Douglas Marries Martha

Once in Washington, however, Douglas's mood shifted.

In the House of Representatives, he struck up a friendship with a colleague, Congressman David S. Reid of North Carolina. Reid introduced Douglas to his uncle, Robert Martin, a wealthy North Carolina planter, and to Martin's twenty-two-year-old daughter, Martha. Douglas was immediately taken with Martha. He arranged to see her again in North Carolina, and the two became deeply attached. In March 1847, Stephen Douglas and Martha Martin were married on her father's plantation in Rockingham County.

In marrying Martha, Douglas acquired a new and profound connection with the great agricultural region of the American South. Martha's family had long been prominent in North Carolina. Her great-uncle had been a governor of North Carolina and a U.S. Senator. Her uncle had served in the House of Representatives. In common with other daughters of prosperous Southern planters, Martha had been educated in finishing schools in Philadelphia and Washington.