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History of Tazewell county, Illinois ; together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; portraits of prominent persons and biographies of representative citizens. History of Illinois ... Digest of state laws online

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Online Librarypub Chas. C. Chapman & Co.History of Tazewell county, Illinois ; together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; portraits of prominent persons and biographies of representative citizens. History of Illinois ... Digest of state laws → online text (page 4 of 79)
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of St. Philip's, for the purpose of working the rich silver mines sup-
posed to be in Illinois, and Philip Kenault was appointed as its
agent. In 1719 he sailed from France with two hundred miners,
laborers and mechanics. During 1719 the Company of the West
was by royal order united with the Royal Company of the Indies,
and had the influence and support of the crown, who was deluded
by the belief that immense wealth would flow into the empty treas-
ury of France. This gigantic scheme, one of the most extensive
and wonderful bubbles ever blown up to astonish, deceive and ruin
thousands of people, was set in operation by the fertile brain of
John Law. Law was born in Scotland in 1671, and so rapid had
been his career that at the age of twenty-three he was a " bankrupt,
an adulterer, a murderer and an exiled outlaw." But he possessed
great financial ability, and by his agreeable and attractive manners,
and his enthusiastic advocacy of his schemes, he succeeded in
inflaming the imagination of the mercurial Frenchmen, whose greed
for gain led them to adopt any plans for obtaining wealth.

Law arrived in Paris with two and a half millions of francs,
which he had gained at the gambling table, just at the right time.
Louis XIY. had just died and left as a legacy empty cofiers and an
immense public debt. Every thing and everybody was taxed to
the last penny to pay even the interest. All the sources of in-
dustry were dried up; the very wind which wafted the barks of
commerce seemed to have died away under the pressure of the
time; trade stood still; the merchant, the trader, the artificer, once
flourishing in affluence, were transformed into clamorous beggars.
The life-blood that animated the kingdom was stagnated in all
its arteries, and the danger of an awful crisis became such that


the nation was on the verge of bankruptcy. At this critical junc-
ture John Law arrived and proposed his grand scheme of the
Mississippi Company; 200,000 shares of stock at 500 livres each were
at first issued. Tliis sold readily and great profits were realized.
More stock was issued, speculation became rife, the fever seized
everybody, and the wildest speculating frenzy pervaded the whole
nation. Illinois was thought to contain vast and rich mines of
minerals. Kaskaskia, then scarcely more than the settlement of a
few savages, was spoken of as an emporium of the most extensive
traffic, and as rivaling some of the cities of Europe in refinement,
fashion and religious culture. Law was in the zenith of his glory, and
the people in the zenith of their infatuation. The high and the low,
the rich and the poor, were at once filled with visions of untold
wealth, and every age, set, rank and condition were buying and selling
stocks. Law issued stock again and again, and readily sold until
2,235,000,000 livres were in circulation, equaling about $450,000,000.
While confidence lasted an impetus was given to trade never before
known. An illusory policy everywhere prevailed, and so dazzled
the eye that none could see in the horizon the dark cloud announc-
ing the approaching storm. Law at the time was the most influ-
ential man in Europe. His house was beset from morning till
night with eager applicants for stock. Dukes, marquises and
counts, with their wives and daughters, waited for hours in the
street below his door. Finding his residence too small, he changed
it for the Place Vendome, whither the crowd followed him, and the
spacious square had the appearance of a public market. The boule-
vards and public gardens were forsaken, and the Place Vendome
became the most fashionable place in Paris; and he was unable to
wait upon even one-tenth part of his applicants. The bubble burst
after a few years, scattering ruin and distress in every direction.
Law, a short time previous the most popular man in Europe, fled
to Brussels, and in 1729 died in Venice, in obscurity and poverty.


