In his initial campaign address,
Douglas touched on several
themes. These included opposing the
importation of Pacific Islander labour, supporting ongoing immigration to the
colony, again pledging to look after the interests of his electorate “on a
footing apart altogether from party politics,” and supporting government
funding of secular, not religious education in primary schools. He concluded his address with the astonishing
although he would not be disappointed if he were rejected in favor of a more suitable candidate, as he had lost most of his former love of political life, still he would do his best to serve them faithfully and disinterestedly if they put their trust in him.
It was astonishing, because
Douglas was desperately
keen to get back into politics.
Nevertheless, it appears from these remarks that he was now more worldly
wise and politically aware. Douglas was now less idealistic and all too aware from
bitter personal experience of the level some politicians could stoop in pursuit
of self-interest, power, patronage, and privilege. Douglas the idealist was fast becoming
Douglas the realist - but never Douglas the pragmatist. For even now, after all he had endured and
suffered at the hands of his fellow parliamentarians, he remained true to his
core principles. Douglas
may have been bowed and bloodied, but he unwaveringly believed in liberalism, a
sense of fair play, and service to his fellow man until his death.
Nevertheless, sections of the electorate refused to support him as the liberal candidate.  The
electorate was home to many of the city’s businessmen and, as a recent
insolvent, Douglas was considered by many to
be a most unsatisfactory candidate, manifestly unable to manage his financial
affairs. A delegation
of 25 prominent Brisbane businessmen persuaded
one of their own, Robert Muter Stewart, to contest the seat against Douglas.
Stewart, the owner of a merchant establishment, described himself as a “liberal, and always had been.”
having no expertise in “mercantile matters” and campaigning against a fellow
liberal, was forced to appeal for support from the business community on the
somewhat lame grounds of “being pretty well acquainted with mercantile matters
from the political point of view.”
In an editorial on polling day, the Brisbane Courier refused to recommend one candidate above the other, contenting itself with the observation “that both gentlemen cannot be returned will be the only real cause of regret.” Stewart’s mercantile backers proved decisive and
Douglas lost an extremely close election
by six votes.
Parliamentary Handbook, 1997, p. 388 Queensland
 Mr Douglas at the
of Arts Courier, Brisbane 31 October 1873, p. 2
 Ibid., pp. 2-3
Election.” Brisbane Courier, Brisbane 7 November 1873, p. 2
Election.” Courier, Brisbane 10 November 1873, p. 3
 John Douglas. “To the Electors of
.” Brisbane Courier, Brisbane 13 November 1873, p. 1
Courier, Brisbane 14
November 1873, p. 2
Election.” Brisbane Courier, Brisbane 15 November 1873, p. 5. Stewart polled 221 votes and Douglas 215.
 Bernays, p. 77