Lincoln Douglas Debate

Written by Samuel Wong
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In Illinois in 1858, a series of debates would set the foundation for the way we conduct debates today. The historic Lincoln Douglas debate was the beginning of Abraham Lincoln's national political career.

Lincoln Douglas Debate today refers to a regimented, structured form of competitive debate. Instead of debating in teams, two people are pitted against each other in one-on-one debate. The structure of Lincoln Douglas debate consists of alternating speeches and subsequent cross-examinations. A Lincoln Douglas debate is limited to 32 minutes total time, and the winner is selected by a judge. Lincoln Douglas debate is one of the two formats of debate recognized by the National Forensic Association, an association devoted to the promotion of intercollegiate speech and debate.

Lincoln Douglas Debate: Debating At Its Finest

One way in which Lincoln Douglas debate differs from conventional debate forms is that it is structured around a proposition of value. Usually, this concept or idea has no definite right or wrong resolution. The competitors argue in favor of or against the resolution using well-developed speeches and questions. Lincoln Douglas debate does not favor the rapid, think-on-your-feet type of questioning that is often found in other forms of debate.

Lincoln Douglas debate is one of the most effective ways to showcase your research, communication, and thinking skills in a high-profile arena. Due to its structured format, you need to have the skills to speak concisely and convincingly. Being able to effectively deliver an informative speech in a set amount of time, as well as answer questions refuting information given in your speech will demonstrate your skills as an analytical thinker, and most importantly, a debater.


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