Stephen A. Douglas

Stephen A. Douglas

Overview
Stephen Arnold Douglas was an American politician from the western state of Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, and was the Northern Democratic Party
History of the United States Democratic Party
The history of the Democratic Party of the United States is an account of the oldest political party in the United States and arguably the oldest democratic party in the world....

 nominee for President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 in 1860
United States presidential election, 1860
The United States presidential election of 1860 was a quadrennial election, held on November 6, 1860, for the office of President of the United States and the immediate impetus for the outbreak of the American Civil War. The nation had been divided throughout the 1850s on questions surrounding the...

. He lost to the Republican Party
History of the United States Republican Party
The United States Republican Party is the second oldest currently existing political party in the United States after its great rival, the Democratic Party. It emerged in 1854 to combat the Kansas Nebraska Act which threatened to extend slavery into the territories, and to promote more vigorous...

's candidate, Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

, whom he had defeated two years earlier in a Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 contest following a famed series of debates
Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858
The Lincoln–Douglas Debates of 1858 were a series of seven debates between Abraham Lincoln, the Republican candidate for Senate in Illinois, and the incumbent Senator Stephen Douglas, the Democratic Party candidate. At the time, U.S. senators were elected by state legislatures; thus Lincoln and...

. He was nicknamed the "Little Giant" because he was short of stature but was considered by many a "giant" in politics. Douglas was well known as a resourceful party leader, and an adroit, ready, skillful tactician in debate and passage of legislation.
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Encyclopedia
Stephen Arnold Douglas was an American politician from the western state of Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, and was the Northern Democratic Party
History of the United States Democratic Party
The history of the Democratic Party of the United States is an account of the oldest political party in the United States and arguably the oldest democratic party in the world....

 nominee for President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 in 1860
United States presidential election, 1860
The United States presidential election of 1860 was a quadrennial election, held on November 6, 1860, for the office of President of the United States and the immediate impetus for the outbreak of the American Civil War. The nation had been divided throughout the 1850s on questions surrounding the...

. He lost to the Republican Party
History of the United States Republican Party
The United States Republican Party is the second oldest currently existing political party in the United States after its great rival, the Democratic Party. It emerged in 1854 to combat the Kansas Nebraska Act which threatened to extend slavery into the territories, and to promote more vigorous...

's candidate, Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

, whom he had defeated two years earlier in a Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 contest following a famed series of debates
Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858
The Lincoln–Douglas Debates of 1858 were a series of seven debates between Abraham Lincoln, the Republican candidate for Senate in Illinois, and the incumbent Senator Stephen Douglas, the Democratic Party candidate. At the time, U.S. senators were elected by state legislatures; thus Lincoln and...

. He was nicknamed the "Little Giant" because he was short of stature but was considered by many a "giant" in politics. Douglas was well known as a resourceful party leader, and an adroit, ready, skillful tactician in debate and passage of legislation. He was a leading proponent of democracy—and believed that the majority of citizens should decide, through the principle of Popular Sovereignty
Popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty or the sovereignty of the people is the political principle that the legitimacy of the state is created and sustained by the will or consent of its people, who are the source of all political power. It is closely associated with Republicanism and the social contract...

, contentious issues such as slavery and territorial expansion.

As chairman of the Committee on Territories, Douglas dominated the Senate in the 1850s. He was largely responsible for the Compromise of 1850
Compromise of 1850
The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five bills, passed in September 1850, which defused a four-year confrontation between the slave states of the South and the free states of the North regarding the status of territories acquired during the Mexican-American War...

 that apparently settled slavery issues. However, in 1854 he reopened the slavery question by the highly controversial Kansas-Nebraska Act
Kansas-Nebraska Act
The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, opening new lands for settlement, and had the effect of repealing the Missouri Compromise of 1820 by allowing settlers in those territories to determine through Popular Sovereignty if they would allow slavery within...

, that allowed the people of the new territories to decide for themselves whether or not to have slavery (which is known as "popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty or the sovereignty of the people is the political principle that the legitimacy of the state is created and sustained by the will or consent of its people, who are the source of all political power. It is closely associated with Republicanism and the social contract...

"). The protest movement against this became the Republican Party.

Douglas supported the Dred Scott
Dred Scott
Dred Scott , was an African-American slave in the United States who unsuccessfully sued for his freedom and that of his wife and their two daughters in the Dred Scott v...

