The Importance Of The Lincoln-Douglas Debates

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President Abraham Lincoln was famously known to be an immaculate orator. Throughout his all too short presidency he was noted for his impressive speaking skills and ability to speak to a large audience. His speaking caused those who were near the president to stop what they were doing and listen carefully to each word he uttered. Such a skill was increasingly significant for a president especially in the time of the most civil unrest in American history. The ability to communicate ideas and spread a message was crucial to the sixteenth president in order to preserve the union. The framework of President Lincoln’s orating abilities stems from an additional and equally impressive feat. In 1858, the future President would prove himself to the …show more content…
Not only did the debates give the candidates an avenue by which to portray their message, but also a way to showcase their talents as orators. Although the series of encounters between Lincoln and Douglas has gone down in history as an excellent series of debates; “What was peculiar about these debates was that they were not, in the strictest sense, debates at all. They were sequences of speeches, with only the most meager nod in the direction of interaction between speakers.” (Guelzo, 2008, p. 94) However, Lincoln used this almost unorthodox form of debating to his advantage. Over the course of the debates both Lincoln and Douglas would speak for hours at a time. Given Abraham Lincoln’s past and efficiency at telling jokes, this proved to be extremely beneficial for the future president. Over time Lincoln’s credibility grew as the debates continued as he simultaneously laid the framework for his forthcoming legacy. The outline of the debates gave Lincoln more room to elaborate on policies such as slavery and other key issues that he wanted to specifically address. In this process Lincoln was able to challenge Senator Douglas in many facets of which he had not seen. In many aspects the Lincoln-Douglas debates challenged Douglas more than he anticipated which inadvertently helped Lincoln in the …show more content…
Many citizens and members of the press would note that throughout the course of the debates the stark difference between Lincoln and Douglas eventually became hard to ignore. Stephen Douglas was shorter in stature compared to Abraham Lincoln who was tall and lanky. This made for an interesting series as the people of Illinois flocked to the debates. In the painting the future president is seen standing in almost a stoic pose as if he is considering how to compose the next part of his argument. Many who attended the debates noticed how methodical Abraham Lincoln tended to be. Often times Lincoln was known to pause for emphasis and carefully think things through before making an important point. Lincoln was also known to be relatively calm and composed during the debates and tended to not vary in his movements across the stage. In many ways President Lincoln’s tendencies in the ensuing debates were prophetic to his legacy that would eventually unfold. The methodical drafting of the emancipation proclamation and the carful crafting of several personal letters are a testament to how deep of a thinker Lincoln was. By contrast, Stephen Douglas was known to be particularly passionate when speaking. The senator was known to move all about the stage and frequently change the tone of his voice. The style of Douglas in

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