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ber, 1826, there being but two graduates in that year. Immediately after his
graduation he went to Richmond, Ky., to study law with Judge Daniel Breck,
who had married one of his aunts. Judge Breck was a Vermonter, 6 feet 2
or 3 inches in height, and weighed about 225 pounds; he was a sound lawyer,
went to Kentucky from his native state at an early day and fought his way
mentally and physically to the head of his profession.

Judge Breck in these earl}' days was a candidate for the Legislature against
one of the Turners, a family of great wealth and influence. The night before
the election he was informed that Turner had purchased every barrel of
whiskey in Richmond, that they were to be rolled out on the streets the next
day and the heads driven in and the Turner supporters invited to help them-

Breck, undismayed, sent out friends to purchase all the tin cups in Rich-
mond and when the barrels were opened, the friends of Breck had the only
means of drinking the whiskey.

In this day we hear much of corners on corn, wheat, whiskey and tin plate,
but never on tin cups.

On the 19th day of December, 1827, George M. Bibb, William Owsley and
B. Mills then Judges of the Kentucky Court of Appeals (and known in his-
tory as the Old Court) issued to young Stuart a license to practice law in
said state; he returned to Richmond, pursued his studies and in the latter
part of October, 1828, started on horseback, accompanied by a Mr. Shackel-
ford for Springfield, 111., on the 3d day of November, of that year, they
reached the little town of Louisville, Clay county. 111. Andrew Jackson and
John Quincy Adams were candida'tes for the presidency.

The election was in progress at Louisville; a large, boisterous and intoxi-
cated crowd was around the polls, and in the street through which Stuart and
his companion were compelled to ride, the crowd, all Jackson men, sur-
rounded the Kentuckians and insisted that they should vote, in vain they
protested claiming that they were not citizens, and therefore not entitled to


vote, the crowd would not relent, and when it became apparent to the Ken-
tuckians that they must vote or fight overwhelming numbers, they asked the
mob to allow them to consult together privately, which was granted. In this
consultation they both decided that if forced to vote they would vote their
sentiments and take the consequences; they went to the polls, their names
were called, and to the astonishment and disgust of the bystanders, they
voted for John Quincy Adams, the only votes cast for him in that precinct,
the whole county of Clay giving but 13 votes for the Adams electors.

On his arrival at Springfield, on the 6th of November, then a small village
of less than 500 inhabitants, he commenced the practice of his profession
with marked success. His military experience was brief, and as he often re-
marked, non-hazardous.

On the 11th of May, 1829, there being some apprehension of trouble with
the Indians he enlisted and was appointed sergeant major by Tom M. Neale,
colonel commanding in the Twentieth regiment of the Illinois State militia.
In 1831 he enlisted with Abraham Lincoln and others as a private in Captain
Dawson's company Second regiment of Illinois, mounted volunteers for the
Black Hawk war, and when the company was mustered into service, he was
sent out one night on picket duty, was to be relieved at 12:00 o'clock, but the
officer in charge forgot him and when he was relieved early in the morning
found he had been elected major of the regiment. Mr. Lincoln at the same
time being elected a captain. He was fond of relating his experience in this
campaign and telling a good story on himself.

When the time of enlistment of the regiment expired, and it was called
together to be mustered out, the field officers were required to ride out 30
paces from the regiment, fire their pistols, wheel and return to the line.
One after another of his superior officers rode out, fired their pistols over
the heads of their horses, their horses squatted and they wheeled and returned
safely to the ranks. Major Stuart rode out on his charger and instead of
firing over the head of his horse, shot out from the side, his horse jumped to
one side suddenly and threw him into the prairie grass, much to the amuse-
ment of his fellow officers and the regiment. Strange to relate, after this
war he was universally called and known over the State as "Black Hawk."
On the 27th of May, 1832, when his regiment was dischargad. he re-enlisted
as a private in Capt. Elijah lies' company of Mounted Volunteers and was
honorably discharged on the 16th of June following.

