The Lincoln–Douglas Debates (1994 reenactments)

The 1994 reenactments of the Lincoln–Douglas Debates took place between August 20 and October 15, 1994, and were facilitated and aired by C-SPAN. They featured historical reenactors presenting, in their entireties, the series of seven debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas that took place during the 1858 U.S. Senate campaign in Illinois. The debate reenactments were held in the same seven cities as were the 1858 debates, and were performed on dates very close to the anniversaries of the original debates.[1] They were broadcast live on C-SPAN, and have been rebroadcast periodically ever since.



The inspiration for the series came from the book The Lincoln–Douglas Debates: The First Complete, Unexpurgated Text, edited by Harold Holzer. Holzer had been interviewed about that book the previous year on the C-SPAN series Booknotes.[2]

In 1993, C-SPAN staff approached the mayors of the seven cities in Illinois where the 1858 debates had been held (Ottawa, Freeport, Jonesboro, Charleston, Galesburg, Quincy, and Alton) and arranged with each city to recreate the debates using their own local resources. Subsequently, C-SPAN spent over $300,000 on the promotion and coverage of the debates and on the creation of related educational materials.[3]

The C-SPAN School Bus was used as a traveling television studio at each of the debate locations. Prof. John Splaine of the University of Maryland, College Park, was a consultant to C-SPAN and provided commentary on each of the debates.


Original air date
(links to video of debate)
1858 debate date Location Debate
Primary reenactors Participants in pre- and post-debate discussions
August 20, 1994 August 21 Ottawa, Illinois Preview Review Max Daniels as Abraham Lincoln
Jim Gayan as Stephen A. Douglas
Harold Holzer
August 27, 1994 August 27 Freeport, Illinois Preview Review George Buss as Abraham Lincoln
Richard Sokup as Stephen A. Douglas
Sen. Paul Simon, Rep. Don Manzullo, Roger Wilkins, Stephen Oates
September 17, 1994 September 15 Jonesboro, Illinois Preview Review George Buss as Abraham Lincoln
Richard Sokup as Stephen A. Douglas
Edna Greene Medford, John Y. Simon, Howard Dean
September 18, 1994 September 18 Charleston, Illinois Preview Review B.F. McClerran as Abraham Lincoln
Russel Brazzel as Stephen A. Douglas
Rep. Glenn Poshard, Donald A. Ritchie, David Zarefsky
October 8, 1994 October 7 Galesburg, Illinois Preview Review Michael Krebs as Abraham Lincoln
Larry Diemer as Stephen A. Douglas
Roger Wilkins, Douglas L. Wilson
October 9, 1994 October 13 Quincy, Illinois Preview Review Jack Inghram as Abraham Lincoln
Gary DeClue as Stephen A. Douglas
Harold Holzer, Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun
October 15, 1994 October 15 Alton, Illinois Preview Review Scott Mandrell as Abraham Lincoln
Donald Lowery as Stephen A. Douglas
Edna Greene Medford, Sen. Paul Simon


  1. ^ "Towns To Star In C-span's Historical Debate Re-enactments".
  2. ^ "Lincoln Douglas Ottawa Debate Preview, Aug 20 1994 - Video -".
  3. ^ "C-Span, Illinois re-enact Lincoln-Douglas debates History in the Re-making".