Lincoln-Douglas Debate at Freeport, Illinois

1 January 2018

Lincoln argued over the popular sovereignty which Douglas believed in that grants a territory’s students an opportunity to decide whether to allow slavery or not. Lincoln directed him to choose popular sovereignty proposed by Kansas-Nebraska Act that he used on the purpose of organizing the lands west of Iowa and Missouri and the case of Dried Scott V Sanford.

Lincoln argued the validity of this principle of popular sovereignty that Douglas had been advocating for a long time.Dried Scott V Sanford was the case of black man, Dried Scott along with his family, who sued his owner for his emancipation when they moved into Minnesota, Wisconsin, and other territories where the Missouri Compromise prohibited slavery. This case became a heated issue however the outcome of the case disagreed with the popular sovereignty, which the Supreme Court judges concluded that Black slaves had no rights and Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional and Slaves kept their status wherever they go.Lincoln wanted to show antislavery voters that Douglass position differed from their own and pushed Douglas in to the corner. It was Douglas who had to answer this inescapable question. The Dried Scott decision that disallowed Congressional power to exclude slavery from a territory could only have a negative answer. However, Douglas proposed that people living in the territory could still control slavery by their refusal to pass laws that are favorable to slavery and also if the territorial legislatures simply refuse to enact the police regulations necessary to make slavery work.

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What he tried to say was that if the people disagree with slavery, then they can elect representatives who will prevent slavery despite the decision made by “unfriendly legislation” whereas if they are for slavery, they will get along well with the unfriendly legislation who also favor its extension. This position he took be came known as the Freeport Doctrine. Douglas tried to appeal to the diddle ground on slavery so he resisted his stand of popular sovereignty and defied the Dried Scott ruling. This indicates that he tried to compromise between pro-slavery and antislavery positions.This position he took strongly appealed to the Illinois Voters that eventually resulted in his reelection to the Senate but he went too far for the South that unfortunately resulted in his loss to Lincoln in 1860 presidential election. Lincoln argues that the Nebraska policy was opposed by both the South and the North. Thus the resolution that Douglas passed in the convention in North does not apply to the Southern states.

Lincoln also believes that a territory where slavery was excluded should present with a State Constitution sanctioning slavery.Lincoln also thinks that the Union can not last permanently with slave and free states together since an admission of even one state will mess up the order and then it will be slave nation. Lincoln accused Douglas of being for the nationalization of slavery. Lincoln charged that Douglas was conspiring with other Democrats to extend slavery. Lincoln tried to make sure he had answered Douglas questions and responded to his arguments very well. But he thinks Douglas did not answer frankly and erectly to his questions. Lincoln impressed me a lot by his style of speech.

He was so smart and clever to point out the weakness of the opponent and smoothly overrode him. He never got embarrassed by the opponent’s acid questions to him and stayed calm during the debate. His opponent, Douglas, seems very eloquent and experienced but showed a slight falter by questions thrown by Lincoln. When he made a speech, it seemed very ardent and passionate however seemed kind of hasty to me. Even though Lincoln lost the election, he showed people his deep thoughts about politics and thus gained a great popularity that was a eye to his victory over Douglas in 1860 presidential election.To me, Douglass reasoning of his principle of popular sovereignty proved not logical and did not make sense. He just tried to skip that question in haste.

Lincoln questions about Dried Scott case relating to the popular sovereignty were very decisive though. Both sides accused each other of not frankly answering the other’s questions and charged each other of each conspiring with abolitionists and democrats. Douglass statement helped him to get reelected to the Senate but it split the Democratic Party and unfortunately he lost his support from the South.

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