Fordham University Press Edition
TEN YEARS AGO, the initial appearance of this book unexpectedly set off a small firestorm in the Lincoln scholarly community. Of course, it was nothing like the mammoth explosion of interest that greeted the original Lincoln-Douglas debates. Back in 1858, the debates not only riveted the eyewitnesses who packed town squares and fairgrounds to hear them in Illinois, but also captured the attention of readers around the country who devoured every word in newspaper reprints.
Those very newspaper reprints had provided the inspiration for the 1993 book—as much for what they did not contain as what they did. In the age of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas, Republicans read Republican-affiliated newspapers, which featured debate transcripts recorded by Republican-hired stenographers—who spent far more time polishing Lincoln’s words than Douglas’s. Democrats, similarly, read pro-Democratic journals that offered well-prepared versions of the Democratic candidate’s