Lincoln and Douglas agreed to debate in all nine of the state’s congressional districts, with their recent speeches in Chicago and Springfield counting as the opening salvos. Seven debates ensued, each lasting three hours. This seventh and last debate, held in Alton, drew more than 5,000 spectators. Local and national papers–most in the service of one of the two main parties–reprinted each speech, leading to widespread circulation. After the debates concluded, Lincoln published an edited version. The book’s popularity throughout the North paved the way for his eventual presidential campaign. Read more