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Examining Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas's Senate Debates

Series: American Debates and Speeches

By Alex David

Today we think of candidates debating before being elected. It is a normal part of the election process. However, before Abraham Lincoln and Illinois senator Stephen Douglas, debates did not occur. Their debates were later published in a book, and Americans could read each candidate's thoughts on slavery. Lincoln wanted to end slavery but Douglas wanted each state to decide for itself if slavery should exist. The ensuing debates pinpoint a critical time in American history. Were people going to vote to allow this inhumane institution to continue or would they agree with Lincoln and abolish it?

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