Freeport Doctrine

views updated


FREEPORT DOCTRINE was Stephen Douglas's doctrine that, in spite of the Dred Scott decision, slavery could be excluded from territories of the United States by local legislation. Although propounded earlier and elsewhere, this solution of the apparent inconsistency between popular sovereignty and the Dred Scott decision, advanced at the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 in Freeport, Illinois, came to be known as the Freeport Doctrine. By thus answering Abraham Lincoln's questions on slavery, Douglas was able to hold his Illinois followers and secure reelection to the Senate, but the extensive publicity the doctrine received killed his chance of Southern support for the presidency in 1860.


Ericson, David F. The Shaping of American Liberalism: The Debates Over Ratification, Nullification, and Slavery. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

Zarefsky, David. Lincoln, Douglas, and Slavery. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.

Paul M.Angle/a. r.

See alsoDred Scott Case ; Lincoln-Douglas Debates ; Popular Sovereignty .