While most classes at Saint Xavier University (SXU) may be done for the summer, faculty members still manage to find opportunities for involvement in their areas of expertise. In the beginning of June, SXU History Professor Graham Peck delivered a lecture on Stephen A. Douglas, who is remembered as an influential politician in Illinois.
Stephen A. Douglas was a Senator who rallied for the expansion of the United States into the West, and supported railroad construction locally and nationally.
The Commemoration took place on Saturday, June 3, at the Douglas Tomb State Historic Site in Chicago. The Stephen A. Douglas Association and the Bronzeville Historical Society sponsored the event, which took place on the 156th anniversary of his death. Featured in Dr. Peck’s speech were remarks about Douglas’ support of legislation that led to the development of the Illinois Central Railroad in the 1850s, and later to the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. Peck also highlighted the importance of the railroad system to Chicago’s role as the hub for a continental railroad system.
Dr. Peck is well versed in the history of Douglas. He wrote, produced and directed a film about the former Senator, entitled, “Stephen A. Douglas and the Fate of American Democracy.” In the early 2000s, he became a member of the Stephen A. Douglas Association, and is now the secretary of the board of directors.
To wrap up the lecture, there was a tribute to the lives of the slaves who lived on the plantations owned by Douglas’ wife. Water was poured out in their honor during the observance.