Refers to the following passage, which contains excerpts from the 1858 Lincoln Douglas debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas, both campaigning to become a senator from Illinois in the U.S. Congress. Note that at this time, the United States contained states and territories on the Western frontier under federal control that did not yet have enough population for statehood. Lincoln (a member of the Republican Party): “The Republican Party looks upon slavery as a moral, social, and political wrong …. [We] nevertheless have due regard for its actual existence among us and the difficulties of getting rid of it in any satisfactory way …. Yet having a due regard for these …, [we] insist that it should be treated as a wrong and one of the methods of treating it as a wrong is to make provision that is shall spread no further …. [I am in favor of] restricting the spread of [slavery] and not allowing it to go into territories where it has not already existed.” Douglas (a member of the Democratic Party): “Mr. Lincoln tries to avoid the main issue by attacking the truth of my proposition that our fathers made this government divided into free and slave states, recognizing the right of each state to decide all its local questions for itself [including whether or not to permit slavery]. I assert that this country can exist as they made it, divided into free and slave states, as long as any state chooses to retain slavery …. I assert that the people of a territory, as well as those of a state, have the right to decide for themselves whether slavery can or cannot exist in such territory.”
Lincoln and Douglas would probably agree that:
Nothing should be done immediately to end slavery in the states where it already exists, and most people favor it.
Both Lincoln and Douglas would agree that nothing should be done immediately to end slavery in the states where it already exists. Answer (Slavery is wrong) is Lincoln’s position, but not that of Douglas, who believes it should exist as long as the people in a state want it. Answer (States and new territories should decide for themselves whether or not they want to permit slavery) is Douglas’s position, which contrasts with Lincoln’s position in answer (Slavery should not be allowed to spread to new territories within the United States). Both Lincoln and Douglas would disagree that slavery can be ended easily.