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Cdv of Mrs. Stephen Douglas
Cdv of Mrs. Stephen Douglas. Anthony, NY photographer's b/m, lower corners trimmed as shown.

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"...In Illinois Stephen Douglas courted Mary Todd who eventually married Abraham Lincoln and in 1847 Douglas married Martha Martin. After giving birth to a daughter in January 1853, Martha died.

Tall, with chestnut hair, and universally acclaimed beauty, Adele "Addie" Cutts was twenty years old when she met Stephen Douglas in 1856, when he had narrowly lost the Democratic presidential nomination to James Buchanan. Though he was more than twice her age, they only courted briefly.

Stephen Douglas and Adele were married in Washington in November 1856. Adele immediately took over the management of the Senator's household, accepted the two Douglas boys as her own, and, with Douglas' approval, had his sons raised and educated as Catholics. She had a transforming effect on the somewhat disheartened Illinois senator. In 1857 Stephen and Adele built a mansion with a ballroom. Under Adele's direction, the richly decorated Douglas mansion quickly became the center of the Washington social scene. She was indisuptably the belle of Washington - beautiful, warm-hearted, and universally loved and admired. Together they commanded substantial political power.

A gala housewarming party in January 1858 attracted as many as 2000 visitors. A year later, a grand ball at the Douglas mansion left nearby streets so jammed with carriages that guests had to walk several blocks to reach the front door.

The Douglases shared an unusually close and empathetic relationship, particularly in times of trial. When Adele suffered a miscarriage in February 1858, she was so weakened that for several days doctors feared for her life. In the following weeks, Stephen himself became seriously ill and briefly abandoned his senatorial obligations.

The next year, after giving birth to a daughter, Ellen, who lived only a few weeks, Adele once more became desperately ill. Her health began to improve, but then Stephen succumbed to illness, and the two shared weeks of convalescence. Adele also accompanied Douglas through his travels during the 1860 presidential campaign. At the Democratic Convention in Charleston in April 1860, the delegates were deeply divided. Most from the Deep South argued that the Congress had no power to legislate over slavery in their territory. The Northerners disagreed and won the vote. As a result the Southerners walked out and held another meeting in Baltimore. Again the Southerners walked out over the issue of slavery. With only the Northern delegates left, Douglas won the nomination.

Southern delegates then held another meeting in Richmond, and Vice President John C. Breckinridge was selected as their candidate. The situation was further complicated by the formation of the Constitutional Union Party and their nomination of John Bell of Tennessee.

The Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln won the election with 1,866,462 votes (18 free states) and beat Douglas (1,375,157 - 1 slave state), John C. Breckinridge (847,953 - 13 slave states) and John Bell (589,581 - 3 slave states). Between election day in November 1860 and inauguration the following March, seven states seceded from the Union: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas.

When the Civil War broke out, Douglas vigorously supported Lincoln. Douglas rallied his supporters to the Union with all his energies. In late May, the unrelenting strain of the past year caught up with Douglas. After an eloquent speech at Springfield, he was stricken with fever and declined rapidly. His last words to his children were, "obey the laws and support the constitution of the United States."

Senator Stephen A. Douglas died in Chicago on June 3, 1861, at the age of 48.

The spot on the banks of Lake Michigan in Chicago that Douglas had reserved for his future home was bought by the state. The following October, a group of his friends and associates organized the Douglas Monument Association. Sculptor Leonard Volk, a relative of Douglas by marriage, presented a plan for an eighteen-member board of trustees and served as the Association's secretary.

The Association invited President Andrew Johnson to participate in the cornerstone laying ceremony. He accepted and stopped in Chicago as part of his political tour of the eastern half of the country. Accompanying Johnson were several members of his cabinet, as well as Generals Grant, Rawlins, Dix, Meade and Custer, and Admiral Farragut.

The ceremony took place on September 6, 1866. Shops, businesses, and banks were closed. The Illinois Central Railroad ran trains to the grave every ten minutes. Over one hundred thousand people lined the parade route.

In spite of mourning her husband's death, Adele Cutts Douglas and her mother Eleanor Elizabeth O'Neale Cutts volunteered their services in DC hospitals.

Five years after Stephen Douglas' death, Adele remarried Captain Robert Williams, a career army officer from Virginia who had remained loyal to the Union. She took on the life of an army wife, and raised their six children in the western territories. Williams ended his long career in 1893 as Adjutant General of the Army.

Adele Cutts Douglas Williams died at her home in Washington on January 26, 1899, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.