Lincoln-Douglas Debate

Lincoln-Douglas Debate (HM13WK)

Location: Quincy, IL 62301 Adams County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 55.956', W 91° 24.521'

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On October 13 1858, two candidates for U.S. Senate met in this public square for a sixth debate. Quincy, in the west-central portion of the state, was a true battleground area where both candidates saw reasonable prospects of victory. Quincy had been Douglas' home district. Lincoln counted key local politicians as allies. Boatloads of Douglas supporters were recruited from Missouri to cheer on their favorite, while boatloads of Iowans traveled downriver to vigorously shout approval for Lincoln. Facing a crowd of nearly 15,000 people, the two candidates debated with intellectual rigor what American ought to do about slavery, and in so closely they examined the meaning of democracy to nineteenth century America.

In Quincy the moral argument against slavery was powerfully stated when Lincoln pronounced his strongest stand yet against the institution stating "it is a moral, a social, and a political wrong..." Douglas responded that slavery was not a moral issue and maintained that states "...can exist forever divided into free and slave states..."

Tall grasses covered the Square that was then enclosed by a double fence—-the outer one a hitching rack for horses and wagons, with turnstiles to keep out roaming livestock, and the inner one a high board fence. In honor of the 150th Anniversary of the debate at Quincy, excerpts were engraved on the commemorative walls that now surround the Lorado Taft relief sculpture, which was dedicated in 1936. The six pairs of pro and con quotations focus on the issues central to the debate.

Lincoln was a successful lawyer whose political career encompassed four terms in the state legislature and one term in the U.S. House. He retired from politics after service in Congress, but passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 caused him to reverse that decision, as it permitted slavery in areas declared free since the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Douglas was running for a third term in the U.S. Senate. Douglas assisted by Quincyan William A. Richardson, Chair of the House Committee on the Territories, guided the Kansas-Nebraska Act through Congress. Popular sovereignty, the hallmark of the act, allowed the territories to decide for themselves whether to be free or slave and put Douglas in direct conflict with Republicans over expansion of slavery. This fundamental difference underscored the most famous debate in American history.

HM NumberHM13WK
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, September 25th, 2014 at 10:24am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15S E 635970 N 4421488
Decimal Degrees39.93260000, -91.40868333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 55.956', W 91° 24.521'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 55' 57.36" N, 91° 24' 31.26" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 101-199 N 5th St, Quincy IL 62301, US
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