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Conclusion of the Joint Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas


Thursday October 28, 1858

The series of seven joint debates that had been agreed upon between Messrs. Lincoln and Douglas, was concluded at Alton on Friday.

There were some five thousand people present at this last debate, about two-thirds of whom, the reporter of the St. Louis Democrat states, were Lincoln men.

We have given an abstract of all the debates thus far, but owing to the fact that substantially the same ground was gone over as at the Quincy debate on the Tuesday previous, we do not deem the Alton debate of sufficient interest to our readers to occupy our space with a synopsis of it.

Mr. Lincoln spoke with great effect, and reiterated his sentiments, so often declared, with even greater force than heretofore, and controverted Douglas' empty logic, specious sophistry and foolish misrepresentations with masterly rebutting arguments.

These debates are now closed, and the people of the State having heard the two opposing champions and candidates for the Senate, have been able to judge between the merits of their respective positions as politicians, and their abilities as statesmen. We, as the friends of Mr. Lincoln, feel perfectly satisfied -- and more than satisfied -- with the noble fight he has made, and we rest in the confidence that the November election will show that the verdict of the people will be strongly in his favor.

These debates have, in our judgement, proved conclusively that the claim that Senator Douglas is the ablest man, as a political speaker and debater, in the State of Illinois, is a great mistake. He has met a foeman more than worthy of his steel. Mr. Lincoln has, on almost every point of argument, and in every matter of principle, gained a decided advantage over him. In fact, the Little Giant has been growing weaker in each successive contest, and the best he could do, in the last three debates, was to repeat his stale and exploded misrepresentations of Mr. Lincoln's sentiments, and to harp upon "glittering generalities" in regard to which there is no difference of opinion between him and his opponent. His fund of arguments in defense of himself or in favor of his party and his professed principles, become exhausted before Lincoln was half done with him.

On the other hand, Mr. Lincoln was as fresh and vigorous and as full of new arguments and ideas at the close as he was at the beginning of this great forensic struggle -- and he had displayed a most wonderful degree of ability throughout as a debater and an orator. He has shown himself Senator Douglas' superior in soundness of reasoning, in intellectual resources, and in statesmenlike dignity -- and in only three respects has Douglas exhibited superiority over Lincoln, and those are, in wordy equivocation, impudence of pretension, and unmanly person of controversy. While Douglas' speeches are full of spleen, verbose nonsense and weak falsification, those of Lincoln have been characterized by fairness, logical argument and commendable manliness of spirit; and while Douglas, by his bitterness and blackguardism, has repelled friends, Lincoln, by his good-natured and honorable course, has gained scores of warm supporters.

Having either heard or read all the speeches of the two candidates, in these joint discussions, we feel in duty bound to award to Abraham Lincoln the palm of superiority, and we believe every fair judging, candid man who has also heard or read all these debates, will do likewise.
--Chicago Journal.