 Supreme Court decision
Dred Scott v. Sandford
Dred Scott v. Sandford, , also known as the Dred Scott Decision, was a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that people of African descent brought into the United States and held as slaves were not protected by the Constitution and could never be U.S...

 of 1857, and denied that it was part of a Southern
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 plot to introduce slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 in the Northern
Northern United States
Northern United States, also sometimes the North, may refer to:* A particular grouping of states or regions of the United States of America. The United States Census Bureau divides some of the northernmost United States into the Midwest Region and the Northeast Region...

 states; but also argued it could not be effective when the people of a territory declined to pass laws supporting it. When President James Buchanan
James Buchanan
James Buchanan, Jr. was the 15th President of the United States . He is the only president from Pennsylvania, the only president who remained a lifelong bachelor and the last to be born in the 18th century....

 and his Southern allies attempted to pass a Federal slave code, to support slavery even against the wishes of the people of Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

, he battled and defeated this movement as undemocratic. This caused the split in the Democratic Party in 1860, as Douglas won the nomination but a breakaway southern faction nominated their own candidate, Vice President John C. Breckinridge
John C. Breckinridge
John Cabell Breckinridge was an American lawyer and politician. He served as a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Kentucky and was the 14th Vice President of the United States , to date the youngest vice president in U.S...

. Douglas deeply believed in democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

, arguing the will of the people should always be decisive. When civil war
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 came in April 1861, he rallied his supporters to the Union
Union (American Civil War)
During the American Civil War, the Union was a name used to refer to the federal government of the United States, which was supported by the twenty free states and five border slave states. It was opposed by 11 southern slave states that had declared a secession to join together to form the...

 with all his energies, but he died a few weeks later.

Early life and education


He was born Arnold Douglass in Brandon, Vermont
Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

 to Stephen Arnold Douglass and Sarah Fisk. Douglas dropped the second "s" from his name some years later.

He migrated to Winchester, Illinois in 1833, where he served as an itinerant teacher
Itinerant teacher
Itinerant teachers are traveling schoolteachers. They are sometimes specialized to work in the field of special education, providing individual tutoring to students with visual or hearing impairments...

 and once opened a school for three months at three dollars a pupil . He also studied law, and settled in Jacksonville
Jacksonville, Illinois
Jacksonville is a city in Morgan County, Illinois, United States. The population was 18,940 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Morgan County....

. By the end of the year, he wrote his Vermont relatives, "I have become a Western man, have imbibed Western feelings principles and interests and have selected Illinois as the favorite place of my adoption."

Career


Douglas was appointed as Morgan County State's Attorney in 1834, serving until 1836. Within a decade, Douglas was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives
Illinois House of Representatives
The Illinois House of Representatives is the lower house of the Illinois General Assembly, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Illinois. The body was created by the first Illinois Constitution adopted in 1818. The state House of Representatives is made of 118 representatives elected from...

, and was appointed registrar of the Springfield
Springfield, Illinois
Springfield is the third and current capital of the US state of Illinois and the county seat of Sangamon County with a population of 117,400 , making it the sixth most populated city in the state and the second most populated Illinois city outside of the Chicago Metropolitan Area...

 Land Office, Illinois Secretary of State. He was appointed an associate justice of the Illinois Supreme Court in 1841, at age 27.

A leader of the majority Democratic Party
History of the United States Democratic Party
The history of the Democratic Party of the United States is an account of the oldest political party in the United States and arguably the oldest democratic party in the world....

, he was elected twice to Congress
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 (1842 and 1844), where he championed territorial expansion and supported the Mexican War. Elected by the legislature to the U.S. Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 in 1846, he was reelected in 1852 and 1858. He was challenged for his Senate position in 1858 by Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

, who had served with Douglas in the legislature. Their series of nationally famous debates significantly boosted Lincoln's reputation despite his loss to Douglas.

Douglas chiefly designed the Compromise of 1850
Compromise of 1850
The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five bills, passed in September 1850, which defused a four-year confrontation between the slave states of the South and the free states of the North regarding the status of territories acquired during the Mexican-American War...

; however, the support of Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

 was needed and he has received much of the credit. The omnibus bill containing the compromise did not pass Congress. Each point separately had majority support, but Northerners and Southerners combined to vote the bill down for their own reasons. Douglas passed the Compromise by dividing it into separate bills, and arranged a different majority for each.

