Visitors Guide to the
Lincoln Douglas Square

Broadway and Market Streets
Alton, Illinois


Site of the 7th Congressional Debate in 1858

Accessible Parking Accessible Illinois Historical Site

     
The Lincoln-Douglas debates were a series of formal political debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas in a campaign for one of Illinois' two United States Senate seats. In July 1858, Lincoln challenged Douglas to a series of face-to-face debates. Between August and October of that year, seven three hour debates, one for each of the seven Congressional Districts, were held throughout the state. Douglas, an incumbent Democrat, had been first elected in 1847. Lincoln, a former Whig turned Republican, was a relative unknown at the beginning of the debates.

 
Stephen A. Douglas
1813-1861
Abraham Lincoln
1809-1865

The seventh and last debate was held in Alton on October 16. Over 6,000 people gathered for the event which was held in front of the City Hall. State and national figures were present as well as press representatives from across the country. The debates had received national attention, with Lincoln campaigning on an anti-slavery platform and Douglas as a States' Rights advocate. Lincolnís position that the U.S. could not survive as a nation of half slave and half free states helped put him into the political limelight. Although Lincoln lost the Senate race in 1858, he beat Douglas in the 1860 race for the U.S. Presidency.

Today Lincoln Douglas Square is a monument to this historic event. Funds for this project were raised by selling engraved bricks that were used to create a courtyard around life size bronze statues of Lincoln and Douglas.

Visiting the Lincoln Douglas Square
     The Lincoln Douglas Square is in an open public area and can be visited at any time.
There is no charge to visit the Lincoln Douglas Square.


Directions: The Lincoln Douglas Square is located on Market Street at Broadway several blocks east of the Alton Visitors Center in downtown Alton.

GPS Coordinates
N  38  53.443
W 90  11.194

Learn more about the Alton area.

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