79 Facts About Stephen Douglas


Stephen Arnold Douglas was an American politician and lawyer from Illinois.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,003

Stephen Douglas had previously defeated Lincoln in the 1858 United States Senate election in Illinois, known for the pivotal Lincoln–Stephen Douglas debates.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,004

Stephen Douglas was one of the brokers of the Compromise of 1850 which sought to avert a sectional crisis; to further deal with the volatile issue of extending slavery into the territories, Douglas became the foremost advocate of popular sovereignty, which held that each territory should be allowed to determine whether to permit slavery within its borders.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,005

Stephen Douglas was nicknamed the "Little Giant" because he was short in physical stature but a forceful and dominant figure in politics.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,006

Stephen Douglas experienced early success in politics as a member of the newly formed Democratic Party, serving in the Illinois House of Representatives and various other positions.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,007

Stephen Douglas resigned from the Supreme Court of Illinois upon being elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1843.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,008

Stephen Douglas was one of four Northern Democrats in the House to vote against the Wilmot Proviso, which would have banned slavery in any territory acquired from Mexico.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,009

Stephen Douglas was a candidate for president at the 1852 Democratic National Convention, but lost the nomination to Franklin Pierce.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,010

Stephen Douglas sought the presidency in 1856, but the 1856 Democratic National Convention instead nominated James Buchanan, who went on to win the election.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,011

Stephen Douglas received an elementary education at the local school in Brandon.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,012

Stephen Douglas began reading political literature and engaging in discussions with his employer and other young men.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,013

Stephen Douglas left Middlebury and returned to Brandon after he grew dissatisfied with his employer.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,014

Stephen Douglas began another apprenticeship with another cabinetmaker, Deacon Caleb Knowlton, but quit this employer after less than a year.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,015

Stephen Douglas moved back in with his mother and decided to enroll as a student at Brandon Academy in order to pursue a professional career.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,016

Stephen Douglas was 17 years old at that time, and soon continued his education at nearby Canandaigua Academy.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,017

Stephen Douglas began the study of Latin and Greek and showed particular skill as a debater.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,018

At Canandaigua Academy, Stephen Douglas frequently gave speeches supporting Andrew Jackson and Jackson's Democratic Party.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,019

In 1833, aged just 20, Stephen Douglas decided he had had enough of New York and wanted to seek his fortunes out West, which was full of opportunity for an enterprising young man.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,020

Stephen Douglas initially hoped to establish himself there, it would only take him a year to gain admission to the bar in Ohio, as opposed to four years in Vermont.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,021

Stephen Douglas took a canal boat from Cleveland to the southern Ohio town of Portsmouth, then went west to Cincinnati.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,022

Stephen Douglas still had no well-defined purpose and drifted from city to city, stopping in Louisville and St Louis.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,023

In Jacksonville, Stephen Douglas befriended attorney Murray McConnel, a friendship that would continue throughout Stephen Douglas' life.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,024

McConnel, having no employment to offer to Stephen Douglas, advised him to go to the town of Pekin, Illinois and open a law office there, believing Pekin was destined to become a major shipping and marketing hub.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,025

Stephen Douglas waited a week until learning the only boat expected on the river at that time of year had blown up.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,026

Stephen Douglas was admitted to the state bar in Illinois in March 1834.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,027

Stephen Douglas became aligned with the "whole hog" Democrats, who strongly supported President Jackson.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,028

In 1834, with the support of the Democratic state legislator who represented Jacksonville, Stephen Douglas was elected as the State's Attorney for the First District, which encompassed eight counties in western Illinois.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,029

Stephen Douglas quickly became uninterested in practicing law, choosing instead to focus on politics.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,030

Stephen Douglas helped arrange the first-ever state Democratic convention in late 1835, and the convention pledged to support Jackson's chosen successor, Martin Van Buren, in the 1836 presidential election.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,031

Stephen Douglas joined a legislature that included five future senators, seven future congressmen, and one future president: Abraham Lincoln, who was at that time a member of the Whig Party.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,032

In 1843, Stephen Douglas resigned from the court after winning election to the United States House of Representatives.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,033

Stephen Douglas considered volunteering to serve in the war, but President Polk convinced him to remain in Congress, where he would serve as an advocate for Polk's policies.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,034

Stephen Douglas was one of four Northern Democrats to vote against the Wilmot Proviso, which would have banned slavery from any land ceded by Mexico.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,035

Stephen Douglas 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.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,036

Stephen Douglas created distance by hiring a manager to operate the plantation while using his allocated 20 percent of the income to advance his political career.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,037

Additionally, through his paternal grandmother, Stephen Douglas descends from Indian captive Susanna Cole and her famous mother, Anne Hutchinson, as well as early Newport settler George Gardiner and his common-law wife Herodias Gardiner.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,038

Stephen Douglas's descends from early Rhode Island Baptist minister Pardon Tillinghast.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,039

Stephen Douglas was re-elected to the House of Representatives in 1846, but the state legislature elected him to the United States Senate in early 1847.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,040

Stephen Douglas helped pass a bill granting rights-of-way to the Illinois Central Railroad, which would connect Chicago to Mobile, Alabama.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,041

Stephen Douglas envisioned a transcontinental country connected by railroads and waterways, with Illinois serving as the gateway to the West.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,042

Stephen Douglas reluctantly agreed to an amendment that would provide for the formal repeal of the Missouri Compromise.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,043

Stephen Douglas argued that the Compromise of 1850 had already superseded the Missouri Compromise, and argued that the citizens of the territories should have the right to determine the status of slavery.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,044

Opponents of popular sovereignty attacked its supposed fairness; Abraham Lincoln claimed that Stephen Douglas "has no very vivid impression that the Negro is human; and consequently has no idea that there can be any moral question in legislating about him".

