Stephen A. Douglas -- the slavery connection


May 2, 2006
In March of 1847, Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois (then either member of the House of Representatives or a newly elected Senator, depending on which day of the month the wedding was) married Martha Martin, 21 years old, of North Carolina. Her father was Colonel Robert Martin of that state.

In 1848, Colonel Martin died. He left his daughter Martha a 2500 acre cotton plantation with 100 slaves on the Pearl River in Lawrence County, Mississippi. He appointed his new son-in-law Stephen Douglas as manager of the plantation in his will.

Douglas only made one extended visit to the plantation, in 1848, presumably to settle matters. He hired another man to act as manager and returned to Illinois, visiting the plantation only rarely when needed to handle particular circumstances and events over the rest of his life.

Douglas received 20% of the income of the plantation for his services as manager (less whatever the hired manager was paid, maybe). His wife died in 1853, and I do not know what happened to her ownership in the plantation, but presume it passed to her husband or her two sons. Douglas seems to have continued to receive his share of the income from the plantation right up to the Civil War started, and Douglas died shortly after that.

  • Like
Reactions: ole


Oct 24, 2008
His contributions to the Kansas/Nebraska act was a pivotal factor in the war regardless of his personal feelings on slavery.


Lt. Colonel
Feb 23, 2010
Certainly, Douglas played the 'race' card for all it was worth in his debates with Lincoln. From all that I can learn from his speeches and ltrs, slaves and slavery were minor blips on his ambition radar. I would say that he was a confirmed racist with little or no feelings for or about slaves or slavery one way or another(except, of course, as they impinged on his political ambition to be President)