LincolnDouglas Debates


Lincoln/Douglas Debates Essay, Research Paper

Eric Wheeler

Period 2

December 17, 1996

AP US History

- Lincoln/Douglas Debates -

In 1858, Lincoln challenged Douglas for his seat in the

senate. Lincoln asked him four questions, in which he tried to

make Douglas make a mistake resulting in either the north, or the

south to loose Douglas’s favor. The questions were as follows:

Question 1:

“If the people of Kansas shall, by means entirely

unobjectionable in all other respects, adopt a state

constitution, and ask admission into the Union under it before

they have the requisite number of inhabitants according to the

English Bill –some ninety-three thousand–will you vote to admit


Question 2:

“Can the people of a United states territory, in any lawful

way, against the wish of any citizen of the United States,

exclude slavery from its limits prior to the formation of a state


Question 3:

“If the Supreme Court of the United States shall decide that

states cannot exclude slavery from their limits, are you in favor

of acquiescing in, adopting, and following such decision as a

rule of political action?”

Question 4:

“First … in reference to Kansas, it is my opinion that as

she has population enough to constitute a slave state, she has

people enough for a free State. I will not make Kansas an

exceptional case to the other States of the Union … Either

Kansas must come in as a free State, with whatever population she

may have or the rule must be applied to all the other Territories

alike …?”

As Douglas answered Lincoln’s questions, the document

implies that Douglas is either in rage or insulted by what

Lincoln had asked, and replied as follows:

In question number one, Douglas answered emphatically, as he

had several times in Illinois before, that a territory or state

can exclude slavery from its limits without the formation of a

state constitution. Douglas then continues saying that to

continue slavery, even for another hour, there must be sufficient

legal enforcement so that people can ensure that their slaves

will work. If that state would like to be either free or slave,

then the people of the state would elect officials that were for

or against slavery which would in turn make the state free or

slave because of the officials running the state.

In response to question number three, Douglas states that

violating the constitution of the United States would not only be

moral treason, but impossible. Douglas also compares this

question to the simplicity of a question that a school boy could

answer; “A school boy knows better”.

This document constantly brings up slavery several times

throughout. This leads me to conclude that slavery was a large

part in leading up to this. If the need for cheap labor hadn’t

arose in the early colonization period of our country, then

conflicts like the Civil War, fugitive slavery laws, and racial

revolts probably would have been averted. The text book has very

little on this document, and covers just the first question that

Lincoln asked Douglas. Both sources say that it didn’t matter

weather Douglas disavowed popular sovereignty, he would be

defeated for reelection and his political career would be over.

If he agreed, then he would offend the southern democrats and the

nomination of 1860 could possibly never take place.

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