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Grand Douglas Meeting

Grand Douglas Meeting

In 1854 Stephen Douglas was Illinois' undisputed political leader, and one of the most powerful political figures in the nation. When Henry Clay and Daniel Webster failed to secure the measures known as the Compromise of 1850 by proposing them together, Douglas stepped in to save the day. Separating the several provisions, including admission of California to the Union as a free state, a ban on the slave trade in the District of Columbia, the Fugitive Slave Act, and a promise that the New Mexico and Utah territories would be open to slavery, Douglas secured their passage. Douglas was a powerful political orator, both in the Senate and at rallies such as that advertised here. His rhetoric convinced a majority of his colleagues in the Congress, as well as many of his followers, that the doctrine of popular sovereignty could solve the emerging problem of slavery's future in the West by removing it from national politics. But the doctrine only heightened sectional tensions and Douglas' once-rising political star came crashing to earth. In an increasingly polarized political environment his moderate stance found few supporters.

For more information about politics in the 19th century, please look at Lincoln/Net's Getting the Message Out! National Political Campaign Materials, 1840-1860 Web site.

Permission: Knox College.
©Copyright 2002 Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project