Lincoln-Douglas Charleston Debate

Stephen A. Douglas, the incumbent senator, and Abraham Lincoln, a former congressman and current attorney, met for the fourth in a series… read more

Stephen A. Douglas, the incumbent senator, and Abraham Lincoln, a former congressman and current attorney, met for the fourth in a series of seven debates for the right to represent Illinois in the Senate. They debated the issues of the day before an outdoor crowd in Charleston, Illinois. Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Douglas traded conspiratorial accusations. Mr. Lincoln accused Mr. Douglas of conspiring to deny the people of Kansas the right to vote on their constitution, which would have legalized slavery, thus usurping their “popular sovereignty.” Mr. Douglas again charged Mr. Lincoln with participating in a conspiracy, along with Senator Trumbull, a Democrat from Illinois, to abolitionize the Whig and Democratic parties. This fourth debate was most significant for two main reasons. First, Mr. Lincoln’s remarks during the first five minutes about black equality have troubled historians and his admirers ever since. Secondly, the consistently negative tone of the charges, refutations and counter charges was particularly virulent in this debate. This was the fourth of seven re-enactments of the Lincoln-Douglas senatorial debates in 1858. This debate occurred on September 18, 1858 from 2:45 pm to 5:45 pm. Mr. Lincoln spoke for an hour, Mr. Douglas for an hour and a half, and Mr. Lincoln replied for another half hour. Between 12,000 and 15,000 peopled witnessed the event. In the 1994 re-enactment, the following people portrayed the characters: Rep. Glenn Foshard (Dr. William Chambers), B.F. McClerren (Abraham Lincoln), Russel Brazzel (Stephen A. Douglas) and Doc Ramsey (Orlando Ficklin). close

*The transcript for this program was compiled from uncorrected Closed Captioning.

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Lincoln-Douglas Charleston Debate

Program ID:
Public Affairs Event
Charleston, Illinois, United States
First Aired:
Sep 18, 1994
Last Aired:
Oct 9, 2007

Airing Details

  • Sep 18, 1994 | 2:40pm EDT | C-SPAN 1
  • Sep 18, 1994 | 6:00pm EDT |
  • Sep 19, 1994 | 3:41am EDT | C-SPAN 1
  • Nov 27, 1994 | 12:40pm EST | C-SPAN 2
  • Dec 28, 1994 | 3:41am EST | C-SPAN 1
  • Dec 28, 1998 | 2:44pm EST | C-SPAN 2
  • Apr 10, 2001 | 12:43am EDT | C-SPAN 3
  • Sep 12, 2001 | 12:43am EDT | C-SPAN 3
  • Sep 29, 2004 | 11:44pm EDT | C-SPAN 3
  • Oct 02, 2004 | 11:44am EDT | C-SPAN 3
  • Oct 08, 2007 | 8:05pm EDT | C-SPAN 3
  • Oct 09, 2007 | 5:32am EDT | C-SPAN 3
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Lincoln-Douglas Charleston Debate

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