H I C A G O
R I B U T E
United States Senator
Douglas moved from Vermont
to southern Illinois
at age 20 to begin his career in law and politics,
rising quickly among the Democrats of Illinois.
In the Senate, he advocated
and the continued expansion of the United States.
As slavery divided the nation, Douglas sought
to engineer political solutions such as the
Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska
Act of 1854. He articulated a doctrine of popular
sovereignty, which held that the people of the western territories
themselves decide whether slavery would be permitted. His position became
difficult to maintain by the time of the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates. When
the Civil War shattered his compromises in 1861, he supported the Union.
In Chicago, Douglas
was a land speculator and civic leader. He bought
thousands of acres on the South and West Sides. His most prized property
was along the lake shore in what is today the Douglas neighborhood. He
donated ten acres of this land to the original University of Chicago, which
survived for three decades at this site, 35th Street and Cottage Grove
Avenue. During the Civil War, part of Douglass land became Camp Douglas,
army camp and prison for Confederate soldiers.