Page:Lincolndouglas2184linc.djvu/53

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CHAPTER II

THE SENATORIAL CAMPAIGN OF 1858

Douglas was chosen to the United States Senate from Illinois for the first time in 1847 and was re-elected in 1853; consequently his second term would expire in 1859 and he must at that time seek a new election at the hands of the Illinois legislature. To compass this end, he must control the legislative elections of 1858. The state was never lost to the Democratic column before 1860; but Douglas found himself obliged to enter the campaign of 1858 under peculiar and embarrassing circumstances. The plan by which he had hoped to establish home rule in Kansas had caused a situation in the territory which bade fair to test the principle of "popular sovereignty" and to create dissension in the Democratic party. Some of the residents of the territory late in 1857 framed and adopted a constitution at Lecompton; but the free-soil people of the territory refused to take part in the proceedings. The adoption by Congress of this "Lecompton constitution" was favored by President Buchanan, but was opposed by Senator Douglas on the ground that it was not a fair test of "popular sovereignty." If Douglas were successful in securing a re-election in Illinois, it could be interpreted in no other way than a defeat for the administration and an invitation to other ambitious statesmen to brook presidential disfavor. It was reported that Buchanan warned Douglas of his peril and that Douglas replied, "Mr. President, Andrew Jackson is dead," implying that the days of presidential dictation were past. Consequently the new Republican party of Illinois had an

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