Presidents Day warm-up 2: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates

Period drawing of Abraham Lincoln debating Stephen Douglas, 1858.



Presidents Day is still another week from now.  But here’s an early treat for those who can’t stand the wait: A great period sketch of Abraham Lincoln in one of his epic 1858 debates with Stephen Douglas, both vying for that year’s Illinois US Senate seat, Lincoln as the Republican, Douglas, in incumbent, as the Democrat.


Lincoln would win the popular vote, but Douglas would win the seat.  State legislatures still picked US Senators back then, and the Illinois statehouse in 1858 still tipped Democratic.


Lincoln spoke so effectively in his 1858 debates with Douglas — there were seven altogether — that they helped make him a national figure.  Lincoln and Douglas would face each other again in 1860, this time as rival candidates for President on the eve of Civil War.  


Click on the image to make it full size and enjoy the stunning detail — the posture of the debaters, the banners, the faces in the crowd, the musical instruments of the brass band, the outdoor setting.   Could a photograph do nearly as well?

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