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Session 15: Lincoln Confronts Stephen Douglas’s Popular Sovereignty

Prof. Allen Guelzo:  

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What does Stephen Douglas mean by “popular sovereignty”? Why does Lincoln view the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 as a reversal of American policy towards domestic slavery? How does “indifference” about the spread of slavery amount to “covert real zeal” for its spread? How does Lincoln justify previous national compromises with slavery? What is Lincoln’s definition of self-government and how does it inform his political rhetoric and policy proposals? What is Lincoln’s definition of democracy? What role does Lincoln think the Declaration of Independence plays in contemporary political practice? Why does Lincoln advise against a Republican call for repeal of the fugitive slave law? What connection does Lincoln make between liberty, union, and the Constitution?
Supplemental/Optional Readings
  • Jaffa, Crisis of the House Divided, Epigrams, p. 15, and chaps. 3, 4
  • McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, chap. 6

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