Lincoln vs. Douglas
February 12, 2009
Lincoln vs. Douglas: An Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Reenactment
Abraham Lincoln, born two hundred years ago on February 12, was out of politics by the age of 40. Politically damaged by his exuberant opposition to President James K. Polk and the Mexican War, the four-term Illinois state legislator and one-term U.S. representative retired to his law practice in Springfield. It was Stephen Douglas’s Kansas-Nebraska Act — repealing limits on slavery’s extension into the nation’s wester territories — that provoked Lincoln’s return. On the campaign trail in the fall of 1858, seven famous debates with Senator Douglas not only established Lincoln as a leading voice against slavery, but they also positioned the future president to redefine America as a nation “conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
On February 12, Grand Valley’s Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum celebrated Lincoln’s 200th birthday with a debate reenactment starring interpreters Jim Getty (Gettysburg’s Lincoln) and Tim Connors (Springfield’s Douglas).