The Lincoln-Douglas Debate

  • First Debate:

  • Ottawa, Illinois

  • August 21, 1858

  • It was dry and dusty, between 10,000 and 12,000 people were in attendance when the debate began at 2:00 p.m.

  • There were no seats or bleachers.

  • Douglas charged Lincoln with trying to “abolitionize” the Whig and Democratic Parties.

  • He also charged Lincoln had been present when a very radical “abolitionist” type platform had been written by the Republican Party in 1854.

  • Douglas accused Lincoln of taking the side of the common enemy in the Mexican War.

  • Douglas also said Lincoln wanted to make Illinois “a free Negro colony.”

  • Douglas asked Lincoln seven questions.

  • Lincoln during his turn did not respond to the questions and was on the defensive denying the allegations Douglas had made.

  • Lincoln charged Douglas with trying to nationalize slavery.

  • In his rebuttal Douglas concentrated on the charge that Lincoln had been present when a very radical “abolitionist” type platform had been written by the Republican Party in 1854.

  • Source: Neely, Mark E. Jr. 1982.

  • Mr. Douglas' Speech

  • Mr. Douglas

    Ladies and gentlemen:

    Profile Picture of Mr. Douglas in The Lincoln-Douglas Debate
  • I appear before you to-day for the purpose of discussing the leading political topics which now agitate the public mind.

  • By an arrangement between Mr. Lincoln and myself, we are present here to-day for the purpose of having a joint discussion, as the representatives of the two great political parties of the State and Union,

  • upon the principles in issue between those parties and this vast concourse of people, shows the deep feeling which pervades the public mind in regard to the questions dividing us.

  • Mr. Douglas

    Prior to 1854 this country was divided into two great political parties, known as the Whig and Democratic parties.

    Profile Picture of Mr. Douglas in The Lincoln-Douglas Debate