Moving to Chicago, Douglas married wealth - a Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

 woman who inherited a plantation
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

 worked by slave labor. An avid promoter of railroad expansion, he devised the land grant
Land grant
A land grant is a gift of real estate – land or its privileges – made by a government or other authority as a reward for services to an individual, especially in return for military service...

 system to fund the Illinois Central railroad. He intended it to link the nation north and south, from Chicago to the Gulf of Mexico; Douglas hoped that would more thoroughly integrate the regional economies and reduce section tensions. The railroad was funded, but the Civil War
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

 interrupted its construction. It did not reach the Gulf until afterward. Douglas owned land in Chicago which the railroad would make more valuable, but his primary motivation was political.

Douglas always had a deep and abiding faith in democracy. "Let the people rule!" was his cry, and he insisted that the people locally could and should make the decisions about slavery, rather than the national government. He was passed over for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1852
United States presidential election, 1852
The United States presidential election of 1852 bore important similarities to the election of 1844. Once again, the incumbent president was a Whig who had succeeded to the presidency upon the death of his war-hero predecessor. In this case, it was Millard Fillmore who followed General Zachary Taylor...

 and 1856
United States presidential election, 1856
The United States presidential election of 1856 was an unusually heated contest that led to the election of James Buchanan, the ambassador to the United Kingdom. Republican candidate John C. Frémont condemned the Kansas–Nebraska Act and crusaded against the expansion of slavery, while Democrat...

.

While never a religious man, he was an eager promoter of Chicago. He donated 10 acres of his lakefront property, worth $50,000, to a small new Baptist college
Old University of Chicago
The University of Chicago, now known as the Old University of Chicago , was a school founded by Baptists in Chicago in 1857...

, the first University of Chicago. Critics said that he wanted to enhance the value of his adjoining lots.

Marriage and family



Douglas briefly courted Mary Todd
Mary Todd Lincoln
Mary Ann Lincoln was the wife of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and was First Lady of the United States from 1861 to 1865.-Life before the White House:...

 (who married Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 instead). Douglas became a member of the Masonic
Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

 fraternity in Springfield Lodge No. 4 in Springfield, Illinois in 1839. He was a member of several Masonic organizations in Springfield.

In March 1847 he married Martha Martin, the 21-year-old daughter of wealthy Colonel Robert Martin and his wife of North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

. The year after their marriage, her father died and bequeathed Martha a 2500-acre cotton plantation with 100 slaves on the Pearl River in Lawrence County, Mississippi
Lawrence County, Mississippi
Lawrence County is a county located in the U.S. state of Mississippi. As of 2010, the population was 12,929. Its county seat is Monticello. Lawrence County is named for the naval hero James Lawrence.-Geography:...

. He appointed Douglas the property manager but, as a senator of the free state of Illinois, and with presidential aspirations, Douglas found the Southern plantation presented difficulties. He created distance by hiring a manager to operate the plantation, while using his allocated 20 percent of the income to advance his political career. His sole lengthy visit to Mississippi was in 1848, and he made only brief emergency trips thereafter.

The newlyweds moved their Illinois home from Springfield to fast-growing Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 in the summer of 1847. They had two sons: Robert M. Douglas
Robert M. Douglas
Robert Martin Douglas was a North Carolina Supreme Court justice and political figure. At the beginning of his career, the young attorney served the Republican governor of the state and President Ulysses S...

 (January 1849-1892) and Stephen Arnold Douglas, Jr., (November 1850-d. ?). Martha Douglas died young on January 19, 1853, after the birth of her third child, a daughter. The girl died a few weeks later, and Douglas and the boys were bereft.

On November 20, 1856, Douglas married a second time, to 20-year-old Adele Cutts, another southern woman. She was the daughter of James Madison Cutts of Washington, DC, who was the nephew of President James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

. Her great-aunt was the former U.S. First Lady Dolley Madison
Dolley Madison
Dolley Payne Todd Madison was the spouse of the fourth President of the United States, James Madison, and was First Lady of the United States from 1809 to 1817...

. As her mother was from a Maryland Catholic family, Adele Cutts was Catholic. With Stephen's approval, she had his two sons baptized as Catholic and reared in that faith.

