“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Galesburg in Knox County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

The Fifth Debate

Looking for Lincoln

The Fifth Debate Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, May 23, 2020
1. The Fifth Debate Marker
[Left panel]
Lincoln and Douglas
debated here on October 7, 1858.

Their joint meeting was one of seven across Illinois as they
contested Stephen A. Douglas's seat in the Senate that summer and fall. Here in Galesburg, thousands of spectators stood to the east of Knox College's Old Main to hear Lincoln and Douglas dispute for three hours the issues that had made this campaign the focus of intense national interest: the relevance of the Declaration of Independence to the legal status of African-Americans, the expansion of slavery in the West, and the power of states and territories to regulate local institutions. In Galesburg, Abraham Lincoln brought to these issues a controversial moral dimension that he would pursue for the remainder of the campaign. “I confess myself as belonging to that class in the country who contemplate slavery as a moral, social and political evil,” he said. From the steps of Old Main, Lincoln looked “hopefully to the time when as a wrong it will come to an end.” Though Douglas won the election, Lincoln's performance in the
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debates established him as a national political figure.

[Right panel]
Galesburg and Knox College
were founded together in 1837.
The Rev. George Washington Gale led a group of like-minded and reformist Presbyterian and Congregationalist colonists from upstate New York who chose this site for their new community. Among settlers in the surrounding region from slave-holding border states, the town and college became notorious for the anti-slavery sentiments and activism of its citizens and students. Some actively assisted African-Americans to freedom on the western branches of the Underground Railroad.

When the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad came to Galesburg in 1854 and established a divisional terminal here, the once-isolated sectarian community was transformed into a center of commerce and transportation. Galesburg's population grew from 882 in 1850 to 4,953 in 1860 as railroad-related employment attracted a diverse new population nationally and internationally.
Erected 2007 by Knox College and Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RREducation
The Fifth Debate Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, May 23, 2020
2. The Fifth Debate Marker
The debate took place on the steps of Old Main, in the background.
Government & PoliticsNotable EventsSettlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists. A significant historical date for this entry is October 7, 1858.
Location. 40° 56.592′ N, 90° 22.195′ W. Marker is in Galesburg, Illinois, in Knox County. Marker is on South Cherry Street just south of East South Street, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2 E South St, Galesburg IL 61401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Stephen A. Douglas at Knox College (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Abraham Lincoln Knox College (about 300 feet away); This Memorial Tablet (about 300 feet away); Old Main (about 400 feet away); Lincoln-Douglas Debate (about 400 feet away); Mary A. Bickerdyke (about 600 feet away); Original Site of Galesburg Sr. High School (approx. 0.2 miles away); Tompkins Street (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Galesburg.
Closeup from the marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, May 23, 2020
3. Closeup from the marker
The largest crowd for any of the Lincoln-Douglas debates stood for more than three hours on a cold and windy Thursday afternoon, straining to hear Lincoln and Senator Douglas. This painting is a color facsimile of an illustration of the Galesburg Lincoln-Douglas debate by Victor Perard that appeared in the October 1896 issue of McClure's Magazine. At a time when intercollegiate debate and oratorical competitions were as intensely followed as intercollegiate athletics are today, the Lincoln-Douglas debates had already attained legendary status.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 28, 2020. It was originally submitted on May 27, 2020, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 172 times since then and 15 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on May 27, 2020, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 15, 2024