pub 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

. (page 6 of 79)
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 6 of 79)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

there they built a fort, which they named in honor of Gen, George
Rogers Clark, who with his brave Virginians wrested Illinois from
the English during the Revolutionary struggle. This fort was de-
stroyed by fire in 1818, It gave a name to Peoria which it wore for
several years. After the building of Fort Crevecoeur, in 1680, Peo-
ria lake was very familiar to Western travel and history; but there
is no authentic account of a permanent Eiu'opean settlement there
until 1778, when Laville de Meillet, named after its founder, was
started. Owing to the quality of the water and its greater salu-
brity, the location was changed to the present site of Peoria, and by
1796 the old had been entirely abandoned for the new village.
After its destruction in 1812 it was not settled again until 1819,
and then by American pioneers, though in 1813 Fort Clark was
built there.


The second campaign against the Indians at Peoria closed with-
out an engagement, or even a sight of the enemy, yet great was the
benefit derived from it. It showed to the Indians the power and
resources of his white foe. Still the calendar of the horrible deeds
of butchery of the following year is long and bloody. A joint ex-
pedition again moved against the Indians in 1814, under Gov.


Clark of Missouri. This time tliej went up the Mississippi in
barges, Prairie du Cliien being the point of destination. There they
found a small garrison of British troops, which, however, soon fled,
as did the inhabitants, leaving Clark in full possession. He im-
mediately set to work and erected Fort Shelby. The Governor
returned to St. Louis, leaving his men in peaceable possession of
the place, but a large force of British and Indians came down upon
them, and the entire garrison surrendered. In the mean time Gen.
Howard sent 108 men to strengthen the garrison. Of this number
66 were Illinois rangers, under Capts. Rector and Riggs, who oc-
cupied two boats. The remainder were with Lieut. Campbell.


At Rock Island Campbell was warned to turn back, as an attack

was contemplated. The other boats passed on up the river and

were some two miles ahead when Campbell's barge was struck by a

strong gale which forced it against a small island near the Illinois

shore. Thinking it best to lie to till the wind abated, sentinels

were stationed while the men went ashore to cook breakfast. At

this time a large number of Indians on the ,.iain shore under

Black Hawk commenced an attack. The savages in canoes passed

rapidly to the island, and with a war-whoop rushed upon the men,

who retreated and sought refuge in the barge. A battle of brisk

musketry now ensued between the few regulars aboard the stranded

barge and the hordes of Indians under cover of trees on the island,

with severe loss to the former. Meanwhile Capt. Rector and Riggs,

ahead with their barges, seeing the smoke of battle, attempted to

return; but in the strong gale Riggs' boat became unmanageable

and was stranded on the rapids. Rector, to avoid a similar disaster,

let go his anchor. The rangers, however, opened with good aim

and telling effect upon the savages. The unequal combat having

raged for some time and about closing, the commander's barge,

with many wounded and several dead on board, — among the former

of whom, very badly, was Campbell himself, — was discovered to be

on fire. Now Rector and his brave Illinois rangers, comprehending

the horrid situation, performed, without delay, as cool and heroic a

deed — and did it well — as ever imperiled the life of mortal man.

In the howling gale, in full view of hundreds of infuriated savages,

and within range of their rifles, they deliberately raised anchor,


lightened their barge by casting overboard quantities of provisions,
and guided it with the utmost labor down the swift current, to the
windward of the burning barge, and under the galling fire of the
enemy rescued all the survivors, and removed the wounded and
dying to their vessel. This was a deed of noble daring and as
heroic as any performed during the war in the "West. Rector hur-
ried with his over-crowded vessel to St. Louis.

It was now feared that Riggs and his company were captured
and sacrificed by the savages. His vessel, which was strong and well
armed, was for a time surrounded by the Indians, but the whites
on the inside were well sheltered. The wind becoming allayed in
the evening, the boat, under cover of the night, glided safely down
the river without the loss of a single man.


Notwithstanding the disastrous termination of the two expedi-
tions already sent out, during the year 1814, still another was pro-
jected. It was under Maj, Zachary Taylor, afterward President.
Rector and Whiteside, with the Illinoisan, were in command of
boats. The expedition passed Rock Island unmolested, when it
was learned the country was not only swarming with Indians, but
that the English were there in command with a detachment of regu-
lars and artillery. The advanced boats in command of Rector, White-
side and Hempstead, turned about and began to descend the rapids,
fighting with great gallantry the hordes of the enemy, who were
pouring their fire into them from the shore at every step.

