Lincoln Douglas Debates
Table of Contents
I. Introduction
II. The Debates
III. Positions
IV. The Results
V. Sources


I. Introduction
The Lincoln–Douglas Debates of 1858 were a series of seven debates between Abraham Lincoln, the Republican candidate, and the incumbent Stephen A. Douglas, a Democrat, for an Illinois seat in the United States Senate. At the time, U.S. Senators were elected by state legislatures;
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
thus Lincoln and Douglas were campaigning for their respective parties to win control of the Illinois legislature. The debates previewed the issues that Lincoln would face in the 1860 presidential election. The main issue discussed in all seven debates was slavery.
II. The Debates
Lincoln in an attempt to increase his visibility engaged Douglas in a series of debates. The Lincoln Douglas debates attracted enormous crowds and received wide attention. By the time they ended Lincoln's increasingly eloquent and passionate attacks on slavery had made him nationally prominent. At the heart of the debates was a basic difference on the issue of slavery.
III. Positions
Douglas appeared to have no moral position on the issue and, Lincoln claimed, did not care weather slavery was "voted up, or down." Lincoln's opposition to slavery was more fundamental. If the nation could accept that blacks were not entitled to basic human rights, he argued then it could accept that other groups - immigrants laborers, for example - could be deprived of
Stephen Douglas
Stephen Douglas
rights too. And if slavery were to extend into the western territories, he argued, the opportunities for poor white laborers to better their lots there would be lost. The nation's future, he argued, rested on the spread of free labor.
IV. Results
In the state election, the Democrats won a narrow majority of seats in the Illinois General Assembly, despite getting slightly less than half the votes. The legislature then re-elected Douglas. However, the widespread media coverage of the debates greatly raised Lincoln's national profile, making him a viable candidate for nomination as the Republican candidate in the upcoming 1860 presidential election. He would go on to secure both the nomination and the presidency, besting Douglas (as the Northern Democratic candidate), among others, in the process. The Lincoln–Douglas debate format that is used in high school and college competition today is named after this series of debates. Modern presidential debates trace their roots to the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, though the format today is remarkably different from the original.

V. Sources
http://www.wikipedia.org/
American History, Brinkley