Stephan Douglas

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Stephan Arnold Douglas Stephan Arnold Douglas was born April 23, 1813 and died June 3, 1861. He became a lawyer a month before turning 21. Within a year he was elected district attorney and became a judge of the Supreme Court before he turned twenty-eight. In 1837, he ran for congress against a Whig candidate and lost by only 35 votes. No one expected the race to be even that close. In 1840, he was appointed Secretary of State by the Democratic Governor whom he helped elect. He also ran for United States Senate one year before his 28th birthday. He lost this election by five votes. In 1843, the democratic convention nominated him for congress. He spoke to the public for 40 consecutive days and won the election by 461 votes. On April 7, 1847, he married Martha Denny Martin. She was the daughter of Robert Martin a plantation owner in Mississippi.

In the summer of 1847, Robert Martin died and Mrs. Douglas inherited the plantation and 150 slaves. Later in 1847, Douglas took up residence in Illinois and invested heavily in real estate. In 1852, Stephan Douglas was not nominated to run for the Presidency but he was reassured reelection to the Senate. However, his young wife died and this event changed his life. He grew careless and bitter during this period and when the senate adjourned he traveled throughout Europe. When he returned from Europe, he came back with new wisdom and a fresh mind. On November 20, 1846, Douglas married Adele Cutts. In 1854, Stephan Douglas planned to have Kansas and Nebraska decide their own fate by popular sovereignty. The anti slavery population out numbered the pro slavery population of the state but Missourians crossed the border, voted, and this made the state pro slavery. Two governments were set up and there was a small civil war in Kansas. When James Buchanan recognized the pro slavery government in Kansas, Douglas was angered by the misuse of the popular sovereignty doctrine and denounced the president. In 1860, Douglas ran against Abraham Lincoln, John C. Breckenridge and John Bell. One problem with this election was that the Democratic Party was divided between North and South. Lincoln won the election and Stephan Douglas credited himself greatly buy standing by the new president. Stephan Douglas supported the new president in all affairs. Lincoln needed Douglas's help and asked him to campaign the northwest for support of the war. Stephan Douglas gave an emotional speech to his people in the town of Springfield. He died soon after of typhoid fever. His last words were to his sons telling them to obey the laws of the constitution.

Douglas did believe that white men were supreme beings and that blacks were inferior. Douglas opposed black citizenship and attacked Lincoln for saying that black people were equal to white people. When Lincoln won the election, Stephan Douglas knew that the South would secede. He supported Lincoln because he did not believe in the secession of the south. He also began to question slavery and its belief on one race being inferior to another with the growing population of immigrants.