Lincoln-Douglas Debates, Letter Overview (Donald, 1996)

Scholarship
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1996), 211.
Lincoln changed his battle plan after Douglas began devoting more and more time on the stump to attacking Lyman Trumbull, who had accused him of a corrupt bargain in the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. Seeing that this personal quarrel would divert public attention from his own campaign he proposed a series of debates with Douglas. The senator was reluctant to agree. He had nothing to gain and much to lose by giving public exposure to his lesser-known rival. Lincoln's challenge came too late, he complained; he already had a heavy schedule of speaking appointments and he might also be asked to divide time with a potential third candidate, nominated by Democrats loyal to [President James] Buchanan. At the same time, Douglas knew he could not refuse, lest he seem afraid of Lincoln. Grudgingly he consented to participate in seven debates - one in each of the Illinois congressional districts, except the second and sixth (Chicago and Springfield), where the two candidates had already appeared.
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