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Historical encyclopedia of Illinois online

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omitted for the first time since the Civil War.
The initial steps were taken by tlie Board at it.s
annual meeting in Springfield, in January of that
year, looking to the permanent location of the
Fair; and, at a meeting of the Board lield in Clii-
cago, in October following, formal specifications
were adopted prescribing the conditions to be met
in securing the prize. These were sent to cities
intending to compete for the location as the basis
of proposals to be submitted by them. Responses
were received from the cities of Bloomington,
Decatur, Peoria and Springfield, at the annual
meeting in January, 1894. with the result that,
on the eighth ballot, the bid of Springfield was
accepted and the Fair permanently located at
that place by a vote of eleven for Springfield to
ten divided between five other points. The
Springfield proposal provided for conveyance to
the State Board of Agriculture of 15.5 acres of
land— embracing the old Sangamon County Fair
Grounds immediately north of the city — besides
a cash contribution of §50,000 voted by the San-
gamon County Board of Supervisors for the
erection of permanent buildings. Other contri-
butions increased the estimated value of the
donations from Sangamon County (including the
land) to 8139,800, not including the pledge of the
city of Springfield to pave two streets to the gates
of the Fair Grounds and furnish water free, be-
sides an agreement on the part of the electric
light company to furnish light for two years free
of charge. The construction of buildings was
begun the same year, and the first Fair held on
the site in September following. Additional
buildings have been erected and other improve-
ments introduced each year, until the groumls
are now regarded as among the best eijuipped for
exhibition purposes in the United States. In the
meantime, the increasing success of the Fair
from j'ear to year has demonstrated the wisdom
of the action taken by the Board of Agriculture
in the matter of location.

Campaign of 1896. — The political campaign
of 1896 was one of almost imprecedented activity
in Illinois, as well as remarkable for the variety
and character of the issues involved and the
number of party candidates in the field. As
usual, the Democratic and the Republican parties
were the chief factors in the contest, althougli
there was a wide diversity of sentiment in each,
which tended to the introduction of new issues
and the organization of parties on new lines.
The Republicans took the lead in organizing for
the canvass, holding their State Convention at
Springfield on April 29 and 30, while the Demo-

crats followed, at Peoria, on June '2:i The former
put in nomination John K. Tanner for (iovernor;
William A. Northcott for Lieutenant-CJovernor ;
James A. Rose for Secretary of State ; James S.
McCullough for Auditor; Henry L. Hertz for
Treasurer, and Edward C. Akin for Attorney-
General, with Mary Turner Carriel, Thomas J.
Smyth and Francis M. McKaj' for University
Trustees. The ticket put in nomination by the
Democracy for State ofBcers embraced John P.
Altgeld for re-election to the Governorship ; for
Lieutenant-Governor, Monroe C. Crawford; Sec-
retary of State, Finis E. Downing; Auditor,
Andrew L. Maxwell; Attorney-General, George
A. Trude, with three candidates for Trustees.

The National Republican Convention met at St.
Louis on June 16, and, after a three days" session,
put in nomination William McKinley, of Ohio,
for President, and Garret A. Hobart, of New
Jersey, for Vice-President; while their Demo-
cratic opponents, following a policy which had
been maintained almost continuously by one or
the other party since 1860, set in motion its party
machinery in Chicago — holding its National Con-
vention in that city, July 7-11, when, for the first
time in the history of the nation, a native of
Illinois was nominated for the Presidency in the
person of William J. Bryan of Nebraska, with
Arthur Sewall, a ship-builder of Maine, for the
second place on the ticket. The main i.ssues, as
enunciated in the platforms of the respective
parties, were industrial and financial, as shown by
the prominence given to the tariff and monetary
questions in each. This was the natural result of
the business depression which had prevailed since
1893. While the Republican platform adhered to
the traditional position of the party on the tariff
issue, and declared in favor of maintaining the
gold standard as the basis of the monetary system
of the country, that of the Democracy took a new
departure by declaring unreservedly for the "free
and unlimited coinage of botli silver and gold at
the pre.sent legal ratio of 16 to 1;" and this be-
came the leading issue of the campaign. The
fact that Thomas E. Watson, of Georgia, who
had been favored by the Populists as a candidate
for Vice President, and was afterwards formally
nominated by a convention of that party, with
Mr. Bryan at its head, was ignored by the Chi-
cago Convention, led to much friction between
the Poi)ulist and Democratic wings of the party.
At the same time a very considerable body — in
influence and political prestige, if not in numbers
— in the ranks of the old-line Democratic party,
refused to accept the doctrine of the free-silver



section on the monetary question, and, adopting
the name of "Gold Democrats," put in nomination
a ticket composed of John M. Palmer, of Illinois,
for President, and Simon B. Buckner, of Ken-
tucky, for Vice-President. Besides these, the Pro-
hibitionists, Nationalists, Socialist-Labor Party
and "Middle-of-the-Road" (or "straight-out'")
Populists, had more or less complete tickets in the
field, making a total of seven sets of candidates
appealing for the votes of the people on issues
assumed to be of National importance.

