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as also a law relating to the "right of way" for
"public roads, canals, or other public works.'
The length of the session was ninety days.

Nlvth General Assembly. This Legislature
held two sessions. The first began Dec. 1, 1834,
and lasted to Feb. 13, 1835. Lieutenant-Governor
Jenkins presided in the Senate and James Semple
was elected Speaker of the House without oppo-

sition. On Dec. 20, John M. Robinson was re-
elected United States Senator Abraham Lincoln
was among the new members, but took no con-
spicuous part in the discussions of the body. The
principal public laws passed at this session were :
Providing for the borrowing of §.500,000 to be
used in the construction of the Illinois & Michi-
gan Canal and the appointment of a Board of
Commissioners to supervise its expenditure;
incorporating the Bank of the State of Illinois ;
and authorizing a loan of 612,000 by Cook County,
at 10 per cent interest per annum from the
county school fund, for the erection of a court
house in that county. The second session of this
Assembly convened, Dec. 7, 18 jo, adjourning, Jan.
18, 1836. A new canal act was passed, enlarging
the Commissioners' powers and pledging the faith
of the State for the repayment of money bor-
rowed to aid in its construction. A new appor-
tionment law was also passed providing for the
election of forty-one Senators and ninet3'-one
Representatives, and W. L. D. Ewing was elected
United States Senator, to succeed Elias K. Kane,
deceased. The length of the first session was
seventy-five days, and of the second forty-three
days— total, 118.

Tenth General Assembly, like its predeces-
sor, held two sessions. The first convened Dec. 5,
1836, and adjourned March G, 1837. The Whigs
controlled the Senate by a large majority, and
elected William H. Davidson, of White County,
President, to succeed Alexander M. Jenkins, who
had resigned the Lieutenant-Governorship. (See
Jenkins,. Alexander M.) James Semple was
re-elected Speaker of the House, which was
fully two-thirds Democratic. This Legislature
was remarkable for the number of its members
who afterwards attained National prominence.
Lincoln and Douglas sat in the lower house, both
voting for the same candidate for Speaker — New-
ton Cloud, an independent Democrat. Besides
these, the rolls of this Assembly included the
names of a future Governor, six future United
States Senators, eight Congressmen, three Illinois
Supreme Court Judges, seven State officers, and
a Cabinet officer. The two absorbing topics for
legislative discussion and action were the system
of internal improvements and the removal of the
State capital.. (See Internal Improvement Policy
and State Capitals. ) The friends of Springfield
finally effected such a combination that that city
was selected as the seat of the State government,
while the Internal Improvement Act was passed
over the veto of Governor Duncan. A second
session of this Legislature met on the call of the



Governor, July 10. 1837, ami adjourned July 22.
An act legalizing the suspension of State banks
was adopted, but the recommendation of the Gov-
ernor for the repeal of the internal improvement
legislation was ignored. The length of the first
session was ninety -two days and of the second
thirteen — total 105.

Eleventh General Assembly. This body
held both a regular and a special session. The
former met Dec. 3, 1838, and adjourned March 4,
183i(. The Whigs were in a majority in both
houses, and controlled the organization of the
Senate. In the House, however, their candidate
for Speaker— Abraham Lincoln — failing to secure
his full party vote, was defeated by \V. L. D.
Ewing. At this session S800.000 more was appro-
priated for the "improvement of water-ways and
the construction of railroads, "" all efforts to put an
end to, or even curtail, further expenditures on
account of internal improvements meeting with
defeat. An appropriation (the first) was made
for a library for the Supreme Court; the Illinois
Institution for the Education of the Deaf and
Dumb was established, and the further issuance
of bank notes of a smaller denomination than 85
was prohibited. By this time the State debt had
increased to over 613.0000(10. and both the people
and the Governor were becoming apprehensive as
to ultimate results of this prodigal outlay. A
crisis appeared imminent, and the Governor, on
Dec. 9, 1839, convened the Legislature in special
session to consider the situation. (This was the session ever held at Springfield ; and. the new
State House not being completed, the Senate, the
House and the Supreme Court found accommo-
dation in three of the principal church edifices. )
The struggle for a change of State policy at this
session was long and hard fought, no heed being
given to party lines. The outcome was the vir-
tual abrogation of the entire internal improve-
ment system. Provision was made for the calling
in and destruction of all unsold bonds and the
speedy adjustment of all unsettled accounts of
the old Board of Public Works, which was legis-
lated out of office. The special session adjourned
Feb. 3, 1840. Length of regular session ninety-
tvs'o days, of the special, fifty-seven — total, 149.

