The Lincoln-Douglas debates were part of a larger campaign to advance specific political adjectives. Lincoln was running for Douglas’ seat in the Senate as a Republican. Douglas had been a member of Congress since 1843, a national figure for the Democratic Party, who was running for re-election. The debates attracted national attentions mostly due to Douglas’ high reputation and presence in the national stage. Lincoln took advantage of the debates and made a name for himself as a prominent contender in national politics. At the time, the Democratic Party was going through a sectional riff. Douglas had recently gone against President Buchanan and the southern Democrats, when he apposed the admission of Kansas as a slave state under the Lecompton Constitution. Douglass was against the Lecompton constitution; this stand was popular among Lincolns fellow Republicans. The outcome, would have maintained unity between the northern and Southern sections of the Democratic Party. Buchanan, along with the southern democrats, was in favor of Lincoln’s candidacy; they feared Douglas’ growing interest, and his lack of support to the Democratic leaders. With Douglas receiving support from Republicans, Lincoln would have to keep Illinois Republicans from supporting Douglas, if he wanted any chance of defeating Douglas in the Senate race. According to Jaffa, “Lincoln forced Douglas Into warfare with the Republicans, thereby leaving open for himself the leadership of the party,” Lincoln needed to defeat Douglas, in order to upheld the principles of the Declaration of Independence (Expediency and Morality, p179). Slavery in the western territories was the issue that was dividing the country. Lincoln knew that the only way to end slavery was by the Federal Government. Lincoln would use the morality of slavery to wedge support away from Douglas’ famous popular sovereignty argument, while winning support of the Republican Party. Though Lincoln hated slavery, and considered it to be immoral, preserving the Union was more important.
Lincoln warned that the issue of slavery would not go away until there was a large crisis that either abolishes slavery from all territories, or allows it. In the House Divided speech Lincoln stated,
“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided… Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South (Lincoln, p.426).”
Lincoln argued that the United States could not remain both, a slave and a free society. Lincoln explained that the Kansas-Nebraska Act accompanied by the Dred Scott...