DOUGLAS, Stephen Arnold

DOUGLAS, Stephen Arnold
Library of Congress


DOUGLAS, Stephen Arnold, A Representative and a Senator from Illinois; born in Brandon, Rutland County, Vt., April 23, 1813; educated in the common schools and completed preparatory studies in Brandon Academy; learned the cabinetmaker's trade; moved to a farm near Clifton Springs, N.Y.; entered Canandaigua Academy in 1832 and studied law; moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1833, and finally settled in Winchester, Ill., where he taught school and resumed the study of law; admitted to the bar in 1834 and commenced practice in Jacksonville, Morgan County, Ill.; elected State's attorney for the Morgan circuit in 1835; member, State house of representatives 1836-1837; register of the land office at Springfield in 1837; unsuccessful Democratic candidate for election in 1838 to the Twenty-sixth Congress; appointed secretary of State of Illinois during the session of the legislature in 1840 and 1841 and at the same session was elected as one of the judges of the State supreme court; elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-eighth, Twenty-ninth, and Thirtieth Congresses and served from March 4, 1843, until his resignation on March 3, 1847, at the close of the Twenty-ninth Congress; chair, Committee on Territories (Twenty-ninth Congress); elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1847; reelected in 1853 and again in 1859, and served from March 4, 1847, until his death on June 3, 1861; chair, Committee on Territories (Thirtieth through Thirty-fifth Congresses); unsuccessful candidate for the nomination for President of the United States on the Democratic ticket in 1852 and 1856; unsuccessful Democratic candidate for President in 1860; died in Chicago, Ill.; interment in Douglas Monument Park.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library

Springfield, IL
Papers: 1835-1861. 70 items and ca. 2 inches of photographs. Letters and documents written by Douglas as register of the land office in Springfield, Illinois secretary of state, Illinois Supreme Court justice, U.S. representative, and U.S. senator. Finding aid.
Papers: 1848-1861. 2 inches. Chiefly letters to Douglas detailing political views at the time of the 1860 convention and letters (1848-1854) concerning the management of his Martinsville, Mississippi, plantation and sale of his goods in New Orleans. Fragile papers restricted.
Papers: 1834-1861. 5 inches. Chiefly legal documents from his years as an attorney and judge; poll books (1836-1844), including 1843 and 1844 congressional elections; and photographs. Finding aid.
Additional Papers: 66-page manuscript biography (undated) in the Joseph Wallace papers; and manuscript notes on speech "in reply to Senators Clayton and Butler on the Central American Treaty" delivered in the U.S. Senate March 10 and 17, 1853 in the Jesse Jay Ricks collection. Finding aid.

American Antiquarian Society

Worcester, MA
Papers: A note to Douglas concerning the format of their debates in 1858 in the Abraham Lincoln papers, 1841-1865.

Boston Public Library

Boston, MA
Papers: 7 items.

Brown University

Providence, RI
Papers: In Samuel Sullivan Cox papers, 1852-1902; and a poem concerning the laying of the Douglas monument in the Benjamin Brown French papers, 1864-1866.

Chicago Historical Society

Chicago, IL
Papers: Ca. 100 miscellaneous items in various collections.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: 1-volume minute book (1858-1860) of Democratic Douglas Association for 13 Ward A, Philadelphia; correspondence in Lewis S. Coryell papers, 1806-1867; and James Buchanan papers, 1775-1868.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division

Washington, DC
Papers: 2 items (1857); correspondence in Jesse W. Fell papers, 1806-1957; and photographs.

New-York Historical Society

New York, NY
Papers: 2 volumes (October 11-November 2, 1860) of stenographic notes of his speeches; 2 letters (July 21, 1857 and March 1, 1860); information in William Marcy Tweed letters (bulk 1854) to James J. Murphy; and his eulogy is discussed in a letter (September 3, 1862) from John W. Forney to George W. Kendrick.

New York Public Library

New York, NY
Papers: 1 letter (October 24, 1859) in the Henry J. Raymond collection.

Pierpont Morgan Library

New York, NY
Papers: 1 item (1859); and 6 items (1851-1859 and no date) on various topics in the Gilder Lehrman collection. Finding aid.

Smithsonian Institution
Archives of American Art

Washington, DC
Papers: In Leonard Wells Volk papers, 1845-1957 (bulk 1845-1892), on partial microfilm reel.

