Douglas seemed destined for the White House although he never quite had the "right stuff" for the nation's highest office, at least in the eyes of many voters. Yet many Democrats loved him. He was nominated as the Democrat Party's presidential candidate in 1852, 1856 and 1860. He proved his toughness and is best remembered as the supreme stump debater against Lincoln during the nip-and-tuck 1860 campaign. When Douglas lost the election, he urged his supporters to rally behind Lincoln. But the bipartisan good feelings-as they always tend to be-were short lived. Less than a year later, Americans were killing each other over states rights in a civil war.
Less than seven months after the election of 1860, Douglas died suddenly from a surprise onset of typhoid fever. His passing shocked many of his loyal supporters who had hoped the perennial candidate might take on Lincoln, again, in the war-time election of 1864.
The "Little Giant" is buried along the shore of Lake Michigan; a lifelike statue marks his final resting place.
Check It Out: You can learn more about the life and times of the "Little Giant", as well as the life of early Brandon, at the Stephen A. Douglas Museum in downtown Brandon. The homestead and museum is open daily 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. from May to October. For more details, call 802-247-6401 or visit the museum website at www.douglasbirthplace.org.