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Formation into a Territory-Officers-Formation of Legislative Districts
We learn from the History of the United States that the Illinois country was first explored by LaSalle, the French Missionaries and Indian traders, who formed the earliest settlement at Kaskaskia, in 1683; that the country was first owned by the French and was afterward ceded to Great Britain, when it became a part of the possessions of Virginia. The questions growing out of the ownership, by several States, of vast tracts of unoccupied land, were very difficult of solution, owing, in many instances, to rival claims based on the comprehensive, illdefined, and often conflicting grants made by different sovereigns of England to colonies and colonists in the new world; and the conviction in various quarters that all the territory acquired from Great Britain by the treaty of 1783, having been secured by the blood and the treasure of the whole people, should be held by all the States as common property. The data in possession of the European governments in relation to this continent were so vague that it was impossible to define their grants with anything like accuracy; and they seemed to think that the country was so expansive that there was scarcely any
limit to its extent or their power over it; and the result was that different colonies claimed the ownership of the same territory, and in various instances it was claimed by several conflicting authorities. These questions proved for a time serious obstacles in the way of accord among the several States; and so complicated did they become that at times they seemed impossible of adjustment. But the sound common sense and the enlightened patriotism that had governed the statesmen of that day, throughout their perilous conflict, proved sufficient for this last emergency. Virginia took the first practical step in the direction of a settlement, by the cession to the confederacy, in 1784, of all her land Northwest of the Ohio river-which was accepted by Congress-and in relation to which the Ordinance of 1787 was subsequently adopted. By this measure the obstacles were removed. From this territory was formed five States-Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsinall devoted to freedom. (See Hickey's Constitution of the United States.) Illinois was a part of Indiana Territory when organized as a Territory.
February 3, 1809, Congress passed an act dividing the Indiana Territory into two separate governments, and establishing the Territory of Illinois. President Madison appointed John Boyle, an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals of Kentucky, Governor of the Territory, but he declined, and Ninian Edwards, Chief Justice of the same Court, was appointed in his stead. Nathaniel Pope was appointed Secretary; Alexander Stuart, Obadiah Jones and Jesse B. Thomas, Judges; Benjamin H. Boyle, AttorneyGeneral. This composed the Territorial Government.
Under the Ordinance of 1787, and the act of Congress February 3, 1809, the Governor and Judges constituted the law-making power of the Territory, and as such they met for the first time at Kaskaskia, June 13, 1809, and their first act was to resolve that the laws of Indiana Territory,
in force prior to March 1, 1809, which applied to the government of the Territory, should remain in full force and effect. The duration of the session was seven days, in which thirteen acts were passed.
The second session of the Council was held in 1810, at which fourteen acts were passed, and the third and last session was held in 1811, at which five acts were passed. Among the laws enacted were some from the Georgia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and South Carolina statutes.
In May, 1812, Congress passed an act authorizing the formation of five Legislative districts in the Territory which were to be apportioned by the Governor, and from each of which was to be elected a member of the Legislative Council, who should hold the office four years; the number of Representatives to be elected was not to be less than seven nor more than twelve, until the number of free male, white inhabitants" should equal six thousand, and after that time the number was to be governed by the Ordinance of 1787. The office of Representative was for two years. Governor Edwards called the first election for Councilmen and Representatives for October 8, 9 and 10, 1812. TERRITORIAL GOVERNMENT, 1812.
Secretary of State-Nathaniel Pope.
FIRST TERRITORIAL LEGISLATURE.
The first session of the Territorial Legislature under the act of Congress of May 12, convened at Kaskaskia, November 25, 1812, and was composed of the following members:
Pierre Menard, Randolph. Samuel Judy, Madison. Benjamin Talbott, Gallatin. Thomas Ferguson, Johnson. William Biggs, St. Clair.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
George Fisher, Randolph.
Joshua Oglesby, St. Clair.
Philip Trammel, Gallatin.
William Jones, Madison.
Alexander Wilson, Gallatin. Jacob Short, St. Clair.
John Grammar, Johnson.
Pierre Menard was elected President of the Council, and John Thomas Secretary. George Fisher was elected Speaker of the House, and William C. Greenup Clerk.
The duration of this session was thirty-two days, and the whole number of acts passed was twenty-seven. The salary of the Attorney-General was fixed at $175 per annum; Auditor, $150; Treasurer, $150; and members of the Legislature at $2 per day.
A second session of this body convened November 8, 1813. Thirteen laws were passed, principal among which was one to prevent the sale of liquor to the Indians, and another to prevent the emigration of negroes or mulattoes into the Territory.
SECOND TERRITORIAL LEGISLATURE.
The Second Territorial Legislature convened on the 14th of November, 1814, and was composed of the following members:
The officers of the Council were the same as in the preceding Legislature. In the House, Risdon Moore was elected Speaker, and William Mears, who had succeeded B. M. Piatt as Attorney-General, Clerk.