In today’s day and age, some particular principles and traits (depending on the party affiliation of course) are necessary for politicians to be successful. In the 19th century, it was no different. In fact, at this point in history, it was essential for potential elected officials to show their constituents that they were courageous and strong. So when politicians set out on the political campaign trail, they knew they would have to discuss things within their life that would show examples of how they had said attributes. Because strength and courage were so important, Abraham Lincoln’s abilities as a wrestler would come into play. Lincoln was humble and didn’t really want to discuss that aspect of his life, so he refrained from bringing it up in speeches he gave as he ran for his first office. In fact, people may not have known anything about it if it hadn’t been for his opponent during the debate of 1858 for the Illinois U.S. Senate seat.
It was August 21, 1858, and Lincoln was set to go head to head in a heated debate with his friend and political opponent, Stephen Douglas. Back in the day, political debates were much more friendly than the ones of today, and it seems as if Douglas started his time on the stage discussing his long-term friendship with Lincoln. Laying praise on his friend for his courage and bravery, he mentioned Lincoln’s prowess in wrestling, and this, to many, was the first time they had heard about Lincoln’s abilities.