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^npHE history of Chicago begins with
^^ the discovery by Marquette and Joliet
'of the ground upon which the city now
stands. The earliest settlement there was
made by a negro from San Domingo a few
years before the Treaty of Paris secured
the territory to the United States. The
ordinance of 1787 provided for the organ-
ization of the Northwest without special
mention of municipal corporations. Al-
though a government was provided, the
new republic did not obtain actual posses-
rsion of her property until the British, in
accordance with Jay's treaty, evacuated
their Western posts and the Indians in
1795 made peace with General Wayne at
Greenville. Among the cessions of terri-
tory, made by this treaty, was "one piece
of land, six miles square, at the mouth of
Ihe Chicago river. "

As the purchase of Louisiana gave an
Impulse to Western settlement, the federal
•government determined to establish a mil-
itary post on the southern shore of Lake
Michigan, in order to afford the pioneers
in that section some protection against the
Indians. The site finally chosen was the
tract to which a title had been acquired by
the treaty of Greenville. Here a detach-
ment from Detroit built a rough log fort in
the autumn of 1803 and named it after
General Henry Dearborn, then secretary
of war. Around the fort a few pioneers
built their cabins. Thus Chicago, like
many of the great cities of Europe, grew
up around a military camp. The garrison
of the fort was commanded by a captain,
acting under the orders of General Hull at
Detroit. The settlers were at first too few
to need a government. At the outbreak
of the war of 18 12 the Indians swept away
the entire settlement, consisting of five
houses besides the fort, but in 1816, after
the close of the war, the fort was rebuilt
and the little colony started again. It was
then sometimes called Dearborn settle-

ment, from the fort, and sometimes Chi-
cago, from the name of the river.

The Territory of Indiana had been or-
ganized in 1800 and nine years later the
Territory of Illinois, extending northward
to the international line, had been separ-
ated from it. In 1818, through the efforts
of the inhabitants of the extreme south, a
part of this territory was admitted as a
state. The settlers at Fort Dearborn seem
to have first come in contact with the
state authorities in 1823. They were then
included in Fulton county and June 3,
1823, the court of that county levied a
general tax of a half per cent, "on all per-
sonal property (household property except-
ed) and on all town lots. The amount re-
alized in Dearborn settlement was ^11.42
in State paper, indicating a total valuation
of $2,284. A little later, Fulton county
commissioned two justices of the peace
for the place. Between 1826 and 183 1
Chicago was a part of Peoria county, and
that county commissioned justices of the
peace, appointed judges for state and na-
tional elections and granted licenses for
the settlement.

Cook county was organized in 183 1, and
included within its limits territory since
divided into five counties. Chicago was
made the county seat, and a government,
consisting of three commissioners, a sheriff,
treasurer, clerk, and coroner, was organ-
ized in the usual way. The first meeting
of the commissioners' court was held in
the fort March 8, 183 1. April 13 the
court levied the first tax and fixed the
charges to be made at taverns. These
two acts form the first bit of local legisla-
tion that has been preserved. They read
as follows:

' ' Ordered, That there be a half per
cent levied on the following description of
property, to-wit: On town lots, on pleasure
carriages, on distilleries, on all horses,
mules, and neat cattle above the age of



three years; on watches and their appurt-
enances, and on all clocks."

" Ordered, That the following rates be
allowed to tavern keepers, to-wit: Each
half pint of wine, rum or brandy, 25 cents;
^achpintdo., 375^ cents; each half pint
of gin, 18^ cents; each pint do., 31^4^
cents; each gill of whiskey, (i}{ cents;
each half pint do., 12^ cents; each pint
do., 18^ cents. For each breakfast and
supper, 25 cents; each dinner, 37)^ cents;
each horse feed, 25 cents; keeping horse
one night, 50 cents; lodging for each man
per night, 12)'^ cents; for cider or beer,
one pint, 6^^ cents; do., one quart, 12}^

The first act gives interesting evidence
of the classes of property that were se-
lected for taxation, and the second indi-
cates a disposition to fix prices. Receipts
for the year, ending March i, 1832, were
derived from the levy just quoted and from
fees for licenses. Expenditures for the
year amounted to $252.35, leaving a bal-
ance of $15.93 in the treasury. The next
year an ''estray pen," costing $12, and a
jail "of logs well bolted together," were
built. These were the first public build-

Chicago increased in population and
importance by being made the northern
terminus of the proposed Illinois and
Michigan canal, and in 1833 was organ-
ized as a town. Beginning with this date
her corporate history may be divided into
four periods:

1. The town government.

2. The period of the first city charter.

3. The era of board government.

4. Government under the general

In 1 83 1 the general assembly of the
state had passed ''An act to incorporate
the inhabitants of such towns as may wish
to be incorporated." Under this general
law, any town, of not less than one hun-
dred and fifty inhabitants, could be incor-
porated whenever two-thirds of the voters
so desired. The town government was
vested in a board of five trustees, elected

annually. The board chose their presi-
dent from among their own number. They
were empowered to pass necessary ordi-
nances; to establish public markets, sink
public wells, make pavements and build
sidewalks; to protect the town from injury
by fire; to define town boundaries, ^'■Pro-
vided, That the same shall not exceed one
mile square; " and to levy an annual tax
upon real estate of not more than fifty
cents on a hundred dollars.

Although Chicago had not the popula-
tion required by the statute, her citizens
were ambitious to have a town government..
August 5, 1833, a public meeting was
held, of which the following are the

"At a meeting of the citizens of Chi-
cago, convened pursuant to public notice
given according to the statute for incor-
porating towns, T. J. V. Owen was chosen
president, and E. S. Kimberly was chosen-
clerk. The oaths were then administered
by Russell E. Heacock, a justice of the
peace for Cook county, when the following^
vote was taken on the propriety of incor-
porating the town of Chicago, county of
Cook, state of Illinois:

"For Incorporation — JohnS. C. Hogan,
C. A. Ballard, C. W. Snow, R. J. Hamil-
ton, J. T. Temple, John Wright, G. W.
Dole, Hiram Pearsons, Alanson Sweety
E. S. Kimberly, T. J. V. Owen, Mark
Beaubien — 12.

"Against Incorporation — Russell E,
Heacock — i.

"We certify the above poll to be cor-

(Signed) "T. J. V. Owen, President.

"Ed. S. Kimberly, Clerk.'^

The town history covers a period of a
little less than four years, during which
time there were four elections for town
trustees. The first was held five days after
the vote upon incorporation. It is sup-
posed that. every one entitled to vote did
so. Twenty-eight ballots were cast, and
half of those voting were candidates for
office. During the first year the meetings
of the trustees were held on the first Wed-



nesday of each month, usually at a private
house or one of the town taverns. The
minutes were kept on loose scraps of paper,
all of which have been lost. The board
organized by the election of a town presi-
dent from among their own number, and
afterwards erected several additional offi-
cers. A treasurer was appointed in Sep-
tember. The duties of street commissioner
and fire warden were united in one officer,
and those of assessor and surveyor in
another. In November a collector was
appointed, and authorized to retain as fees
•"ten per cent of all moneys put into the
town treasury." At the December meet,
ing a corporation attorney was added to
the list of officers.

The trustees, on November 6, so far
.extended the limits, which they had fixed
for the town at their first meeting, as to
include an area of nearly seven-eights of a
square mile. November 7 they adopted a
code of law: " The citizens were forbidden
to let pigs wander in the streets; to shoot
•off any fire-arms; to steal timber from the
bridges for firewood or other purposes; to
•endanger the public safety by pushing a
Tuew stove-pipe through a board wall; to
xun a race horse through the principal
streets; to leave lumber lying loose in the
streets, or to throw dead animals into the
river." The entire tax levy for the first
year of town government amounted to
^48.90, a large part of which was paid in
town orders that had been made receivable
for taxes, for at this early period the prac-
tice of anticipating the revenue by the
issue of scrip was begun.

In 1834 public business so far increased
that the trustees found it necessary to
meet twice instead of once a month as
before. In October of this year the first
loan was negotiated. Sixty dollars were
borrowed for the purpose of improving the
streets, "with the careful provision that
the money should be paid back as soon as
it could be raised by taxation, and at no
more distant time than fifteen days." In
November the first step was taken toward
a system of public water works by the

digging of a town well, costing ^95.50.
The next year a loan of $2,000 was au-
thorized, at a rate of interest not exceeding
ten per cent, and payable in twelve months.
By an act of the general assembly, ap-
proved February 11, 1835,* the number of
town trustees was increased from five to
nine, and their powers were considerably
enlarged. Under this amended charter
the electors v/ere such residents of the
town as were qualified to vote for repre-
sentatives to the legislature and the elected
were required to be . freeholders. The
number of officers to be appointed by the
trustees was increased. The list included
a clerk, street commissioner, treasurer,
assessor and collector of taxes, town sur-
veyor, two measurers of wood and coal,
two measurers of lumber, and two weighers
of grain. The last section of this act is
important, for the reason that it marks the
beginning of what afterward became the
three separate towns of South, West and
North Chicago, It reads as follows:

"This corporation shall be divided into
three districts, to-wit: All that part which
lies south of the Chicago river and east
of the south branch of said river, shall be
included in the first district; all that part
which lies west of the north and south
branches of said river, shall be included
in the second district; and all that part
which lies north of the Chicago river and
east of the north branch of said river,
shall be included in the third district; and
the taxes collected within the said respec-
tive districts shall be expended, under the
direction of the board of trustees, for
improvements within their respective dis-
tricts; but the election of trustees within
said town shall be by general ticket."

In June, 1835, the trustees established a
permanent board of health. In August a
longer municipal code was adopted, and in
October the ordinances were for the first

♦References to the acts, relating to Chicago, passed
by the state legislature before 1866, may be found in
Gross's "Index to the Law.s of Illinois." The state
legislation, before 1866, was printed in an appendix to
the volume of " Laws and Ordinances Governing the
City of Chicago," published in that year.



time printed. Much attention was given
by the town authorities to the prevention
of fires. In 1834 the town was divided
for fire purposes into four wards, and a fire
warden appointed for each. By an ordi-
nance to prevent fires, passed later in the
year, all citizens were required under pen-
alty to obey the summons of the fire
wardens, "whether it be to enter the ranks
or lines formed for passing water or
buckets, or to aid in promoting such other
means as to said wardens may seem cal-
culated to carry- into effect the object of
this ordinance." The same ordinance was
re-enacted immediately after the adoption
of the city charter. The following are
some of its sections:

Sec. 30. The citizens and inhabitants
shall respectively, if a fire happens at
night, place a lighted candle or lamp at
the front door or windows of their respec-
tive dwellings, there to remain during the
night, unless the fire be sooner extin-

Sec. 34. Every dwelling house or other
building containing one fire place or stove,
shall have one good painted leathern fire
bucket with the initials of the owner's
name painted thereon, etc.

Sec. 35. That every able bodied inhab-
itant shall, upon an alarm of fire, repair
to the place of the fire with his fire bucket
or buckets, if he ^hall have any, etc.

Sec. 36. Every occupant of any build-
ing shall keep the aforesaid fire buckets in
the front hall of said building, etc.*

So far as we can determine the adminis-
tration of the town government, during the
four years of its existence, was both wise
and economical. In common with the
history of other isolated western towns, it
furnishes a striking illustration of the
genius that the Anglo-Saxon people have
for self-government. There were, how-
ever, two transactions, which, if entered
into in good faith, show how little the

citizens of Chicago foresaw the future
greatness of the place. The first was a
sale of valuable school lands in 1833, for
$38,865. The second was the loan of
wharfing privileges, in accordance with a
provision of the act of February, 1835.
Under the authority of that act the trustees
leased, for a term of 999 years, to the
owners and occupants of lots fronting the
river, privileges, since worth millions of
dollars, at rates varying from ;^8.5o to $25
per front foot. The mistake was evidently
very soon discovered, for within two
months an act was secured from the state
legislature restricting to a term of five years
the power of the trustees to make such
leases, and indicating dissatisfaction with
the action of the town government, by
reducing the limit, of taxation from one-
half to one-forth of one per cent of the
assessed valuation.

At a meeting of the trustees, held No-
vember 18, 1836, it was ordered, "That
the president invite the citizens of each of
the three districts of the town to meet in
their respective districts and select three
suitable persons to meet with the board of
trustees on Thursday evening next, and
consult together with'them on the expedi-
ency of applying to the legis4ature of the
state for a city charter, and adopt a draft
to accompany such application." In ac-
cordance with this resolution delegates
were chosen in each district, and Novem-
ber 5, at a meeting of the trustees and
delegates, a committee of five was ap-
pointed to draft a charter. December 9
the proposed charter was presented to the
trustees, and, after some amendment, was
sent by a messenger to Vandalia, then the
state capital. March 4, 1837, it passed
the legislature and became a law. The
adoption of this charter closes the first
period in the municipal history of Chicago.


*H. H. Hurlbut's Chicago Antiquities.




•^n7HE study of humanity is interesting,
^^ but the study of the individual is
stupid," said a friend to me once, and I
must confess that there seems to be much
truth in the remark, especially after one
has been slum7ni7ig and come in contact
with the most degraded forms of human
beings. There is a sense in which sociol-
ogy as a science or a study in one's library
becomes fascinating. But the moment
one goes out and applies the principles he
has advocated from the platform or in the
essay the subject assumes an entirely dif-
ferent character. It is so easy to work
up enthusiasm for mankind. It is so hard
to love one individual man, especially if
he is dirty, degraded, and sinful. And
yet sociology as a science or a study has
for its end, if I understand it right, the
elevation of the human race. And this
cannot be done at arms' length. The end
of sociology is not statistics, nor accounts
of theories advanced by men who sit at
home in comfortable rooms and never go
near the man, but the end is the redemp-
tion of society through the work of men
with men, through the actual touch of soul
with soul." To illustrate. There is a man
in Topeka who is struggling for existence.
He is having a harder time of it than I am.
He is worse off than I am body, soul, mind,
every thing. Well, I study that man's
surroundings. I find out the reasons for
his condition. I trace out the hereditary
influences which have gone down to the
man and into him. I make a study of his
physical weaknesses and his moral lapses.
I take into account the particular trade or
means by which he attempts to keep the
breath of life in him. I make an exhaus-
tive analysis of his complete environment,
and I put it all down in a book and print
it and give it out to the world. But all
that is not sociology, unless the man is in
some way the better for it. And it may

♦Read before the HistoricarSeminary on Nov. 6.

be possible I may not have any right to
make a study of that man, unless I am
ready and willing to go to him and help
him make his conditions in life happier
and stronger. I may have no right to
publish a book about him, unless I am
ready to give him my personal sympathy
and help. All this from the preacher's
standpoint, you understand.

I believe most heartily that at the basis
of all true sociological study is a true love of
men, so true that we are ready to go and
actually apply what we preach; if we have
a theory for the advancement of the race
to make an experiment with it; if we de-
liver a lecture or preach a sermon on
being servants to the poor and outcast,
ready to prove our sincerity by going our-
selves to give ourselves in acts of service
to the humblest soul that lives. Legisla-
tion can do much. So can machinery.
But it can do nothing but turn itself, unless
the human element is constantly present
to direct the products of its movement.
The world has suffered from statistical
philanthrophists. Not that the figures are
useless. They may prove of great value.
But I have of late come in contact with
so much sentimental study of social science
that I have almost lost the sweet temper
with which God blessed me, when I see
the eagerness with which men and women
form clubs for the discussion of humanity
and the reluctance with which they teach
a class of ignorant negroes or put theories
of their club rooms into actual practice.
All this from the preacher's standpoint.

I shall have to confess to you that I
have done an immense amount of preach-
ing, that I have been slow to follow up
myself with practice, but nevertheless I
don't believe in it and never shall.

