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10
ILLINOIS HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS

the state, welcomed an alliance with these seceders on the common basis of opposition to slavery extension; naturally a greater public interest would attach to them than to a regular Whig like Lincoln; and the latter was in danger of being relegated to second place during the important Springfield Fair week of 1854.

[Altoti, Illinois, Courier, October 27, 1854]

Heretofore the Democracy of Central and Southern Illinois, who disagree with Judge Douglas on the Nebraskan measure, have been almost entirely silent in regard to it, and Judge Douglas and his supporters in the matter have had matters entirely their own way. . . . This state of things, as every one must have foreseen, could not last long. The democracy have been aroused and Judge Douglas is to be met at Springfield by several of the first minds of the State, men who would honor any State or nation and no less giants than himself. We are informed that Judge Trumbull, Judge Breese, Col. McClernand Judge Palmer, Col. E. D. Taylor, and others will be there and reply to Judge Douglas. He will find as foemen tried Democrats, lovers of the Baltimore platform and opposed to all slavery agitation—giants in intellect, worthy of his steel.

THE DEBATES OF 1854

The Illinois State Agricultural Fair held annually at Springfield was the culminating political event of the year—a characteristic which it bears to the present day. This gathering, devoted primarily to the interests of the farmer, became a rendezvous for state politicians, where plans were laid, candidates brought out, and the issues of the day discussed by the ablest speakers in each party. Douglas well knew that he must defend himself against the Whigs and also against many former supporters in his own party, as indicated in the quotation above. Leaving Chicago after failing to secure a hearing, Douglas went to Indianapolis and then returned to Illinois, addressing enthusiastic meetings at Ottawa, Joliet, Rock Island, and other places before the first week in October, which was the date of the State Fair.