“Unite with Us and Help Us to Triumph”
Building the Illinois Republican Party (1855–1857): Lincoln
struggles to form a new party to take the place of the defunct Whig party. He
has strong doubts that a peaceful end to slavery is possible. Joining with
antislavery, anti-nativist forces, Lincoln launches the Republican Party of
Illinois and the first Republican convention takes place. When the Dred Scott
case is decided, Lincoln publicly denounces the court decision. His finest
debates with Stephen A. Douglass take place and Lincoln calls into question the
hypocrisy of the Southern disgust of race mixing, as the population of Southern
mulattos “dwarfed” that of the north.
“A House Divided”
Lincoln vs. Douglass (1857–1858): Stephen
Douglass vies for Republican support and begins to deny his affiliations with
Democrats, stating that he had planned to curtail the spread of slavery
geographically by building a railroad. Yet as late as 1858, Douglass wrote
often of his belief, which had historical precedent, that blacks were not
self-governing citizens and could not be granted passports.
“A David Greater than the Democratic Goliath”
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858: Despite
Douglass being more popular than Lincoln, he lost many supporters due to strong
and growing antislavery sentiments, a dwindling support from the Whig party,
and a general dissatisfaction with the Democrat party. Douglass arrived well
dressed for the debates with horse-drawn carriages and bands, whereas Lincoln
would arrive quietly by train and in very shabby clothing.
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