Twelfth General Assembly. This Legisla-
ture was strongly Democratic in both branches.
It convened, by executive proclamation,
Nov. 23, 1840, the object being to provide for pay-
ment of interest on the public debt. In reference
to this matter the following enactments were
made: Authorizing the hypothecation of S300.000
internal improvement bonds, to meet the interest

due Jan. 1, 1841; directing the i.ssue of boi\ds to
be sold in the open market and the proceeds
applied toward discharging all amounts due on
interest account for whicli no other pi'ovision was
made; levying a special tax of ten cents on tlie
SlOO to meet the interest on the last mentioned
class of bonds, as it matured. For the comple-
tion of the Northern Cross Railroad (from Spring-
field to Jacksonville) another appropriation of
§100,000 was made. The called session adjourned,
sine die, on Deo. 5, and the regular session began
two days later. The Senate was presided over by
the Lieutenant-Governor (Stinson H. Anderson),
and William L. D. Ewing was chosen Speaker of
the House. The most vital issue was the propri-
ety of demanding the surrender of the charter of
the State Bank, with its branches, and here
party lines were drawn. The Whigs finally
succeeded in averting the closing of the institu-
tions which had suspended specie payments, and
in securing for those institutions the privilege of
issuing small bills. A law reorganizing the judi-
ciary was passed by the majority over the execu-
tive veto, and in face of the defection of some of
its members. On a partisan issue all the Circuit
Judges were legislated out of office and five Jus-
tices added to the bench of the Supreme Court.
The session was stormy, and the Assembly ad-
journed March 1, 1841. This Legislature was in
session ninety-eight days — thirteen during the
special session and eighty-five during the regular.
Thirteenth General Assembly consisted of
forty-one Senators and 121 Representatives; con-
vened, Dec. 5, 1842. The Senate and House were
Democratic by two-thirds majority in each.
Lieut. -Gov. John Moore was presiding officer of
the Senate and Samuel Hackelton Speaker of the
House, with W. L. D, Ewing, who had been
acting Governor and United States Senator, as
Clerk of the latter. Richard Yates, Isaac N.
Arnold, Stephen T. Logan and Gustavus Koerner,
were among the new members. The existing
situation seemed fraught with peril. The State
debt was nearly §14.000,000; immigration had
been checked ; the State and Shawneetown banks
had gone down and their currency was not worth
fifty cents on the dollar ; Auditor's warrants were
worth no more, and Illinois State bonds were
quoted at fourteen cents. On Dec. 18, Judge
Sidney Breese was elected United States Senator,
having defeated Stephen A. Douglas for the
Democratic caucus nomination, on the nineteenth
ballot, by a majority of one vote. The State
Bank (in which the State had been a large share-
holder) was permitted to go into liquidation upon



the surrender of State bonds in exchange for a
like amount of bank stock owned by the State.
The same conditional release was granted to the
bank at Shawneetown. The net result was a
reduction of the State debt by about 83,000,000.
The Governor was authorized to negotiate a
loan of §1,600,000 on the credit of the State, for
the purpose of prosecuting the work on the canal
and meeting the indebtedness already incurred.
The Executive was also made sole "Fund Com-
missioner"' and, in that capacity, was empowered
(in connection with the Auditor) to sell the
railroads, etc., belonging to the State at public
auction. Provision was also made for the redemp-
tion of the bonds hypothecated with Macalister
and Stebbins. (See Macalister and Stebbins
Bo7ids.) The Congressional distribution of the
moneys arising from the sale of public lands was
acquiesced in, and the revenues and resources of
the State were pledged to the redemption "of
every debt contracted by an authorized agent for a
good and valuable consideration." To establish
a sinking fund to meet such obligation, a tax of
twenty cents on every §100, payable in coin, was
levied. This Legislature also made a re-appor-
tionment of the State into Seven Congressional
Districts. The Legislature adjom-ned, March 6,
1843, after a session of ninety-two days.

