Quincy's Judge Douglas

Quincy's Judge Douglas (HM13W0)

Location: Quincy, IL 62301 Adams County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 55.981', W 91° 24.544'

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"His name fills the nation; and is not unknown, even in foreign lands" (A. Lincoln, 1856). Stephen A. Douglas, a Jacksonian Democrat, arrived in Quincy in 1841, at twenty-seven the youngest Supreme Court Judge in Illinois history. In 1843 he defeated Quincy Whig Orville H. Browning for the U.S. House of Representatives and became chairman of the powerful House Committee on the Territories. He later held the same post in the U.S. Senate, to which the Illinois legislature elected him in 1846. With a statewide constituency, he moved to Chicago. Douglas seemed unstoppable. Comparing the career of Douglas and himself in 1856, Lincoln stated, "With me the race of ambition has been a failure—-a flat failure; with him it has been one of splendid success." Disturbed by Douglas' 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act, which he believed would spread slavery, Lincoln in 1858 challenged Douglas for his Senate seat. Douglas returned to Quincy, October 13, 1858, for his sixth debate with Republican Lincoln. Douglas won the Senate contest. But in the Presidential contest two years later, he lost to Lincoln.

Stephen A. Douglas was called Judge Douglas in his adopted town of Quincy—-and by Lincoln during the debates. Douglas earned the nickname "The Little Giant" for his political acumen. Standing 5'4", he was the most powerful Democrat and legislator when the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government was the most influential. The Compromise of 1850 that he brokered helped preserve the Union for a decade.

Douglas courted the Mormons. As Illinois Secretary of State in 1840, Douglas certified a liberal charter for the City of Nauvoo, making the new Mormon community virtually autonomous. Lincoln voted for the charter as a member of the Illinois Legislature. Both parties courted Nauvoo's large new electorate. Never one to miss a political opportunity, Douglas wrote a bill increasing the number of Illinois Supreme Court justices, then had himself appointed justice in Quincy's Fifth Judicial District, which includes the new voters in Nauvoo. During the 1843 Congressional race, Douglas sought Mormon support. After clashes between Mormons and their neighbors in 1845, Congressman Douglas returned from Washington to help resolve the impasse that had led to Joseph Smith's death and turmoil in Hancock County. He helped negotiate the plan which moved the Mormons to Deseret (Utah). Afterward, the Quincy Rifle Company, shown in Washington Square, went to Hancock County to keep the peace.

HM NumberHM13W0
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, September 29th, 2014 at 11:58pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15S E 635937 N 4421534
Decimal Degrees39.93301667, -91.40906667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 55.981', W 91° 24.544'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 55' 58.86" N, 91° 24' 32.64" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 425 Hampshire St, Quincy IL 62301, US
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