THE TEXTS PUBLISHED HERE for the first time since 1858 are the unedited transcripts recorded on the spot during each Lincoln-Douglas debate by the opposition press. Previous anthologies presented only the much improved, suspiciously seamless versions supposedly recorded simultaneously by each debater’s friendly newspaper.
The resurrection of these unexpurgated transcripts will give modern readers long-overdue access to the debates as they were likely heard originally by the multitudes who witnessed the encounters back in 1858. In the process, the historical record will finally be liberated from reliance on texts that long ago were processed through the alembic of hired reporters, sympathetic publishers, and ultimately Lincoln himself, whose editorial hand guided the book-length version that, in turn, has provided the basis of all the published versions since.
But as this project progressed, it became clear that adjustments would have to be made. Short of presenting every word of every transcript of every debate side by side for comparison, each page annotated with