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UMK Political Science Lincoln Douglas Debates Essay

UMK Political Science Lincoln Douglas Debates Essay


Title: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates: A Clash of Ideals and the Shaping of American Discourse

Introduction:The Lincoln-ouglaDs, a series of seven political debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas in 1858, hold a signifs debateicant place in American political history. These debates, primarily centered around the issue of slavery, not only showcased the differing ideologies of the two candidates but also laid the groundwork for future discussions on the topic. This report explores the causes, content, and results of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, shedding light on their profound impact on American politics and society.

1. Causes of the Debates: The underlying cause of the Lincoln-Douglas debates was the growing tension over the issue of slavery in the United States. The debates were a result of the broader national debate on the extension of slavery into new territories and states. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, proposed by Douglas, further fueled the flames by allowing the settlers in these territories to decide whether to permit slavery through popular sovereignty. This act was met with opposition from anti-slavery advocates, including Abraham Lincoln, who saw it as a reversal of the Missouri Compromise.

2. Content of the Debates: The debates spanned across various cities in Illinois, each lasting for several hours. The format of the debates allowed each candidate to speak for an extended period, addressing the audience and engaging in a direct dialogue. The central theme of the debates was the issue of slavery and its expansion. Douglas defended the concept of popular sovereignty, arguing that citizens of new territories should determine whether slavery would be allowed. He emphasized the principle of states’ rights and the preservation of the Union. On the other hand, Lincoln, while not advocating for immediate abolition, strongly believed that slavery was a moral wrong and should not be allowed to spread. He articulated his concerns about the dangers of a divided nation and the erosion of the nation’s moral foundations due to the expansion of slavery.

3. Results of the Debates: While Douglas won the Senate seat in the election, the debates had far-reaching consequences that extended beyond the immediate electoral outcome. The debates elevated the stature of both Lincoln and Douglas as prominent political figures on the national stage. Lincoln’s articulate arguments and moral stance against the spread of slavery gained him broader recognition, setting the stage for his later presidential candidacy. Douglas, meanwhile, solidified his reputation as a states’ rights advocate and maintained his position as a leading Democratic voice.

The debates also intensified the division between North and South, as the stark contrasts in opinions between Lincoln and Douglas reflected the deep ideological and sectional differences within the country. These debates are often regarded as a precursor to the Civil War, which erupted just a few years later.

Conclusion: The Lincoln-Douglas debates were a pivotal moment in American history, shaped by the growing tension over slavery and the differing ideologies of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. While the immediate electoral results favored Douglas, the debates left an indelible mark on American politics. The moral arguments presented by Lincoln and the defense of states’ rights by Douglas highlighted the deep-rooted divisions in the nation. The debates not only foreshadowed the impending conflict of the Civil War but also laid the foundation for future discussions on issues related to race, equality, and the role of government in shaping the nation’s identity.

UMK Political Science Lincoln Douglas Debates Essay



Research the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Use your information to write a report. Include the following 3 main points:
Discuss the causes of the debates.
Discuss the content of the debates.
Discuss the results of the debates. 

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