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A Fly on the Wall at the Lincoln-Douglas Debates…

April 18, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

As I sat down to write this post, I was reminded that a year ago I wrote another post titled “A Fly of the Wall …” which ironically, was also about Lincoln. This time Lincoln had an adversary who also drew me in – who made me, once again, desire to be a fly on the wall.

On August 26, 1858, THE NEW YORK TIMES reported on the now-famous Lincoln-Douglas debates. While coverage of the debates is difficult to find in newspapers because it was a senate race and Lincoln was, at this time, still a relatively unknown figure in American politics, sometimes you find a gem. Page 5 contains a report headed: “Douglas and Lincoln at Ottawa–Personal Reminiscences” which begins: “Messrs. Douglas and Lincoln had a grand tilt at Ottawa, Ill., last week. Mr. Douglas’ speech contained this amusing passage:…”, and what follows is an excerpt of a Douglas’ speech. There is something particularly engaging about two great thinkers, with many polar-opposite views, battling it out with their most useful weapons: words. Go ahead and admit it, you wish you could have been a fly right there with me.