The Fifth Lincoln-Douglas Debate

In 1858, the race for the Illinois seat of the United States Senate was between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. They held a series of seven debates throughout the state, but the fifth one is considered by many scholars to be the turning point in Lincoln’s political career. Using a combination of colorful storyboards, along with photographs and newspaper clippings as primary source materials, and engaging activities, your students will learn about the event itself and the surprising ways the debates have been commemorated since then.

This PRINTABLE study contains:

  • 40 page printable edition, including detailed notes to educators and answer key
  • Map of all seven debate locations
  • Full-color storyboards that tell the story of the fifth debate
  • Vocabulary Builder (you’ll need a dictionary for this activity)
  • Actual 1858 newspaper clippings and analysis of bias activities
  • Plenty of nonfiction reading
  • Questions to ponder (writing or discussion prompts)
  • A look at debate anniversary celebrations through the years, and the amazing (and unexpected) people who participated! More vintage photos and newspaper accounts included.
  • Links to important videos
  • Additional activities and evaluations


Great for teachers because:

  • No prep – great for busy teachers, subs, and homeschool
  • Makes reading circles or guided reading lessons easy, fun, and interesting
  • Incorporates several educational disciplines in one topic
  • Easily adapted to students of different ages and abilities (especially great for homeschool and unschool environments)
  • Sneak in some history and have fun doing it
  • All the research and organization is done for you

Great for students because:

  • Lessons and activities long enough to cover the topic, but short enough to hold interest
  • Little or no teacher supervision needed
  • Helps kids find fun in the stories of history
  • Lots of “Fun Facts” included

Here’s the course outline. Each of the six chapters is typically completed in about an hour or less.

Chapter 1 Setting the Scene

1.1 Lesson

1.2 What is a debate, anyway?

1.3 Quick Quiz 1

Chapter 2 A Slight Change In Plans

2.1 Lesson

2.2 Two Videos To Watch

2.3 Quick Quiz 2

Chapter 3 The Debate

3.1 Lesson

3.2 Vocabulary Builder

3.3 Quick Quiz

Chapter 4 As Reported In the Newspaper

4.1 Article 1

4.2 Article 2

4.3 Quick Quiz

Chapter 5 The Debate Site

5.1 Lesson

5.2 I Wonder

5.3 Commemorations in the 1800s

5.4 Quick Quiz

Chapter 6 More Commemorations

6.1 More Commemorations

6.2 Let’s Plan a Celebration

6.3 Quick Quiz

Before You Go

Educator Resources

IMPORTANT: This course is available in TWO formats which cover the same material. Click here for the ONLINE COURSE.