Stephen Arnold Douglas, Character (American National Biography)

Robert W. Johanssen, "Douglas, Stephen Arnold," American National Biography Online, February 2000,
While serving as an apprentice to a Middlebury cabinetmaker, Douglas was captivated by the image of Andrew Jackson; during the presidential campaign of 1828, he supported Jackson's candidacy by pulling down opposition handbills from walls and fences. "From this moment," Douglas later recalled, "my politics became fixed, and all subsequent reading, reflection and observation have but confirmed my early attachment to the cause of Democracy" (by which he meant both the party and the principle).

The experience not only aroused his ambition for a career in politics but also stimulated his interest in an education. In 1830 he moved with his family to upstate New York where he entered Canandaigua Academy, studying the Latin and Greek classics, mathematics, and English literature. Canandaigua was a cultural center of swirling ferment and unrest. The recently completed Erie Canal had opened the region to economic development, and the area was alive with a spirit of reform and change that Douglas could neither ignore nor resist.
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