Printed on this discharge and signed by Capt. lies are these words: "Illi-
nis Volunteers, who remained after the main army was disbanded, to repel a
savage enemy, and protect a bleeding frontier, until new levies could be

In 1832 he was elected to the State General Assembly and re-elected with
Abraham Lincoln in 1834. In 1836 he ran for Congress, but was defeated by
Wm. L. Mav, his Democratic opponent. In 1838 the great contest between
Stuart and Douglas for Congress in the Third district took place, which not
only created widespread interest in Illinois, but in the nation at large. There
were 34 counties in the district, running from Cook to Calhoun — 36,461 votes
were cast, and Stuart's majority was 14. Two counties in the district, Morgan
and Sangamon, each polled more votes than Cook — Morgan, 1,111, and San-
gamon, 765, more than Cook; more votes were cast in Morgan than in any
other county in the district.

The contest was carried on in good humor, the candidates often occupying
the same bed at night, until about the close of the campaign. A short time
before the election they had a joint discussion in front of the old market house
in Springfield. In that debate Douglas used language that Stuart thought
offensive, and Stuart, tall and slim, seized his short antagonist around the
neck and before friends could separate them, carried him around the market
house. Douglas during the scuffle got the right thumb of Stuart in his
mouth, and made such an impression that a scar reminded him in his old age
of this impulsive and undignified encounter. Stuart was re-elected to Con-
gress over Ralston in 1840. When in Congress he was on the committee on
territories and served with distinction during both terms.


Clay, Webster and Calhoun at this time, were in Washingrton and the first
two showed marked attention to the young and promising Whig from Illinois.

Although not a member of the legislature, when the capital was removed
from Vandalia to Springfield, yet he was present, and exerted his powerful
influence in favor of Sangamon. One of the potent arguments used with the
members, was that they gave in Vandalia nothing in the way of meat, but
venison, prairie chicken and quails, an argument that would have little
weight in this day and generation.

In the campaign against Douglas, Stuart visited Chicago, then a small
village, on an electioneering tour. He went to the ofiice of Butterfield, an
ardent supporter, a fine lawyer and well known all over the State. While en-
gaged in conversation with Butterfield in a little frame of&ce on the ground
floor, two gentlemen passed arm in arm; Stuart anxious to know everybody,
inquired who they were. "Oh," said Butterfield in reply, "Two fool Kon-
tuckians — you never saw one in your life that was not born about seven miles
from Lexington." Stuart said that as that was his exact distance, he kept
silent. This Butterfield was a native of New Hampshire, was quaint but was
a great lawyer, in the celebrated case of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet,
he was chief counsel. Smith was brought before the Federal judge at Spring-
field, excitement ran high, Judge Pope was on the bench, and the courtroom
was crowded and many ladies in the gallery. Butterfield arose and said:
"May it please the court, this is the first time that I have been called upon to
defend a prophet of the Lord, before your holiness, the pope, and (turning
to the gallery) in the presence of angels." On the 25th of October, 1837,
Major Stuart married Mary V. Nash in the city of Jacksonville. Her father,
Francis Nash, after the death of his wife, moved from Prince Edward coun-
ty, Va., to the mouth of the Missouri river about 20 mile above St. Louis in
1823, and died there in 1833. Mrs. Stuart lived for a short time after her
father's death with Judge Gamble in St. Louis, and then came to Illinois,
and lived until her marriage, with her uncle and aunt. Judge Samuel D.
Lockwood and wife. She was beautiful, graceful and intelligent; nothing
during her long life escaped her attention that would add to the comfort or
happiness of her husband and children, and she endeared herself to all who
associated with her. The attachment which Judge Lockwood had for her
was beautiful. From the time of her marriage up to his death a correspon-
ence was kept up between them, the judge never failing to express his un-
bounded affection, and also giving her every detail of family affairs. In a
letter written very soon after her marriage, is a curious statement. He
writes: "My wife has been ill, but we are putting up a cooking stove, which
is said to be a panacea for all evils, in my opinion, however, it will not work."
I hope this distinguished jurist's opinion will not be used by the female por-
tion of my audience as evidence that men know little of kitchen affairs. Mrs.
Stuart survived her husband nearly 16 years and departed this life on the 31st
of last May in Springfield, 111.

