During the 1858 campaign for a seat in the U.S. Senate from the state of Illinois, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas engaged in a series of debates that, in effect, changed the course of the nation’s history. The main issue was slavery, and the two candidates voiced two of the major opinions of the country. At the time of the debates, Douglas was by far the better known of the two men.
This ambrotype photograph of Lincoln was made on October 1, 1858, in Pittsfield, Illinois, six days before his fifth joint debate with Douglas at Galesburg, Illinois. It is one of the earliest portraits of Lincoln that can still be located in original format. Mathew Brady took the daguerreotype of Douglas sometime between 1844 and 1860.