While the debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas are undoubtedly the most celebrated in American history, they may also be the most consequential as well. The issues so fiercely debated in 1858 were about various interrelated aspects of one momentous, nation-threatening issue: slavery. Argued with skill and passion and varied as Lincoln and Douglas became more familiar with what the other would say, this series of debates is of enduring interest as an illuminating instance of the ever-recurring dilemma of American democracy: what happens when the deeply held attachments to regional traditions and notions of personal property confront a principled stand against a "moral, social, and political evil"? Both Lincoln and Douglas foresaw what the answer might be and it came: civil war. Important as they are, the Lincoln-Douglas debates have long since ceased to be self-explanatory. This edition is the first to provide a text founded on all known records, rather than following one or another of the partisan and sometimes widely varying newspaper accounts. Meticulously edited and annotated, it provides numerous aids to help the modern reader understand the debates, including extensive introductory material, commentary, and a glossary. The fullest and most dependable edition of the Lincoln-Douglas debates ever prepared, this edition brings readers as close as possible to the original words of these two remarkable men.
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates