" I hold that New York had as much right to abolish slavery as Virginia has to continue it, and that each and every state of this union is a sovereign power, with the right to do as it pleases upon this question of slavery, and upon all its domestic institutions." (Stephen Douglas)
"This declared indifference, but, as I must think, covert real zeal for the spread of slavery, I cannot but hate. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it...especially because it forces so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty- criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest." (Abraham Lincoln)
The most famous debates in American history were held over 150 years ago, and despite their fame, no official transcripts were ever taken. Throughout the fall of 1858, US Senate candidates Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas participated in seven three-hour debates throughout Illinois. This unprecedented method of campaigning drew national attention, one that is still often idealized, even today, among those who feel politics is too bitterly partisan.
The main theme of the debates was the topic being discussed across the nation: slavery. When Congress created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska in 1854, it allowed the citizens of those territories to vote whether the new states would be free states or slave states. This idea of allowing the citizens to vote was known as “popular sovereignty”, and it was championed by the “little giant”, Stephen Douglas.