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Debate Commentary from Newspapers

Newspapers of the 19th century were largely party-affiliated products. The articles written about the Lincoln-Douglas debates clearly show the opinions of the writers, and often do not even relate to the issues presented by the candidates. Criticism of their appearance or ignorance largely dominate the commentary, with little explanation of what they actually said. Descriptions of Douglas in a Republican rag express how, in the opinion of the author, "he howled, he ranted, he bellowed, he pawed dirt, he shook his head, he turned livid in the face, he struck his right hand into his left, he foamed at the mouth, he anathematized, he cursed, he exulted, he domineered..."; Lincoln from the perspective of a Democratic organ, was "as queer looking as he is queer spoken." These examples demonstrate the lack of civility, blatant partisanship, and superficial nature of campaigns that people often believe is only a recent phenomenon. This commentary comes from a number of different cities and towns around the state including the debate cities themselves, as well as: Belleville, Bloomington, Dixon, Galena, Jacksonville, Paris, Rockford, Springfield, and Urbana.

Click on a city to link to the commentary on that debate:

Click here to search debate texts and commentary.

To view these articles by the city they were written in, please use the map Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 with links to newspaper commentary by city.


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