Third Debate • Jonesboro, September 15
In far southern Illinois, the crowd was the smallest of the debates (just 1,500) and so pro-Douglas that Lincoln joked, “I hope you won’t make fun of the few friends I have here.” Douglas denounced Lincoln’s House Divided speech and attacked Lincoln as an abolitionist. Douglas said of himself that we wished to preserve the government “as our fathers made it.” Lincoln accused Douglas of being unfaithful to the intent of the framers of the Constitution by promoting states rights as a means to perpetuate slavery.
Just north of the Jonesboro Square, and nestled in beautiful Lincoln Memorial Park under century-old trees, is the memorial to the 1858 Abraham Lincoln-Stephen Douglas debate site. Standing on each side of a large limestone memorial boulder are life-sized bronze statues of Lincoln and Douglas in debate poses. Visitors can view a Looking for Lincoln wayside exhibit which provides details of the event. Stone walls frame the statues and the brick courtyard engraved with donors’ names. The setting offers wonderful photo opportunities and the courtyard walls and other benches serve as seating for those wanting to stay awhile to enjoy the site.