WRITE TEAM: Did Lincoln win the Ottawa debate?

WRITE TEAM: Did Lincoln win the Ottawa debate?

Why Lincoln and Douglas? It’s a great claim to fame – big, strapping Abraham Lincoln debated little squeaker Stephen Douglas in Ottawa in Washington Square park. Thousands came to hear them debate. And it was a LONG debate. And that our guy Lincoln – a rough and shabby, Jed Clampett frontiersman – beat big city slicker, big-bucks Democrat politician Stephen A. Douglas. But what were they actually TALKING about? Was it the abolition of slavery in America? Well, kind of. It was more legal than that. There was HUGE antislavery sentiment in the American colonies at the time of our country’s founding. By 1804, slavery was abolished in all the northern states. In most cases, slavery abolition was directly written into new state constitutions at the very time the states were organized. The United States of America began life with a major anti-slavery push. In 1787, the Northwest Ordinance prohibited slavery in what’s now Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and half of Minnesota. The international slave trade was outlawed in 1807 – no more African slaves could be brought to America. A lot of smart people believed slavery would die off. But the invention of the cotton gin explosively changed this, making slavery economically viable again. Southern leaders wanted to expand slavery into new territories out west to keep political power and block anti-slavery efforts. The Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision vastly improved their chances and deeply disturbed the north. That’s the context for the 1858 debates. Out […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.