Thursday, January 1, 2009

OE Knows Illinois - Stephen A. Douglas

Stephen A. Douglas has been consigned to history as the loser of the Lincoln-Douglas debates - which is patently unfair, since he actually won them. Douglas' career as a U.S. Senator from the state of Illinois - a position to which I aspire - is certainly worthy of study. Luckily, the Stephen A. Douglas Association is happy to help.

Douglas was actually born in Vermont - but hey, Lincoln wasn't born in Illinois either.

Stephen A. Douglas was twenty years old in 1833 when he left his native Vermont for the frontier state of Illlinois, where he arrived penniless and without friends. Within a year Douglas began practicing law in Morgan County.

As lawyers do, he gravitated to politics.

He was a member of hte General Assembly from 1836 to 1837. In 1837 he made Registrar of the Land Office in Springfield. Douglas served as Secretary of State from 1840 until his appointment to the Illinois Supreme Court in 1841. He was elected to Congress in 1843 and to the Senate in 1847.

Douglas championed the concept of popular sovereignty during his Senate career, including the 1858 Senate campaign against Lincoln (which he won) and the Presidential campaign against Lincoln and others (which he lost).

But Douglas' heart is truly shown in what he did after Lincoln defeated him.

After Lincoln's victory, Douglas went south to make personal appearances for sectional reconciliation. The times proved to be too volatile, and Douglas failed to slow the secessionist movement.

Douglas died in June 1861.

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