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Douglas and Republican challenger Abraham Lincoln during the Illinois senatorial campaign, largely concerning the issue of slavery extension into the territories. The slavery extension question had seemingly been settled by the Missouri Compromise nearly 40 years earlier.
The Mexican Warhowever, had added new territories, and the issue flared up again in the s.
The Compromise of provided a temporary respite from sectional strife, but the Kansas-Nebraska Act of —a measure Douglas sponsored—brought the slavery extension issue to the fore once again. In place of the ban, Douglas offered popular sovereigntythe doctrine that the actual settlers in the territories and not Congress should decide the fate of slavery in their midst.
Library of Congress, Washington, D. The Kansas-Nebraska Act spurred the creation of the Republican Partyformed largely to keep slavery out of the western territories. When Lincoln and Douglas debated the slavery extension issue intherefore, they were addressing the problem that had divided the nation into two hostile camps and that threatened the continued existence of the Union.
Their contest, as a consequence, had repercussions far beyond determining who would win the senatorial seat at stake. Lincoln then challenged Douglas to a series of debates, and the two eventually agreed to hold joint encounters in seven Illinois congressional districts.
Abraham Lincoln, from a photograph made at Beardstown, Illinois, during the debates. Douglas repeatedly tried to brand Lincoln as a dangerous radical who advocated racial equality and disruption of the Union.
Lincoln emphasized the moral iniquity of slavery and attacked popular sovereignty for the bloody results it had produced in Kansas.
Life-size bronze statues of Stephen A. Douglas left and Abraham Lincoln at the site of their debate in Alton, Illinois.
Douglas replied that settlers could circumvent the decision by not establishing the local police regulations—i.
Without such protection, no one would bring slaves into a territory. Although he retained his seat in the Senatenarrowly defeating Lincoln when the state legislature which then elected U. Lincoln, on the other hand, lost the election but won acclaim as an eloquent spokesman for the Republican cause.
In the Lincoln-Douglas debates were printed as a book and used as an important campaign document in the presidential contest that year, which once again pitted Republican Lincoln against Democrat Douglas. This time, however, Douglas was running as the candidate of a divided party and finished a distant second in the popular vote to the triumphant Lincoln.
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