She had a miscarriage in 1858 and became ill. The following year, Adele gave birth to a daughter, Ellen, who lived only a few weeks, and the mother was left weakened by childbirth.

Kansas-Nebraska Act, 1854


Douglas set off a tremendous political upheaval by proposing the Kansas-Nebraska Act
Kansas-Nebraska Act
The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, opening new lands for settlement, and had the effect of repealing the Missouri Compromise of 1820 by allowing settlers in those territories to determine through Popular Sovereignty if they would allow slavery within...

 in 1854. New laws were needed to allow for the settlement of the Nebraska territory. Illinois was Douglas's home state, so naturally he had invested in Chicago land, which would be made more valuable by railroads from Chicago that would serve the region, as it had been by the Illinois Central. The Missouri Compromise
Missouri Compromise
The Missouri Compromise was an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30'...

 had guaranteed slavery would not exist there (because it was north of the 36°30' compromise line), and the Compromise of 1850 had reaffirmed this.

Leading Southern senators had met with Douglas, and had insisted on popular sovereignty as a condition for their support of the bill. Douglas's first bill had only enacted it to a limited extent, by providing that Nebraska and Kansas could enter the Union free or slave as the residents might decide; but the Southerners insisted, and Douglas discovered a "clerical error", and revised the bill.

Douglas argued that the people of the territory should decide the slavery question by themselves, and that soil and climate made the territory unsuitable for plantations; which last reassured his northern supporters it would remain free. Douglas defended his doctrine of popular sovereignty as a means of promoting democracy and removing the slavery issue from national politics, lest it threaten to rip the nation apart, but it had exactly the opposite effect.

Douglas and Abraham Lincoln aired their disagreement on this topic in Peoria, Illinois, on October 16, 1854.http://www.lincolnatpeoria.com/ Although Mr. Lincoln's three hour "Peoria Speech
Abraham Lincoln Peoria speech
Abraham Lincoln's Peoria speech was made in Peoria, Illinois on October 16, 1854. The speech, with its specific arguments against slavery, was an important step in Abraham Lincoln's political ascension....

"http://www.mrlincolnandfreedom.org/inside.asp?ID=11&subjectID=2, presented thorough moral, legal and economic arguments against slavery,http://www.mrlincolnandfreedom.org/inside.asp?ID=1&subjectID=1 it did not stop the Act from passing.

The act was passed by Southern votes, Democratic and Whig
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

 alike, and Douglas had little to do with the final text. This was the first appearance of the Solid South, and the opponents of the Act saw it as the triumph of the hated Slave Power
Slave power
The Slave Power was a term used in the Northern United States to characterize the political power of the slaveholding class of the South....

 and formed the Republican Party to stop it.

Presidential aspirant


In 1852 and 1856, Douglas was a candidate for the Presidential nomination in the national Democratic convention; although he was unsuccessful, he received strong support on both occasions. When the Know Nothing
Know Nothing
The Know Nothing was a movement by the nativist American political faction of the 1840s and 1850s. It was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by German and Irish Catholic immigrants, who were often regarded as hostile to Anglo-Saxon Protestant values and controlled by...

 movement grew strong, he crusaded against it, but hoped it would split the opposition. In 1858 he won significant support in many former Know-Nothing strongholds. In 1857, Douglas broke with President James Buchanan
James Buchanan
James Buchanan, Jr. was the 15th President of the United States . He is the only president from Pennsylvania, the only president who remained a lifelong bachelor and the last to be born in the 18th century....

 and the "administration" Democrats, and lost much of his support in the Southern United States
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

. He partially regained favor in the North – especially in Illinois – by his vigorous opposition to the method of voting on the Lecompton constitution
Lecompton Constitution
The Lecompton Constitution was the second of four proposed constitutions for the state of Kansas . The document was written in response to the anti-slavery position of the 1855 Topeka Constitution of James H. Lane and other free-state advocates...

, which he saw as fraudulent, and (in 1858) to the admission of Kansas into the Union under this constitution.

Debating Lincoln, 1858



In 1858, the United States Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 – after the vote of Kansas against the Lecompton constitution – had decided that Kansas was a "slave" territory, thus quashing Douglas' theory of "popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty or the sovereignty of the people is the political principle that the legitimacy of the state is created and sustained by the will or consent of its people, who are the source of all political power. It is closely associated with Republicanism and the social contract...

