Political Life Case B

AC-LR1805 – Douglas Banner

The Little Giant Ascendant

Abraham Lincoln’s shadow long ago eclipsed Stephen A. Douglas, but for most of Lincoln’s life the opposite was true. Although both men launched their political careers in the 1830s, by 1850 Douglas had far outpaced Lincoln and become the de facto leader of the Democratic Party. Although we now view his 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act as a disaster, many supporters saw it as a brilliant compromise that would finally break the decades-old political stalemate over slavery’s expansion.

This flag is a testament to Douglas’s prominence in the 1850s. If its stars accurately represent the number of states when it was created, it dates from between 1850 and 1858. It is clearly the work of an enthusiastic supporter who likely envisioned Douglas as a future president, but they would have been disappointed in 1860 when the dark consequences of Douglas’s policies set the stage for his failed presidential bid against Lincoln.

Gift of the Stephen A. Douglas Chapter of the Order of DeMolay, 2009

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