The Lincoln-Douglas Debates : The First Complete, Unexpurgated Text



Transcription of Annotations

Notes on front endpapers: What kind of an orator was he? Most important political debates in history? Williams painting--debtors in action--268. Worked for Mario Cumo, 1984-92. Politics was also entertainment--no TV/radios in 1858. Voter turnout was nearly unanimous. Lincoln would have won under today's rules--372. How many people heard these debates. 7 occasions, 21 hours, once in 9 districts. 1 hour--opening speech, 1.5 hours reply, .5 hour rejoinder. Sen. Stephen Douglas, 45. Ex long. Abe Lincoln, 49. Hoped for 150 debates. Republicans--Chicago Daily Press and Tribune. Democrat--Chicago Daily Times. (cont'd on verso): Was Lincoln running for President during debate? What would have been import. if actual texts distributed. House divided comment. Scrapbook--1859 Ohio chairman $.50/copy. Slavery, Egypt, Mexican War, Kansas-Nebraska Act, Dred Scott decision, Popular Sovereignty, Henry Clay, James Buchanan. Douglass Fred in Freeport, Black Republicans. Trumbull. Canvass. Who owns Dred Scott-296. Hibernians--Irish foreigners. The word "don't" p. 76. Oregon/Kansas 93, 420 people p. 105. Who's Deacon Bross. P. 245--Galesburg. Douglas contrasts Lincoln's North/South views. Republicans in the North. Free Democracy in the South. 12 Slave holding states, 1 free? Notes on half title: Ladies and gentlemen--there are no ladies present p. 340. On dedication: Harvard R.[obert] T. Lincoln's alma mater. (daughter Remy going to Harvard.) On Table of Contents place underlined in blue ink and days of the week penciled in. Underlinings/notes: 40 editions of debates. No surviving manuscript version of Lincoln's Lyceum speech, Cooper Union address, or House Divided speech. Speaking from text, Lincoln eloquent, dreadful impromptu. 1858 debates most demanding extemporaneous exercise of Lincoln's career. Hour long speeches, 90 minute rebuttals, 30 min. rejoinders. Lincoln spoke flawlessly. Statewide contest for the US Senate. Slavery. Aug.-mid-Oct.1858. Lincoln/Douglas contrasting visions for America--one embracing life, liberty, pursuit of happiness regardless of race, the other stressing government by/for white men only, in perpetuity. Pro-Lincoln Chicago Daily Press and Tribune. Douglas not willing to debate 100 times--even 50--as Lincoln had hoped. Would meet only once in each of the state's 9 cong. districts, since already spoke in Chicago & Springfield--only 7 more joint meetings. Douglas opening/closing positions at first/final debates--last word on 4 occasions. Raw power, unexpurgated spontaneity of speakers sanitized by partisan stenographers, transcribers, editors. Debates not accurately reported. Ministers on Sundays, fairs--politics provided high drama. Douglas' carriage. Noisy torch lit parades through the streets. Newspapers were partisan. Chicago--Democrats read Chicago Daily Times, Republicans, the Chicago Daily Press and Tribune. 19th century press functions like today's paid campaign "spin doctors." Phonographic reporting. Horace White/Robert Hitt--Chicago Press and Tribune coverage. Henry Binmore/James B. Sheridan for pro-Douglas Chicago Times. Phonographic reporters--"Black Republicans." Changed "nigger" to "negro." Blunt Lincoln's wit, make him talk like a booby, half-witted numbskull. Kentucky twang. Lincoln used awkward up-and-down/sidewise movements of his body to give emphasis in arguments. Lincoln spent $1000 on campaign, Douglas $50,000. Personal attacks--character attacks, conspiracy charges, personal insults, name-calling. Douglas forces shot brass canon, each time Douglas scored a hit on Lincoln. Lincoln--slavery wrong; Douglas left to locals to decide. Nearly all observers white. Lincoln--possible to oppose slavery without favoring "amalgamation." Lincoln used word "nigger," not as often as Douglas. June 1858--Springfield, IL--House divided speech toward end of debates attendance plummeted. Lincoln won in judgment of history--historians. Lincoln funny. Douglas relentless, searing, cogently phrased. 1,913 popular vote. Legislative seats 46 to Democrats, 41 to Republicans. 1860 Lincoln defeated Douglas and two others for the presidency. No debates, Lincoln stayed home. Lincoln wanted his "scrapbook" of the speeches published, but did not want to let the book out of his control. Lincoln made significant changes, claimed only a few. Best-seller sales exceeded 30,000. By 1943 38 printings. Douglas died at 48. Differences in texts. Lincoln deleted mentions of crowd noise. Lincoln restrained. Modest public square, scorching summer sun. Began half hour late. Douglas angry, bombastic; Lincoln relaxed, jovial. Hiberniand. 1854 Whigs and Democratic--differed with regard to Bank, Tariff, Distribution, Specie Circular--agreed on Slavery question. Kansas-Nebraska Act. Douglas--Act leaves regulation of slavery to people of area. “Hit him again." Black Republican Party. Douglas quotes House divided speech. Opposed to negro citizenship. Citizenship limited to white men of European descent. 2/3 for Lincoln. Lincoln read from Peoria speech. Free slaves send them to Liberia or their native lands. Cannot make them equals. Do not interfere in states where exists. Whites superior. Mexican war--supported troops, not how war began. Douglas and national slavery. Lincoln spoke for 13 min. less than 1.5 hours. Lincoln excised parts that showed he interrupted Douglas. Republicans favor repeal of fugitive slave law. Great contrast in reporting of debate conclusion by each paper. Freeport, town of 7,000 by noon 15,000 staged for debate. Douglas hit with melon rind. Best remembered 3 hours. Lincoln--how could residents of territory prevent slavery prior to formation of state constitution. People of South entitled to congressional fugitive slave law. Would be happy if no further slave states admitted. 3 conditions for abolition of slavery in DC--1. Gradual; 2. vote of majority of qualified district voters; 3. Compensation to unwilling owners. Questions of Douglas: Will you vote to admit Kansas before they have requisite number of inhabitants? 2. Can people of territory exclude slavery prior to the formation of state constitution? 3. If Supreme Court decides states cannot exclude slavery from their limits will you follow such a decision? 4. Do you favor acquiring more territory regardless of the national slavery question? Judge Douglas, evil genius. Chase--people of territory should have power to exclude slavery. Fred. Douglass reads from House Divided speech. Douglas not for dissolution of Union under any circumstance. Admit slave state. Jonesboro in region called Egypt. Population 800, small attendance--1200-1500. Douglas: Nigger. North v. South on slavery. House Divided. White man government. Negro--no slaves in IL, no negro vote, no citizenship, no office, no political rights. NY Negros can vote with $250 worth of property--Douglas opposed to negro suffrage. Lincoln calls Douglas crazy, a teller of untruths. Lincoln finishes with 10 min. to spare. Douglas spoke over his time. Charleston,12-15,000 spectators. Lincoln: Whites v. Blacks. Stand by law forbidding marriage of whites/Negros. Douglas: Negro voting, Dred Scott. Lincoln: Not in favor of Negro citizenship. Neither Lincoln nor Douglas won a popular election for Senate in 1858.


