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Life of Stephen A. Douglas   By: (1861-)

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In William Gardner's comprehensive biography, Life of Stephen A. Douglas, readers are given a detailed account of one of the most influential figures in American history. With a keen eye for detail and a wealth of research, Gardner has compiled a captivating narrative that sheds light on the life and accomplishments of this often overlooked political leader.

From the very beginning, it is clear that Gardner's objective is to present a balanced and unbiased account of Douglas' life. The author does not shy away from highlighting both the strengths and weaknesses of his subject, providing readers with a well-rounded understanding of the man behind the notorious political decisions he made.

Gardner's writing style is engaging and fluid, making it easy for readers to immerse themselves in the story. The author's meticulous research is evident, as he seamlessly weaves together primary sources, personal letters, and historical accounts to provide a comprehensive picture of Douglas' life. The level of detail in Gardner's work is impressive, leaving no stone unturned in the examination of Douglas' political career, personal relationships, and the context of the era in which he lived.

One of the greatest strengths of this biography is Gardner's ability to place Douglas within the broader historical context. By exploring the complex political landscape of mid-19th century America, the author helps readers understand the motivations and ideologies that shaped Douglas' decisions. Furthermore, Gardner delves into the complex issues of slavery and westward expansion, illustrating how these factors greatly influenced Douglas and his place in American history.

While the book as a whole is a riveting read, there are moments where the sheer volume of information can feel overwhelming. Gardner includes an abundance of details, sometimes sacrificing readability for an exhaustive account of events. However, this can be seen as a minor drawback in an otherwise commendable work.

Overall, Life of Stephen A. Douglas is a well-researched and engaging biography that offers readers a deeper understanding of this enigmatic political figure. Gardner's ability to present a complex and nuanced portrayal of Douglas will undoubtedly appeal to history enthusiasts, scholars, and anyone interested in the intricacies of American politics.

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Prepared by Brett Fishburne (

The Life of Stephen A. Douglas

by William Gardner


De mortuis nil nisi bonum, (of the dead speak nothing but good), is the rule which governed the friends of Stephen A. Douglas after his death. "Of political foes speak nothing but ill," is the rule which has guided much of our discussion of him for forty years. The time has now arrived when we can study him dispassionately and judge him justly, when we can take his measure, if not with scientific accuracy, at least with fairness and honesty.

Where party spirit is as despotic as it is among us, it is difficult for any man who spends his life amid the storms of politics to get justice until the passions of his generation have been forgotten. Even then he is generally misjudged canonized as a saint, with extravagant eulogy, by those who inherit his party name, and branded as a traitor or a demagogue by those who wear the livery of opposition.

Douglas has perhaps suffered more from this method of dealing with our political heroes than any other American statesman of the first class. He died at the opening of the Civil War. It proved to be a revolution which wrought deep changes in the character of the people. It was the beginning of a new era in our national life... Continue reading book >>

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