The Lincoln-Douglas Debates: The First Complete, Unexpurgated Text

By Harold Holzer | Go to book overview
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THE SIXTH JOINT
DEBATE AT QUINCY

Wednesday, October 13, 1858


•THE SCENE•

LOCATED AT THE far western edge of central Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from the state of Missouri, Quincy was moderate in political sentiment, with a slight edge in support for the Democrats. In short, it was typical of the regions in which both candidates needed to broaden their appeal in order to win the election. Perhaps for just this reason, the debate here degenerated into one of the nastiest of the campaign. “It is certainly to be regretted,” a journalist complained afterwards, “that the canvass in Illinois has turned so much on personal issues.”

By midday, boats filled with spectators were steaming in from both Hannibal, Missouri, and Keokuk, Iowa, swelling the total crowd to between 10,000 and 15,000 people. The day was sunny and pleasantly cool, but visitors were forced to brave hazardous roads drenched in water and mud from days of incessant rain. Nonetheless, the usual array of partisans paraded in on carts, buggies, and carriages. Long before the scheduled commencement of

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