". In Illinois he engaged in a close contest for the Senate seat with Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

, the Republican candidate, whom he met in a series of seven debates which became known as the Lincoln-Douglas debates
Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858
The Lincoln–Douglas Debates of 1858 were a series of seven debates between Abraham Lincoln, the Republican candidate for Senate in Illinois, and the incumbent Senator Stephen Douglas, the Democratic Party candidate. At the time, U.S. senators were elected by state legislatures; thus Lincoln and...

. In the second of the debates, Douglas said that any territory, by "unfriendly legislation", could exclude slavery, no matter what the action of the Supreme Court. Having already lost the support of much of his party in the South, his association with this famous Freeport Doctrine
Freeport Doctrine
The Freeport Doctrine was articulated by Stephen A. Douglas at the second of the Lincoln-Douglas debates on August 27, 1858, in Freeport, Illinois. Lincoln tried to force Douglas to choose between the principle of popular sovereignty proposed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the majority decision of...

 made it anathema to many southerners, including Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Finis Davis , also known as Jeff Davis, was an American statesman and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as President for its entire history. He was born in Kentucky to Samuel and Jane Davis...

, who would have otherwise supported it.

Before and during the debates, Douglas repeatedly invoked racist rhetoric, claiming Lincoln was for black equality. At Galesburg
Galesburg, Illinois
Galesburg is a city in Knox County, Illinois, in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 32,195. It is the county seat of Knox County....

, he said that the authors of the Declaration of Independence
United States Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

 did not intend to include blacks. "This Government was made by our fathers on the white basis . . . made by white men for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever," he said. Lincoln denied his opponent's assertion that the Declaration of Independence excluded blacks.

The debates were redefining republicanism
Republicanism in the United States
Republicanism is the political value system that has been a major part of American civic thought since the American Revolution. It stresses liberty and inalienable rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, supports activist government to promote the common good, rejects...

. Lincoln advocated equality of opportunity, arguing that individuals and society advanced together. Douglas embraced a democratic doctrine that emphasized equality of all citizens (only whites were citizens), in which individual merit and social mobility was not a main goal. Douglas won the senatorship by a vote in the legislature of 54 to 46, assuming office in early 1859, but the debates helped boost Lincoln into the presidency in the 1860 election.

1860 election


Douglas competed with President Buchanan for control of the Democratic party. Although Douglas was not reappointed chairman of the Senate committee on territories, he bested Buchanan throughout the North and headed into 1860 as the front runner for president.


In the 1860 Democratic National Convention
1860 Democratic National Convention
The 1860 Democratic National Convention was one of the crucial events in the lead-up to the American Civil War. Following a fragmented official Democratic National Convention that was adjourned in deadlock, two more presidential nominating conventions took place: a resumed official convention,...

 in Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is the second largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It was made the county seat of Charleston County in 1901 when Charleston County was founded. The city's original name was Charles Towne in 1670, and it moved to its present location from a location on the west bank of the...

, which began in late April, the failure of the delegates to include a slave code
Slave codes
Slave codes were laws each US state, which defined the status of slaves and the rights of masters. These codes gave slave-owners absolute power over the African slaves.-Definition of "slaves":Virginia, 1650:“Act XI...

 to the territories in the platform brought about the withdrawal of delegations from Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

, Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

, Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

, Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 and Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

. The convention adjourned to Baltimore, Maryland, convening in mid-June. The disputes continued, and the Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

, Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

, Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 and Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 delegations left the convention. Douglas was essentially nominated for the presidency by the Northern Democrats.

Douglas campaigned vigorously, attacking disunion, and in the election of 1860
United States presidential election, 1860
The United States presidential election of 1860 was a quadrennial election, held on November 6, 1860, for the office of President of the United States and the immediate impetus for the outbreak of the American Civil War. The nation had been divided throughout the 1850s on questions surrounding the...

, though he received a popular vote of 1,376,957 (2nd at 29%) he received an electoral vote
United States Electoral College
The Electoral College consists of the electors appointed by each state who formally elect the President and Vice President of the United States. Since 1964, there have been 538 electors in each presidential election...

 of only 12 (4th and last at 4%), with Lincoln receiving 180. The support for Douglas in the North came from the Irish Catholics and the poorer farmers; in the South, the Irish Catholics were his main supporters.

