The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974

Book Reviews
ROBERT A. CALVERT, Editor
Stephen A. Douglas. By Robert W. Johannsen. (New York: Oxford Uni-
versity Press, 1973. Pp. xii+993. Illustrations, index. $19.95.)
Professor Johannsen of the University of Illinois has made a major con-
tribution in this biography of the Little Giant. The book is impressive in
more ways than one. The text alone comprises 872 pages. But far more
significant is the fact that scholars may now benefit from as comprehensive
an account of the Douglas career as they are ever likely to find.
It is scarcely original to observe that Stephen A. Douglas was a remark-
able man. Versatile, ambitious, supercharged with energy, he moved early
and repeatedly from challenge to achievement and was one of the truly
memorable political leaders of his day. In 1934 George Fort Milton packed
great reader appeal into The Eve of Conflict, with Douglas the protagonist
of that volume. In 1959 came Gerald M. Capers with his excellent inter-
pretation of Stephen A. Douglas: Defender of the Union. Other studies
preceded or followed Milton's and Capers's. But it remained for Johannsen
to treat in detail the life of Douglas on a year-by-year and at times even a
day-by-day basis.
Douglas's broad concept of national needs, his essentially western orienta-
tion, his admiration of Andrew Jackson, and his relationship to Manifest
Destiny are set forth here with scholarly acumen. The same may be said
concerning his sponsorship of the Compromise of I85o, his dedication to
popular sovereignty, his role regarding Kansas and Nebraska, and his affin-
ity for railroad expansion. The Illinois Democrat's Lincoln associations are
broadly familiar to many Americans. And the author, too, does full justice
to these.
In my judgment, a signal Johannsen contribution has to do with such
oft-neglected "in-between years" as I851 and I852 (1853 still presents some
problems, owing to the dearth of material). Similarly, Douglas's private life
-including his affection for the two charming women he married-is in-
tegrated with his public image. The reader also becomes intimately ac-
quainted with political friends and foes alike, with conditions bearing on
those friendships and enmities, and with the appalling number of illnesses
that beset the human dynamo.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117148/. Accessed September 16, 2014.