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of his interest in the Tribune, and became senior partner in the banking firm of
Scripps, Preston & Kean; but a few days later he was seized with a dangerous
attack of pneumonia. The death of Mrs. Scripps in the preceding month of Jan-
uary had completely prostrated him with grief, and he could not rally from the
attack. On September 21st, 1866, Mr. Scripps breathed his last, being at that
time in the forty-ninth year of his age.

John L. Scripps was a cultured man of great force of character, identified with
every movement, either as leader or helper, making for civic or personal righteous-
ness. Especially was he a devoted supporter of the Union cause from the begin-
ning, and he possessed the confidence of Mr. Lincoln to as great a degree as any
man in Chicago. One writer said of him, "No citizen of this or any other com-
munity ever commanded a more hearty and thorough respect from his fellows than
he. Candor, integrity and courage were the marked traits of his character. A
mean act, an unworthy motive, a cowardly thought, had no room in his soul. He
avoided the very appearance of evil. It is not too much to say that in the merid-
ian of life, with his ample fortune, his unsullied record, and his conspicuous talents,
he might have aspired to almost any position in the gift of his fellow citizens."

INTERESTING ANNIVERSARIES

The fiftieth anniversaries of many important events, such as the inauguration
of President Lincoln, firing on Fort Sumter, the president's first call for troops,
the riots at Baltimore, and the first battle of Bull Run, occurred during the early
months of 1911, and public attention was called to them in various ways by the
daily press. The Chicago Daily News inaugurated a series of articles descriptive
of the early scenes of the war attracting widespread interest. Especially note-
worthy was the enterprise of the Chicago Historical Society in the formation of
an extensive exhibit of historical material of every description, occupying almost
all of the available space in their building. This exhibit was thrown open to the
public freely, and comprised a vast number and variety of objects which engaged
the interest of a great number of visitors.

Those persons who were fortunate enough to witness this exhibition of mate-
rial, as usual in such cases, found their attention centered upon some phases or
incidents of the war of especial interest to themselves. Among the great variety






CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS 169

one might have seen the collection of articles preserved by a member of a Chicago
organization, Mr. Albert Dickinson of Taylor's Battery. Here were articles used
by him while in the service during the campaigns, a canteen, a pair of army shoes,
a tin plate and cup, coffee boiler, toilet articles, mending outfit, besides the usual
arms and accoutrements which every soldier carried. A pocket cash book with items
of expenditure showing the interest in the ever present food question, purchases
of articles not supplied by the Commissary Department such as bread, cake, cheese,
butter, molasses and fresh meats. A pocket diary showed entries of what was
uppermost in the mind of the writer while in the field. An entry under date of
January 1st, 1864, records the fact that the men have "had no rations for forty-
eight hours, no meat for four days." Another entry states that "Captain Rumsey
[has] gone to Nashville to see about a new battery."

The articles on exhibition comprised a number of swords, one especially which
had been presented to General Alexander C. McClurg by his friends in 1862.
Also the coat worn by him at the battle of Chickamauga still bearing the shoulder
straps of a colonel. An indication of the Colonel's literary tastes cultivated even
under the trying conditions of field operations, was to be seen in a copy of Pal-
grave's "Golden Treasury of Songs and Poems," carried by him through many
campaigns, which in later years had been beautifully bound at the Doves' bindery
in England, and now preserved as a choice treasure and souvenir by members of
the family. No wonder that after every great battle the field was found strewn
with letters, books and papers of every description, an evidence of the culture and
intelligence of the soldiers of every rank which composed the armies of the Civil
War.

In thus preserving these mementos and observing the anniversary of the events
of that troublous period of strife, the people of this later day render homage to its
heroes and participants, both to those who lie at rest in the bosom of Mother Earth,
and those who remain "quick upon the stage of action."

The requiem stanzas of William Collins may fittingly be printed here as a
tribute to those who on many fields have died for their country in the wars of the
Republic.

"How sleep the brave, who sink to rest
By all their country's wishes blessed !
When Spring! with dewy fingers cold,
Returns to deck their hallowed mold,
She there shall dress a sweeter sod
Than Fancy's feet have ever trod.

"By fairy hands their knell is rung;
By forms unseen their dirge is sung;
There Honor comes, a pilgrim gray,
To bless the turf that wraps their clay;
And Freedom shall awhile repair,
To dwell a weeping hermit there !"