Near the mouth of Rock river Maj. Taylor anchored his fleet out
in the Mississippi. During the nigjht the English planted a battery
of six pieces down at the water's edge, to sink or disable the boats,
and filled the islands with red-skins to butcher the whites, who
might, unarmed, seek refuge there. But in this scheme they were
frustrated. In the morning Taylor ordered all the force, except 20
boatmen on each vessel, to the upper island to dislodge the enemy.
The order was executed with great gallantry, the island scoured,
many of the savages killed, and the rest driven to the lower island.
In the meantime the British cannon told with effect upon the fleet.
The men rushed back and the boats were dropped down the stream
out of range of the cannon. Capt. Rector was now ordered with
his company to make a sortie on the lower island, which he did,


driving the Indians back among the willows ; but they being re-in-
forced, in turn hurled Rector back upon the sand-beach.

A council of officers called by Taylor had by this time decided
that their force was too small to contend with the enemy, who
outnumbered them three to one, and the boats were in full retreat
down the river. As Rector attempted to get under way bis boat
grounded, and the savages, with demoniac yells, surrounded it,
when a most desperate hand-to-hand conflict ensued. The gallant
ranger, Samuel Whiteside, observing the imminent peril of his
brave Illinois comrade, went immediately to his rescue, who but for
his timely aid would undoubtedly have been overpowered, with all
his force, and murdered.

Thus ended the last, like the two previous expeditions up the
Mississippi during the war of 1812, in defeat and disaster. The
enemy was in undisputed posession of all the country north of the
Illinois river, and the prospects respecting those territories boded
nothino- but gloom. With the approach of winter, however, Indian
depredations ceased to be committed, and the peace of Ghent, Dec.
24, 1814, closed the war.



In January of 1818 the Territorial Legislature forwarded to
Nathaniel Pope, delegate in Congress from Illinois, a petition pray-
ing for admission into the national Union as a State. On April
18th of the same year Congress passed the enabling act, and Dec.
3, after the State government had been organized and Gov. Bond
had signed the Constitution, Congress by a resolution declared Illi-
nois to be "one of the United States of America, and admitted into
the Union on an equal footing with the original States in all

The ordinance of 1787 declared that there should be at least three
States carved out of the Northwestern Territory. The boundaries
of the three, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, were fixed by this law.
Congress reserved the power, however, of forming two other States
out of the territory which lies north of an east and west line drawn
through the southern boundary of Lake Michigan. It was generally
conceded that this line would be the northern boundary of Illinois ;


but as this would give the State no coast on Lake Michigan; and
rob her of the port of Chicago and the northern terminus of the
Illinois & Michigan canal which was then contemplated, Judge
Pope had the northern boundary moved fifty miles further north.


Not only is Illinois indebted to Nathaniel Pope for the port where
now enter and depart more vessels during the year than in any
other port in the world, for the northern terminus of the Illinois
& Michigan canal, and for the lead mines at Galena, but the nation,
the undivided Union, is largely indebted to him for its perpetuity.
It was he, — his foresight, statesmanship and energy, — that bound
our confederated Union with bands of iron that can never be broken.
The geographical position of Illinois, with her hundreds of miles
of water-courses, is such as to make her the key to the grand arch
of Northern and Southern States. Extending from the great chain
of lakes on the north, with snow and ice of the arctic region, to the
cotton-fields of Tennessee ; peopled, as it is, by almost all races,
classes and conditions of the human family ; guided by the various
and diversified political, agricultural, religious and educational
teachings common to both North and South,— Illinois can control,
and has controlled, the destinies of our united and beloved republic.
Pope seemingly foresaw that a struggle to dissolve the Union would
be made. With a prophetic eye he looked down the stream of time
for a half century and saw the great conflict between the South and
North, caused by a determination to dissolve the confederation of
States; and to preserve the Union, he gave to Illinois a lake coast.

Gov. Ford, in his History of Illinois, written in 1847, while
speaking of this change of boundary and its iiifluence upon our
nation, says:

"What, then, was the duty of the national Government? Illinois
was certain to be a great State, with any boundaries which that
Government could give. Its great extent of territory, its unrivaled
fertility of soil and capacity for sustaining a dense population,
together with its commanding position, would in course of time
give the new State a very controlling influence with her sister
States situated upon the Western rivers, either in sustaining the
federal Union as it is, or in dissolving it and establishing new gov-
ernments. If left entirely upon the waters of these great rivers, it


was plain that, in case of threatened disruption, the interest of the
new State would be to join a Southern and Western confederacy;
but if a large portion of it could be made dependent upon the com-
merce and navigation of the great northern lakes, connected as they
are with the Eastern States, a rival interest would be created to
check the wish for a Western and Southern confederacy.

