The Lincoln-Douglas debates revisited: The evolution of public argument

David Zarefsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 are models not of statesmanship and eloquence, as is sometimes thought, but of strategies and tactics of rhetorical invention in the context of the public forum. The debates were marked by four patterns of argument: Conspiratorial, legal, historical, and moral. The dynamics of each pattern are explored and speculations are offered about the transformation of controversial questions in the crucible of public debate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-184
Number of pages23
JournalQuarterly Journal of Speech
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education


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