Smithsonian Institution
National Museum of American History

Washington, DC
Papers: Patronage letters in Nathaniel Greene Wilcox papers, 1834-1874. Finding aid.

State Historical Society of Wisconsin
Archives Division

Madison, WI
Papers: In Draper manuscripts, Illinois papers, 1776-1868;

University of Chicago Library
Special Collections Research Center

Chicago, IL
Papers: Ca. 1833-1861 (bulk 1855-1861). Ca. 23 feet; 19,600 items. Chiefly letters received. Finding aid.

University of Illinois
Illinois Historical Survey

Urbana, IL
Papers: 1832-1861. 515 items and 1 folder. In part transcripts and photocopies. Correspondence, chiefly relating to his activities as U.S. senator, an autobiography (1838), printed material, and clippings. Parts of the collection have been published in The Letters of Stephen Douglas (1961). Finding aid.

University of Virginia
Alderman Library

Charlottesville, VA
Papers: 1859, 1860. 2 items. Additional items in various collections.
Research Libraries Information Network In addition to the institutions listed above, items are also cataloged in collections at: Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, AL; Brigham Young University, Special Collections, Provo, UT; Cornell University Libraries, Ithaca, NY; Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum, Salt Lake City, UT; Granger Homestead Society, Canandaigua, NY; New York City Municipal Archives, New York, NY; Ontario County Historical Society, Canandaigua, NY; Rosenbach Museum and Library, Philadelphia, PA; State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison, WI; University of Oklahoma, Carl Albert Center, Congressional Archives, Norman, OK; and Yale University Library, New Haven, CT.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Anderson, James W. "The Real Issue: An Analysis of the Final Lincoln-Douglas Debate." Lincoln Herald 69 (Spring 1967): 27-39.

Angle, Paul M., ed. Created Equal? The Complete Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858. 1958. Reprint. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.

Ankrom, Reg. Stephen A. Douglas: The Political Apprenticeship, 1833-1843. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2015.

___. Stephen A. Douglas, Western Man: The Early Years in Congress, 1844-1850. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2021.

Auchampaugh, Philip G. "The Buchanan-Douglas Feud." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 25 (April-July 1932): 5-48.

Bell, George William. "The Early Career of Stephen Arnold Douglas." Ph.D. dissertation, Boston University, 1911.

Brown, William Garrott. Stephen A. Douglas. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin Co., 1902.

Capers, Gerald Mortimer. Stephen A. Douglas: Defender of the Union. Edited by Oscar Handlin. Boston: Little, Brown Co., 1959.

Carr, Clark Ezra. Stephen A. Douglas, His Life, Public Services, Speeches and Patriotism. Chicago: A.C. McClurg Co., 1909.

Clinton, Anita. "Stephen Arnold Douglas--His Mississippi Experience." Journal of Mississippi History 50 (June 1988): 56-88.

Coleman, Charles Hubert. The Lincoln-Douglas Debate at Charleston, Illinois, September 18, 1858. Charleston: Eastern Illinois University, 1957.

Collins, Bruce. "The Lincoln-Douglas Contest of 1858 and Illinois' Electorate." Journal of American Studies 20 (December 1986): 391-420.

Davis, Granville D. "Douglas and the Chicago Mob." American Historical Review 54 (April 1949): 553-56.

Davis, Rodney O., and Douglas L. Wilson, eds., The Lincoln-Douglas Debates. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008.

Dean, Eric T., Jr. "Stephen A. Douglas and Popular Sovreignty." The Historian 57 (Summer 1995): 733-48.

Dennis, Frank L. The Lincoln-Douglas Debates. New York: Mason Lipscomb Publishers, 1974.

Dickerson, O.M. "Stephen A. Douglas and the Split in the Democratic Party." In Proceedings of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association for the Year 1913-1914, vol. 7, edited by Benjamin F. Shambaugh, pp. 196-211. Cedar Rapids, IA: Torch Press, 1914.

Douglas, Stephen A. A Brief Treatise Upon Constitutional and Party Questions, and the History of Political Parties. Edited by James Madison Cutts. New York: D. Appleton Co., 1866.

