The Kansas-Nebraska Crisis

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Based on the text of the Lincoln–Douglas debates, what was the position of the Republican Party in 1858? Was the Republican Party an abolitionist party? Why or why not?

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The 1858 debates between Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln focused on the slavery question. The nation was increasingly divided, and Kansas was the scene of intense conflict between pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces. At the time, Douglas was the better-known figure, so Lincoln welcomed the opportunity to debate him. Douglas was a great speaker and the leader of the Democratic party, while Lincoln was still largely unknown. The winner would gain a US Senate seat and represent Illinois.

Lincoln was not an abolitionist, but he strongly opposed the expansion of slavery. Even though Lincoln was not an abolitionist, his views were certainly hostile to slavery. Southerners believed that slavery had to expand in order to survive, so they came to view Lincoln as a great enemy. Douglas wanted the people of new territories to decide whether or not to have slavery; this policy was known as popular sovereignty. Lincoln was eloquent and convincing during the debates. Nevertheless, Douglas won a...

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