Douglas urged the South to acquiesce to Lincoln's election, and made efforts to arrange a compromise which would persuade the South to remain in the Union. As late as Christmas 1860, he wrote to Alexander H. Stephens and offered to annex Mexico as a slave state; Mexico had abolished slavery in 1829.

At the outbreak of the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, Douglas denounced secession
Secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

 as criminal; he was one of the strongest advocates of maintaining the integrity of the Union at all hazards. At Lincoln's request, he undertook a mission to the Border States and to the Midwest to rouse the spirit of Unionism; he spoke in Virginia, Ohio and Illinois.


Position on slavery


For a century and a half, historians have debated whether Douglas opposed slavery, and whether he was a compromiser or a devotee of principles.

Douglas married into a slaveholding family (as did Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

), but the issue is whether he supported slavery as a matter of public policy. In his "Freeport Doctrine" of 1858, he repeatedly said that he did not care whether slavery was voted up or down, but only that the people had the right to vote it up or down. He denounced as sacrilegious the petitions signed by thousands of clergymen in 1854, who said the Nebraska Act offended God's will. He rejected the Republican notions that slavery was condemned by a "higher law" (Seward
William H. Seward
William Henry Seward, Sr. was the 12th Governor of New York, United States Senator and the United States Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson...

's position) or that the nation could not long survive as half slave and half free (Lincoln's position). He disagreed with the US Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision
Dred Scott v. Sandford
Dred Scott v. Sandford, , also known as the Dred Scott Decision, was a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that people of African descent brought into the United States and held as slaves were not protected by the Constitution and could never be U.S...

 that Congress had no ability to regulate slavery in the territories. When Buchanan supported the Lecompton Constitution and the pro-slavery position on Kansas, Douglas fought him in a long battle that gained Douglas the 1860 Democratic nomination but ripped his party apart.

The historian Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins was an American historian and journalist, renowned for his extensive work on the history of the Civil War and his biographies of such figures as President Grover Cleveland, Hamilton Fish, Henry Ford, and John D. Rockefeller.-Life:Born in Camp Point, Illinois, Nevins was educated at...

 was harsh on Douglas, writing "When it [slavery] paid it was good, and when it did not pay it was bad." Nevins assessed that Douglas did not "regard a slaveholding society as one whit inferior to a free society." He criticized what he called Douglas's "dim moral perceptions."

Graham Peck finds that while several scholars have said that Douglas was personally opposed to slavery, none has presented "extensive arguments to justify the conclusion". He cites recent scholarship as (equally briefly) finding Douglas "insensitive to the moral repugnance of slavery" or even "proslavery". He concludes that Douglas was the "ideological [and] practical head of the northern opposition to the antislavery movement" and questions whether Douglas "opposed black slavery for any reason, including economics".

Harry Jaffa thought Douglas was tricking the South with popular sovereignty—telling Southerners it would protect slavery but believing the people would vote against it. Johannsen found Douglas "did not regard slavery as a moral question; at least, he never condemned the institution in moral terms either publicly or privately." However he "privately deplored slavery and was opposed to its expansion (and, indeed, in 1860 was widely regarded in both North and South as an antislavery candidate), he felt that its discussion as a moral question would place it on a dangerous level of abstraction."

1861 Lincoln Inauguration


Starting with Josiah Gilbert Holland's 1866 Life of Abraham Lincoln, a number of sources recount an anecdote in which Douglas holds Lincoln's hat at the president's first inaugural address. The story seems symbolic of both the power of the moment and the character of Douglas. He and Lincoln had been well-known rivals for both the senate and the presidency. Following the bitterly contested election of 1860, seven southern states seceded from the union. For decades, many scholars viewed the story with skepticism mainly due to its romantic appeal. In 1959, writing for American Heritage Magazine, the historian Nevins reported the discovery of two independent contemporary sources that corroborated the account.

Death


Douglas died in Chicago from typhoid fever
Typhoid fever
Typhoid fever, also known as Typhoid, is a common worldwide bacterial disease, transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person, which contain the bacterium Salmonella enterica, serovar Typhi...

 on June 3, 1861. He was buried on the shore of Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one located entirely within the United States. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third largest by surface area, after Lake Superior and Lake Huron...

