The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
About the The Lincoln-Douglas Debates Lesson
This lesson introduces students to the Lincoln-Douglas debates.
• To be able to describe the nature of the debates.
• To be able to describe how the debates led to Lincoln?s nomination for President.
• To be able to describe the main issue and positions of the debates.
When people want to be elected to Congress, they have to explain their beliefs about many ideas and take stances on important issues. In 1858 in Illinois, the election for senator was dominated by one main issue. The main issue was the issue of slavery.
Senator Stephen A. Douglas was running for re-election. Abraham Lincoln, known as ?Honest Abe,? was running against him. Lincoln was a tall lawyer from Illinois. The Republican Party had recently been formed, and Abraham Lincoln was a member of this new political party. The Republican Party was adamantly opposed to slavery.
In 1858, Abraham Lincoln made a speech in which he called slavery a great threat to the United States. Lincoln said, ?I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free.? He said that a country could not be divided in this manner and still flourish. Lincoln challenged Stephen Douglas to a series of public debates.