Fourteenth Gener.^l Assembly convened
Dec. 3, 1844, and adjourned March 3, 1845, the ses-
sion lasting ninety-two days. The Senate was
composed of twenty-six Democrats and fifteen
Whigs; the House of eighty Democrats and
thirty-nine Whigs. David Davis was among the
new members. William A. Richardson defeated
Stephen T. Logan for the Speakership, and James
Semple was elected United States Senator to suc-
ceed Samuel McRoberts, deceased. The canal
law was amended by the passage of a supple-
mental act, transferring the property to Trustees
and empowering the Governor to complete the
negotiations for the borrowing of SI, 600, 000 for
its construction. The State revenue being in-
sufHcient to meet the ordinary expenses of the
government, to say nothing of the arrears of
interest on the State debt, a tax of three mills on
each dollar's worth of property was imposed for
1845 and of three and one-half mills thereafter.
Of the revenue thus raised in 1845, one mill was
set apart to pay the interest on the State debt
and one and one-half mills for the same purpose
from the taxes collected in 1846 "and forever

Fifteenth General Assembly convened Dec.
7, 1846. The farewell message of Governor Ford

and the inaugural of Governor French were lead-
ing incidents. The Democrats had a two-thirds
majority in each house. Lieut. -Gov. Joseph B.
Wells presided in the Senate, and Newton Cloud
was elected Speaker of the House, the compli-
mentary vote of the Whigs being given to Stephen
T. Logan. Stephen A. Douglas was elected
United States Senator, the whigs voting for Cyrus
Edwards. State officers were elected as follows ;
Auditor, Thomas H. Campbell; State Treasurer,
Jlilton Carpenter — both by acclamation; and
Horace S Cooley was nominated and confirmed
Secretary of State. A new school law was
enacted ; the sale of the Gallatin Coimty salines
was authorized ; the University of Chicago was
incorporated, and the Hospital for the Insane at
Jacksonville established; the sale of the North-
ern Cross Railroad was authorized; District
Courts were established ; and provision was made
for refimding the State debt. The Assembly
adjourned, March 1, 1847, after a session of
eighty-five days.

Sixteenth General Assembly. This was the
first Legislature to convene under the Constitu-
tion of 1847. There were twenty-five members
in the Senate and seventy-five in the House.
The body assembled on Jan. 1, 1849, continu-
ing in session until Feb. 12 — the session being
limited by the Constitution to six weeks. Zadoc
Casey was chosen Speaker, defeating Richard
Yates by a vote of forty-six to nineteen. After
endorsing the policy of the administration in
reference to the Mexican War and thanking the
soldiers, the Assembly proceeded to the election
of United States Senator to succeed Sidney
Breese. The choice fell upon Gen. James Shields,
the other caucus candidates being Breese and
McClernand, while Gen. William F. Thornton led
the forlorn hope for the Whigs. The principle of
the Wilmot proviso was endorsed. The Governor
convened the Legislature in special session on
Oct. 22. A question as to the eligibility of Gen.
Shields having arisen (growing out of his nativity
and naturalization), and the legal obstacles hav-
ing been removed by the lapse of time, he was
re-elected Senator at the special session. Outside
of the passage of a general law authorizing the
incorporation of railroads, little general legisla-
tion was enacted. The special session adjourned
Nov. 7. Length of regular session forty-three
days ; special, seventeen — total sixty.

Seventeenth General Assembly convened
Jan. 6, 1851, adjourned Feb. 17 — length of
session forty-three days. Sidney Breese (ex-
Senator) was chosen Speaker. The


characterized bj- a vast amount of legislation, not
all of which was well considered. By joint reso-
lution of both houses the endorsement of the
Wilmot proviso at the previous session was
rescinded. The first homestead exemption act
was passed, and a stringent liquor law adopted,
the sale of liquor in quantities less tlian one quart
being prohibited. Township organization was
authorized and what was virtually free-banking
was sanctioned. The latter law was ratified by
])opular vote in November, 1851. An act incorpo-
rating the Illinois Central Railroad was also
passed at this session, the measure being drafted
by James L. D. Morrison. A special session of
this Assembly was held in 18.j2 under a call by
the Governor, lasting from June 7 to the 23d —
seventeen days. The most important general
legislation of the special session was the reappor-
tionment of the State into nine Congressional
Districts. This Legislature was in session a total
of sixty days.

