The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955 Page: 309
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cluded that Stephen A. Douglas was trying to organize the Ne-
braska Territory in order to promote a railroad route to the
Pacific which would connect with his own railroad interests in
Chicago. Slowly, this new interpretation made headway, and
gradually a new generation of historians came generally to accept
it. It was not, however, universally accepted. Political pundits
using the past to write present-day propaganda found the older
partisan interpretation more to their liking and have continued
to smear both Douglas and the South. And after Hodder there was
none to study the record afresh. Biographers of Douglas accepted
Hodder's story, but added no fresh research of their own to sub-
After decades, James C. Malin has undertaken a new examina-
tion of the Nebraska Question. As a point of departure-a text
for his sermon-he takes a letter which Douglas wrote in Decem-
ber, 1853, to a "Nebraska" convention in St. Joseph, Missouri.
In it, Douglas set forth his long interest in organizing Nebraska,
his work in preventing the Indian barrier being made permanent,
his primary purpose in promoting a Pacific railroad, and his
willingness to leave the slavery question under the settlement
effected by the Compromise of 1850. In essence, the letter estab-
lished Douglas' purposes, illustrated his consistency, and demon-
strated his concept of an ocean-bound republic in a world setting.
In addition, it revealed his devotion to, the principles of self-
determination for localities and freedom of the individual from
social coercion. From this beginning, Malin turns his attention to
northwestern Missouri where the inhabitants, with no great in-
terest in slavery, were actively interested in the lands of Nebraska
and in the promotion of a central route for a transcontinental
The Missourians wanted the Nebraska territory organized. They
preferred organization without raising the issue of slavery-being
concerned as much with providing insurance for Missouri's slaves
as with extending the area of the slave system. They contended-
with Senator Thomas Hart Benton's support-that Indian unas-
signed lands in Nebraska were practically, if not legally, open to
settlement by squatters. There was a constant agitation, charac-
terized by a boomer movement in Nebraska, the formation of a
"provisional" government, the election of a delegate to go to
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955, periodical, 1955; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101158/m1/356/: accessed May 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.