Major Stuart, in compliance with an unwritten law of the district, was not
a candidate for Congress in 1842. He served m the Senate of this State from
1849 to 1853. After his election to Congress the law firm of Stuart & Lincoln
was formed and continued for some time. His share of the fees, in each
case, collected by Lincoln during his absence, was carefully wrapped in
brown paper and marked "Stuart's half " and all personal letters were deliv-
ered by Mr. Lincoln out of his hat to Mr. Stuart, daily.

In 1843, he formed a partnership with Benjamin S. Edwards, under the
name of Stuart & Edwards. In January, 1860, your speaker was admitted as
a partner, under the firm name of Stuart, Edwards & Brown, which contin-
ued without change until Major Stuart's death, and was then probably the
oldest law partnership in the State. ^

Fully equipped in his early manhood in the principles of law, possessed of
a sound judgment and a discriminating mind, he had little difficulty from
early manhood to old age in maintaining himself in the front ranks; not,
perhaps, a great student, but a great thinker. Accustomed iu his early life
to very low fees, — when he devoted more time to politics than the law, — he


naturally placed a low estimate on legal services. When a suit was ter-
minated and the time reached for fixing fees, if there was any possible chance
to escape, he would leave the office. When he did fix the amount, it was
usually placed with the postage stamps and rarely divided.

In the early sixties he was called by an old friend, who was ill, residing
several miles from Springfield, to write his will. The roads were impassa-
ble and he started one Monday morniog afoot. He spent the whole day, dis-
posed of over $100,000 in the will, and reached home after dark. Tuesday
morning he came to the office, took down the book, and charged for his ser-
vices $5.00. One of his partners, who had a more exalted idea of what a
lawyer should receive, made it $50. In a few days thereafter his old friend
sent him a check for $100, and was pleased to state in his note that he hoped
to be able to see him soon and arrange the balance.

Major Stuart was unsurpassed as a chancery lawyer. He rarely demurred
to a bill, but usually made an answer that fully set out his defense. I doubt
whether the records will show in a long practice the loss of a single case
brought by his advice. After considering a case, he did not depend so much
on the books as on his own keen sense of justice. In other words, he knew
what the law ought to be, and when he argued a case, he cited few author-

He devoted his whole time to the practice of law from 1843 until 1863, when
he announced himself as an independent candidate for Congress. Although
his brothers and sisters, and in fact all his relatives, except his immediate
family, were in the South, he never wavered in his desire to preserve the
Union. In the circular issued by him August 30th, 1862, when he announced
himself as a candidate, he used this language:

"The Constitution provides no mode of dissolving the Union, it has no
sanction for secession; when therefore the people of the South make the effort
by force to free themselves from the obligations which they owe under the
Constitution to the Union, they become rebels and traitors seeking by revolu-
tion to destroy the Union and it is the right and becomes the duty of the
General Government to put down that rebellion and stay that revolution by
the use for that purpose of all its constitutional powers."

In closing that address he further says:

"One thing further I would add, not necessary perhaps in this connection,
but I wish to say it, and the occasion is at least not unfit. Mr. Lincoln and
myself, as most of you know, have been closely connected for more than a

guarter century by many ties, the recollection of which is very dear to me.
'ifference in political opinion since 1856 has in nowise diminished my respect
for the man, or the unbounded confidence I have ever had in his personal
integrity. I believe he entertains an ardent desire, and is struggling to pre-
serve the Union and the Constitution as our fathers made them and as a
matter of feeling, as well as daty, I would rather aid than embarrass him in
all such efforts. If my voice could reach his ear I would be glad to say to
him, follow the dictates of your own clear head and patriotic heart and pre-
serve the Union by the ample powers conferred on you by the Constitution
and repulse from you any faction, if such there be, which would goad you
into a resort to revolutionary means, and for a Union and Constitution so
preserved, history will erect monuments for you by the side of Washington."

