Douglas Attempts to Run for Presidency

By 1852, Douglas felt politically strong enough to attempt a run for the presidency.

He was backed by "Young America," a movement that supported a strong nationalistic policy and called for a return to the principles of Jacksonian democracy. At the Baltimore Democratic convention in June 1852, however, Douglas came in third in the initial balloting and Franklin Pierce was eventually nominated. Though disappointed, Douglas took heart in his easy re-election by the Illinois legislature to a second term in the Senate. His first venture into presidential politics had been bracing, and he looked forward to another opportunity in four years.

Douglas always had a deep and abiding faith in democracy. "Let the people rule!" was his cry, and he insisted that the people locally could and should make the decisions about slavery, rather than the national government. He was passed over for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1852 and 1856.[6]