The Great Debate at Freeport.


Tuesday, September 7, 1858.

(Correspondence of the Advertiser.)

The Little Giant Cornered.

ROCKFORD, Aug. 28.

Yesterday was a great day in our State, as it witnessed the full and complete triumph of our noble champion over Senator Douglas, who is thought, by some, to be so invincible in debate. A large audience of ten thousand or more were present, and listened to both sides calmly and respectfully.

Lincoln answered the seven questions propounded by Douglas, fully, distinctly and unequivocally. Of the four questions he propounded to Douglas, the "Little Giant" fairly and squarely refused to answer one, and dodged another. He refused to say whether or not he would submit to a Supreme Court decision – if such a decision were made – that the States have no right to exclude Slavery. He dodged the question as to the right of a Territory to exclude Slavery, while a Territory – saying they could refrain from adopting police regulations in its favor and thus exclude it, if they wished! As to the question whether, if elected he would vote for the admission of Kansas as a free State, without a population of 93,000, he said he would unless the general rule was adopted that no Territory should become a State without that population. (The adoption of that rule, I predict, will be the basis of a compromise to keep Kansas out of the sisterhood of States, if the Democrats have the power, when she next applies for admission.) Douglas was very explicit, in answering the 4th question, and said substantially that in acquiring Territory, it would make no difference to him whether it tended to increase or lessen the power and duration of Slavery.

Douglas charged Lincoln, almost directly – I believe quite so – with falsehood, in saying that he (Douglas) last winter, charged the Lecomptonites with an effort to strike a "fatal blow" at our institutions, &c. Lincoln took direct issue upon this point, and proved it against Douglas so clearly, that no one in the audience could doubt it.

These two men, rival candidates for the Senatorship, afford a great contrast in almost every point of view. One is tall and slim; the other short and somewhat inclined to chunkiness, Lincoln is calm in debate; Douglas raves; Lincoln's logic is unassailable; Douglas abounds in sophistry, and in specious conclusions from false premises; and Lincoln is always a thorough gentleman, while Douglas, in debate, often descends to appear a bully. Douglas may, for a single moment, appear to gain an advantage, but it is never stable. Lincoln makes his points carefully and closely, and they are convincing. Douglas' flow of words may excite temporary admiration; Lincoln's arguments are remembered. Lincoln, always cool, addresses himself to the sober reason of the thoughtful freemen, Douglas, who is very often in a passion, addresses himself to the baser passions of unthinking minds.

Every Republican is in high glee. They feel that Douglas has been cornered on his "popular sovereignty" pet, and that his sophistries have been thoroughly exposed, while he remains before the people convicted of falsehood. And we are well assured that the people of Illinois will select for their next Representative in the Senate of the United States, a man who unites in his character the statesman and the gentleman, instead of the man who disgraces the high position he holds, by uttering wilful falsehoods, insinuating petty, contemptible lies – (I refer, among other things, to his innuendo which he repeats in every speech, that Lincoln is taking counsel of Fred Douglas) – and giving vent to the lowest and meanest slang.

In the evening Hon. Owen Lovejoy made a grand and thrilling speech to an immense audience, and the Douglas Democracy, who were unable to stand up under Lincoln's telling arguments, and who had not strength enough left to resist the eloquent denunciations of Lovejoy, indefinitely postponed the speeches which their handbills said were to be delivered after supper by Dickey and Molony. The fact is, the triumph was complete.

Our friend Denio, together with Bross of Chicago, made first rate speeches to a large audience assembled at the Court House during the evening.

The enthusiasm for Lincoln was unbounded. The Jo Daviess delegation, as well as those of Carroll, Ogle, and Winnebago, waited upon him at the Brewster House, and the air was rent with their vociferous cheers. They seemed determined to assure him of their enthusiasm and heartfelt sympathy.

I think Douglas will not meet all his other appointments. He will be so used up in Canaan before he "trots Lincoln down into Egypt," that he will be glad to let out the job.

Yours, in tip-top spirits.