As early as 1750 there could be perceived the first throes of the
revolution, which gave a new master and new institutions to Illi-
nois. France claimed the whole valley of the Mississippi, and Eng-
land the right to extend her possessions westward as far as she
might desire. Through colonial controversies the two mother


countries were precipitated into a bloody war within the North-
western Territory, George Washington firing the first gun of the
military struggle which resulted in the overthrow of the French
not only in Illinois but in North America. The French evinced a
determination to retain control of the territory bordering the Ohio
and Mississippi from Canada to the Gulf, and so long as the En-
glish colonies were confined to the sea-coast there was little reason
for controversy. As the English, however, became acquainted
with this beautiful and fertile portion of our country, they not only
learned the value of the vast territory, but also resolved to set up a
counter claim to the soil. The French established numerous mili-
tary and trading posts from the frontiers of Canada to New Or-
leans, and in order to establish also their claims to jurisdiction over
the country they carved the lilies of France on the forest trees, or
sunk plates of metal in the ground. These measures did not,
however, deter the English from going on with their explorations;
and though neither party resorted to arms, yet the conflict was
gathering, and it was only a question of time when the storm
should burst upon the frontier settlement. The French based
their claims upon discoveries, the English on grants of territory
extending from ocean to ocean, but neither party paid the least
attention to the prior claims of the Indians. From this posi-
tion of affairs, it was evident that actual collision between the
contending parties would not much longer be deferred. The En-
glish Government, in anticipation of a war, urged the Governor
of Yirginia to lose no time in building two forts, which were
equipped by arms from England. The French anticipated the
English and gathered a considerable force ta defend their possessions.
The Governor determined to send a messenger to the nearest
French post and demand an explanation. This resolution of the
Governor brought into the history of our country for the first time
the man of all others whom America most loves to'Jionor, namely,
George Washington. He was chosen, although not yet twenty-one
years of age, as the one to perform this delicate and difiicult mission.
With five companions he set out on Nov. 10, 1753, and after a per-
ilous journey returned Jan. 6, 1754. The struggle commenced and
continued long, and was bloody and fierce; but on the 10th of Octo-
ber, 1765, the ensign of France was replaced on the ramparts of
Fort Chartres by tlie flag of Great Britain. This fort was the




depot of supplies and the place of rendezvous for the united forces
of the French. At this time the colonies of the Atlantic seaboard
were assembled in preliminary congress at New York, dreaming of
liberty and independence for the continent; and Washington, who
led the expedition against the French for the English king, in less
than ten years was commanding the forces opposed to the English
tyrant. Illinois, besides being constructively a part of Florida for
over one hundred years, during which time no Spaniard set foot
upon her soil or rested his eyes upon her beautiful plains, for nearly
ninety years had been in the actual occupation of the French, their
puny settlements slumbering quietly in colonial dependence on the
distant waters of the Kaskaskia, Illinois and Wabash.

GEN. CLAKk's exploits.

The Northwest Territory was now entirely under English rule,
and on the breaking out of the Revolutionary war the British held
every post of importance in the West. While the colonists of the
East were maintaining a fierce struggle with the armies of England,
their western frontiers were ravaged by merciless butcheries of In-
dian warfare. The jealousy of the savage was aroused to action by
the rapid extension of American settlement westward and the im-
proper influence exerted by a number of military posts garrisoned by
British troops. To prevent indiscriminate slaughters arising from
these causes, Illinois became the theater of some of the most daring
exploits connected with American history. The hero of the achieve-
ments by which this beautiful land was snatclied as a gem from
the British Crown, was George Rogers Clark, of Yirginia. He had
closely watched the movements of the British throughout the
Northwest, and understood their whole plan; he also knew the
Indians were not unanimously in accord with the English, and
therefore was convinced that if the British could be defeated and
expelled from the Northwest, the natives might be easily awed into
neutrality. Having convinced himself that the enterprise against
the Illinois settlement might easily succeed, he repaired to the cap-
ital of Yirginia, arriving Nov. 5, 1777. Wliile he was on his way,
fortunately, Burgoyne was defeated (Oct. 17), and the spirits of the
colonists were thereby greatly encouraged. Patrick Henry was
Governor of Yirginia, and at once entered heartily into Clark's
plans. After satisfying the Yirginia leaders of the feasibility of
hie project, he received two sets of instructions, — one secret, the



other open. The latter authorized him to enlist seven companies
to go to Kentucky, and serve three months after their arrival in
the West. The secret order authorized him to arm these troops,
to procure his powder and lead of General Hand at Pittsburg, and
to proceed at once to subjugate the country.


