Stephen Douglas Marries in Rockingham County

Stephen DouglasOn April 7, 1847, Stephen A. Douglas, U. S. senator, congressman and Illinois state Supreme Court judge, married Martha Drennan Martin in Rockingham County. Martin was the daughter of Robert Martin, a planter who owned considerable property and slaves in both North Carolina and Mississippi.

Educated at a Philadelphia finishing school, Martin met Douglas on a family visit to Washington, D. C., when Congressman David Reid introduced her to his close friend.  When her father died, Martha inherited a 2,500 acre plantation in Mississippi and slaves. Douglas was designated as the property manager and received income for his services. When Martha died shortly after childbirth in 1853, her inheritance passed to Douglas.

His ownership of the slaves was harmful to his political career in the North.  In 1860, Douglas ran for president but lost to Abraham Lincoln. He is widely remembered for engaging Lincoln in highly publicized debates before the election. The couple had two sons, Robert and Stephen, and a daughter, Mary Lucie. The daughter died shortly after her mother.

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