Ericson, David F. "Stephen A. Douglas, Slavery, and Pluralist Democracy." In The Shaping of American Liberalism: The Debates Over Ratification and Slavery, pp. 117-35. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

Eyal, Yonatan. "With His Eyes Open: Stephen A. Douglas and the Kansas-Nebraska Disaster of 1854." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 91 (Winter 1998): 175-217.

Fehrenbacher, D.E. "The Historical Significance of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates." Wisconsin Magazine of History 42 (Spring 1959): 193-99.

___. "Lincoln, Douglas, and the 'Freeport Question'." American Historical Review 66 (April 1961): 599-617.

Felt, Thomas E. "The Stephen A. Douglas Letters in the State Historical Library." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 56 (Winter 1963): 677-91.

Fretz, Barbara Catharine. "The Changing View in History, with Special Reference to the History of Stephen A. Douglas." Ph.D. dissertation, Cornell University, 1938.

Gardner, William. Life of Stephen A. Douglas. Boston: Roxburgh Press, 1905.

Goodspeed, Thomas Wakefield. "Lincoln and Douglas: With Some Personal Reminiscences." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 26 (October 1933): 183-201.

Greeman, Elizabeth Dix. "Stephen A. Douglas and Herschel V. Johnson: Examples of National Men in the Sectional Crisis of 1860." Ph.D. dissertation, Duke University, 1974.

Guelzo, Allen C. "Houses Divided: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Political Landscape of 1858." Journal of American History 94:2 (September 2007): 391-417.

___. Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008.

Hansen, Stephen, and Paul Nygard. "Stephen A. Douglas, the Know-Knothings, and the Democratic Party in Illinois, 1854-1858." Illinois Historical Journal 87 (Summer 1994): 109-30.

Harmon, George D. "Douglas and the Compromise of 1850." Journal of Illinois State Historical Society 21 (January 1929): 453-99.

Heckman, Richard Allen. Lincoln vs. Douglas: The Great Debates Campaign. Washington: Public Affairs Press, 1967.

___. "Out-of-State Influences and the Lincoln-Douglas Campaign of 1858." Journal of Illinois State Historical Society 59 (Spring 1966): 30-47.

___. "Political Fortunes of Lincoln and Douglas in 1858-59." Lincoln Herald 67 (Winter 1965): 161-70.

Herriott, F.I. "Senator Stephen A. Douglas and the Germans in 1854." In Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society for the Year 1912, Illinois State Historical Library publication no. 17, pp. 142-58. Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1912.

Holzer, Harold, ed. The Lincoln-Douglas Debates: The First Complete, Unexpurgated Text. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1993.

Howland, Louis. Stephen A. Douglas. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920.

Huston, James L. Stephen A. Douglas and the Dilemmas of Democratic Equality. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007.

Jaffa, Harry V. Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates. 1959. Reprint, with new preface. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982.

Jaffa, Harry V., and Robert W. Johannsen, eds. In the Name of the People: Speeches and Writings of Lincoln and Douglas in the Ohio Campaign of 1859. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1959.

Jeffrey, Kirk, Jr. "Stephen Arnold Douglas in American Historical Writing." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 61 (Autumn 1968): 248-68.

Johannsen, Robert W. "America's Little Giant: Stephen A. Douglas." Civil War Times Illustrated 13 (April 1974): 18-29.

___. The Frontier, the Union, and Stephen A. Douglas. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989.

___. "The Lincoln-Douglas Campaign of 1858: Background and Perspective." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 73 (Winter 1980): 242-62.

___. Stephen A. Douglas. 1973. Reprint, with new preface. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997.

___. "Stephen A. Douglas, 'Harper's Magazine,' and Popular Sovereignty." Mississippi Valley Historical Review 45 (March 1959): 606-31. Also included in Johannsen, The Frontier, the Union, and Stephen A. Douglas.

___. "Stephen A. Douglas, Popular Sovereignty and the Territories." Historian 22 (August 1960): 378-95.

___. "Stephen A. Douglas and the South." Journal of Southern History 33 (February 1967): 26-50. Also included in Johannsen, The Frontier, the Union, and Stephen A. Douglas.

___, ed. The Letters of Stephen A. Douglas. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1961.

___, ed. The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858. New York: Oxford University Press, 1965.

Johnson, Allen. Stephen A. Douglas: A Study in American Politics. 1908. Reprint. New York: Da Capo Press, 1970.

