Adele Douglas, 1835-1899

Mathew Brady Studio
Albumen silver print,
(carte de visite),1860
National Portrait Gallery,
Smithsonian Institution,
Washington, DC

Adele Cutts Douglas grew up in Washington, where her good looks, winning personality, and impressive family connections made her a favorite of local society. Her father was the nephew of Dolley Madison, whose Lafayette Square mansion became Adele Cutts's second home. Her mother's sister, Rose Greenhow, also an important hostess, was later convicted of spying for the Confederacy. Cutts met the widower Senator Stephen A. Douglas in 1856, when he had narrowly lost the Democratic presidential nomination to James Buchanan. They wed after a brief courtship, and Stephen Douglas's substantial fortune supported Adele Douglas's brilliant salon, where together they commanded substantial political power. During the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858, Adele Douglas traveled with her husband through Illinois, and like her husband, she became Lincoln's warm friend. She accompanied Douglas through his travels south during the 1860 presidential campaign and was by his side when he died in Chicago the following spring. Adele Cutts Douglas later married a career army officer, and raised their six children in the western territories.

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