Recollection by Lydia A. Titus, Galesburg Debate, October 7, 1858

Source citation
Lydia A. Titus, "From New York to Iowa," in John C. Parish, ed.,  The Pamlimpsest  (2 vols; Iowa City: The State Historical Society of Iowa, 1920), 2: 315-317.
Author (from)
Titus, Lydia A.
Type
Book
Date Certainty
Exact
Transcriber
Adapted by David Park, Dickinson College
Transcription date
The following transcript has been adapted from The Pamlimpsest (1920).

One event that happened the same fall that I started to teach school stands out in my memory. Far and wide the news spread that Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln would hold a debate at Galesburg on October 7,1858. The girls near Rio decided that we would attend the debate in a body. Accordingly, we decorated a hay wagon and each girl made a banner to carry with the name of a State on it. I chose New York as that was my native State. We limited our party to thirty-two, the number of States in the Union at that time. As most of us were Republicans we made one large banner with the slogan "Rio, Lincoln, and Liberty."

The day of the debate dawned bright and clear and we made an early start for it was sixteen miles to Galesburg. Each of us was dressed entirely in white, and each carried the banner inscribed with the name of the State which she represented. Two men drove our six-horse team and a third carried our large banner. Our drivers passed every team in sight for most of them were only two or four- horse outfits, and with all of us yelling and shouting the miles rolled past rapidly. When we had gone about seven miles on our way we overtook three girls walking, who seemed glad to accept our invitation to hop aboard the "Lincoln Express". However, they proved to be Democrats and before we arrived in Galesburg, they said they wished they had walked. We stopped just outside the city by a stream of clear cold water to eat our lunch and to water our horses.

Our outfit was among the first to arrive at the park where the debate was to be held. A short time before it began, we marched in a body down close to the small platform where Mr. Douglas and Mr. Lincoln were seated. Lincoln sat in a splint-bottomed chair, and it looked as if his knees were up to his chin, the chair was so low and his legs were so long. When he saw us and our banners he arose and stepped down from the platform to shake hands with each girl and to say a word of welcome to all.

Soon the debate began. The crowd had to stand as no benches had been provided. Although the discussion lasted two hours and a half or three hours none of us girls left our place down in front. I think Mr. Douglas was the better orator, but of course I felt that Mr. Lincoln was right. On our way home we laughed and sang, and arrived at Rio tired but happy.

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