University of Chicago removes tributes to former Illinois senator Stephen Douglas

Stephen A. Douglas (1813-1861), American Politician from Illinois, USA, Portrait, 1860. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The University of Chicago has removed a bronze plaque and stone that publicly honored Stephen Douglas, a U.S. senator from Illinois in the 1800s.

“Douglas does not deserve to be honored on our campus” because he “profited from his wife’s ownership of a Mississippi plantation where Black people were enslaved,” university President Robert Zimmer said in an email to students Tuesday.

Douglas probably is best known for a series of debates with Abraham Lincoln in 1858. He was a U.S. senator who lost the 1860 presidential election to Lincoln.

Zimmer said a plaque and a stone from a university that preceded the University of Chicago would be moved to a campus research center, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“Douglas died in 1861 and had no connection to the University of Chicago that was founded in 1890 as a new institution with a distinct mission,” Zimmer said.