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By Kathleen Hall Jamieson

How vital are presidential debates this day? to reply to this question, the authors position sleek debates of their cultural and historic context, tracing their origins and improvement within the American political culture, from the eighteenth century to the current, and concluding with feedback for bettering their present effectiveness.

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Extra info for Presidential Debates: The Challenge of Creating an Informed Electorate

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Numerous election debates were conducted by surrogates acting on behalf of the major party candidates. These stand-ins were often prominent, talented members of the Congress or major political figures in their respective states. Former presidential aspirants Clay and Webster also stumped for the Whig candidates. In the election of 1836, two obscure Illinois politicians joined the fray when Abraham Lincoln, representing the Whigs, debated Democrat John I. Calhoun in Illinois. Lincoln debated Calhoun again in 1840 and 1844.

His Second Reply to Hayne became the most widely read political document of its time. 34 Presidential Debates was largely responsible for shifting high profile personality struggles from the rostrum to the backroom. Election Debates Beyond the strictly deliberative applications of argumentation, debate has been an important element of elections in America from 1788 through the twentieth century. That is not to say, however, that the earliest election debates looked very much like our own. Presidential candidates did not campaign for the office in person until late in the nineteenth century.

18 The Liberator never enjoyed a large paid circulation; many of its copies were mailed to the editors of other newspapers. "10 The southerners took on Garrison as if he were the voice of the North, though this was far from the case. The willingness of these editors to engage him in debate made his position the rallying point for southern fears that the North meant violence to the southern way of life. The Liberator's fierce denunciations of the government lent 48 Presidential Debates credence to the slaveholders' claims that abolitionists were merely Jacobins masquerading as social reformers.

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