Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois


Stephen A. Douglas (1813‒61) was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1843 and to the Senate in 1846, where he emerged as a nationally prominent spokesman for the Democratic Party. He is best known for the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. Running for his third term in the Senate, Douglas was challenged by Abraham Lincoln, a lawyer from Springfield who had served one term in the House. Between August 21 and October 15 the two men debated seven times before audiences in different cities and towns in Illinois, with the central issue being slavery. Douglas championed what was known as popular sovereignty, the position that held that the voters of each territory should determine whether it entered the Union as a free state or a slave state. Lincoln opposed the extension of slavery to new states and territories under all circumstances. In the November 2 election the Republicans won more popular votes than the Democrats, but the state legislature voted to return Douglas to the Senate. Douglas ran for president in 1860, but was defeated by Lincoln. The image is from an album of mostly Civil War-era portraits by the famous American photographer Matthew Brady (circa 1823‒96) that belonged to Emperor Pedro II of Brazil (1825‒91), a collector of photography as well as a photographer himself. The album was a gift to the emperor from Edward Anthony (1818‒88), another early American photographer who, in partnership with his brother, owned a company that in the 1850s became the leading seller of photographic supplies in the United States. Dom Pedro may have acquired the album during a trip to the United States in 1876 when he, along with President Ulysses S. Grant, opened the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Brady was born in upstate New York, the son of immigrants from Ireland. Best known for his photographs documenting the battles of the American Civil War, he began his career in 1844 when he opened a daguerreotype portrait studio at the corner of Broadway and Fulton Streets in New York City. Over the course of the next several decades, Brady produced portraits of leading American public figures, many of which were published as engravings in magazines and newspapers. In 1858 he opened a branch in Washington, DC. The album, which also contains a small number of non-photographic prints, is part of the Thereza Christina Maria Collection at the National Library of Brazil. The collection is composed of 21,742 photos assembled by Emperor Pedro II throughout his life and donated by him to the national library. The collection covers a wide variety of subjects. It documents the achievements of Brazil and Brazilians in the 19th century and also includes many photographs of Europe, Africa, and North America.

Last updated: January 8, 2018