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Simplicity and Strength

[image ALT: missingALT. It is a view of the Stephen A. Douglas Memorial in Chicago, Illinois.]

The tomb chamber of the Douglas Memorial; the door faces east.

If the towering granite column of Douglas's tomb that we saw on page 1 says something of the respect in which he was held by his contemporaries, their loss and their hopes, its sober, barely adorned base that we see above — and I could do without the "D", but the nineteenth century apparently could not — has rendered in stone the man himself, following the assessment of that equally 19c mainstay of American biography, Appleton's Cyclopaedia: "He was a ready and powerful speaker, discarding ornament in favor of simplicity and strength."

From his tomb, the prospect is not only to the rising sun, but also toward the Illinois Central railroad line that he worked to bring to Chicago: its trains pass less than 60 meters from here as they make their way northward into the city.

The tomb chamber, even more austere, houses no more than his sarcophagus and bust; they are of Vermont marble.

[image ALT: missingALT. It is a view of the Stephen A. Douglas Memorial in Chicago, Illinois.]

Stephen A. Douglas.

April 23, 1813,
June 3, 1861.

"Tell my Children to obey the Laws and uphold the Constitution."

[image ALT: A marble bust of a man's head; he is about 45 years old and is clean-shaven, with a full head of hair. It is Stephen A. Douglas.]

Have you ever seen the Douglas monument

There in Chicago?

They say it's by the Lake,

With a column of marble a hundred feet high,

And a statue of The Little Giant on top,

With knit brows and lion face,

Like he used to look when debatin' with Linkern.

I want to go up to Chicago sometime,

To see that monument.

And some one told me

They carved on his marble coffin the words:

"Tell my children to obey the laws,

And uphold the constitution."

Well, they couldn't have put sadder words

On his coffin than that.

For it was tryin' to obey the laws and support the constitution

That killed him.

And why should his children do the same thing and die?

Edgar Lee Masters,
The Great Valley:
"The Lincoln-Douglas Debates"

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Page updated: 26 Oct 18