In the summer of 1858, Stephen A. Douglas the powerful, incumbent Democratic senator from Illinois and Abraham Lincoln, the candidate for the newly formed Republican Party vied for the senate seat currently held by Sen. Douglas. They met throughout Illinois debating the pressing issues of the day, especially the expansion of slavery into the western territories. Along with slavery they expressed their views on the nature of American democracy. These debates provided an excellent window into the passions and ideological differences that were on everyone’s mind and would eventually lead to the southern states’ secession and the Civil War. Study group participants will explore how sectional, regional difference can explode into outright conflict and that wise politicians can make efforts to ease tension and reach compromise. We will use the Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln
available online at www.hti.umich.edu/l/lincoln. The coordinators will also pass out sections of speeches by Douglas that emphasize his political philosophy. Participants will be required to use email, Word, and PDF, and be able to follow links to material on the internet. Participation will include reading, home study, and discussion.