Illinois History Minutes

October 7 Illinois History Minute


It’s October 7th, the day of the fifth Lincoln-Douglas debate in 1858. Some 15-thousand people crowded onto the Knox College campus to hear Senator Stephen Douglas and challenger Abraham Lincoln debate whether the expansion of slavery in new states should be allowed. Douglas continued his argument that the Declaration of Independence was written by and applied only to white men, while Lincoln argued that it was meant for all men --- even though its chief author, Thomas Jefferson, was a slaveholder.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the start of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The fire broke out on a windy evening during a drought. Although no official cause was ever determined, a widespread claim is that the fire began in or around the barn of Patrick and Catherine O’Leary, leading to the legend of their cow kicking over a lantern.