The lincoln douglas debates also known as the great debates of 1858 were a series of seven debates between abraham lincoln the republican candidate for the us senate from illinois and incumbent senator stephen douglas the democratic party candidate at the time us senators were elected by state legislatures thus lincoln and douglas were trying for their respective parties to win . The 7th and final debate between senatorial candidates abraham lincoln and stephen douglas was held on october 15 1858 in alton illinois today bronze statues of douglas and lincoln stand to commemorate the event at lincoln douglas square in alton in 1858 as the country moved ever closer to . The lincoln douglas debates were a series of formal political debates between the challenger abraham lincoln and the incumbent stephen a douglas in a campaign for one of illinois two united states senate seats although lincoln lost the election these debates launched him into national . Lincoln douglas debates series of seven debates between the democratic senator stephen a douglas and republican challenger abraham lincoln during the 1858 illinois senatorial campaign largely concerning the issue of slavery extension into the territories the slavery extension question had seemingly been settled by the missouri compromise nearly 40 years earlier
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