639: Lincoln-Douglas

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Stephen Douglas actually died soon after the debates and election, but if you demand historical accuracy in your webcomics you should be reading Hark! A Vagrant.
Title text: Stephen Douglas actually died soon after the debates and election, but if you demand historical accuracy in your webcomics you should be reading Hark! A Vagrant.


The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 were a series of seven debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, respectively the Republican and Democratic nominees for a U.S. Senate seat in Illinois (Douglas was the incumbent). All seven debates were devoted to the topic of slavery, a red-hot issue in the United States that played a significant role in precipitating American Civil War. Although Lincoln ultimately lost the election, he had the edited text of the debates published in a book. The book's popularity and widespread media coverage of the original debates helped put his name on the map in American politics, leading to his nomination for President of the United States by the Republican party in 1860. Lincoln went on to win the election (Douglas was one of his opponents in this race), after which point several states immediately seceded and formed a separate government, the Confederate States of America. The Confederacy attacked Fort Sumter in April 1861, sparking the American Civil War, a vicious conflict between the states that would last for four years.

In 1863, the Union Army of the Potomac defeated the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia at the Battle of Gettysburg in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Four and a half months later, President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, to dedicate the Soldiers' National Cemetery. The Address, less than three minutes long, became one of the most famous speeches in American history; millions of schoolchildren have memorized it verbatim in the 150 years since.

In this comic, Stephen Douglas heckles President Lincoln after the opening sentence of the Gettysburg Address with a juvenile "your mom" joke, which is both anachronistic and not up to Douglas's usual elegant standards of debate. The only difference from the original speech is that "our fathers" is replaced with "your mom".

The title text admits that Douglas actually died soon after the election (passing away in June 1861), but suggests the webcomic Hark! A Vagrant, written by Kate Beaton, if you're looking for historical accuracy in your webcomics. Hark!'s usual topics are historical or literary figures.


[Abraham Lincoln stands before an audience.]
Stephen Douglas: Oh yeah? Well, fourscore and seven years ago your MOM brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal!
After his 1860 loss to Lincoln, Stephen Douglas's famed debating skills entered a rapid decline.

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Accurate enough anyway; dying generally does reduce one's debating skills. 12:30, 30 August 2015 (UTC)

Actually, the joke about his mother may not be anachronistic. Yo mama jokes have appeared as early as Shakespeare's time, seen in this quote from Titus Andronicus (sorry for the poor form on the quote, my computer is being rather rude tonight), Demetrius. Villain, what hast thou done? Aaron. That which thou canst not undo. Chiron. Thou hast undone our mother. Aaron. Villain, I have done thy mother. (4.2.1765)