Lincoln, Douglas, and Popular Sovereignty: The Mormon Dimension

John Y. Simon, Harold Holzer and Dawn Vogel

in Lincoln Revisited

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780823227365
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240869 | DOI:
Lincoln, Douglas, and Popular Sovereignty: The Mormon Dimension

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The famed 1858 debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas centered on Douglas's strident defense of popular sovereignty. Douglas defended the right of citizens of Kansas Territory to vote slavery “up or down” while Lincoln insisted that the Missouri Compromise of 1820 had already settled the issue. To Lincoln, popular sovereignty jeopardized the intent of the founders to place slavery “in the course of ultimate extinction.” Throughout the debates, Lincoln refrained from mentioning Utah Territory, where settlers employed popular sovereignty to maintain a theocracy despised by others. However, on the Mormon issue, Douglas was especially vulnerable. In the previous year, President James Buchanan had sent an expedition of 2,500 men to enforce federal authority in Utah. This army established a permanent base some thirty miles from Salt Lake City.

Keywords: debates; Abraham Lincoln; Stephen A. Douglas; popular sovereignty; Kansas Territory; slavery; Missouri Compromise; Utah Territory; Mormon; James Buchanan

Chapter.  3806 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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