CHAPTER XXX

DEEPENING THE CANAL

RAILROAD BUILDING PROPOSAL TO DEEPEN THE CANAL AID OF CONGRESS SOUGHT

FAILURE OF BILL IN CONGRESS THE PEOPLE OF CHICAGO UNDERTAKE THE

WORK PLANS FORMULATED CANAL CONVENTION OF 1863- NAMES OF PERSONS

COMPOSING THE COMMITTEE RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED SANITATION INVOLVED WITH

THE DEEPENING OF THE CANAL THE WORK COMPLETED IN 1871 CANAL TRAFFIC

DECLINES IN SPITE OF DEEPENING ADVANTAGES POSSESSED BY THE RAILROADS

THE STORY OF CROSBY'S OPERA HOUSE THE OPERA HOUSE OPENED IN 1865 FI-
NANCIAL DIFFICULTIES ENCOUNTERED LOTTERY PROPOSED GREAT EXCITEMENT

AT THE DRAWING WINNER OF THE GRAND PRIZE VISIT OF ABRAHAM H. LEE TO

CHICAGO LATER FORTUNES OF THE OPERA HOUSE DONATl's COMET OF 1858

HALLEY'S COMET HISTORIES AND HISTORIANS.

THE LATER HISTORY OF THE CANAL

HE completion of the Illinois and Michigan canal in 1848 was soon fol-
lowed by the opening of railroad lines having their termini in Chicago.
The Galena and Chicago Union was in running order between Elgin
and Chicago in 1850. The Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana
railroad reached Chicago from the East, February 20th, 1852; and
three months later the Michigan Central railway arrived at the same goal. The
Chicago and Rock Island railroad, from Chicago to Rock Island, was completed
February 22nd, 1854; the Illinois Central railroad from Centralia to Chicago, Sep-
tember 26th, 1856.

Railroad building now absorbed the attention of the people almost to the ex-
clusion of the former interest in the canal. By 1861, such had been the increase
in railroads, that the canal which was regarded as a great national work when com-
pleted in 1848, had become almost overlooked, says Wright. But there was
great vitality in the canal idea, even though it lay comparatively dormant during the
earlier years of railroad development. After the War of the Rebellion had been
in progress a few months a vigorous demand arose for an enlargement of the Illi-
nois and Michigan canal, so that gunboats and transports with troops and supplies
might pass between the lake and the river systems below. One of the resolutions
of the River and Harbor convention of 1847 had formulated the proposal in these
words: "That the project of connecting the Mississippi river with the lakes of
the north by a ship canal and thus with the Atlantic ocean, is a measure worthy of
the enlightened consideration of Congress;" and though the element of military
necessity had formed no part of the subject matter of the resolution; yet the ad-

170




CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS 171

dition of that element now gave new vitality to the demand. "The blockade of the
Mississippi," says Brown, "placed the North at a disadvantage in its valley oper-
ations, and there was a constant fear that Great Britain would become the ally
of the South." In the latter event the difficulties to be contended with would
be greatly increased, unless the artery of the Illinois and Michigan Canal was suffi-
ciently enlarged to permit the passage of deep draft vessels to oppose a hostile
advance up the Mississippi river.

CONGRESSIONAL AID ASKED

A bill was introduced in the House of Representatives early in 1862, providing
for the construction of a serviceable waterway, and was before that body for nearly
a year. There was no measure, even in those exciting times, that received closer
attention and provoked more bitter animosities than this. Days and weeks were
spent in its discussion. It failed however to become a law, its defeat being
brought about chiefly by the opposition of members of other states, who "insisted
that its military features were only a cloak, and that its real purpose was to bene-
fit a single state at the expense of the whole country." The strongest argument
against it, however, was that it would take years to complete, long after the present
emergency would have passed away.