.
After his death, Douglas's friends created the Douglas Monument Association. Leonard Volk
Leonard Volk
Leonard Wells Volk was an American sculptor. He is notable for making one of only two life masks of United States President Abraham Lincoln. In 1857 he helped establish the Chicago Academy of Design and served as its president until 1865. He made several large monumental sculptures, including the...

, a prominent sculptor, was commissioned to design the monument. The Memorial and tomb were completed in 1881.

Legacy and honors

  • Douglas' gravesite was bought by the state, which commissioned Leonard Volk
    Leonard Volk
    Leonard Wells Volk was an American sculptor. He is notable for making one of only two life masks of United States President Abraham Lincoln. In 1857 he helped establish the Chicago Academy of Design and served as its president until 1865. He made several large monumental sculptures, including the...

     for an imposing monument with a statue
    Stephen A. Douglas Tomb
    The Stephen A. Douglas Tomb and Memorial or Stephen Douglas Monument Park is located at 636 E. 35th Street in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois , near the site of the Union Army and prisoner of war Camp Douglas...

     that was erected over his grave.
  • Douglas' birthplace in Brandon, Vermont has been memorialized as a Museum and Visitor Center.

  • Numerous places were named after him: counties in Colorado
    Douglas County, Colorado
    Douglas County is the eighth most populous of the 64 counties of the state of Colorado, in the United States. The county is located midway between Colorado's two largest cities: Denver and Colorado Springs...

    , Georgia
    Douglas County, Georgia
    Douglas County, Georgia has been experiencing numerous natural disasters over the most recent decades. Being located in the South Eastern United States the county experiences strong storms and tornadoes often because of its location in Dixie Alley....

    , Illinois, Kansas
    Douglas County, Kansas
    Douglas County is a county located in northeast Kansas, in the Central United States. As of the 2010 census, the county population was 110,826...

    , Minnesota
    Douglas County, Minnesota
    As of the census of 2000, there were 32,821 people, 13,276 households, and 9,027 families residing in the county. The population density was 52 people per square mile . There were 16,694 housing units at an average density of 26 per square mile...

    , Missouri
    Douglas County, Missouri
    Douglas County is a county located in South Central Missouri in the United States. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the county's population was 13,684. The largest city and county seat is Ava. The county was officially organized on October 29, 1857, and is named after U.S. Senator Stephen A...

    , Nebraska
    Douglas County, Nebraska
    -Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 463,585 people, 182,194 households, and 115,146 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,401 people per square mile . There were 192,672 housing units at an average density of 582 per square mile...

    , Nevada
    Douglas County, Nevada
    Douglas County is a county located in the northwestern part of the U.S. state of Nevada. As of 2000, the population was 41,259. As of 2010, the population was estimated to be 46,997.- History :...

    , Oregon
    Douglas County, Oregon
    -National protected areas:* Crater Lake National Park * Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest * Siuslaw National Forest * Umpqua National Forest * Willamette National Forest -Adjacent counties:* Lane County, Oregon -...

    , South Dakota
    Douglas County, South Dakota
    As of the census of 2000, there were 3,458 people, 1,321 households, and 947 families residing in the county. The population density was 8 people per square mile . There were 1,453 housing units at an average density of 3 per square mile...

    , Washington and Wisconsin. Fort Douglas in Salt Lake City, the cities of Douglas in Georgia and Wyoming were also named for him.

In popular culture


In 1957, the actor Walter Coy
Walter Coy
Walter Darwin Coy was an American stage, radio, film, and, principally, television actor, originally from Great Falls, Montana. He was best known for narrating the NBC western anthology series, Frontier, which aired early Sunday evenings in the 1955-1956 season.-Career:Coy performed on Broadway...

 portrayed Douglas in the episode "Springfield Incident" of CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

's The 20th Century Fox Hour
The 20th Century Fox Hour
The 20th Century Fox Hour is an American drama anthology series televised in the United States on CBS from 1955 to 1957. Some of the shows in this series were restored, remastered and shown on the Fox Movie Channel in 2002 under the title Hour of Stars...

. Other stars of the segment are Lloyd Corrigan
Lloyd Corrigan
Lloyd Corrigan was an American film actor, producer, screenwriter and director who began working in films in the 1920s...

 and Tom Tryon
Tom Tryon
Tom Tryon was an American film and television actor, best known for playing the title role in the film The Cardinal and the Walt Disney television character Texas John Slaughter...

