Lincoln-Douglas debates remain at heart of U.S. politics, Gettysburg College prof says

There is a direct link between today's "culture wars" and the famed Lincoln-Douglas debates of 150 years ago, a Gettysburg College professor argued in an op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor.

Tensions surrounding morality and politics reflect "a battle between two basic concepts of deomocracy itself: between democracy as a process and democracy as purpose," wrote Allen C. Guelzo, Henry R. Luce professor of the Civil War Era and author of Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America. "This conflict is hardly an aberration of the 1990s or the Religious Right. It's a battle that was spectacularly played out 150 years ago in the great debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas."

Guelzo's essay appeared in the Sept. 26 issue, under the headline "Lincoln's Lesson for Today's Culture Wars: Democracy must be more than two wolves and a lamb voting on what's for lunch." The page bearing Guelzo's essay links to an audio recording of him and Monitor opinion editor Josh Burek discussing the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Guelzo also appeared on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart in February. A video is available. He has also been mentioned in Time magazine, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. His opinion piece, "Lincoln-Douglas: The Real Thing," appeared Feb. 3 in the Washington Post and in several other newspapers. In addition, Guelzo took part in the White House's commemoration of the 199th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth.

Guelzo holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.Div. from Philadelphia Theological Seminary and honorary doctorate in history from Lincoln College in Illinois.

In 2000, his book Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President won both the Lincoln Prize and the Abraham Lincoln Institute Prize. He did it again in 2005 with his book, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America, making him the first double Lincoln Laureate in the history of both prizes.

Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences. With a student body of approximately 2,600, it is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania. The college was founded in 1832.

Posted: Fri, 26 Sep 2008

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