Building a New Party, a House Divided and the Lincoln Douglas Debates (1855-1858)
"Unite With Us and Help Us to Triumph" - Building the Illinois Republican Party (1855-1857)
Lincoln struggles to form a new party to take the place of the defunct Whig party. He has strong doubts that a peaceful end to slavery is possible. Joining with anti-slavery, anti-nativist forces, Lincoln launches the Republican Party of Illinois and the first Republican convention takes place. When the Dred Scott case is decided, Lincoln publicly denounces the court decision. His finest debates with Stephen A. Douglass take place and Lincoln calls into question the hypocrisy of the Southern disgust of race mixing, as the population of Southern mulattos "dwarfed" that of the north.
"A House Divided" Lincoln vs. Douglass (1857-1858)
Stephen Douglass vies for Republican support and begins to deny his affiliations with Democrats, stating that he had planned to curtail the spread of slavery geographically by building a railroad. Yet as late as 1858, Douglass wrote often of his belief, which had historical precedent, that blacks were not self-governing citizens and could not be granted passports "A David Greater than the Democratic Goliath" -the Lincoln-Douglas Debates 1858
Despite Douglass being more popular than Lincoln, he lost many supporters due to strong and growing anti-slavery sentiments, a dwindling support from the Whig party, and a general dissatisfaction with the Democrat party. Douglass arrived well dressed for the debates with horse-drawn carriages and bands, whereas Lincoln would arrive quietly by train, and in very shabby clothing.
©2009 Michael Burligame; (P)2009 Gildan Media Corp