Although usually grave and dignified he had his humorous side. When he
met his lifelong friend, David Davis, he would tell a story that both would
heartily laugh over. It seems that Stuart, Lincoln, Judge Treat and Davis
were going on horseback to some northeastern county on circuit business.
They put up for the night at some country tavern; their horses were brought
out the next morning. Stuart, Lincoln and Treat put their feet in the stirrups
and mounted their horses without difficulty. Davis, being; a very large and
fleshy man, led his horse to the stiles. The others twitted him on his inability
to mount in the usual way. Davis, much annoyed and vexed, jumped to the
ground, put his foot in the stirrup and gave such a vigorous jump as to land
on the other side of his horse on the ground. I doubt whether the love of
David and Jonathan exceeded the affection that existed between these two
men. Davis, in his eloquent eulogy before the Illinois Bar Association over


his dead friend, could not suppress his deep sorrow or hide his tears. I shall
never forget one morniug after Stuart's death. His body was prepared for
burial and lay in a casket in a room darkened by drawn curtains, and in a
home where he had spent serenely and happily over 50 years of his active and
useful life; a home that had entertained Lincoln, Logfau, Douglas, Davis and
a great army of distinguished men and women. Davis apppeared with Robert
T. Lincoln, the son of another close friend of the dead soldier, statesman and
lawyer. Davis could hardly wait for admittance. When ushered into the
room he said: "Open the blinds, let in the light; I want to look once more
on the face of my earliest and best friend." The old man stood for many
minutes gazing for the last time on the mortal remains of one he had loved
in life and whom he had known for nearly two generations, and shed bitter

When Lincoln, Logan, Baker and Stuart in an early day, were politicians,
there lived in Clary's Grove, Sangamon county, a very queer character, a
man of great native ability and known as Tom Edwards. He was a Whig,
and a leader of what was known in that day as "the Clary's Grove gang.'*
He was shrewd, and the politicians courted him and had for him genuine re-
spect. As years passed and civilization and education advanced, Edwards
lost much of his power with the masses and ceased to be a leader of men.
In his later years he was a bee hunter and basket maker. About every three
months he would get one of his neighbors to bring a load of honey and
baskets to Springfield, then he and his wife, a most estimable woman, would
come to Springfield, put up with a brother and remain until he disposed of
his baskets and honey. Lincoln, Logan and Stuart were his most liberal
customers and he would make their respective offices headquarters. During
the war, Lincoln being President, and Stuart in congress, Edwards continued
his visits to the capital and sold his commodities to their friends. On one of
these visits he was very much concerned about a grandson who had enlisted
in the army. He was afraid he might be killed and he was anxious to get his
discharge; he wrote to Mr. Lincoln; he wrote to the Secretary of War; he
wrote to Mr. Stuart. It was impossible for any one to attend to business
while he was present. Finally one of Stuart's partners wrote to him implor-
ing him to give them some relief, and if possible secure the release of Ed-
wards' grandson.

In about one week thereafter the welcome discharge came and Edwards
went home to his baskets and honey.

Stuart returned to his home shortly afterwards and one day said to his
partners: "Do you know how I secured the discharge of Edwards' grand-
son? 1 went one evening to the White House, had a very pleasant visit with
Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln; before leaving I pulled your letter out of my pocket
and asked Lincoln to write a discharge. Lincoln hesitated, and finally said:
'Stuart, I can't do this, Stanton will not let me do it,' very well, I replied,
putting the letter in my pocket, I will write to old Tom to come to Washing-
ton." I had hardly time to get the letter in my pocket when Lincoln quickly
said, "Stuart, give me that letter," and at once wrote the order, evidently
preferring the frowns of Stanton to the beseeching presence of old Tom. He
also knew that Edwards would finally prevail.

In his canvass against Swett, in 1862, he was very anxious not to stir up
party strife and for that reason did not arrange for a joint discussion. Some
of the Republican papers intimated that it was through fear of Swett, he be-
ing a great orator. Stuart was somewhat nettled at this intimation so one
day when Swett was to have a large meeting at Lincoln, 111., Stuart took the
12:00 o'clock train and reached that city at 1:30. No notice had been given
and when the hour for Swett's speech arrived he quickly walked into the
court house, and asked Swett to divide time with him. Swett afterwards de-
clared that he had heard many speeches but that this was the most effective
and the most eloquent he had ever heard and although he was defeated by
Stuart in a Republican district, he maintained ever afterwards that Stuart
was a giant in intellect and oratory. In 1864 Stuart was nominated by the

— 8H


Democrats for re-election to congress against his protest, and was defeated
by Shelby M. Cullom. Stuart was in height about six feet, weighing about
200 pounds, with piercing dark eyes, high forehead, and hair tinged with
gray. He was, at 50 years of age, a magnificent speciman of manhood. He
never passed man, woman or child that he knew without some kind greeting.
He was a loyal and devoted friend, a kind and considerate husband, and an
affectionate and indulgent father.

