We can somewhat appreciate the feeling with which Douglas
, aggressive and fearless though he was, welcomed a contest with such a man as Lincoln
Four years before, in a joint debate with him, he had asked for a cessation of forensic hostilities, conceding that his opponent of rail-splitting fame had given him “more trouble than all the United States Senate together.”
Now he was brought face to face with him again.1
It is unnecessary and not in keeping with the purpose of this work to reproduce here the speeches made by either Lincoln
in their justly renowned debate.
Briefly stated, Lincoln
's position was announced in his opening speech at Springfield
: “ ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’
I believe this Government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free.
I do not expect the Union
to be dissolved, I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.
It will become all the one thing or the other.
Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward till it becomes alike lawful in all the states, old as well as new, North as well as South.”
The position of Douglas
on the question of slavery was one of indifference.