Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America

Allen C. Guelzo, Author . Simon & Schuster $26 (383p) ISBN 978-0-7432-7320-6

Guelzo (Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America ) gives us an astute, gracefully written account of the celebrated Lincoln–Douglas debates of 1858. These seven debates between two powerful attorneys and statesmen, Abraham Lincoln and Sen. Stephen A. Douglas, starkly defined the stakes between sharply different positions on slavery and union on the eve of civil war and offered examples of serious, deeply reasoned exchanges of views rarely seen in American politics. As Guelzo wisely shows, the debates did not stand alone but were part of a larger Illinois senatorial campaign. Douglas won re-election that year, but Lincoln gained national recognition despite losing and then defeated Douglas three years later for the presidency. Perhaps more important, the views that Lincoln enunciated in 1858—that the government, heeding the majority’s will, should halt slavery’s further spread—laid the foundation for emancipation and a new era in the nation’s history. Guelzo’s smoothly narrated history of this segment of Lincoln’s career, packed full of illustrative quotes from primary sources, will become a standard. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 11/26/2007
Release date: 02/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4165-6492-8
Paperback - 383 pages - 978-0-7432-7321-3
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