“The debates framed the national issues of the 1850s. Lincoln and Douglas discussed the expansion of slavery, citizenship rights for African-Americans, and the role of the federal government,” said Mac Donald, who will portray Lincoln. “Both men hoped a Senate victory in Illinois would be a springboard to the presidency in 1860.”
The debates were covered in newspapers around the United States.
“In an era before radio and television, public debates constituted a major form of entertainment,” said Pellegrin, who will portray Douglas. “ The locations of the seven debates often took Douglas and Lincoln to farm communities throughout the state. Getting crowds of up to 15,000 is a testament to the high interest of the election in Illinois.”
Mac Donald received his Ph.D. from LSU in 2006. He joined the faculty of Northwestern State in 2007. Mac Donald teaches classes in American history, specializing in colonial and revolutionary U.S. This semester, his “American Expansion and Sectional Conflict Class, U.S. 1837-1865” deals with many of the issues Lincoln and Douglas discussed in 1858.
Pellegrin received his Ph.D. from Mississippi State University in 2004. He joined the Northwestern State faculty in 2005. Pellegrin specializes in diplomatic and military history as well as teaching courses in China, Japan and Vietnam.