|Stephen A. Douglas
He was a Major Force in Pre-Civil War Politics
as Congressman, Senator
Stephen Arnold Douglas is best remembered for
his association with Abraham Lincoln in the
famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, Douglas had been
downgraded in the process of extolling Lincoln
even though Douglas won the disputed election to
the U.S. Senate. ■
The comparison has been unfair to the “Little
Giant” who was an outstanding congressman and
senator from Illinois. He was also a major
political force during the critical and highly
emotional days that preceded the Civil War.
■ Stephen A.
Douglas was born April 23, 1813 in Brandon,
Vermont. His father was a physician who died
when Stephen was two months old. He was a sixth
generation descendant of William Douglass who
came from Scotland in 1660 at age 20.
study in Eastern schools, Stephen A. Douglas
moved west, settling in Jacksonville, Illinois.
He completed his law training and was admitted
to the bar at age 20. By the time he was 27 he
was a justice of the Illinois Supreme Court.
Before that he had served in the state
legislature and had been Illinois attorney
In 1843 he resigned from the bench to run for
congress. From then on until his death, he spent
most of his time in Washington. After the
Lincoln-Douglas debates, the two men met again
in the crucial presidential election of 1860.
Lincoln had been nominated by the Republicans
and Douglas by the Democrats. Douglas probably
would have won and been President instead of
Lincoln but Southern Democrats split the party
with many refusing to support Douglas.
alienated the South by insisting that the Union
must be preserved at all costs when the South
was arguing the right to secede. He supported
Lincoln in his efforts to avoid war.
■ On a visit
to Chicago he contracted typhoid fever and died
on June 3, 1861.
Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546