Much like others who have succeeded him as political candidates, Abraham Lincoln landed in the political limelight because of a heated political issue of his time. That is, Lincoln's political career was revived by his opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act and his debates with Stephen Douglas.
This Kansas-Nebraska Act became very controversial because it essentially repealed the Missouri Compromise, a measure that was intended to regulate slavery and balance free and slave states. This act, which was submitted to Congress in 1854 by Stephen A. Douglas, opened the Kansas and Nebraska territories to slavery and potential slave states by allowing white settlers "popular sovereignty" whereby they could determine whether they would allow slavery in their territories/future states. In addition to the immediate issues, the Kansas-Nebraska Act raised other issues of power in Congress and control over future territories.
In 1854, Lincoln re-entered politics as he was opposed to slavery, condemning the Dred Scott decision; he also condemned violent acts for any cause, such as those advocated by the abolitionist John Brown. Above all, Lincoln opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, sharply criticizing its author, Stephen A. Douglas, who was also from Illinois. His debates with Senator Douglas charged the political arena on a very controversial issue that involved and interested many American citizens. And, although Douglas was re-elected as a senator, Lincoln gained much attention and popularity. Moreover, in the latter part of 1859, when Lincoln was invited to New York City to make a speech at Cooper Union, Lincoln's diatribe on slavery was a resounding triumph for him and propelled him into the candidacy for president.
Abraham Lincoln was first Republican to become President. Even though he only got 40% of the votes, he beat the other three other candidates. Lincoln was first recognized when he went against Stephen Douglas for a U.S. Senate seat in 1858. The debated over slavery and Abraham argued against it. He lost the Senate seat but he brought attention to the Republican party. He went up against Douglas and two others in the 1860 election and won, bringing anger to the South.