THE SHIP CANAL BILL REVIEWED

It is worth while to quote some portions of the discussions in Congress while
the Ship Canal was under consideration. Mr. Isaac N. Arnold, of Chicago, was
then in Congress, and was an earnest supporter of the bill. In the course of a
speech, he read from the report of the select committee on the defense of the Great
Lakes and rivers. "The realization of the grand idea of a ship canal from Lake
Michigan to the Mississippi, for military and commercial purposes," said the re-
port, "is the great work of the age. In effect, commercially, it turns the Mississippi
into Lake Michigan, and makes an outlet for the Great Lakes at New Orleans,
and of the Mississippi, at New York. It brings together the two great systems of
water communication of our country, the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence, and
the canals, connecting the lakes with the ocean on the East, and the Mississippi and
Missouri with all their tributaries, on the West and South. This communication, so
vast, can be effected at small expense, and with no long delay. It is but carrying
out the plan of Nature. A great river, rivalling the St. Lawrence at no distant day
[in the past], was discharged from Lake Michigan by the Illinois into the Mis-
sissippi. Its banks, its currents, its islands, and deposits, can still be easily traced,
and it only needs a deepening of the present channel for a few miles to reopen a
magnificent river from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi." The report went on
to state that had such a canal already been constructed, its cost would have been
saved during the previous year in the expenses of the expeditions on the Mississippi.

The estimate for the work of enlarging the Illinois and Michigan Canal into
a ship canal, permitting vessels of six feet draft to pass through it, was $13,346,-
824, and the bill provided that, after this sum had been reimbursed to the govern-
ment from the revenues to be derived from its operation, the canal should be turned
over to the State of Illinois. "We ask nothing for our immediate local advantage,"



172 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

said Mr. Arnold, "but when we ask aid for a work so national, so necessary to na-
tional defense and security, so beneficial to every section I trust we shall not ask
in vain. . . . Thirty-six miles of cutting, already more than half done, is
the only obstacle to letting a Niagara of waters from the lakes into the Mississippi,
a Niagara of trade from the valley of the Mississippi to the Atlantic. The mili-
tary necessities of the country, and the wants of commerce alike, demand that this
work be done."

The bill was opposed by Mr. Voorhees of Indiana, the "Tall Sycamore of the
Wabash," as he was familiarly called. He said that the canal would not only cost
untold millions of dollars, but it would be useless when completed unless the chan-
nel of the Mississippi also should be deepened, to admit boats of the size of those
expected to reach the mouth of the Illinois. He wished to know whether it was
not a fact that the Mississippi, from the Illinois to St. Louis, was navigable only
for the smallest boats for. the greater portion of the year, and whether the im-
provement of the navigation of that river was at all practicable. "I may say," he
added, "so far as I have any right to speak for any portion of the Great West,
that we, for the present at least, in our present condition of finance, are satisfied
with the channels of communication which the Almighty has created for us. We
shall be satisfied to be in possession of the channel of the Mississippi river. It is
better than any of your canals. You cannot compete with what the Almighty has
done in that valley; and you cannot turn back the course of trade. You can no
more turn back the current of trade of that broad and fertile agricultural region
against its natural course to the Gulf of Mexico, than you can turn the waters of
its great river backwards toward its source." His further remarks included a con-
temptuous reference to the "proposed ditch across the State of Illinois."

There was deep disappointment among the people of the \Vest over the failure
of the bill to pass when it came to a vote on February 9, 1863. "The hostility
which has been developed in this hall," said Mr. Washburne, "to this great na-
tional and military project and the interests of the great Northwest, is of the
most extraordinary character that I have ever witnessed during my term of serv-
ice in Congress." The New York Times had favored the bill because it would
benefit the trade of the state and city of New York; and in commenting upon the
adverse vote said: "The stream of trade, the life blood of the Erie canal revenues,
may soon be exposed to serious hazard, as the Illinois legislature, under this sec-
tional rebuff, will without delay apply to Canada to construct the Ottawa ship
canal, twelve feet in depth, leading directly from Lake Michigan to Montreal,
nearly five hundred miles in distance, and wholly avoiding New York and its .
canals. New York has little reason to thank six of her recusant members on whom
directly falls the responsibility of defeating this great national measure for cheaply
connecting the Mississippi with the Hudson."

THE WORK UNDERTAKEN BY THE PEOPLE OF CHICAGO

When it finally became evident that the bill for a ship canal could not be
passed by Congress, the people of Chicago set actively to work to do the next best
thing, on the very excellent principle that "God helps those who help themselves."



CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS 173

If it were not possible to have a ship canal the situation would be greatly improved
by providing a deeper channel in the canal, according to the original plan.

