"To describe the career of a man who is now chiefly remembered as the rival of Abraham Lincoln, must seem to many minds a superfluous, if not invidious, undertaking. The present generation is prone to forget that when the rivals met in joint debate fifty years ago, on the prairies of Illinois, it was Senator Douglas, and not Mr. Lincoln, who was the cynosure of all observing eyes. Time has steadily lessened the prestige of the great Democratic leader, and just as steadily enhanced the fame of his Republican opponent. The following pages have been written, not as a vindication, but as an interpretation of a personality whose life spans the controversial epoch before the Civil War. It is due to the chance reader to state that the writer was born in a New England home, and bred in an anti-slavery atmosphere where the political creed of Douglas could not thrive."