With these instructions Col. Clark repaired to Pittsburg, choos-
ing rather to raise his men west of the mountains, as he well knew
all were needed in the colonies in the conflict there. He sent Col.
"W. B. Smith to Holstein and Captains Helm and Bowman to
other localities to enlist men; but none of them succeeded in rais-
ing the required number. The settlers in these parts were afraid
to leave their own firesides exposed to a vigilant foe, and but few
could be induced to join the expedition. With these companies
and several private volunteers Clark commenced his descent of the
Ohio, which he navigated as far as the falls, where he took posses-
sion of and fortified Corn Island, a small island between the present
cities of Louisville, Ky., and New Albany, Ind. Here, after having
completed his arrangements and announced to the men their real
destination, he left a small garrison; and on the 24th of June, dur-
ing a total eclipse of the sun, which to them augured no good, they
floated down the river. His plan was to go by water as far as Fort
Massac, and thence march direct to Kaskaskia. Here he intended to
surprise the garrison, and after its capture go to Cahokia, then to
Yincennes, and lastly to Detroit. Should he fail, he intended to
march directly to the Mississippi river and cross it into the Spanish
country. Before his start he received good items of information:
one that an alliance had been formed between France and the United
States, and the other that the Indians throughout the Illinois
country and the inhabitants at the various frontier posts had been led
by the British to believe that the " Long Knives," or Virginians,
were the most fierce, bloodthirsty and cruel savages that ever scalped
a foe. With this impression on their minds, Clark saw that
proper management would cause them to submit at once from fear,
if surprised, and then from gratitude would become friendly, if
treated with unexpected lenity. The march to Kaskaskia was
made through a hot July sun, they arriving on the evening of the
4th of July, 1778. They captured the fort near tlie village and
soon after the village itself, by surprise, and without the loss of


a single man and without killing any of the enemy. After suffi-
ciently working on the fears of the natives, Clark told them they
were at perfect liberty to worship as they pleased, and to take
whichever side of the great conflict they would; also he would pro-
tect them against any barbarity from British or Indian foe. This
had the desired efiect; and the inhabitants, so unexpectedly and so
gratefully surprised by the unlooked-for turn of affairs, at once
swore allegiance to the American arms; and when Clark desired
to go to Cahokia on the 6th of July, they accompanied him, and
through their influence the inhabitants of the place surrendered
and gladly placed themselves under his protection.

In the person of JVI. Gibault, priest of Kaskaskia, Clark found a
powerful ally and generous friend. Clark saw that, to retain pos-
session of the iSTorthwest and treat successfullj- with the Indians, he
must establish a government for the colonies he had taken. St. Yin-
cent, the post next in importance to Detroit, remained yet to be
taken before the Mississippi valley was conquered. M. Gibault
told him that he would alone, by persuasion, lead Yincennes to
throw off its connection with England. Clark gladly accepted this
offer, and July lith, in company with a fellow-townsman, Gibault
started on his mission of peace. On the 1st of August he returned
with the cheerful intelligence that everything was peaceably ad-
justed at Yincennes in favor of the Americans. During the inter-
val. Col. Clark established his courts, placed garrisons at Kaskaskia
and Cahokia, successfully re-enlisted his men, and sent word to
have a fort (which proved the germ of Louisville) erected at the
falls of the Ohio.

While the American commander was thus negotiatinof with the
Indians, Hamilton, the British Governor of Detroit, heard of Clark's
invasion, and was greatly incensed because the country which he
had in charge should be wrested from him by a few ragged militia.
He therefore hurriedly collected a force, marched by way of the
Wabash, and appeared before the fort at Yincennes. The inhabi-
tants made an effort to defend the town, and when Hamilton's
forces arrived. Captain Helm and a man named Henry were the
only Americans in the fort. These men had been sent by Clark.
The latter charged a cannon and placed it in the open gateway, and
the Captain stood by it with a lighted match and cried out, as Ham-
ilton came in hailing distance, "Halt!" The British officer, not


knowing the strength of the garrison, stopped, and demanded the
surrender of tlie fort. Helm exclaimed, " No man shall enter here
till I know the terms." Hamilton responded, " You shall have the
honors of war." The entire garrison consisted of one officer and one


On taking Kaskaskia, Clark made a prisoner of Rocheblave,
commander of the place, and got possession of all his written
instructions for the conduct of the war. From these papers he
received important information respecting the plans of Col. Ham-
ilton, Governor at Detroit, who was intending to make a vigorous
and concerted attack upon the frontier. After arriving at Yin-
cennes, liowever, he gave up his intended campaign for the winter,
and trusting to his distance from danger and to the difficulty of
approaching him, sent off his Indian warriors to prevent troops from
coming down the Ohio, and to annoy the Americans in all ways. Thus
he sat quietly down to pass the winter with only about eighty soldiers,
but secure, as he thought, from molestation. But he evidently did
not realize the character of the men with whom he was contending.
Clark, although he could muster only one hundred and thirty men,
determined to take advantage of Hamilton's weakness and security,
and attack him as the only nieans of saving himself; for unless he
captured Hamilton, Hamilton would capture him. Accordingly,
about the beginning of February, 1779, he dispatched a small galley
which he had fitted out, mounted with two four-pounders and four
swivels and manned with a company of soldiers, and carrying stores
for his men, with orders to force her way up the Wabash, to take
her station a few miles below Yincennes, and to allow no person to
pass her. He himself marched with his little band, and spent six-
teen days in traversing the country from Kaskaskia to Yincennes,
passing with incredible fatigue through woods and marshes. He
was five days in crossing the bottom lands of the Wabash; and for
five miles was frequently up to the breast in water. After over-
coming difficulties which had been thought insurmountable, he
appeared before the place and completely surprised it. The inhab-
itants readily submitted, but Hamilton at first defended himself in
the fort. Next day, however, he surrendered himself and his gar-
rison prisoners-of-war. By his activity in encouraging the hostili-
ties of the Indians and by the revolting enormities perpetrated by


those savages, Hamilton had rendered himself so obnoxious that he
was thrown in prison and put in irons. During his command of
the British frontier posts he oifered prizes to the Indians for all the
scalps of the Americans thej would bring him, and earned in con-
sequence thereof the title, "Hair-Bujer General," by which he was
ever afterward known.

The services of Clark proved of essential advantage to his coun-
trymen. They disconcerted the plans of Hamilton, and not only saved
the western frontier from depredations by the savages, but also
greatly cooled the ardor of the Indians for carrying on a contest in
which they were not likely to be the gainers. Had it not been for
this small army, a union of all the tribes from Maine to Georgia
against the colonies might have been effected, and the whole current
of our history changed.



In October, 1778, after the successful campaign of Col. Clark, the
assembly of Virginia erected the conquered country, embracing all
the territory northwest of the Ohio river, into the County of Illi-
nois, which was doubtless the largest county in the world, exceeding
in its dimensions the whole of Great Britian and Ireland. To speak
more definitely, it contained the territory now embraced in the great
States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. On the
12th of December, 1778, John Todd was appointed Lieutenant-
Commandant of this county by Patrick Henry, then Governor of
Yirginia, and accordingly, also, the first of Illinois County.


Illinois continued to form a part of Yirginia until March 1, 1784,
when that State ceded all the territory north of the Ohio to the
United States. Immediately the general Government proceeded to
establish a form of government for the settlers in the territories
thus ceded. This form continued until the passage of the ordi-
nance of 1787, for the government of the Northwestern Terri-
tory. No man can study the secret history of this ordinance and
not feel that Providence was guiding with sleepless eye the des-


tinies of these unborn States. American legislation has never
achieved anything more admirable, as an internal government,
than this comprehensive ordinance. Its provisions concerning the
distribution of property, the principles of civil and religious liberty
which it laid at the foundation of the communities since established,
and the efficient and simple organization by which it created the
first machinery of civil society, are worthy of all the praise that has
ever been given them.


