DEBATE AT FREEPORT
Friday, August 27, 1858
STEPHEN A. DOUGLAS arrived in Freeport the night before the second great debate to be greeted by “a vast multitude,” “a turn-out of torches,” and “a salvo of artillery” as enthusiastic as any welcome ever afforded “Napoleon or Victoria.” At least, that is how the Democratic press described the reception afforded him there. As a Republican journal scoffed, the so-called parade attracted only “boys” and “loafers,” and boasted no more than seventy-four torches at most.
If the latter version came closer to the truth, there was ample reason. The site of the second Lincoln-Douglas meeting, like the first, was a Republican stronghold in the upper regions of the state, six hours by train from Chicago. If the political climate in Freeport was somewhat less radical than in Ottawa (the local congressman, Elihu Washburne, was nonetheless a loyal Lincoln supporter), it made up for the slight disadvantage by geography. The town of 7,000 was situated even farther north than the first debate