Eighteenth General Assembly. The first
(or regular) session convened Jan. 3, 1853, and
adjourned Feb. 14. The Senate was composed of
twenty Democrats and five Whigs: the House, of
fifty-nine Democrats, sixteen Whigs and one
"Free-Soiler. ■■ Lieutenant-Governor. Koerner
presided in the upper, and ex-Gov. John Reynolds
in the lower house. Governor Matteson was
inaugurated on the 16th; Stephen A. Douglas was
re-elected United States Senator, Jan. 5, the
Whigs casting a complimentary vote for Joseph
Gillespie. More than 450 laws were enacted, the
majority being "private acts." The prohibitory
temperance legislation of the preceding General
Assembly was repealed and the license system
re enacted. This body also passed the famous
"black laws" designed to prevent the immigration
of free negroes into tlie State. The sum of
§18,000 was appropriated for the erection and
furnishing of an executive mansion; the State
Agricultural Society was incorporated; the re-
mainder of the State lands was ordered sold, and
any surplus funds in the treasury appropriated
toward reducing the State debt. A special session
was convened on Feb. 9, 1854, and adjourned
March 4. The most important me.asures adopted
were : a legislative re-apportionment, an act pro-
viding for the election of a Superintendent of
Public Instruction, and a charter for the Missis-
sippi & Atlantic Railroad. The regular session
lasted forty-three days, the special twenty-four
— total, sixty-seven.

Nineteenth General Assembly met Jan. 1,
1855, and adjourned Feb. 15 — the session lasting

forty-six days. Thomas J. Turner was elected
Speaker of the House. The political complexion
of the Legislature was much mixed, among the
members being old-line Whigs, Abolitionists,
Free-Soilers, Know-Nothings, Pro-slavery Demo-
crats and Anti-Nebraska Democrats. The
Nebraska question was tlie leading issue, and in
reference thereto the Senate stood fourteen
Nebraska members and eleven anti-Nebraska; the
House, thirty-four straight-out Democrats, while
the entire strength of the opposition was forty-
one. A United States Senator was to be chosen
to succeed Gen. James Shields, and the friends of
free-soil had a clear majority of four on joint
ballot. Abraham Lincoln was the caucus nomi-
nee of the Whigs, and General Shields of the Demo-
crats. The two houses met in joint session Feb. 8.
The result of the first ballot was, Lincoln, forty-
five; Shields, forty-one; scattering, thirteen;
present, but not voting, one. Mr. Lincoln's
strength steadily waned, then rallied slightly on
the sixth and seventh ballots, but again declined.
Shields" forty-one votes rising on the fifth ballot
to forty-two, but having dropped on the next
ballot to forty-one, his name was withdrawn and
that of Gov. Joel A. Matteson substituted. Mat-
teson gained until he received forty-seven votes,
which was the limit of his strength. On the
ninth ballot, Loncoln's vote having dropped to
fifteen, his name was withdrawn at his own
request, his support going, on the next ballot, to
Lyman Trumbull, an anti-Nebraska Democrat,
who received fifty-one votes to forty-seven for
Matteson and one for Archibald Williams— one
member not voting. Trumbull, having received
a majority, was elected. Five members had
voted for liim from tlie start. These were Sena-
tors Jolm M. Palmer, Norman B. Judd and Burton
C. Cook, and Representatives Henry S. Baker and
George T. Allen. It had been hoped that they
would, in time, come to the support of Mr. Lin-
coln, but they explained that they had been
instructed by their constituents to vote only for
an anti-Nebraska Democrat. Tliey were all sub-
sequently prominent leaders in the Republican
party. Having inaugurated its work by accom-
plishing a political revolution, this Legislature
proceeded to adopt several measures more or less
radical in their tendency. One of these was the
Maine liquor law, with the condition that it be
submitted to popular vote. It failed of ratifica-
tion by vote of the people at an election held in
the following June. A new common school law
was enacted, and railroads were required to fence
their tracks. The Assembly also adopted a reso-



hition calling for a Convention to amend the Con-
stitution, but this was defeated at the polls.

Twentieth General Assembly convened Jan.
5, 1857, and adjourned, sine die. Feb. 19. A
Republican State administration, with Governor
Bissell at its head, had just been elected, but the
Legislature was Democratic in both branches.
Lieut. -Gov. John Wood presided over the Senate,
and Samuel Holmes, of Adams County, defeated
Isaac N. Arnold, of Cook, for the Speakership of
the House. Among the prominent members were
Norman B. Judd, of Cook; A. J. Kuykendall, of
Johnson ; Shelby M. CuUom, of Sangamon ; John
A. Logan, of Jackson; William R. Morrison, of
Monroe ; Isaac N. Arnold, of Cook ; Joseph Gilles-
pie, of Madison, and S. W. Moulton, of Shelby.
Among the important measures enacted by this
General Asserhbly were the following: Acts
establishing and maintaining free schools ; estab-
lishing a Normal University at Normal ; amending
the banking law ; providing for the general incor-
poration of railroads ; providing for the building
of a new penitentiary ; and funding the accrued
arrears of interest on the public debt. Length of
session, forty-six days.

