Encyclopedia ofChicago
Entries : Stephen A. Douglas
Entries
S
Stephen A. Douglas

 

 

 

Stephen A. Douglas

Monument to Stephen A. Douglas, 1928
A Quincy lawyer, Douglas was involved in the organization of the Democratic Party in Illinois in the 1830s, working closely with John Wentworth. As a state legislator, he supported funding of the Illinois & Michigan Canal. He received strong support from Chicago voters when he entered Congress in the mid-1840s. After his marriage and election to the U.S. Senate in 1847, Douglas moved to Chicago.

Douglas quickly joined the ranks of land speculators in Chicago, making substantial investments on the South Side, including 160 acres near 31st Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, which became the nucleus of the Douglas neighborhood; 2,964 acres in the Calumet region; and 4,610 acres from the Illinois Central Railroad.

Senator Douglas was instrumental in designating Chicago the northern terminus of the Illinois Central Railroad and worked for a transcontinental route. The Illinois Central went through a part of his South Side properties. In 1856, Douglas, seeking to promote the value of his extensive real-estate holdings, donated several acres of land for a college to local Baptists near 31st Street.

Douglas's electoral support in Chicago remained strong until 1858. While he was reelected in the famous 1858 Senate campaign against Abraham Lincoln, he did not carry Chicago. Two years later, 8,094 Chicagoans voted for Douglas for president, while 10,697 cast their ballots for the ultimate winner, Abraham Lincoln.