Political Debates That Defined a Nation

Political Debates That Defined a Nation


Debates that defined a nation began from the Founding Fathers battle for liberty and the Lincoln-Douglas Political Debates. Through the centuries and administrations, the political debates are how a candidate proves his or her worthiness to the people. The political debates are also how the people choose their next president or leader. The United States is a democracy and the debate can take place in a local town hall or the executive office of the White House. The political debate is the democratic way of picking a new leader in the free world. It was laid down well over 200 years ago,and continues to this very day.

The Commission on Presidential Debates says that the main topic of the Lincoln-Douglas argument was slavery in 1858. It continues to say that Abraham Lincoln (Republican) debated Stephen A. Douglas (Democrat). The two candidates were competing for a seat in the Illinois State Senate in the debate.

It was during the time of the Abolition Movement to end slavery in the United States of America.Part of the Abolitionists’ goals were to end the ownership  of slaves. Anti-Abolitionists were created with the main goal to preserve the institution that stemmed from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.They  argued this in the political debate.

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade began as a trade between Western Nations and African civilizations. The Western nations were the U.S., Brazil, Argentina, and Haiti. The African civilizations were mainly to the west and North West of the continent.

Slavery began in the 15 century between Western powers, such as Britain, Holland, France, Spain, and Portugal, as well as Western and Central African civilization. The civilizations of West Africa, under the rule of Sultans, owned slaves for several centuries by the time  they began bartering with the West.

In 1858, the West had been buying slaves from West Africa for over 350 years. Racial tension between the Abolitionist and the Anti-Abolitionist Movements were coming to a head.This was because the Abolitionist movement was largely founded by former slaves and their sympathizers. The two factions would argue their point in the political debates.

While many of the Anti-Abolitionists were Irish Immigrants from the Northern and industrial major cities.The Irish immigrants feared the free slaves would migrate north and compete with them for their jobs.The Anti-Immigrant movement or nativist was another popular topic that was also discussed in political debates of the day.

The Commission of Political Debates in 1960  Kennedy and Nixon Political Debates was between John F. Kennedy (Democrat) and Richard M. Nixon (Republican).  Kennedy was a  senator from Massachusetts while  Nixon was the  Vice President of the U.S.The event was held in the city of Chicago, Illinois.The topic of the political debates was current events.

History Channel says that the Kennedy-Nixon Political Debates were the “first televised presidential debates in American history.” It took place in the heart of the Cold War, a heated international conflict between the USA, and the USSR.These nations were the last two remaining dominant world powers, all were namely left after the collapse of Nazi Germany, the Italian Empire, and the Empire of Japan after World War II.

It was later said that Senator Kennedy appeared more polished than the Vice President. Nixon looked quite worn and tired in the political debates.The History Channel said that the viewers of the debate claimed that Kennedy won. While those who heard the debate on the radio believed Nixon won.

The Kennedy-Nixon Debate brought the political debate into a new forum. It would now be televised, rather than  heard or read about the next day.Viewers could pick up on the candidate’s’ social cues, to see where they were vulnerable, and were their strengths lied

The Kennedy-Nixon Debates  were only three television channels.Now several major cable news networks cover Republican, Democrat, and Presidential Debates. CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, and Fox News are now airing several debates. The debates are also streamed online.

The History of Presidential Debates states, “Debates are among the only situations where candidates are deprived of their stump speech,” The article then goes on to say how the debates force the candidates to act  impulsively while in front of large groups of people.

Political debates that defined a nation from the U.S. founding fathers to the current day, arguing  topics ranging from slavery, immigration, nativist, and international conflicts. However in 1853, public debates were reported in newspapers. Today, they are broadcasted by several different major cable companies. The events are also aired on television or streamed online.

By John A. Federico


Commission of Presidential Debate: Debate History
History Channel.com: The Kennedy-Nixon Debate
Digg: The History of Presidential Debates

Image Courtesy of Stephen Cole’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License


Leave a Reply