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Lincoln's Challenge to Douglas.


Tuesday, August 3, 1858


All what follows is from the Chicago Journal of Tuesday evening. The letters of Mr. Douglas and Mr.; Lincoln speak for themselves, and the remarks of the Journal thereon are probably better than any that we should attempt would be, and we ask for them the attention of our readers in the stead:

Below will be found the challenge of Mr. Lincoln to Mr. Douglas, and the reply of the latter.

We do not think it argues very well for the courage of the Senator, that he evades the challenge in the manner he does, nor much for his courtesy when asked to confer with the Chairman of the Republican State Central Committee, in regard to the time and places, that he should himself, proceed to designate seven places where Mr. Lincoln must meet him, if at all.

The friends of Senator Douglas claim that Mr. Lincoln is no match for him, before the people. Every canvass for the last twenty years has found these two champions of their respective parties side by side with each other, and often addressing the same audience, and Mr. Lincoln never asked any favor of his adversary. He does not now. If Mr. Douglas really felt his superiority, those who know him will be slow to believe that we would not take advantage of it. He, however, shows the white feather, and, like a trembling Felix, shulks behind the appointments of the immaculate Democratic State Central Committee!!

The challenge should properly have proceeded from Senator Douglas, but it having become apparent that he did not intend to meet Mr. Lincoln, it was thought proper by Mr. Lincoln's friends that the challenge should come from our side. The delay was a matter of courtesy toward Mr. Douglas, and not for the reasons the Senator intimates in his reply. In courteous demeanor, as well as in the honorable conduct of an argument before the people, Mr. Douglas will ever find, as in many campaigns he has heretofore found, Mr. Lincoln to be at least his equal.

Following is the correspondence between the two rival candidates for the U. S. Senate:


CHICAGO, ILL, July 24, 1858.

HON. S. A. DOUGLAS – My dear Sir: – Will it be agreeable to you to make an arrangement for you and myself to divide time, and address the same audiences the present canvass? Mr. Judd, who will hand you this, is authorized to receive your answer; and, if agreeable to you, to enter into the terms of such arrangement.

Your obedient servant,



CHICAGO, JULY 24, 1858.

HON. A. LINCOLN – Dear Sir: – Your note of this date, in which you inquire if it would be agreeable to me to make an arrangement to divide the time and address the same audiences during the present canvass, was handed me by Mr. Judd. Recent events have interposed difficulties in the way of such an arrangement. I went to Springfield last week for the purpose of conferring with the Democratic State Central Commmittee upon the mode of conducting the canvass, and with them, and under their advice, made a list of appointments covering the entire period until late in October. The people at the several localities have been notified of the times and places of the meetings. Those appointments have all been made for Demcoratic meetings, and arrangements have been made by which the Democratic candidates for Congress, for the Legislature, and other officers will be present and address the people. It is evident, therefore, that these various candidates in connection with myself, will occupy the whole time of the day and evening, and leave no opportunity for other speeches.

Besides, there is another consideration which should be kept in mind. It has been suggested recently that an arrangement had been made to bring out a third candidate for the United States Senate, who, with yourself, should canvass the State in opposition to me, with no other purpose than to insure my defeat, by dividing the Democratic party for your benefit. If I should make this arrangement with you it is more than probable, that this other candidate, who has a common object with you, would desire to become a party to it, and claim the right to speak from the same stand; so that he and you in concert might be able to take the opening and closing speech in every case.

I cannot refrain from expressing my surprise, if it was your original intention to invite such an arrangement, that you should have waited until after I had made my appointments, inasmuch as we were both here in Chicago together for several days after my arrival, and again at Bloomington, Atlanta, Lincoln and Springfield, where it was well know I went for the purpose of consulting with the State Central Committee, and agreeing upon the plan of the campaign.

While, under these circumstances, I do not feel at liberty to make any arrangement which would deprive the Democratic candidates for Congress, State officers, and the Legislature from participating in the discussion at the various meetings disignated by the Democratic State Central Committee, I will, in order to accommodate you as far as it is in my power to do so, take the responsibility of making an arrangement with you for a discussion between us at one prominent point in each Congressional District in the State, except the second and sixth district, where we have both spoken, and in each of which cases you had the concluding speech. If agreeable to you I will indicate the following places as those most suitable, in the several Congressional Districts at which we should speak, to wit; Freeport, Ottawa, Galesburg, Quincy, Alton, Jonesboro, and Charlston. I will confer with you at the earliest convenient opportunity in regard to the mode of conducting the debate, the times of meeting at the several places, subject to the condition, that where appointments have already been made by the Democratic State Central Committee at any of those places, I must insist upon you meetings me at the times specified.

Very respectfully,

Your most obd't servant,


We much regret that the two candidates cannot canvass the whole State, by speaking together in every county, and in every town of any size or importance. We desire the people to have a fair hearing and a full understanding of the positions, sentiments and argumentative abilities of the two men. But the seven meetings proposed, will be better than none. They will give the people of the several Congressional districts an opportunity to get together on the days appointed, in great mass meetings, to hear the great political topics of the day discussed, (fairly and ably, we trust,) and to "reason together" in the spirit of candor, and with the desire to get at the truth. Let Congressional District Mass Meetings be the order of the day.