Stephen A. Douglas to Follett Foster & Company, June 9, 1860

    Source citation
    Stephen A. Douglas to Follett Foster & Company, June 9, 1860, Washington, DC, Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress,
    Author (from)
    Follett Foster & Company
    Date Certainty
    Transcribed by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College, Galesburg, IL
    Adapted by Don Sailer, Dickinson College
    The following transcript has been adapted from the Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress.


    June 9th 1860


    I have received by Express one dozen copies of your publication of the joint Debates between Mr Lincoln and myself in 1858, sent by order of the Hon Mr Cox, who will pay the amount of your bill.

    I feel it my duty to protest against the unfairness of this publication, and especially against the alterations and mutilations in the Reports of my speeches. The original reports as published in the Chicago Times, altho' intended to be fair and just, were neccessarily imperfect and in some respects erroneous.

    The speeches were all delivered in the open air to immense crowds of people, and in some instances in stormy and boisterous weather, when it was impossible for the Reporters to hear distinctly and report literally.--

    The reports of my speeches were not submitted to me or to any friend of mine for inspection or correction before publication; nor did I have the opportunity of reading more than one or two of them afterwards until the election was over, when all interest in the subject had passed away. About one year ago a gentleman in Illinois wrote to me in this city for permission to publish these Joint Debates in book-form stating that Mr Lincoln had given his consent to their publication. I did not retain a copy of my reply, but according to my present recollection I stated that there were many errors in the reports of the speeches as published, and expressed my unwillingness to the publication unless I should have the opportunity of revising and correcting errors. I am not aware however, that your publication has any connection with that publication application. Upon the slight examination of your publication which I have been able to make, I find that Mr Lincoln's speeches have been revised, corrected and improved scince their publication in the newspapers of Illinois, while mine have been mutilated, and in some instances, the meaning changed by the omission of interrogatories and expressions of approbation and disapprobation by persons in the crowd to which my remarks were made responsive, but by the omission of which my replies seemed ambiguous, incoherent or unintelligible.

    The unfairness of these omissions and alterations is rendered more apparent by reference to the fact that similar interrogatories and expressions of applause or disapprobation are retained in Mr Lincoln's speeches in all cases where they add to their force, and omitted where they impair the effect of his argument. In short, I regard your publication as partial and unfair and designed to do me injustice by placing me in a false position. I saw in the Preface to the first edition of your publication, which is omitted in the copy sent to me, a correspondence between Mr Lincoln and the Republican Committee from which it appears that Mr Lincolns furnished his speeches and mine for publication -- his in the revised and corrected form and mine as they came from the hands of the Reporter without revision. Being thus notified that his speeches had been revised and corrected, this fact ought to have reminded you that common fairness & Justice required that I should have an opportunity of revising and correcting mine. But to deny me that privelege, and then to change and mutilate the reports as they appeared in the newspapers from which they were taken, is an act of injustice against which I must be permitted to enter my protest. In order that the injustice which you have done me may be in some degree diminished, I respectfully request that this letter, together with the correspondence between Mr Lincoln and the Committee which led to the publication, may be inserted as a Preface to all future editions of these Debates

    I have the honor to be

    very respectfully

    your obdt servt

    S. A Douglas

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