|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?
Check out these recent titles, now in bookstores, that I had the pleasure to write advance blurbs for (which means, obviously, I liked them):
My blurb: “[An] intimate portrait of decline. Throughout, the contrast between the great President and his descendants—living lives of little social impact or public purpose—is crystal clear.”
The Long Pursuit: Abraham Lincoln’s Thirty-Year Struggle with Stephen Douglas for the Heart and Soul of America, by Roy Morris, Jr.
My Blurb: “[A] key addition to out understanding of antebellum America — the forces driving the nation to th brink — and a fine human drama.”
Soul of a People: The WPA Writers’ Project Uncovers Depression America by David A. Taylor
My blurb: “This intimate portrait of the Writers’ Project, a gem of FDR’s New Deal, is a nostalgic journey through America in the Depression Era. Familiar faces dot every corner, young writers from Studs Terkel to Richard Wright, John Cheever to Ralph Ellison. It’s a journey well worth taking, a key formative moment in our literary common culture, well written and nicely researched.”