, and Alan Hale, Jr.
Alan Hale, Jr.
Alan Hale, Jr. was an American film and television actor, best known for his role as Skipper on the popular sitcom Gilligan's Island. Hale was the lookalike son of popular supporting film actor Alan Hale, Sr....


Further reading

  • Barbee, David R., and Milledge L. Bonham, Jr. "The Montgomery Address of Stephen A. Douglas," Journal of Southern History, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Nov., 1939), pp. 527–552 in JSTOR
  • Capers, Gerald M. Stephen A. Douglas: Defender of the Union (1959), short biography
  • Childers, Christopher. "Interpreting Popular Sovereignty: A Historiographical Essay," Civil War History Volume 57, Number 1, March 2011 pp. 48-70 in Project MUSE
  • Clinton, Anita Watkins. "Stephen Arnold Douglas - His Mississippi Experience" Journal of Mississippi History 1988 50(2): 56-88.
  • Dean; Eric T., Jr. "Stephen A. Douglas and Popular Sovereignty" Historian 1995 57(4): 733-748 online version
  • Egerton, Douglas R., Year of Meteors: Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Election That Brought on the Civil War, Bloomsbury Press, 2010. more on the book
  • Eyal, Yonatan. "With His Eyes Open: Stephen A. Douglas and the Kansas-Nebraska Disaster of 1854" Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 1998 91(4): 175-217. ISSN 1522-1067
  • Glickstein, Jonathan A., American exceptionalism, American anxiety: wages, competition, and degraded labor in the Antebellum United States; University of Virginia Press, (2002)
  • Hansen, Stephen and Nygard, Paul. "Stephen A. Douglas, the Know-nothings, and the Democratic Party in Illinois, 1854-1858" Illinois Historical Journal 1994 87(2): 109-130.
  • Huston, James L. "Democracy by Scripture versus Democracy by Process: A Reflection on Stephen A. Douglas and Popular Sovereignty." Civil War History. 43#1 (1997) pp: 189+. online version
  • Jaffa, Harry V. Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates. 1959. online version
  • Johannsen, Robert W. Stephen A. Douglas (1973), 993pp the standard scholarly biography
  • Johannsen, Robert W. The Frontier, the Union, and Stephen A. Douglas U. of Illinois Press, 1989.
  • McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom. Oxford Univ. Press, 1988. Standard modern history of the war.
  • Milton, George Fort. The Eve of Conflict: Stephen A. Douglas and the Needless War (1934), older scholarly biography
  • Morris, Roy, Jr., The Long Pursuit: Abraham Lincoln's Thirty-Year Struggle with Stephen Douglas for the Heart and Soul of America, HarperCollins Publishers, 2008.
  • Morrison, Michael A.Slavery and the American west: the eclipse of manifest destiny and the coming of the American Civil War University of North Carolina Press, (1997)
  • Nevins, Allan. Ordeal of the Union especially vol 1-4 (1947–63): Fruits of Manifest Destiny, 1847-1852; A House Dividing, 1852-1857; Douglas, Buchanan, and Party Chaos, 1857-1859; Prologue to Civil War, 1859-1861. highly detailed narrative of national politics with extensive coverage of Douglas
  • Nichols, Roy F. "The Kansas-Nebraska Act: A Century of Historiography," Mississippi Valley Historical Review 43 (1956): 187-212; JSTOR
  • Peck, Graham A. "Was Stephen A. Douglas Antislavery?," Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Summer 2005 online
  • Rhodes, James Ford. History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 (1920) vol 1-2, detailed narrative
  • Russel, Robert R. "What Was the Compromise of 1850?" Journal of Southern History 20 (1956): 292-309 in JSTOR
  • Russel, Robert R. "The Issues in the Congressional Struggle Over the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, 1854," Journal of Southern History 29 (May 1963): 187-210; in JSTOR
  • Russel, Robert R. "The Issues in the Congressional Struggle Over the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, 1854," Journal of Southern History 29 (May 1963): 187-210; in JSTOR
  • Stevenson, James A. "Lincoln vs. Douglas over the Republican Ideal" American Studies 1994 35(1): 63-89
  • Zarefsky, David. Lincoln, Douglas, and Slavery: in the Crucible of Public Debate (1990). 309 pp

External links