Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America

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Simon and Schuster, May 11, 2010 - History - 352 pages
3 Reviews
From the two-time winner of the prestigious Lincoln Prize, a stirring and surprising account of the debates that made Lincoln a national figure and defined the slavery issue that would bring the country to war.

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln was known as a successful Illinois lawyer who had achieved some prominence in state politics as a leader in the new Republican Party. Two years later, he was elected president and was on his way to becoming the greatest chief executive in American history.

What carried this one-term congressman from obscurity to fame was the campaign he mounted for the United States Senate against the country’s most formidable politician, Stephen A. Douglas, in the summer and fall of 1858. As this brilliant narrative by the prize-winning Lincoln scholar Allen Guelzo dramatizes, Lincoln would emerge a predominant national figure, the leader of his party, the man who would bear the burden of the national confrontation.

Lincoln lost that Senate race to Douglas, though he came close to toppling the “Little Giant,” whom almost everyone thought was unbeatable. Guelzo’s Lincoln and Douglas brings alive their debates and this whole year of campaigns and underscores their centrality in the greatest conflict in American history.

The encounters between Lincoln and Douglas engage a key question in American political life: What is democracy's purpose? Is it to satisfy the desires of the majority? Or is it to achieve a just and moral public order? These were the real questions in 1858 that led to the Civil War. They remain questions for Americans today.

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Lincoln and Douglas: the debates that defined America

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They were running for the U.S. Senate, with the "little giant" Douglas the incumbent. Lincoln started following him around the state, speaking after him on the campaign trail, so Douglas agreed that ... Read full review

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Easily the best book on LIncoln OR Douglas.
Whoever wrote the above -- about Douglas being for popular sovereignty -- I wonder giw on earth you got that idea. The entire PURPOSE of Lincoln
in the first debates was to expose Douglas duplicity, and how he did not want popular sovereignty at all
Douglas had helped his partner, David Rice Atchison, pass the KS bill, then raced out to KS and began his reign of terror -- with Douglas helping him, as Chairman of House and Senate Committte on Kansas.
Of course Lincoln knew all this, and Lincoln was setting traps for Douglas.
The above drivel seems written by some slogan slinging idiot who does not grasp what the hell was going on. LIncoln knew, Douglas knew, Guellzo knows, and told of it, but tthe person reading the above seems clueless. Douglas for popular sovereignty? Yes, that's what he said -- but as Lincoln exposed, that didn't mean anything, because Douglas actually and with great effort made sure that the people in Kansas could not vote against slavery. While Douglas was running his con in CD, Atchison was killing and terrorizing in Kansas, with men paid for by Jeff Davis, and which must have been approved of by Douglas, as Chairman on the KS Committee.
What tripe -- "Guetzos Lincoln and Douglas brings alive their debates" Hello -- DID YOU READ it or not. I doubt you read it.
Guelzo goes into the meat of it - DOuglas duplicity. Yes, I know it's a little over the head of peole who think in slogans, but the entire country was very aware of what was going on, once news of Atchison's killing sprees became known. LIncoln masterfully backed Douglas into a corner, where Douglas at long last had to say people in Kansas could, or could not, vote against slavery. DOuglas had avoided that question for years, because he had made SURE people could not vote against slavery, by word games in the KS act itself, and in his relationship with Atchison and Davis.
When LIncoln forced the rat Douglas out of his whole, Douglas had no choice but to say, YES people in KS should be able to vote against slavery.
That was critical -- and monumental. Douglas was a shoe in to be President in 1860, by his smooth duplicity -- claiming he wanted popular soverighty, but behind the scenes helping Atchison and Davis. But Douglas could not help Atchison and Davis anymore, once he said publically KS voters could reject slavery. Douglas was immediately villified by the SOuth, especially the people he had helped. Douglas essentially lost the South-- he could no longer be a shoe in, because now, SOuthern Dems hated Douglas. They loved him when he played his ruse to help Atchison in Kasas, and get the KS bill passed. But saying publically, after being chased around the state about that, that people could reject slavery by vote, didn't just alienate Southern leaders, they loathed him. Their perfect plan to get Douglas into the WHite House, so they could spread slavery into all the West, was now over, if LIncon won.
Guelzo gets that. And whoever wrote the above, does not

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About the author (2010)

Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era at
Gettysburg College, where he also directs the Civil War Era Studies Program and
The Gettysburg Semester. He is the author of Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer
(1999) and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of
Slavery in America
(2004), both of which won the Lincoln Prize. He has
written essays and reviews for The Washington Post, The Wall Street
, Time, the Journal of American History, and many other

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