The Day of the Great Debate

The Day of the Great Debate

Location: La Salle St & W Jackson St

Artist: Don Gray

In artist Don Gray’s rendition, Lincoln and Douglas dramatically address the crowd gathered to hear them. News that the great Senator Douglas would appear in Ottawa caused a great sensation. Politics was more than a spectator sport for men of the day, and political rallies were festive events filled with medicine hawkers, hog roasts, parades and lively debate off the speakers’ platform as well as on it. Audience members heckled and cheered “their man” on the platform, and the orators gave back as good as they got in repartee! The unknown Lincoln would emerge from the seven debates a standard-bearer for the Republican Party, and the momentum would carry him to the White House (against his opponent Douglas) two years later. Also shown on the stand is Owen Lovejoy of Princeton, brother of Elijah Lovejoy, abolitionist, legislator and friend of Lincoln.

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