Lincoln-Douglas Debate is a one-on-one forensic competition format modeled after historic debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. Learn how to participate.
You will need
- A forensic competition
- An opponent
- Extensive research
- 3-by-5 index cards
- Pens or pencils
- A legal pad
Step 1 Pick affirmative or Negative side on given issue Choose the affirmative or negative side of a given topic.
A Lincoln-Douglas format is a debate judged on the moral validity of one ideal over an opposing ideal. Other debate formats are judged on the more practical application of a debate position.
Step 2 Research the topic and prep resource citation cards Research your stance. Write notes with source citations on 3-by-5 index cards, to be used as evidence during the debate.
Step 3 Prepare an L-D Debate flow sheet Use a legal pad held horizontally to create a Lincoln-Douglas Debate flow sheet. Divide the page or pages into seven sections, one for each round of the debate.
Before participating in the debate, fill in your side’s evidence points in the appropriate sections on the flow sheet. Leave the opponent’s sections empty for note-taking during the debate.
Step 4 Affirmative states resolution with evidence State your position clearly and support it with three or more facts during the opening round if you’re affirmative.
Step 5 Negative cross-examines opponent Aim your questions at your opponent’s opening statement with a strategy that points out flaws and negative implications of your opponent’s position if you’re negative.
Step 6 Negative participant presents opposing statement Present your opposing statement clearly with supporting facts during the opening round if you’re negative.
Step 7 Affirmative cross-examines opponent Cross-examine the opponent’s negative position if you’re affirmative.
Cross-examination rounds in Lincoln-Douglas format debates typically have three-minute time limits.
Step 8 Affirmative makes rebuttal speech Make a rebuttal speech if you’re affirmative. This four-minute rebuttal round will serve to rebuild your case.
Step 9 Negative makes rebuttal speech Make your rebuttal speech if you’re negative. The negative rebuttal round has a six- or seven-minute time limit.
Step 10 Affirmative states final case State your final case in a three- or four-minute rebuttal of your opponent’s negative position if you’re affirmative.
Did You Know:
Senator Hillary Clinton challenged Senator Barack Obama to a Lincoln-Douglas format debate during the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries.