak for an hour and a half, and then the first candidate would get a thirty minute rebuttal. They would switch who spoke first after every debate.
At the first debate in Ottawa, Lincoln uttered the famous line, "I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free."
Both candidates attempted to use the Dred Scott decision to their advantage. Douglas focused on Lincoln's opposition to the decision, which was popular with many in the North because it effectively kept free blacks out of many northern states, while Lincoln pointed out that Douglas' popular sovereignty position could actually run counter to the decision.
Douglas' answer to Lincoln's question about popular sovereignty and Dred Scott became known as the "Freeport Doctrine" because it was articulated at the Freeport debate. Basically, Douglas said that if the people of a given territory chose to make it a free territory and then state, that they could disregard Dred Scott. The answer lost Douglas support with Southern Democrats.
The Republicans actually won the popular vote in Illinois by quite a significant margin - 53% to 46% - but they lost by eight districts.

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