Page images








The object of the author of this book is to present to the people of the United States a truthful delineation of the character and qualities of the greatest American statesman now living.

The public life of Mr. Douglas naturally divides itself into five periods. The first, from his entrance into Congress in 1843, to the close of the war against Mexico, in 1848. Second, from the close of the Mexican War to the


of the Compromise measures of 1850. Third, from the passage of the Compromise of 1850, to the passage of the Nebraska Bill in 1854. Fourth, from the passage of the Nebraska Bill, to the third election of Mr. Douglas to the Senate, in the fall of 1858. Fifth, from the commencement of his third Senato rial term, in March, 1859, to the meeting of the Charleston Convention in April, 1860.

During the first period, Mr. Douglas appears among the most active and influential friends of the re-annexation of Texas to the United States, and causes to be run through Texas the Missouri Compromise line of 36° 30'; and when the war with Mexico breaks out, he is found among the ablest supporters of the administration, and one of the foremost of our statesmen in upholding the honor of our flag and in prosecuting the war with a vigor and prudence that led to an honorable and satisfactory peace. In this period, too, Mr. Douglas is seen endeavoring to carry out in good faith the principles of the Missouri Compromise, by extending the line of 36° 30' westward through our acquisitions from Mexico to the Pacific Ocean ; in which attempt he was frus

1 trated by northern Freesoilers.


The second period was one of the most important in the whole life of Mr. Douglas. He is seen at this time, shaping and molding for the territories of the United States, those institutions of government upon which his fame as a statesman rests, and upon which depend the happiness of millions of American citizens, and the prosperity of a dozen new States. In treating of this period of the life of Mr. Douglas, I have shown that he is the real author of the Compromise measures of 1850, so generally attributed to Henry Clay. In this period, too, we see Mr. Douglas coming home to his constituents, and in the presence of an infuriated mob, proclaiming the propriety and expediency of those measures with such matchless eloquence, that the voices of faction and fanaticism were hushed, and the citizens of Chicago passed resolutions declaring their adherence to those very measures which they had the day before denounced.

Toward the close of the third period, we see Mr. Dougins bringing forward the details of his great plan for the gov. ernment of the territories, in the shape of the Kansas and

Nebraska bills ; explaining and elucidating the principles upon which they are based, and urging their adoption by Congress. And when these measures were passed, we see him coming home to a constituency that refused to hear him vindicate their justice and propriety.

During the fourth period, we see the evils that resulted in Kansas, from attempts to evade or disregard the principles of the Nebraska Bill. We see the President of the United States exerting the whole strength of his administration in attempting to force a constitution repugnant to their wishes on the people of Kansas; and Mr. Douglas energetically and with all his might resisting the tyrannical proceeding, and vindicating the right of the people of the territories in all time to come, to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way. When the British also, in 1858, attacked no less than thirty-three of our vessels in the space of four weeks, and when the Senate were about to pass the customary resolutions, declaring that such acts were very annoying to the United States, and ought not to be committed, we see Mr. Douglas urging upon Congress the instant adoption of such energetic measures on our part as should compel Great Britain not only to cease such outrages in future, but also to make reparation for those she had committed.

[ocr errors][merged small]

During this period also, we see the great campaign in the autumn of 1858, the election of a senator from Illinois for the next six years, the gallant stand made by Mr. Douglas, and the unscrupulous efforts made by federal officials and Abolitionists to crush him. Like Napoleon on his return from Elba, Mr. Douglas, on his return to Illinois, inspired his numerous friends with unbounded enthusiasm. We see the momentous struggle between Mr. Douglas and the

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »