Page images

Thomas B. Trower, Patrick Ballingall, Francis C. Sherman, Reuben B. Heacock, E. F. Colby, David L. Gregg, Nelson Hawley, Wm. H. Blakely, George H. Hill, George B. Lemen, Jeduthun Hatch, Samuel Anderson, Wm. Shields, George W. Rives, Alvin R. Kenner, John W. F. Edmonson, Joseph T. Eccles. George W. Akin, David Markley, Hezekiah M. Wead, Isaac Linley, George Kreider, Albert G. Caldwell, Jacob Smith, Franklin Witt, L. E. Worcester, D. M. Woodson, George W. Armstrong, James M. Lasater, Thomas C. Sharpe, William S. Moore, Charles Choate, Robert Miller, Thomas Geddes, Andrew McCallen, Gilbert Turnbull, Joshua Harper, Lewis J. Simpson, Jesse O. Norton, Alexander M. Jenkins, Richard G. Morris, Franklin S. Casey, Zadok Casey, Walter B. Scates, A. R. Knapp, Thompson Campbell, W. B. Green, O. C. Pratt, John Oliver, Alfred Churchill, Augustus Adams, Thomas Judd, John West Mason, Curtis K. Harvey, James Knox, Horace Butler, Hurlbut Swan, Wm. Stadden, Abraham Hoes, John Mieure, John Dement, Samuel Lander, James Tuttle, David Davis, F. S. D. Marshall, James Graham, John M. Palmer, James M. Campbell, John Huston, John Sibley, Peter W. Deitz, Stephen A. Hurlbut, Cyrus Edwards, E. M. West, Benaiah Robinson, George T. Brown, Henry D. Palmer, George W. Pace, Edward O. Smith, Thomas G. C. Davis, Benjamin F. Northcott, Frederick Frick, Hiram Roundtree, James M. Davis, Anthony Thornton, Newton Cloud, James Dunlap, Samuel D. Lockwood, William Thomas, James A. James, John D. Whiteside, Daniel J. Pinckney, H. B. Jones, John Crain, Wm. W. Thompson, Lincoln B. Knowlton, Onslow Peters, Wm. R. Archer, Harvey Dunn, William A. Grimshaw, Montgomery Blair, William Sim, Oaks Turner, Ezekiel W. Robbins, Richard B. Servant, Alfred Kitchell, John W. Spencer, John Dawson, James H. Matheny, Ninian W. Edwards, Stephen T. Logan, N. M. Knapp, Daniel Dunsmore, William A. Minshall, Edward Evey, Wm. W. Roman, Wm. C. Kinney, John McCulley, George Bunsen, Seth B. Farwell, Thomas B. Carter, William H. Holmes, Henry R. Green, Samuel Hunsaker, John Canady, John W. Vance, Charles H. Constable, Abner C. Harding, Zenos H. Vernor, James M. Hogue, Aaron C. Jackson, S. Snowden Hayes, Daniel Hay, Samuel J. Cross, Selden M. Church, Robert J. Cross, John T. Loudon, Willis Allen, Hugh Henderson, William McClure.

Politically, this convention was rather evenly balanced. On the Democratic side there were such representatives as Zadok Casey, John Dement, John M. Palmer, Anthony Thornton, Walter B. Scates, Willis Allen, L. B. Knowlton, Thompson Campbell; and among the Whigs, Archibald Williams, James W. Singleton, Henry E. Dummer, Jesse O. Norton, Stephen A. Hurlbut, David Davis, Cyrus Edwards, Samuel D. Lockwood, Stephen T. Logan and Abner C. Harding.

The convention was in session eighty-four days. The constitution was voted upon and adopted by the people, March 6, and went into effect April 1, 1848. We note some of its peculiar features: It provided that the salary of the Governor should be $1,500; Secretary of State, $800 and fees; Auditor of Public Accounts, $800 and "no more;" State Treasurer, $800 and "no more;" Judges of Supreme Court, $1,200 and "no more;" Circuit Judges, $1,000 and "no more;" military duty was confined to "all free male able-bodied persons, between the ages of 18 and 45, negroes, mulattoes and Indians excepted;" a capitation tax was to be collected from "all able-bodied free white male inhabitants;" the pay of members of the General Assembly was fixed at $2.00 per day for forty-two days, and $1.00 per day for each day thereafter, and 10 cents mileage each way. Article fourteen provided that "the General Assembly, at its first session under the amended constitution, should pass such laws as would effectually prohibit free persons of color from immigrating to and settling in this State; and to effectually prevent the owners of slaves from bringing them into this State for the purpose of setting them free." Article fifteen provided that there should be annually assessed and collected a tax of two mills upon each dollar's worth of taxable property, in addition to all other taxes, to be kept separate and to be apportioned to the payment of the State indebtedness other than the canal

and school indebtedness. This article was also submitted to a separate vote of the people; the vote for it was 41,449; against, 31,869; majority for, 9,580. This article laid the foundation for the extinguishment of the State debt, incurred by the internal improvement system of 1837, and it is of itself enough to immortalize the framers of that constitution, because it gave hope and courage to the people who wanted to pay the obligations of the State dollar for dollar, and it enabled them to do it.