Major Stuart took an active part in establishing the Illinois University at
Springfield, maintained by the Lutherans; was president of the board of
trustees of the Bettie Stuart Institute; was president of the horse railway;
presidentof the watch factory, all in the city of Springfield; and was one of the
commissioners appointed by the Governor for the erection of the new State
house. No enterprise during his long life, that had for its object, the build-
ing up of the city in which he dwelt, or bettering the condition of its citizens,
failed to secure his sympathy, or his financial aid, and lastly, I can say with
truth, that no setiment of hatred, or ill will to his fellow men, ever rankled
in his heart.

On the 28th of November, 1885, surrounded by his family, and only a few
days in his 79th year "God's finger touched him and he slept."

In conclusion to show his religious character allow me to read an extract
from a speech delivered by him to the old settlers of Sangamon, eight years
before his death:

" These early settlers I owe them much, when almost a boy and a stranger
they received me with open arms, and have in a thousand ways, showered
upon me favors beyond my deserts. I owe them a large debt of gratitude
and would do all I might to honor their memories. Most of them are dead and
gone, and I hope have settled for all time in a better country around the
throne of God and along the banks of 'the beautiful river.' Some few of
us old settlers still linger on these coasts of time, one by one they are pass-
ing away and those of us who remain are fast becoming strangers amid the
new generation around us. We are taught in the Story of the Cross, and we
believe, that a great scheme of redemption has been provided by the great
Father, and that if we do our duty here to our country, our fellowmen and to
our God that somewhere in His great Universe, a heaven has been provided
as our happy and eternal home, and the thought is a consolins' one, that al-
though fast becoming strangers here, yet when we cross the great River of
time which divides that happy land from ours, we will meet more friends
there than we leave behind us, that we will know them and they us, and that
there the re-union of old settlers will be joyous, complete and without end."



[Dr. Bernard Stuve.]

In 1837, this State entered upon an extensive system of internal improve-
ments which did not improve. The venture resulted in a total failure, and
the people had to pay dearly for it.

In some respects this subject may not look inviting; it does not minister to
our pride or vanity as lUinoisans— is really about the only thing in the career
of the State that we do not commonly brag about. Our orators do not ap-
peal to it in portraying the glories of the State. Occasionally congratulations
are quietly passed that it was no worse, or that the Ship of State weathered
the storm without stranding on the rocks of repudiation and dishonor; but
that is all.

The history of this episode, little of which we hear now-a-days, is. how-
ever, not without interest, and may possibly contain a lesson for future like
experiments, state or national.



To aid our understanding of the situation at the time the "grand system,"
as it has been derisively called, was launched, a glance back over a few
years may prove helpful. That during the first half of the nineteenth cen-
tury there was unusual longing among the people of this country for in-
creased facilities for intercommunication and transportation need hardly be
said. Occasionally there were rumors in the air of coming wonderful im-
provements to stir their hope. Meanwhile man's inventive brain and mechan-
ical skill were not idle. Steam power had early been successfully applied to
navigation and by 1820 had ceased to be a novelty even in the west. But
steam navigation could only be utilized on navigable waters. To reach the
great interior areas not intersected by navigable water courses and which
were being rapidly settled up was the desideratum of the day. It could only
be accomplished by the improvement of the rivers susceptible of it by the
digging of canals where the land lay suitable to this construction, by the
making of good roads or turnpikes, and by the building of railroads. Rail-
roads during the first quarter of the century, though considerably talked of and
written about abroad, were an unknown quantity in this country. Indeed,
as late as 1823, Pennsylvania sent a legislative committee to Europe to learn

Online LibraryIllinois State Historical Society. 1nPapers in Illinois history and transactions (Volume yr. 1902) → online text (page 18 of 40)