The First Lincoln - Douglas Debates, October 1854
by John A Corry
As historian James McPherson has written in endorsing this book: "The first political confrontation between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas ... Show synopsis As historian James McPherson has written in endorsing this book: "The first political confrontation between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas occurred not in the famous debates of 1858" but four years earlier. This book is the first complete account of those 1854 debates. As that year dawned, Lincoln's political future looked dim. His single term in the House of Representatives six years earlier seemed to have marked both the beginning and the end of his national political career. But the unexpected repeal of the Missouri Compromise's prohibition of slavery in the western territories gave him the opportunity to challenge Douglas, who had sponsored the repeal. That October, in the first great speeches of his career, he replied to Douglas and made himself Illinois' leading anti-slavery politician. Although he was narrowly defeated early the next year in trying to persuade the legislature to elect him to the U. S. Senate, his eloquent stand placed him on the road to the Presidency. Here, at this early transforming point in his life, we see Lincoln displaying the qualities that were to be the hallmarks of his future career: a hatred of the "monstrous injustice" of slavery, an ambition that his partner William Herndon called "a little engine that knew no rest," and speeches which effectively made full use of "plain Saxon words" in sentences pruned of all redundancies.