Under the constitution of 1848, a new election for State officers had occurred in that year, and Gov. French was re-elected; William McMurtry, of Knox, was elected Lieut.Governor; Horace S. Cooley, of Adams, Secretary of State; Thomas H. Campbell, of Randolph, Auditor of Public Accounts; John Moore, of McLean, Treasurer. No provision having been made in the constitution for an AttorneyGeneral, that office became extinct.

The first session of the Sixteenth General Assembly convened January 1, 1849, the new constitution having changed the time of the meeting of the General Assembly from December to January. A second session convened October 22, and adjourned November 7, 1849.

Lieut.-Gov. McMurtry presided over the Senate, and William Smith was elected Secretary. Zadok Casey was elected Speaker of the House, and Nathaniel Niles Clerk.

The duties of this General Assembly were more than routine legislation. A new era marked the progress of the State. The framers of the new constitution had adopted a feasible plan for providing means for relieving the State of its financial embarrassment, and wise legislation was necessary to carry into effect the provisions of the constitution, and the people happily selected many able representatives, among whom may be mentioned, of the

Senate, John T. Stuart of Sangamon, Joseph Gillespie of Madison, J. L. D. Morrison of St. Clair, William Reddick of LaSalle, Joel A. Matteson of Will, and Norman B. Judd of Cook. Of the House, were Wesley Sloan of Pope, Zadok Casey of Jefferson, U. F. Linder of Clark, Thomas Carlin of Greene, Richard Yates of Morgan, Ninian W. Edwards of Sangamon, Onias C. Skinner of Adams, and William Kellogg of Fulton.



Internal Improvement System of 1837-Appointment of Fund Commissioners-Illinois and Michigan Canal-Board of Public Works-System of Railroads-Mail Routes-Improvement of the Rivers-$10,607,000 Appropriated by the General Assembly for Public Improvements-Who Voted for the Bill-Bankruptcy.

The internal improvement system of 1837, which bankrupted the State and wrecked many private fortunes, was a gigantic enterprise, and while it was a signal failure, yet it taught the people a valuable lesson. In this system was included, incidentally, the project of constructing the Illinois and Michigan Canal, which had been mooted in the message of Gov. Bond as early as 1818, and it continued to be the subject of discussion and legislation by every Governor and General Assembly, until the collapse of the whole system. The canal was regarded as the means above all others for the development of the State. The General Assembly of 1826, in a memorial addressed to Congress, asking for a donation of lands in aid of the construction of the canal, gave vent to their views

upon the importance of the work in these words: "The construction of a canal connecting the waters of Lake Michigan with the Illinois river, will form an important addition to the great connecting links in the chain of internal navigation, which will effectually secure the indissoluble union of the confederate members of this great and powerful Republic. By the completion of this great and valuable work, the connection between the North and the South, the East and the West, would be strengthened by the ties of commercial intercourse and social brotherhood, and the Union of States might bid defiance to internal commotion and sectional jealousy, and foreign invasion." Acting on this memorial, Congress passed an act March 2, 1827, granting some 300,000 acres of land to the State, in aid of the canal. Stimulated by what Congress had done, the Legislature passed an act, January 22, 1829, authorizing the construction of the canal, but the termini was not fixed until March 1, 1833. The total expenditures for the construction of the canal, under the direction of the Canal Commissioners and Trustees, up to 1848, when it was opened for business, was $6,557,681.50. (See Report of Auditor of Public Accounts to the Constitutional Convention of 1870.) The Records of the Auditor of Public Accounts further show that the total expenditures on this 92 miles of waterway was over $10,000,000. This enormous expenditure would have built, on the prairies of Illinois, 666 miles of railway.

The law which authorized the internal improvement system was passed by the General Assembly in February, 1837. It provided for the appointment of Fund Commissioners, whose duties were to negotiate loans of money, on the credit of the State, and to promote and maintain a general system of internal improvements. The same act provided for the biennial election, by the Legislature, of a Board of Public Works, whose duty it was to take

« PreviousContinue »