Lincoln, Abraham, “The Lincoln-Douglas Debates : The First Complete, Unexpurgated Text,” One Book. One Author. One Hour., accessed March 21, 2023,


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The Lincoln-Douglas Debates : The First Complete, Unexpurgated Text


Lincoln, Abraham


Program air date: August 22, 1993.


In the blistering summer of 1858, as America teetered on the brink of disunion, two Illinois politicians seized the nation's attention and gripped it for two extraordinary months. Through the sheer force of their words, personalities, and ideas, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas transformed a local contest for the U.S. Senate into a watershed national debate on the contentious issue of slavery and, indeed, on the principles upon which this country was founded. Yet what Lincoln and Douglas really said in those seminal debates has long been suppressed. At the time, newspapers were blatantly partisan, and though stenographers took down the speeches word for word, editors and transcribers subsequently "improved" their candidate's remarks while printing his opponent's words, warts and all. What has been reprinted ever since are the "improved," inaccurate versions. Harold Holzer has uncovered unedited texts of the debates, and this book will be the first ever to present all seven of them in their unexpurgated entirety. Besides the first true transcription of the debates, Holzer offers, through an Introduction and extensive notes, crystalline portraits of the combatants - their personalities and bearing, their quirks and foibles. Holzer also casts a brilliant light on the "house divided against itself," showing us an America at once exuberant and deeply uncertain about its future. He provides trenchant evocations of the physical and emotional stages on which the debates were set. We glimpse the feverishly enthusiastic audiences that mobbed the debates. We also witness the exceptional fervor with which the entire country followed them. Lincoln and Douglas galvanized a nation and permanently transformed our national consciousness with the speeches they gave during the summer and fall of 1858. To read the words these men actually spoke in their historic confrontation is an opportunity to witness the apex of American political discourse. Here - for the first time in more than 130 years - are those words. Here - at last - is that opportunity.


"Lincoln-Douglas Debates, Ill., 1858."


Brian Lamb Booknotes Collection
Gift of Brian Lamb, 2011.


HarperCollins Publishers
George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives


Douglas, Stephen A
Holzer, Harold


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1st ed.