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In 1858 there was a great struggle within the state of Illinois for a seat in the Senate The well know Stephen A Douglas the favored candidate was excepted to win Abraham Lincoln was not a well known candidate In a struggle for the possible position Lincoln proposed that he and Douglas organize a series of debates so that both men might divide time and address the same audiences during the same canvass Douglas accepted and he feared that he had everything to lose from a joint appearance and yet to decline the challenge would have seemed unmanly in the West of the mid nineteenth century Douglas then purposed dates and places Lincoln complained that Douglas would have four opening and closings speeches whereas he would have only three he wrote I accede and thus close the arrangement The first of seven debates was on Saturday August 21 1858 at Ottawa which started an important part of the history of the United States of America the Lincoln-Douglas debates The Ottawa debate set the format for the remaining six debates Lincoln and Douglas agreed that the first speaker would speak for an hour the second speaker for an hour and a half and the first speaker again for half an hour On August 21 excitement was in the air The towns population of over 7000 doubled overnight At 230 pm Douglas began speaking and the battle was on The Little Giant Douglas displayed the art that marked him as the master stump-speaker of his day He first criticized Lincolns background and political history He talked about Black inferiority and the social as well as political dangers of freeing Blacks The highlight of his speech was the surprising argument he threw at Lincoln in the form of the Springfield Resolutions of 1854 Douglas quoted the radical Codding and declared that Lincoln joined with abolitionists Giddings Chase Fred Douglass and Parson Lovejoy
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