“The Campaign – The Last Joint Debate,” Chicago (IL) Times, October 17, 1858, in Edwin Erle Sparks, ed., The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1908), 497-498.
The Campaign – The Last Joint Debate
Transcription adapted from The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 (1908), edited by Edwin Erle Sparks
Adapted by Don Sailer, Dickinson College
The following transcript has been adapted from The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 (1908).
THE CAMPAIGN.-THE LAST JOINT DEBATE
Douglas and Lincoln at Alton.—5,000 to 10,000 Persons Present!—Lincoln Again Refuses to Answer Whether He Will Vote to Admit Kansas If Her People Apply with a Constitution Recognizing - Slavery.-Appears in His Old Character of the "Artful Dodger."— Tries to Palm Himself off to the Whigs of Madison County as a Friend of Henry Clay and No Abolitionist, and Is Exposed.—Great Speeches of Senator Douglas.—People of Illinois, Read and Be Convinced
The last of the series of joint debates between Senator Douglas and Honorable Abraham Lincoln took place at Alton on Friday. From five to ten thousand people were in attendance, the majority of whom were Democrats. A large delegation came up from St. Louis on the Steamer White Cloud, and quite a number of Missourians were present from the adjoining counties, on the opposite side of the Mississippi river whilst not a few Kentuckians had found their way up to Alton to hear the debate. Lincoln, as usual, tried to suit himself to the locality and to conceal his Abolition sentiments, whilst pretending to be the friend of Henry Clay, and to have his sanction for all the principles he has avowed during this campaign. He again refused to answer whether or not, if placed in a position where he would be required to vote on the subject, he would vote for the admission of a State into the Union if her people applied with a constitution recognizing slavery. This question Senator Douglas has propounded to him at every joint debate, and he has studiously avoided an answer.
Lincoln's conduct at this last debate was most improper and ungentlemanly. After he concluded his hour and a half speech, and Senator Douglas arose to reply, he sat himself where his motions could not be observed by the Senator, and, whenever a point was made against him, would shake his head at the crowd, intimating that it was not true, and that they should place no reliance on what was said. This course was a direct violation of the rules of the debate, and was a mean trick, beneath the dignity of a man of honor. Besides, in his speech, he entirely misrepresented and misstated the positions taken by Senator Douglas, and based his arguments upon his falsehoods as all who will take the trouble to read the debate cannot fail to see. We undertake to say that this last effort of Mr. Lincoln's is the lamest and most impotent attempt he has yet made to bolster up the false position he took at the outset of the fight. We have given a verbatim report of the debate, and invite for it the careful persual of our readers. All we can ask is that our enemies, as well as our friends will read and study well the positions taken by the two leaders of the respective parties, and we do not fear the judgment at which they will arrive.