The canal, with its four-foot channel, had then been in use fifteen years, and
had realized all that its friends and promoters had hoped or claimed for it, al-
though the competition of the railroads had already begun to make itself felt. Ex-
pansion of the carrying trade had been so great that every mode of transportation
was employed to its full capacity. "The railroad easily took from the canal the
passenger traffic, which had assumed considerable proportions," says Professor
Putnam. "For six years [i. e., between 1848 and 1854] the canal and river route
had been a popular one with western travelers. An excellent line of packets oper-
ated between Chicago and La Salle, and an equally good packet service was pro-
vided for the river trip from La Salle to St. Louis. But within a few months after
the opening of the railroad for traffic practically all the passenger business deserted
the canal for the speedier mode of travel."

PLANS FORMULATED BY CITIZENS

At a meeting of citizens in the early part of 1863 a committee was appointed
to formulate plans. William Gooding, who at one time had been chief engineer
of the canal, and John B. Preston, were employed to make estimates of the cost
for deepening the canal and an improvement of the Illinois river which would
admit of the passage throughout of boats drawing six feet of water. "The chan-
nel proposed was not a ship canal as the term was generally understood," says
Putnam, "since it would not be navigable for ships, but only for the largest steam-
boats which could ascend the Mississippi at ordinary low water to St. Louis."

The estimates prepared on May 30, 1863, by the engineers for the whole
work, from Chicago to St. Louis, were as follows :

Bridgeport to Lake Joliet (sy 2 miles below Joliet) $ 8,676,151

Lake Joliet to La Salle 2,198,932

La Salle to the Mississippi river 1,644,335

Bridges, Land Damages, Engineering Expenses 927,207



Total $13,446,625

The engineers concluded their report by calling attention to the advantages of
the enlarged channel, which is summarized by G. P. Brown in his history of the
"Drainage Channel," (published in 1894), as follows:

BENEFITS OF THE ENLARGED CHANNEL

"It would extend a navigation for first-class river steamers from the Gulf of
Mexico to within one hundred miles of Lake Michigan at Chicago.

"In connection with the Illinois and Michigan Canal it would form the only
cheap and direct navigable communication between the Mississippi river and the
Great Lakes.

"It would so diminish the cost of transportation by the northern route to the
seaboard, and all intermediate points, that the increase of business would be im-
mense."



174 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

The committee, above referred to, prepared an exhaustive report based on the
facts collected by Messrs. Gooding and Preston. This report was published in
June, 1863. The committee referred to the bill which had failed of passage in
Congress, and the fact was regretted. "When it was known that eight-ninths of
the cereals of the country were derived, not from a single state, but from a group
of states, and were moving, not to a local market, but to the markets of the world,
furnishing to navigating interests the outward-bound freight as well as the return
cargo, conferring a direct benefit on the national finances; and when the proceeds
of these products were traced through all the ramifications of trade, it was evident
that not merely the citizens of one state, but the western producer, the consumer
at home and abroad, the navigator, the importer, the consumer of foreign fabrics,
and the Government itself, all had a direct interest in the result.

"The proposed improvement was a measure whose benefits were not to be cir-
cumscribed by state lines, but one which connected three distinct systems of navi-
gation, and rendered them available for external and internal commerce, for
national unity and military defense."

THE CANAL CONVENTION OF 1863

The people of Chicago were by no means hopeless after the defeat of the Ship
Canal bill in Congress which met its fate, after being before that body for a year,
on February 9th, 1863. At the last scene Mr. Isaac N. Arnold, who had strug-
gled manfully in its behalf through all its vicissitudes, pluckily gave notice that
he would introduce the bill again, but nothing further was ever heard of it. An
agitation, however, was set on foot soon after, and, March 2d, 1863, a call for a
convention was sent out from Washington, a portion of which was as follows: "Re-
garding the enlargement of the canals between the valley of the Mississippi and
the Atlantic as of great national, commercial and military importance, and as tend-
ing to promote the development, prosperity and unity of our whole country, we
invite a meeting of all those interested in the subject in Chicago, on the first
Tuesday in June next. We especially ask the co-operation and aid of the Boards
of Trade, Chambers of Commerce, agricultural and business associations of the
country."

