« PreviousContinue »
IN his "Twenty Years of Congress," James G. Blaine characterizes the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 as a discussion which at the time was so interesting as to enchain the attention of a nation, in its immediate effect so striking as to effect the organization of parties, in its subsequent effect so powerful as to change the fate of millions." But both as historical documents and as masterpieces of the art of debate they are little known by the present generation. The editor of these selections has prepared them for the sake of their indisputable value in both respects. As a teacher of argumentation he has felt the lack of available material illustrative of the thrust-and-parry of actual debate, and designs this volume to supply what is almost a total deficiency among edited specimens of argument.
Of the seven joint debates of the campaign the speeches in three are printed entire-those in the debates at Freeport, at Galesburgh, and at Alton; being the second, fifth, and seventh of the series. They took place before audiences ranging in political sympathy from a strongly preponderant abolition sentiment at Freeport, to an equally preponderant pro-slavery sentiment at Alton. Their subject matter includes all the essential issues of the cam
paign. But though the subject matter of one debate is broadly similar to that of the others, their very repetitions before audiences of widely differing temperament afford a rare opportunity for the study of persuasive adaptation, as well as for observing the development of the central issue, and the growth of Lincoln's power in debate under the stress of the campaign. The debate at Ottawa, the first of the series, and one of those most frequently quoted, the editor has chosen to omit, as being in his opinion one of the least definite in its presentation of the essential issues. The debates selected are prefaced by Lincoln's speech of June 16, 1858, at Springfield, Illinois, with which he opened the campaign; and supplemented by the famous Cooper Institute address of February 25, 1860, as Lincoln's ultimate and perfected statement of the anti-slavery argument.
The annotation seeks to make clear, without the necessity of further historical reference, the meaning and significance of the political and the personal elements in the debates; it also correlates recurring discussions of identical topics, and is suggestive upon matters of logical process, and upon methods of persuasion.
The text of this selection is substantially that of the campaign edition of 1860, published by Follett, Foster & Co., of Columbus, Ohio. This edition, published with Lincoln's consent, without annotation, as a Republican campaign document, was based on the reports of Lincoln's speeches in the
Chicago Tribune and of Douglas's speeches in the Chicago Times. A few obvious grammatical errors, indicative of a hasty revision of the speeches for printing, the editor has taken the liberty to
The editor records with especial pleasure the cordial encouragement in the preparation of this volume received from Mr. Horace White, of the New York Evening Post, who, as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, accompanied Mr. Lincoln throughout the campaign of 1858. He is also under obligation to his colleague, Prof. Marshall S. Brown of the Department of History, for a critical reading of the proof of the introduction.
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY,
August 1, 1905.
A. L. B.
The following publishers have kindly permitted the use of quotations from works published under their respective copyrights: D. Appleton & Company, The Century Company, Houghton, Mifflin & Company, and The Macmillan Company.