Twenty-first General Assembly convened
Jan. 3, 1859, and was in session for fifty-three
days, adjourning Feb. 24. The Senate consisted
of twenty-five, and the House of seventy-five
members. The presiding officers were: — of the
Senate, Lieut. -Gov. Wood; of the House, W. R.
Morrison, of Monroe County, who defeated his
Republican opponent. Vital Jarrot, of St. Clair,
on a viva voce vote. The Governor's message
showed a reduction of §1, 106,877 in the State debt
during two years preceding, leaving a balance of
principal and arrears of interest amounting to
$11,138,454. On Jan. 6, 1859, the Assembly, in
joint session, elected Stephen A. Douglas to suc-
ceed himself as United States Senator, by a vote
of fifty-four to forty-six for Abraham Lincoln.
The Legislature was thrown into great disorder
in consequence of an attempt to prevent the
receipt from the Governor of a veto of a legisla-
tive apportionment bill which had been pas.sed by
the Democratic majority in the face of bitter
opposition on the part of the Republicans, who
denounced it as partisan and unjust.

Twenty-second General Assembly convened
in regular session on Jan. 7, 1861, consisting of
twenty-five Senators and seventy-five Represent-
atives. For the first time in the State's history,
the Democrats failed to control the organization
of either house. Lieut. -Gov. Francis A. Hoff'man
presided over the Senate, and S. M. CuUom, of

Sangamon, was chosen Speaker of the House, the
Democratic candidate being James W. Singleton.
Thomas A. Marshall, of Coles County, was elected
President pro tem. of the Senate over A. J. Kuy-
kendall, of Johnson. The message of the retiring
Governor (John Wood) reported a reduction of
the State debt, during four years of Republican
administration, of §3,860,403, and showed the
number of banks to be 110, whose aggregate cir-
culation was §12,320,964. Lyman Trumbull was
re-elected United States Senator on January 10,
receiving fifty-four votes, to forty-six cast for
Samuel S. Marshall. Governor Yates was inau-
gurated, Jan. 14. The most important legislation
of this session related to the following subjects:
the separate property rights of married women ;
the encouragement of mining and the support of
public schools ; the payment of certain evidences
of State indebtedness ; protection of the purity of
the ballot-box, and a resolution submitting to the
people the question of the calling of a Convention
to amend the Constitution. Joint resolutions were
passed relative to the death of Governor Bissell ;
to the appointment of Commissioners to attend a
Peace Conference in Washington, and referring
to federal relations. The latter deprecated
amendments to the United States Constitution, but
expressed a willingness to unite with any States
which might consider themselves aggrieved,
in petitioning Congress to call a convention
for the consideration of such amendments, at the
same time pledging the entire resources of Illi-
nois to the National Government for the preser-
vation of the Union and the enforcement of the
laws. The regular session ended Feb. 23, having
lasted forty-seven days. — Immediately following
President Lincoln's first call for volunteers to
suppress the rebellion. Governor Yates recon-
vened the General Assembly in special session to
consider and adopt methods to aid and support
the Federal authority in preserving the Union and
protecting the rights and property of the people.
The two houses assembled on April 33. On April
25 Senator Douglas addressed the members on the
issues of the day, in response to an invitation con-
veyed in a joint resolution. The special session
closed May 3, 1861, and not a few of the legislators
promptly volunteered in the Union army.
Length of the regular session, forty-seven days ;
of the special, eleven — total fifty-eight.

Twenty-third General Assembly was com-
posed of twenty-five Senators and eighty-eight
Representatives. It convened Jan. 5, 1863, and
was Democratic in both branches. The presiding
officer of the Senate was Lieutenant-Governor




Hoffman; Samuel A. Buckmaster was elected
Speaker of the House by a vote of fifty-three to
twenty-five.0 On Jan. 12, William A. Richardson
was elected United States Senator to succeed
S. A. Douglas, deceased, the Republican nominee
being Governor Yates, who received thirty-eight
votes out of a total of 103 cast. Much of the time
of the session was devoted to angry discussion of
the policy of the National Government in the
prosecution of the war. Tlie viewsof the oppos-
ing parties were expressed in majority and minor-
ity reports from the Committee on Federal
Relations — the former condemning and tlie latter

Online LibraryNewton BatemanHistorical encyclopedia of Illinois → online text (page 39 of 207)