Wednesday, September 15, 1858
THEY CALLED THE REGION Egypt—perhaps because the throat of land here that jutted into the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers looked so much like the Nile Delta; possibly because its old Indian mounds resembled pyramids; or maybe only because its best-known town was named Cairo. No one knows for sure. What was indisputable, however, was that this was anything but Lincoln country—a bastion of pro-slavery, negrophobic sentiment nesded in rural isolation between two slave states, Kentucky and Missouri. Chicago was a distant 300 miles away, but the South was just across the river. And as historian Mark E. Neely, Jr., has pointed out, when Republican John C. Fremont ran for president in these precincts two years earlier, his electors failed to win even four percent of the vote.
Here, Douglas had boasted up north, was where he most eagerly looked forward to trotting down Lincoln and his so-called abolition doctrine. Here was where he would bring his opponent “to his