FactSnippet No. 1,266,045

Stephen Douglas had hoped that the Kansas–Nebraska Act would help ease sectional tensions, and he was surprised by the intensity of Northern backlash to his proposal and to Stephen Douglas himself.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,046

Stephen Douglas issued a committee report that endorsed the pro-slavery government as the legitimate government of Kansas and denounced anti-slavery forces as the primary cause of the violence.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,047

In early 1856 Stephen Douglas inserted himself and the debate surrounding the Kansas–Nebraska Act into the Chicago mayoral election, where Stephen Douglas strongly backed pro-Nebraska Democrat Thomas Dyer.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,048

The format of the Lincoln-Stephen Douglas Debates called for one candidate to make a one-hour opening speech, followed by the other candidate delivering a ninety-minute rebuttal, followed by the first candidate delivering a half hour closing remark; Lincoln and Stephen Douglas agreed to rotate who would speak in the two slots.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,049

Stephen Douglas favored popular sovereignty and emphasized the concept of self-government, though his vision of self-government only encompassed whites.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,050

At another appearance, Stephen Douglas reiterated his belief that the Declaration of Independence was not meant to apply to non-whites.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,051

Stephen Douglas suggested that, despite the public break between Douglas and Buchanan over Kansas, the two Democrats had worked together to extend and perpetuate slavery.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,052

Lincoln disclaimed the radical-for-the-time views on racial equality attributed to him by Stephen Douglas, arguing only for the right of African Americans to personal liberty and to earn their own livings.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,053

Stephen Douglas's support was concentrated in the North, especially the Midwest, though some unionist Southerners, like Alexander H Stephens, were sympathetic to his cause.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,054

Stephen Douglas remained on poor terms with President Buchanan, and his Freeport Doctrine had further alienated many Southern senators.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,055

Stephen Douglas helped defeat an attempt to pass a federal slave code, but saw his own bill to establish agricultural land-grant colleges vetoed by Buchanan.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,056

The convention subsequently held several rounds of presidential balloting, and while Stephen Douglas received by far the most support of any of the candidates, he fell well short of the necessary two-thirds majority of delegates.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,057

Stephen Douglas broke with the precedent that presidential candidates did not campaign, and he gave speeches across the Northeastern United States after he won the nomination.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,058

Stephen Douglas recognized that victory in the election was impossible without those states.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,059

Ultimately, Missouri was the lone state Stephen Douglas carried, though he won three of the seven electoral votes in New Jersey.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,060

Stephen Douglas joined a special committee of thirteen senators, led by John J Crittenden, which sought a legislative solution to the growing sectional tensions between the North and South.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,061

Stephen Douglas supported the Crittenden Compromise, which called for a series of constitutional amendments that would enshrine the Missouri Compromise line in the constitution, but the Crittenden Compromise was defeated in committee by a combination of Republicans and Southern extremists.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,062

Stephen Douglas unsuccessfully sought President-elect Lincoln's support for the Peace Conference of 1861, another attempt to head off secession.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,063

Lincoln was unwilling to support the conference, but Stephen Douglas described his meeting with Lincoln as "peculiarly pleasant".

FactSnippet No. 1,266,064

Stephen Douglas praised Lincoln's first inaugural address, describing it as "a peace offering rather than a war message" to the South.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,065

Stephen Douglas met privately with Lincoln, looked over the proclamation before it was issued and endorsed it.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,066

Stephen Douglas'll come out all right, and we will all stand by him.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,067

Stephen Douglas was struck by illness in May 1861 and was confined to his bed.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,068

Stephen Douglas denounced as sacrilegious the petitions signed by thousands of clergymen in 1854, who said the Kansas–Nebraska Act offended God's will.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,069

Stephen Douglas rejected the Republican assertions that slavery was condemned by a "higher law" and that the nation could not long survive as half slave and half free .

FactSnippet No. 1,266,070

Stephen Douglas disagreed with the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision that Congress had no ability to regulate slavery in the territories.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,071

When Buchanan supported the Lecompton Constitution and admitting Kansas as a slave state, Stephen Douglas fought him in a long battle that gained Stephen Douglas the 1860 Democratic nomination but ripped his party apart.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,072

Graham Peck finds that while several scholars have said that Stephen Douglas was personally opposed to slavery despite owning a plantation in Mississippi, none has presented "extensive arguments to justify the conclusion".

FactSnippet No. 1,266,073

Stephen Douglas cites recent scholarship as finding Douglas "insensitive to the moral repugnance of slavery" or even "proslavery".

FactSnippet No. 1,266,074

Stephen Douglas 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".

FactSnippet No. 1,266,075

Harry V Jaffa thought Douglas was tricking the South with popular sovereignty—telling Southerners it would protect slavery but believing the people would vote against it.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,076

Stephen Douglas was preeminently a Jacksonian, and his adherence to the tenets of what became known as Jacksonian democracy grew as his own career developed.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,077

Stephen Douglas endowed land on which a group of Baptists built the Old University of Chicago.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,078

Stephen Douglas's gravesite was bought by the state, which commissioned Leonard Volk for an imposing monument with a statue that was erected over his grave.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,079

Stephen Douglas has been portrayed in several works of popular culture.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,080

Stephen Douglas is a significant character in the mash-up novel Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, and appears in the film adaptation of that book.

FactSnippet No. 1,266,081