SIGNERS OP THE CALL

This call was signed by many of the prominent members of Congress, among
whom were Isaac N. Arnold, and E. B. Washbburne of Illinois, A. G. Riddle of
Ohio, H. L. Dawes, Charles Summer, Amasa Walker and Henry Wilson of Massa-
chusetts, Justin S. Morrill of Vermont, Samuel C. Fessenden of Maine, James R.
Doolittle of Wisconsin, S. C. Pomeroy of Kansas, A. B. Olin and E. G. Spauld-
ing of New York, James Harlan of Iowa, Francis P. Blair of Missouri, Schuyler
Colfax of Indiana, and Edward Bates, Attorney General. It will be remembered
that Mr. Bates was chairman of the River and Harbor Convention held at Chi-
cago in 1847.

"Although the country was occupied with a devastating war," says Brown,
"this improvement was considered by the North of so much importance that it
commanded the attention of every state not in rebellion. There were many who



CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS 175

believed the military advantages of the enlarged channel were a sufficient reason
for its construction, but these were no longer placed in the foreground."

MEETING OF THE CONVENTION

The following account of the proceedings is printed in Brown's "History oi
the Drainage Channel" : "The convention met on June 2d and continued in ses-
sion two days. The exercises were held in a tent on the lakeshore, the seating
capacity of which was forty-seven hundred. Besides the state delegations there
were present representatives from many business associations of the country. The
Chicago Board of Trade was represented by N. K. Fairbank, S. Clary, George Ar-
mour, C. H. Walker, I. Y. Munn, William Sturges, R. McChesney, N. K. Whit-
ney, W. D. Houghteling, C. T. Wheeler, J. S. Rumsey, G. S. Hubbard, Charles
Randolph, and E. W. Densmore. Dr. Daniel Brainard called the convention to
order, and Chauncey I. Filley, mayor of St. Louis, was made temporary chairman."

In the address of welcome, delivered by Dr. Brainard, he said that "the oc-
casion which had called the convention together was one of no ordinary character.
It was not the call of a famishing people, nor of cities threatened by hostile ar-
mies. It was the voice of men shut out from the markets of the world, oppressed
by the excessive productions of their own toil, remaining wasting and worthless
upon their own hands, depriving labor of half its rewards, discouraging industrv
and paralyzing enterprise. In their distress they called upon the National Legis-
lature and failed to obtain the relief which they had a right to expect. Now they
appealed to the people themselves."

The permanent president of the convention was the vice-president of the United
States, Hannibal Hamlin. The scheme for a railroad to the Pacific, then much
talked of, was brought before the convention, but the proposal met with so much
opposition that it was laid on the table. The Convention of 1847, it may be re-
marked in passing, had before it a proposal, made by William Mosley Hall, for
a railroad to the Pacific, and a lengthy speech was made by him on the subject.
In later years Hall claimed, and no doubt with justice, that his was "the first pub-
lic speech ever made in favor of a national railway to the Pacific."

The resolutions adopted by the convention were a full statement of the whole
matter of the construction and enlargement of canals, and that they should, "so
far as practicable, be free, without tolls or restrictions." A committee, composed
of one delegate from each of the states represented at the convention, was ap-
pointed to prepare a memorial to the President and Congress of the United States,
presenting the views of the convention, and urging the enactment of laws necessary
to carry them into full operation. There was, however, no practical result.

THE DRAINAGE PROBLEM

A strong argument in favor of the enlargement of the canal, as we have seen,
had been its possible use for military purposes ; but now another consideration de-
manded notice. "By 1865," says Bross, "the population of Chicago had increased
to 178,900; the city had inaugurated and completed an extensive system of sewers,
most of which emptied into the river. For perhaps nine or ten months of the year
it had no current, and hence it became the source of the foulest smells that a suf-



176 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

fering people were ever forced to endure; and it was evident that something must
be done effectively to cleanse it, or the city would soon become so unhealthy as to
be uninhabitable."

Thus the question of deepening the canal had become one of sanitation as well
as of commerce. There were proposals, one of which was for draining the Chi-
cago river into the Desplaines by a canal to be built for that special purpose, an-
other was to pump the waters of the South Branch into a canal terminating at



Online LibraryJ. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) CurreyChicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.2) → online text (page 24 of 55)