Stephen A. Douglas: First Debate with Abraham Lincoln

(1858)

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In 1858 Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln, opponents in a race for the U.S. Senate, agreed to hold a series of six debates, now collectively known as the Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858. Over his political career, Douglas gave more than four thousand speeches. They built his career, for he had no family or other political connections to speak of—only the power to influence men’s minds through his words. His speeches represent the height of traditional rhetoric. With no...