Lincoln and Douglas
Lincoln and Douglas research paper due and don’t know how to start it? How about like this?
During the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, at Freeport, Abraham Lincoln asked Stephen Douglas a question that was to become famous. Could, Lincoln asked, the people of a territory, prior to the formation of a State Constitution, and against the wishes of any US citizen, lawfully exclude slavery from the territory in question? Douglas answered that regardless of any de jure decision of the Supreme Court, the people could make and enforce a de facto decision because they would control the police power of the territory. A legend has grown up around this exchange, a legend that Lincoln forced Douglas to answer a question which, if he answered the way he did, would lose the South for him in 1860, and if he had answered it as he did not, would have cost him the Senate seat which he was defending at the time. This is only a legend; it is an over reading of an exchange from which no such consequences could have come. But the nature of the question, and the subsequent legend that grew up around it, are both indicative of the key point in the great controversy dividing the nation. The public perception was that expansion and perpetuation of slavery were one and the same. Lincoln was not presenting abolition arguments for the abolition of slavery where it stood. He did not need to. He believed, as did every one else at that time, that it would fall of its own weight if not allowed to spread.
Douglas was doomed in 1860 because of the following:
- Popular sovereignty no longer went far enough for Southern desires
- Douglas's opposition to the Lecompton Constitution had alienated many in the South.
- Breckridge was truer to the Southern spirit.
- Lincoln was in conformity with opinion in the North which, fed up with Southern demands, found the potential for the spread of slavery that was inherent in the notion of popular sovereignty to be unacceptable.