On May 18, 1860, the U.S. Republican Party nominated Abraham Lincoln for president. The Kentucky-born lawyer, and one-time representative from Illinois, gained national attention during his Senatorial campaign against Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas.
The campaign consisted of seven debates between Douglas and Lincoln during the 1858 Illinois state election. They produced some of the most significant statements in American political history, discussing issues of slavery and states’ rights. As Lincoln said, these issues would be discussed long after “these poor tongues of Judge Douglas and myself shall be silent.”
Lincoln’s main argument spoke against the spread of slavery, while Douglas maintained that each territory should have the right to decide whether it would become a free or slave state. Lincoln lost the Senate race, but his campaign brought national attention to the young Republican Party candidate.
Almost immediately after losing the Senate seat to Douglas, Lincoln began collecting reports and transcriptions of his great debates with Douglas as they appeared in various Chicago newspapers. He handed his records over to the influential Republican operative Oran Follett of Ohio who published them in 1860, just in time for Lincoln’s presidential campaign. The book was a huge success, selling out in only a few months. It has been cited as a significant influence in helping Lincoln gain the presidency.
We are lucky enough to have the special limited edition printing of the political debates of Lincoln and Stephen Douglas at our Colorado Springs, Colorado shop. The book was issued in 1894 as a limited edition of 750 copies, from the publisher The Burrows Brothers Company, in Cleveland, Ohio. This particular book is numbered 168 of the edition.