James Oakes’s most recent book is The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics. (April 2009)

A Different Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois, May 20, 1860
Etched into the pedestal of a statue of Daniel Webster that stands in Central Park not far from where I live are the most famous words from Webster’s second reply to Robert Hayne during their “great debate” of January 1830: “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable.” Abraham …

They Soared Above the Din

The Lincoln-Douglas debates during the Illinois Senate campaign of 1858 were tedious, long-winded, and repetitious. Both Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas spun out elaborate conspiracy theories alleging nefarious plots by obscure politicians. The candidates were outraged by each other’s “infamous” accusations. Douglas was scandalized by the charge that he was …