Rise of the Rail Splitter


Abraham Lincoln. Political debates between Hon. Abraham Lincoln and Hon. Stephen A. Douglas, in the celebrated campaign of 1858, in Illinois. Columbus, Ohio: Follett, Foster and Company, 1860.

After a failed attempt to win a U.S. Senate seat in 1855, Lincoln was nominated three years later by the newly-formed Republican Party to run against Stephen A. Douglas (1813-1861).  Although he lost the 1858 Illinois Senate race to Douglas, Lincoln’s performance in the series of debates with the “Little Giant” raised his national profile to the point that Illinois Republicans mentioned his name as a potential candidate for the presidency in 1860. Lincoln assembled a scrapbook of newspaper transcripts of the debates, which were used by the Columbus, Ohio, firm of Follett, Foster, and Company, at Lincoln’s instigation, to produce the work shown here. When published in 1860, it became an instant bestseller.    

Lin 2012.2.2    The William Whiting Nolen Collection of Lincolniana.