Kester, Martha. "Stephen A. Douglas: A Biographical Study." Master's thesis, University of Illinois, 1953.

King, Willard L., and Allan Nevins. "The Constitution and Declaration of Independence as Issues in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 52 (Spring 1959): 7-32.

Lynch, William O. "The Character and Leadership of Stephen A. Douglas." In Proceedings of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association, vol. 10, pt. 3 (1920-1921), pp. 454-67. Cedar Rapids, IA: Torch Press, 1923.

Malin, James C. "The Motives of Stephen A. Douglas in the Organization of Nebraska Territory: A Letter Dated December 17, 1853." Kansas Historical Quarterly 19 (November 1951): 321-53.

___, ed. "F.H. Hodder's 'Stephen A. Douglas'." Kansas Historical Quarterly 8 (August 1939): 227-37.

Meerse, David E. "Origins of the Douglas-Buchanan Feud Reconsidered." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 67 (April 1974): 154-74.

Mering, John V. "Allies or Opponents? The Douglas Democrats and the Constitutional Unionists." Southern Studies 23 (Winter 1984): 376-85.

Milton, George Fort. "Douglas' Place in American History."Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 26 (January 1934): 323-48.

___. The Eve of Conflict: Stephen A. Douglas and the Needless War. 1934. Reprint. New York: Octagon Books, 1963.

___. "Stephen A. Douglas' Efforts For Peace." Journal of Southern History 1 (August 1935): 261-75.

Morrison, Michael A. Slavery and the American West: The Eclipse of Manifest Destiny and the Coming of the Civil War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997. Includes a chapter on Douglas and the origins of the Kansas Nebraska Act.

Nevins, Allan. "Stephen A. Douglas: His Weaknesses and His Greatness." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 42 (December 1949): 385-410.

Pratt, Harry E. "Stephen A. Douglas, Lawyer, Legislator, Register and Judge: 1833-1843." Lincoln Herald 51 (December 1949): 11-16; 52 (February 1950): 37-43.

Quitt, Martin H. Stephen Douglas and Antebellum Democracy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Schapsmeier, Edward L., and Frederick H. Schapsmeier. "Lincoln and Douglas: Their Versions of the West." Journal of the West 7 (October 1968): 542-52.

Seymour, Glen Huron. "An Analysis of the Political Principles of Stephen A. Douglas." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1929.

Sigelschiffer, Saul. The American Conscience: The Drama of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates. New York: Horizon Press, 1973.

Smith, Howard William, Jr. "The Early Public Career of Stephen A. Douglas." Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University, 1963.

Sparks, Edwin Erle, ed. The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858. Springfield: Trustees of the Illinois State Historical Library, 1908.

Stenberg, Richard R. "An Unnoted Factor in the Buchanan-Douglas Feud." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 25 (January 1933): 271-84.

Stevens, Frank E. "Life of Stephen Arnold Douglas." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 16 (October 1923-January 1924): 247-673.

___, ed. "Autobiography of Stephen A. Douglas." Journal of Illinois State Historical Society 5 (October 1912): 323-42.

Stevenson, James A. "Lincoln vs. Douglas Over the Republican Ideal." American Studies 35 (Spring 1994): 63-89.

Taft, Robert. "The Appearance and Personality of Stephen A. Douglas." Kansas Historical Quarterly 21 (Spring 1954): 3-33.

U.S. Congress. Memorial Addresses on the Death of Hon. Stephen A. Douglas. 37th Cong., 1st sess., 1861. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1861.

Weatherman, Donald Van. "Partisanship and Principles in the American Party System: A Study of the Pamphlet War Between Stephen A. Douglas and Jeremiah S. Black." Ph.D. dissertation, Claremont Graduate School, 1978.

Wells, Damon. Stephen Douglas: The Last Years, 1857-1861. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1971.

Willis, Henry Parker. Stephen A. Douglas. Philadelphia: G.W. Jacobs Co., 1910.

Wunder, John R., and Joann M. Ross, eds. The Nebraska-Kansas Act of 1854. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008.

Zarefsky, David. "The Lincoln-Douglas Debates Revisited: The Evolution of Public Argument." Quarterly Journal of Speech 72 (May 1986): 162-84.

___. Lincoln, Douglas, and Slavery: In the Crucible of Public Debate. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.

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