“Tell them to obey the laws and uphold the Constitution.”
Stephen A. Douglas, deathbed instructions for his sons, June 3, 1861
Stephen Douglas’ instruction to his sons to uphold the Constitution should have been quite clear. He had spent three decades in public life, including 18 years in the United States Congress. He had given hundreds if not thousands of speeches on the critical constitutional issues of his day: organization and admission of new states and the regulation of slavery in territories purchased from France and won in war with Mexico.