Literature Study GuidesThe Lincoln Douglas Debates

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates | Study Guide

Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "The Lincoln-Douglas Debates Study Guide." Course Hero. 31 May 2019. Web. 13 July 2020. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2019, May 31). The Lincoln-Douglas Debates Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved July 13, 2020, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2019)



Course Hero. "The Lincoln-Douglas Debates Study Guide." May 31, 2019. Accessed July 13, 2020.


Course Hero, "The Lincoln-Douglas Debates Study Guide," May 31, 2019, accessed July 13, 2020,



Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas

Year Delivered



Primary Source


Argument, History, Speech

At a Glance

  • In 1858 Republican Abraham Lincoln (1809–65) ran for election to the U.S. Senate against incumbent senator Stephen A. Douglas (1813–61), a Democrat.
  • They met in seven debates across Illinois. The debates were largely focused on the contentious issue of slavery.
  • In the 1850s the issue of whether slavery should expand to western territories was fracturing the nation.
  • Douglas supported the principle of popular sovereignty, in which the people of a territory decide whether to allow slavery.
  • Those opposed to the expansion of slavery formed the Republican Party, which Lincoln joined.
  • In accepting the Republican nomination for the Senate, Lincoln declared that the country must eventually be all slave or all free.
  • Douglas accused Lincoln of supporting a radical abolitionist agenda and appealed to racial prejudice by claiming that Lincoln wanted to impose racial equality.
  • Lincoln emphasized that he did not seek abolition of slavery but wanted to prevent its expansion. He denied favoring racial equality but called slavery immoral.
  • The debates, which were followed nationally, helped propel Lincoln into the national spotlight. Two years later, he was elected president.


This study guide for Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas's The Lincoln-Douglas Debates offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

Buy this book from
Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about The Lincoln-Douglas Debates? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!

Stuck? We have tutors online 24/7 who can help you get unstuck.
A+ icon
Ask Expert Tutors You can ask You can ask You can ask (will expire )
Answers in as fast as 15 minutes