The fact that the two great parties— Democratic
and Republican — established their principal head-
quarters for tlie prosecution of the campaign in
Chicago, had the effect to make that city and
the State of Illinois the center of political activ-
ity for the nation. Demonstrations of an impos-
ing character were held by botli parties. At the
November election the Republicans carried the
day by a plurality, in Illinois, of 141,517 for their
national ticket out of a total of 1,090,869 votes,
while the leading candidates on the State ticket
received the following pluralities : John R. Tan-
ner (for Governor), 113.381; Northcott (for Lieu-
tenant-Governor), 137,354; Rose (for Secretary of
State), 136,011; McCuUough (for Auditor), 138,-
013; Hertz (for Treasurer), 116,064; Akin (for
Attorney-General), 132.650. The Republicans also
elected seventeen Representatives in Congress to
three Democrats and two People's Party men.
The total vote cast, in this campaign, for the "Gold
Democratic" candidate for Governor was 8,100.

Gov. Tanner's Administration — The Fortieth
General Assembly met Jan. 6, 1897, consisting of
eighty-eight Republicans to sixty-three Demo-
crats and two Populists in the House, and thirty-
nine Republicans to eleven Democrats and one
Populist in the Senate. The Republicans finally
gained one member in each' house by contests.
Edward C. Curtis, of Kankakee County, was
chosen Speaker of the House and Heudrick V.
Fisher, of Henry County. President pro tem. of
the Senate, with a full set of Republican officers
in the subordinate positions. The inauguration
of the newly elected State officers took place on
the nth, the inaugural address of Governor
Tanner taking strong ground in favor of main-
taining tlie issues indorsed by the people at the
late election. On Jan. 20, 'William E. Mason,
of Chicago, was elected United States Senator, as
the successor of Senator Palmer, wliose term was
about to expire. Mr. Mason received the full
Republican strength (125 votes) in the two
Houses, to the 77 Democratic votes cast for John
P. Altgeld. (See Fortieth General Assembly. )

Among the principal measures enacted by the
Fortieth General Assembly at its regular session
were; The "Torrens Land Title System," regu-
lating the conveyance and registration of land
titles (which see) ; the consolidation of the three
Supreme Court Districts into one and locating the
Supreme Court at Springfield, and the Allen
Street-Railroad Law, empowering City Councils
and other corporate authorities of cities to grant
street railway franchises for a period of fifty
years. On Dec. 7, 1897, the Legislature met in
special session under a call of the Governor, nam-
ing five subjects upon which legislation was sug-
gested. Of these only two were acted upon .
affirmatively, viz. : a law prescribing the manner
of conducting the election of delegates to nomi-
nating political conventions, and a new revenue
law regulating the assessment and collection of
taxes. The main feature of the latter act is the
requirement that property shall be entered upon
the books of the assessor at its cash value, subject
to revision by a Board of Review, the basis of
valuation for purposes of taxation being one-fifth
of this amount.

The Spanish- American War.— The most not-
able event in the history of Illinois during the
year 1898 was the Spanish- American War, and
the part Illinois played in it. In this contest
Illinoisans manifested the same eagerness to
serve their country as did their fatliers and fel-
low citizens in the War of the Rebellion, a third
of a century ago. The first call for volunteers
was responded to with alacrity by the men com-
posing the Illinois National Guard, seven regi-
ments of infantry, from the First to Seventh
inclusive, besides one regiment of Cavalry and
one Battery of Artillery — in all about 9,000 men
— being mustered in between May 7 and May 21.
Although only one of these — the First, under the
command of Col. Henry L. Turner of Chicago —
saw practical service in Cuba before the surrender
at Santiago, others in camps of instruction in the
South stood ready to respond to the demand for
their service in the field. Under the second call
for troops two other regiments — the Eighth and
the Ninth — were organized and the former (com-
posed of Afro-Americans officered by men of
their own race) relieved the First Illinois on guard
duty at Santiago after the surrender. A body of
engineers from Company E of the Second United
States Engineers, recruited in Chicago, were
among the first to see service in Cuba, while
many Illinoisans belonging to the Naval Reserve
were assigned to duty on United States war
vessels, and rendered most valuable service in the



naval engagements in Cuban waters. The Thiril
Regiment (Col. Fred. Hennitt) also took part in
the movement for the ocouijation of Porto Rico.
The several regiments on their return for muster-
out, after the conclusion of terms of peace with
Spain, received most enthusiastic ovations from
their fellow-citizens at home. the regi-
ments mentioned, several Provisional Regiments
were organized and stood ready to respond to the
call of the Government for their services had the
emergenc}' required. (See ^V(ll^. Tlir SjuDiixh

Labor Disturb.\xces. — Tlie priui-ii)al labor
disturbances in the State, under Governor Tan-
ner's administration, occurred during the coal-
miners' strike of 1897, and the lock-out at tlie
Pana and Virden mines in 1898. The attempt to
introduce colored laborers from the South to
operate these mines led to violence between the
1 of the "Miners' Union" and the mine-
and operators, and their emploj'es, at
these points, during which it was necessary to
call out the National Guard, and a number of
lives were sacrificed on both sides.

A flood in the Ohio, during the spring of 1898,
caused the breaking of the levee at Sliavvneetown,
111., on the 3d day of April, in consequence of
which a large proportion of the city was flooded,
many homes and business wrecked or
greatly injured, and much other property de-
stroyed. The most serious disaster, however, was
the loss of some twenty-five lives, for the most
part of women and children who, being surprised
in their homes, were unable to escape. Aid was
promptly furnished bj' the State Government in
the form of tents to shelter the survivors and
rations to feed them ; and contributions of money
and provisions from the citizens of the State, col-
lected by relief organizations during the next two
or three montlis. were needed to moderate the
suffering. (See Iniin

Online LibraryNewton BatemanHistorical encyclopedia of Illinois → online text (page 59 of 207)