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JulianneEly
History1700
WritingCenter:(Email)Joe
21April2016

AndTheWinnerIs
In1858,StephenA.DouglasandAbrahamLincolnheldsevendebatesthroughout
Illinois.Theissuesdiscussedwerenotonlyoftheimportanceoverslaveryandstatesrightsbut
alsodovedeeperintoquestionsthatwouldinfluencepolitics.Whoreallywonthedebate?
DouglasopensthedebatewiththestatementthatMr.Lincolnsaysthatthisgovernment
cannotendurepermanentlyinthesameconditioninwhichitwasmadebyitsframersdivided
intofreeandslavestates(392).Douglascontinueswiththestatementthatifwewillonlyact
conscientiouslyuponthisgreatprincipleofpopularsovereigntywhichguaranteestoeachstate
andterritorytherighttodoasitpleasesonallthingslocalanddomesticinsteadofCongress
interfering,wewillcontinuetobeatpeaceonewithanother(392).Douglasbelievesthatpower
shouldbeheldbythepeople.
Lincolnarguedthatwhenthegovernmentwasfirstestablisheditwastheirdutytostop
thespreadofslaveryintothenewterritoriesoftheUnitedStates,whereitdidnotoriginally
exist.HeclaimsthatDouglasbrokethatpolicyandithastospread.Lincolnbelievedthatthe
policyshouldremainhowitwasoriginallyplacedandrestrictitfromthenewterritories(392).
LincolnfeltstronglythatitwaswrongtodisregardthemoralaspectofrestrictingAfrican
Americans.

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DouglasisclearlyopposedtoAfricanAmericancitizenship,hebelievedthatthis
governmentwasmadeonthewhitebasis(393).Douglasisstronginhisbeliefthatgovernment
wasmadebywhitemen,forthebenefitofwhitemenandhedoesnotbelievethatAfrican
Americansarecapableofselfgovernment(393).HeclaimsthattheDeclarationof
IndependencehadnoreferencetowhitemenandAfricanAmericansbeingcreatedequal.
Lincoln,althoughbelievingtheracehebelongstoissuperior,believesthatAfrican
AmericansareentitledtoallthenaturalrightsstatedintheDeclarationofIndependence.Heis
convincedthatallhavetherighttolife,libertyandthepursuitofhappiness.Douglaswillnot
arguewhetherhebelievesslaveryisrightorwrong.Hestatesthatthepeopleofthe
slaveholdingstatesarecivilizedmenaswellasourselves,thattheyareaccountabletoGod,and
itisforthemtodecidethereforethemoralandreligiousrightsoftheslaveryquestionfor
themselves(393).Lincolndecidesthatslaveryshouldbeabolished,Douglasarguesthateach
stateshouldallowtodoastheyplease.
LincolncontinuestostatethattheissuewithDouglasisthathebelievesthereisnowrong
inslavery.Douglasisnotinfavorofmakinganychanges.Lincolnusesthedebatestodevelop
andstrengthenthemoralqualityofhisposition.Heisfacedwiththechallengeofwhatisrightor
wrong.Lincolnbelievedthatahousedividedagainstitselfcannotstand.Lincolnbelievedthat
thethreatofslaveryexpansioncamenotfromtheslaveholdingSouth,butfromDouglass
popularsovereigntypositionwhichallowedtheterritoriestodecidewhethertheywishedtohave
slaveryornot(Foner,Garraty).
Lincolnwasconvincedthatslaverymustbeviewedasmorallywrongandthatitviolated
theDeclarationofIndependence.Lincolnbelievedthatonlythepowerofthefederalgovernment

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couldabolishslavery.Lincolndidassurehisaudiencethathehadnointentionofcomingin
betweenthestateswhereslaveryalreadyexisted.HeassuredtheNorththathewasopposedto
thepoliticalandsocialequalityoftheraces,pointsonwhichheandDouglasagreed(Foner&
Garraty).
DouglasultimatelyrejectedLincolnsquestiononwhetherslaveryisrightorwrong.He
wasconvincedthatitshouldbedecidedbythepeople,andslaverywouldberestrictedfor
demographic,geographic,andeconomicreasonsandthatthestateswouldchoosetobefree,if
theirchoicewasallowed.DouglasstronglydisagreedwithLincolnswarningthatthiscouldlead
tocivilwar.
AlthoughLincolndidnotwinthedebate,Ibelievehisargumentthatallpeopleregardless
oftheirbackground,areentitledtolife,libertyandthepursuitofhappiness.Ibelievehis
argumentswouldbemoreeffectiveandconvincingifheusedmoreemotion.IbelieveDouglas
wasmorecompellingduetohisargumentthatstatesshouldbeallowedtohavethechoice.

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WorksCited

Foner,Gary,
GiveMeLiberty,AnAmericanHistory
,Brief4thEdition.W.W.Norton,New
York,2012.392393

Foner,Eric,andJohnA.Garraty."LincolnDouglasDebates."
History.com
.HoughtonMifflin
HarcourtPublishingCompany,2009.Web.22Apr.2016.