This ordinance has a marvelous and interesting history. Con-
siderable controversy has been indulged in as to who is entitled to
the credit for framing it. This belongs, undoubtedly, to Nathan
Dane; and to Eufus King and Timothy Pickering belong the
credit for suggesting the proviso contained in it against slavery,
and also for aids to religion and knowledge, and for assuring for-
ever the common use, without charge, of the great national high-
ways of the Mississippi, the St. Lawrence and their tributaries to
all the citizens of the United States. To Thomas Jeflferson is also
due much credit, as some features of this ordinance were embraced
in his ordinance of 1784. But the part taken by each in the long,
laborious and eventful struggle which had so glorious a consum-
mation in the ordinance, consecrating forever, by one imprescript-
ible and unchangeable monument, the very heart of our country to
Freedom, Knowledge, and Union, will forever lionor the names of
those illustrious statesmen.

Mr. Jeiferson had vainly tried to secure a system of government
for the E"orthwestern Territory. He was an emancipationist and
favored the exclusion of slavery from the territory, but the South
voted him down every time he proposed a measure of this nature.
In 1787, as late as July 10, an organizing act without the anti-
slavery clause was pending. This concession to the South was
expected to carry it. Congress was in session in New York. On
July 5, Kev. Manasseh Cutler, of Massachusetts, came into New
York to lobby on the Northwestern Territory. Everything
seemed to fall into his hands. Events were ripe. The state of the
public credit, the growing of Southern prejudice, the basis of his
mission, his personal character, all combined to complete one of
those sudden and marvelous revolutions of public sentiment that


once in five or ten centuries are seen to sweep over a country like
the breath of the Ahnighty.

Cutler was a graduate of Yale. He had studied and taken de-
grees in the three learned professions, medicine, law, and divinity.
He had published a scientific examination of the plants of New
Eno-land, As a scientist in America liis name stood second only to
that of Franklin He was a courtly gentleman of the old style,
a man of commanding presence and of inviting face. The Southern
members said they had never seen such a gentleman in the North.
He came representing a Massachusetts company that desired to
purchase a tract of land, now included in Ohio, for the purpose of
planting a colony. It was a speculation. Government money was
worth eighteen cents on the dollar. This company had collected
enough to purchase 1,500,000 acres of land. Other speculators in
New York made Dr. Cutler their agent, which enabled him to
represent a demand for 5,500,000 acres. As this would reduce the
national debt, ai:d Jeiferson's policy was to provide for the public
credit, it presented a good opportunity to do something.

Massachusetts then owned the territory of Maine, which she was
crowding on the market. She was opposed to opening the North-
western region. This fired the zeal of Virginia. The South caught
the inspiration, and all exalted Dr. Cutler. The entire South ral-
lied around him, Massachusetts could not vote against him, be-
cause many of the constituents of her members were interested
personally in the Western speculation. Thus Cutler, making
friends in the South, and doubtless using all the arts of the lobby,
was enabled to command the situation. True to deeper convic-
tions, he dictated one of the most compact and finished documents
of wise statesmanship that has ever adorned any human law book.
He borrowed from Jefferson the term "Articles of Compact," which,
preceding the federal constitution, rose into the most sacred char-
acter. He then followed very closely the constitution of Massa-
chusetts, adopted three years before. Its most prominent points

1. The exclusion of slavery from the territory forever.

2. Provision for public schools, giving one township for a semi-
nary and every section numbered 16 in each township; that is, one
thirty-sixth of all the land for public schools.

3. A provision prohibiting the adoption of any constitution or


the enactment of any law that should nullify pre-existing contracts.
Beit forever remembered that this compact declared that "re-
ligion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good govern-
ment and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of edu-
cation shall always be encouraged." Dr. Cutler planted himself
on this platform and would not yield. Giving his unqualified dec-
laration that it was that or nothing,— that unless they could make
the land desirable they did not want it,— he took his horse and buggy
and started for the constitutional convention at Philadelphia. On
July 13, 1787, the bill was put upon its passage, and was unani-
mously adopted. Thus the great States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois,
Michigan, and "Wisconsin, a vast empire, were consecrated to free-

Online Librarypub Chas. C. Chapman & Co.History of Tazewell county, Illinois ; together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; portraits of prominent persons and biographies of representative citizens. History of Illinois ... Digest of state laws → online text (page 4 of 79)