In the years prior to the war Senator Stephen A. Douglas played a key role in Illinois politics. Douglas was a lawyer who served as an Illinois senator in the Democratic Party from 1847-1861. (U.S. Congress) Perhaps best known for his fierce presidential debates with Abraham Lincoln, Douglas was considered the leader of the Democratic Party and was most noted for his desire to preserve the Union. For Little Egypt residents Douglas was a key factor towards deciding the future of Southern Illinois’ loyalty after the firing at Ft. Sumter. Douglas tried to sway the opinions of popular Southern Illinois Democrats such as John Logan, and John McClernand, towards answering the call for the Union and backing President Lincoln. His efforts were cut short by his death in 1861; however, his impact on the region over the three decades he served Illinois in public office was enough for many Little Egyptians to put aside their hatred for the new Republican administration, and support the preservation of the nation.