Lincoln-Douglas Debate in Jonesboro, Illinois

Lincoln-Douglas debate site in Jonesboro, Illinois

Statues of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas mark the site of the Lincoln-Douglas debate in Jonesboro, Illinois.

During a trip through Illinois in December 2023, Laura and I stopped by the Lincoln-Douglas debate site in Jonesboro. As you may know, we both like history, and Abraham Lincoln is one of my favorite subjects. This site was not too far off of our path, and it was great to be able to stop by for a few minutes.

Lincoln-Douglas debate site in Jonesboro, Illinois

This particular debate was one of seven held between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas in 1858 during their campaign for a United States Senate seat from Illinois. The debate in Jonesboro was held on September 15, 1858, in this location, and was attented by approximately 1500 people.

Abraham Lincoln statue at the Lincoln-Douglas debate site in Jonesboro, Illinois

You are probably familiar with Abraham Lincoln, mainly due to his serving as President of the United States from 1861 to 1865. However, in the 1858 election, he was the challenger attempting to unseat the incumbent. Lincoln was not all that well-known at this time, and he was seeking to be heard and to make is reputation. And yes, at the time of the debates, Abraham Lincoln had not yet grown his famous beard.

Stephen A. Douglas statue at the Lincoln-Douglas debate site in Jonesboro, Illinois

Stephen A. Douglas was well-known among the people, as they had previously elected him to office. Douglas was known as the “Little Giant” due to his short stature, which contrasted greatly with the much taller Lincoln.

Lincoln-Douglas debate site in Jonesboro, Illinois

Abraham Lincoln lost the election in 1858. However, these debates allowed him to be seen by many people who attended the debates. And published version of the speeches increased his fame even more, both in the state of Illinois and throughout the United States. So although Lincoln lost, he made a great impression on many people.

Lincoln-Douglas debate site in Jonesboro, Illinois

After this election, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas would campaign against each other again, and the next time in the election for United States President in 1860. Abraham Lincoln won that election. And after the attack at Fort Sumter, Stephen Douglas supported the Union until his passing in June 1861.

Jonesboro is the second of the seven Lincoln-Douglas debate site that we visited, after visiting the site at Quincy some years ago. We had also visited the site in Tolono where Lincoln gave his final address to the people of Illinois. For me, it is interesting to see the places where these important historical events happened.


In reading through the accounts of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, it becomes apparent that the two men had a good deal of respect for each other. They did not agree with each other on many things, which is of course why they were running against each other for office. And they stated their disagreements during the debates, but always with a measure of respect.

Some might say that the respect they showed was just a product of their time. But why does it have to be? Why can’t we be respectful of each other now? These days, if someone disagrees with someone else, he does all that he can to tear that person down. Although most debates (and most arguments, for that matter) never really change anyone’s mind, you completely lose the possibility of changing anyone’s mind if you show hostility and negativity toward that person.

And in other situations, respect goes a long way, too. You can win over people just by being respectful toward them, even if you do not agree with them.

Some will say that respect has to be earned. While that may be true in some ways, respect can be given in all circumstances, even if someone has not earned it. Everyone expects to get what they have earned. When you get something unexpectedly, it makes you take notice even more.

Treat others with respect, just the same way that you want to be treated. It is just one of the ways that we can love one another.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. - John 15:12

Love One Another

About the Photos

We visited Jonesboro on a gray autumn day, and the photos reflected that. So I decided to give them a desaturated look just to add a little drama. I also used a bit of Orton effect, too. To me, this look gives them a sort of “historic artistic” feel, if that is even a thing.

And here is one more photo. I said to Laura, “Let’s take a photo of you with Lincoln.” And this is what I got:

Laura and Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln-Douglas debate site in Jonesboro, Illinois

Photo: Each photo is a single Raw exposure, processed in Raw Therapee and GIMP.
Camera: Sony Alpha A7 II
Lens: Rokinon 35mm f/1.8
Date: December 8, 2023
Location: Jonesboro, Illinois


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About Burnsland
Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.