Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas: The Men Behind America's Most Famous Debates - Charles River Editors

Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas: The Men Behind America's Most Famous Debates

By Charles River Editors

  • Release Date - Published: 2013-03-15
  • Book Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Author: Charles River Editors
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Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas: The Men Behind America's Most Famous Debates Charles River Editors read online review & book description:

*Includes pictures of Lincoln, Douglas, and important people, places, and events.
*Comprehensively covers the scene of each debate and important quotes from both candidates. 
*Includes a Bibliography for further reading. 
*Includes a Table of Contents. 

The most famous debates in American history were held over 150 years ago, and today they are remembered and celebrated mostly because they included future President Abraham Lincoln, one of the nation’s most revered men. But in the Fall of 1858, Lincoln was just a one-term Congressman who had to all but beg his U.S. Senate opponent to debate him. That’s because his opponent, incumbent U.S. Senator Stephen Douglas, was one of the most famous national politicians of the era. 

Though Douglas is remembered today almost entirely for his association to Lincoln, in 1858 he was “The Little Giant” of American politics and a leader of the Democratic Party. In particular, it was Douglas who had championed the idea of “popular sovereignty”, advocating that the settlers of federal territory should vote on whether their state would become a free state or a slave state. When Congress created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska in 1854, it followed this model, and Douglas believed it was a moderate position that would hold the Union together. But many in the North considered popular sovereignty a deliberate attempt to circumvent the Missouri Compromise, which was supposed to have banned slavery in any state above the parallel 36°30′ north. As a result, the Lincoln-Douglas debates would be almost entirely about issues pertaining to slavery. 

Douglas would go on to win reelection in 1858, but Lincoln would win the war, literally and figuratively. In the presidential election of 1860, Lincoln would win the Republican nomination and the presidency in large part because Douglas had fractured the national Democratic Party with some of his stated policies during the 1858 debates. When the Democrats ran a Northern Democrat (Douglas) and a Southern Democrat (Breckenridge) in 1860, they split the vote and handed the election to Lincoln.

Lincoln, of course, would go on to become one of the most famous Americans in history and one of the country’s most revered presidents. Schoolchildren can recite the life story of Lincoln, the “Westerner” who educated himself and became a self made man, rising from lawyer to leader of the new Republican Party before becoming the 16th President of the United States. Lincoln successfully navigated the Union through the Civil War but didn’t live to witness his crowning achievement, becoming the first president assassinated when he was shot at Ford’s Theater by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865. 

In the generation after the Civil War, Lincoln became an American deity and one of the most written about men in history. With such a sterling reputation, even historians hesitate to write a critical word; in Team of Rivals Doris Kearns Goodwin casts Lincoln as an almost superhuman puppet master in control of his Cabinet’s political machinations and the war’s direction, juggling the balancing act flawlessly. As a result, Lincoln the man is far less known than Lincoln the myth. 

Abraham Lincoln & Stephen Douglas: The Men Behind America's Most Famous Debates chronicles the lives of both men and profiles the debates that made Lincoln a national celebrity and ultimately set him on the path to the presidency. This book also discusses lesser-known facts about both men and their enduring legacies. Along with pictures of Lincoln, Douglas, and other important people and events in their lives, you will learn about the 16th President, the Little Giant, and the Lincoln-Douglas debates like never before.

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