Stephen A. Douglas, Western Man

The Early Years in Congress, 1844-1850

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About the Book

It didn’t take long for freshman Congressman Stephen A. Douglas to see the truth of Senator Thomas Hart Benton’s warning: slavery attached itself to every measure before the U.S. Congress. Douglas’ wanted to expand the nation into an ocean-bound free republic yet slavery, and the violent conflicts it stirred, always interfered, as it did with his 1844 bill to organize Nebraska.

In 1848, when America acquired 550,000 square miles after the Mexican War, the fight began over whether the territory would be free or slave. Henry Clay, a slave owner who favored gradual emancipation, packaged territorial bills from Douglas’ committee with four others. But Clay’s “Omnibus Bill” failed. Exhausted, he left the Senate, leaving Douglas in control.

Within two weeks, Douglas won passage of all eight bills and President Millard Fillmore signed the Compromise of 1850, Douglas’ greatest legislative achievement. This book chronicles how his popular sovereignty doctrine moved the issue of slavery out of Congress on into the ballot box.

About the Author(s)

Reg Ankrom is a frequent writer and speaker about pre–Civil War Illinois and is working on two additional books on Stephen A. Douglas. He lives in Quincy, Illinois.

Bibliographic Details

Reg Ankrom
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Bibliographic Info: ca. 10 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7376-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4228-4
Imprint: McFarland

Book Reviews & Awards

“In this second volume, gifted biographer Reg Ankrom chronicles the rise of the able, ambitious Douglas, who arrived in Washington at the age of thirty-one and quickly gained fame as an eloquent critic of the free soil movement and became one of the key architects of the Compromise of 1850. Elegantly written and deeply researched, Ankrom’s meticulously textured volumes will long stand as the definitive life of Douglas.”—Douglas R. Egerton, author of Year of Meteors: Steven Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Election That Brought on the Civil War