I think the first impulse I ever had to
study humanity at first hand, dates from
an experiment I ventured to try in my first
parish in a country town in Vermont. I



was perplexed, as very many pastors are,
by the parish visiting problem. I wanted
to know my people, to become familiar
with their wants and their temptations;
their discouragements, and their ambitions.
It seemed to me that if I could see every
man, woman and child in my whole parish
between two Sundays, I could then face
them on Sunday and preach with the
knowledge that I was reaching something
definite. But it was a physical impossi-
bility. The parish was seven miles' square,
and being in the heart of the Green Moun-
tains it was all up hill. And my only
means of locomotion was a small horse
that had the quinsy, the springhalt, and a
lazy disposition. At last I very frankly
asked the parish to let me board out with
it. I was rooming in a hotel. I continued
to take my breakfast there and to sleep
there each night, but by arrangement I
took my dinner and supper with one of the
families of the parish for an entire week,
beginning with Sunday. In this way I
saw, in the course of a year, nearly every
family in the parish. I met the men of
the household, for they were, as a rule,
prompt to their meals. And I suppose I
had a more thorough knowledge of that
parish and its real needs at the end of a
year than I could have gained by ten years
of formal calls in an afternoon, when no-
body but the "women folks," to use a
New England phrase, could be found at
home. I need not say that all this was
done, not from a vulgar curiosity to know
other people's business, but through a gen-
uine desire to know the people in order
that I might be more useful to them as a
servant. If our service to mankind is
valuable in proportion to our knowledge
of its actual condition, then the better we
know it the better we can serve it. All
this from the preacher's standpoint.

Under this same impulse to know man-
kind at first hand, I began a year ago a
series of personal investigations into the
daily life of eight groups of men. I
divided up the city of Topeka into eight
districts, according to the daily activity of

its inhabitants. These groups were as
follows: The street car and electric car
men, the negroes, the Santa Fe railroad
men, the Washburn college students, the
doctors, the lawyers, the business men,
and the newspaper men. My process of
study was as follows: For instance, with
the students, I went out to the college and
stayed there a week. Visited the class
rooms; studied Greek and Latin with the
boys ; played ball with them on the campus;
met groups of them between the periods of
study for the discussion of religious or
literary topics; in short, put myself into
their places as completely as possible.
With the railroad men, I had permission
from the superintendent to ride on the
engine, and go down the road on freight
and cattle cars. I spent most of my time
in the yard, at night, or when most of the
work was being done, and tried to find
out the religious feeling;]of the men when
it seemed wise. But conversation on relig-
ious topics, with a man who is running a
wild freight train, is apt to be fragmentary.
With the newspaper men, I engaged work
on the Capital as a reporter, and for a
week astonished the community, I have no
doubt, by accounts of runaways, the ar-
rival of John Smith into the city and the
conflagration of Mr. Brown's barn last
night. My greatest temptation while with
the newspaper fraternity was to manufac-
ture history to keep up with the everlasting
cry for copy. With the negroes, I visited
them in their homes and at the schools,
and spent three weeks with them, making
as complete a study of their habits and
characteristics as possible.

The same principle was observed
throughout, of learning from actual con-
tact the environment of each of the eight
groups. I worked at a disadvantage. My
church, which, by the way, is the most
good natured church in Kansas, of neces-
sity demanded a certain amount of my
time, and I could not give to the special
work all the strength required. But the
result of even such imperfect study as I
was able to give was invaluable to me in



my chosen life work. I consider those
twelve weeks, with those groups of men, of
more value than an entire seminary course,
so far as getting a real insight into human
nature goes. And while it is impossible
for one man actually to put himself into
another man's place, the very attempt im-
presses him with the tremendous gap which
is possible to yawn between men of the
same original creation. Why is it that the
church, to-day, stands powerless before
the masses of working men? It is not
because she does not contain the life of
the world. It is because the preacher
does not know the facts of men's lives.
He is a scholar in the scholastic sense.
The common people are strangers to him.
He cannot face a crowd of working men
and talk fifteen minutes in such a way as
to keep them interested. Give him an
audience of his own kind, students, schol-

Online LibraryKansas. UniversitySeminary notes published by the Seminary of historical and political science → online text (page 13 of 62)