Lincoln-Douglas Debate

Named after the debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglass (yes, i know,) when the two were running for the U.S. Senate in Illinois in 1858, Lincoln-Douglas Debate is a 1 on 1 style of debate based around Philosophy and Morals.



To memorize: 6373463

Speech Time Description
Affirmative Constructive 6 Affirmative builds up their case.
Negative Cross-Examination 3 Negative asks Affirmative questions.
Negative Constructive 7 Negative builds up case and/or attacks opponent case.
Affirmative Cross-Examination 3 Affirmative asks Negative questions.
Affirmative Rebuttal #1 4 Affirmative attacks Negative case.
Negative Rebuttal 6 Negative attacks affirmative case and wraps up.
Affirmative Rebuttal #2 3 Affirmative attacks negative case and wraps up.

Prep Time

Each debater gets 4 minutes of prep time, which can be used in any amount before a speech.


The two sides are Affirmative and Negative. Sometimes, sides are chosen at a tournament before match starts. Sometimes a coin flip is used instead.


LD topics are called Resolutions, and usually are about a concept that is somewhat broad, but not too broad. Resolutions usually include the words should or ought. The latter has an inherent moral component.

Value and Criterion

Every LD case has a Value and a Criterion. A value is a moral goal, such as liberty, justice, human rights or equality. A criterion is a more specific idea that describes how your contentions and arguments lead to the achievement of the value. In simpler terms: A value is what you want, and the criterion is how you achieve it.


A contention is a point in your larger case. A contention has a tagline, which defines what it is about, and one or more cards, which are pieces of evidence that back up the claim in the tagline. The contention and each card should contain explanation.