What carried this one-term congressman from obscurity to fame was his Senate campaign against the country's most formidable politician, Stephen A. Douglas, in the summer and fall of 1858. Lincoln challenged Douglas directly in one of his greatest speeches--"A house divided against itself cannot stand"--and confronted Douglas on the questions of slavery and the inviolability of the Union in seven fierce debates. Of course, the great issue was slavery. Douglas was the champion of letting states and territories decide for themselves whether to legalize slavery. Lincoln drew a moral line, arguing that no majority could ever make slavery right. Lincoln lost that Senate race to Douglas, though he came close to toppling the "Little Giant," but he emerged a predominant national figure. Guelzo's book brings alive their debates and this whole year of campaigns, and underscores their centrality in the greatest conflict in American history.--From publisher description.