In August, 1858, the race for a vacant seat in the U.S. Senate in Illinois attracted national attention. A reporter for the New York Tribune stated at the time that "no local contest in this country ever excited so general or so profound an interest as that now waging in lllinois." The race was between Democrat Stephen A. Douglas and Republican Abraham Lincoln. The contest
was dramatized by a series of debates between these politicians - one a defender of states' rights and popular sovereignty, the other an opponent of slavery and the Kansas.Nebraska Bill. A contemporary historian has maintained, "It is doubtful that any forensic duel ... ever held the power of decision over the future of a great people as these debates did."
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