" It therefore became the duty of the national Government not
only to make Illinois strong, but to raise an interest inclining and
binding her to the Eastern and Northern portions of the Union.
This could be done only through an interest in the lakes. At that
time the commerce on the lakes was small, but its increase was con-
fidently expected, and, indeed, it has exceeded all anticipations,
and is yet only in its infancy. To accomplish this object effectually,
it was not only necessary to give to Illinois the port of Chicago and
a route for the canal, but a considerable coast on Lake Michigan,
with a country back of it sufficiently extensive to contain a popu-
lation caj)able of exerting a decided influence upon the councils of
the State.

" There would, therefore, be a large commerce of the north, west-
ern and central portion of the State afloat on the lakes, for it was
then foreseen that the canal would be made; and this alone would
be like turning one of the many mouths of the Mississippi into
Lake Michigan at Chicago. A very large commerce of the center
and south would be found both upon the lakes and rivers. Asso-
ciations in business, in interest, and of friendship would be formed,
both with the North and the Soutli. A State thus situated, having
such a decided interest in the commerce, and in the preservation of
the whole confederacy, can never consent to disunion; for the Union
cannot be dissolved without a division and disruption of the State
itself. These views, urged by Judge Pope, obtained the unquali-
fied assent of the statesmen of 1818.

" These facts and views are worthy to be recorded in history as
a standing and perpetual call upon lUinoisans of every age to
remember the great trust which has been reposed in them, as the
peculiar champions and guardians of the Union by the great men
and patriot sages who adorned and governed this country in the
earlier and better days of the Republic."

During the dark and trying days of the Rebellion, well did she
remember this sacred trust, to protect which two hundred thousand



of her sons went to the bloody field of battle, crowning their arms
with the laurels of war, and keeping inviolate the solemn obliga-
tions bequeathed to 'them by their fathers.


In July and August of 1818 a convention was held at Kaskaskia
for the purpose of drafting a constitution. This constitution was
not submitted to a vote of the people for their approval or rejection,
it being well known that they would approve it. It was about the
first organic law of any State in the Union to abolish imprisonment
for debt. The first election under the constitution was held on the
third Thursday and the two succeeding days in September, 1818.
Shadrach Bond was elected Governor, and Pierre Menard Lieuten-
ant Governor. Their term of office extended four years. At this
time che State was divided into fifteen counties, the population being
about 40,000. Of this number by far the larger portion were from
the Southern States. The salary of the Governor was $1,000, while
that of the Treasurer was $500. The Legislature re-enacted, ver-
batim, the Territorial Code, the penalties of which were unneces-
sarily severe. Whipping, stocks and pillory were used for minor
offenses, and for arson, rape, horse-stealing, etc., death by hanging
was the penalty. These laws, however, were modified in 1821.

The Legislature first convened at Kaskaskia, the ancient seat of
empire for more than one hundred and fifty years, both for the
French and Americans. Provisions were made, however, for the
removal of the seat of government by this Legislature. A place in the
wilderness on the Kaskaskia river was selected and named Yandalia.
From Yandalia it was removed to Springfield in the year 1837.


The name of this beautiful "Prairie State" is derived from
Illini, an Indian word signifying superior men. It has a French
termination, and is a symbol of the manner in which the two races,
the French and Indians, were intermixed during the early history
of the country. The appellation was no doubt well applied to the
primitive inhabitants of the soil, whose prowess in savage warfare
long withstood the combined attacks of the fierce Iroquois on the
one side, and the no less savao^e and relentless Sacs and Foxes on the
other. The Illinois were once a powerful confederacy, occupying
the most beautiful and fertile region in the great valley of the


Mississippi, which their enemies coveted and struggled long and
hard to wrest from them. Bj the fortunes of war they were dimin-
ished in number and finally destroyed. " Starved Rock," on the
Illinois river, according to tradition, commemorates their last trag-
edy, where, it is said, the entire tribe starved rather than surrender.

The low cognomen of " Sucker," as applied to lUinoisans, is said
to have had its origin at the Galena lead mines. In an early day,
when these extensive mines were being worked, men would run up
the Mississippi river in steamboats in the spring, work the lead
mines, and in the fall return, thus establishing, as was supposed, a sim-
ilitude between their migratory habits and those of the fishy tribe
called "Suckers." For this reason the Illinoisans have ever since
been distinguished by the epithet " Suckers." Those who stayed
at the mines over winter were mostly from Wisconsin, and were
called " Badgers." One spring the Missourians poured into the
mines in such numbers that the State was said to have taken a puke,
and the offensive appellation of " Pukes " was afterward applied to
all Missourians.

The southern part of the State, known as "Egypt," received this
appellation because, being older, better settled and cultivated, grain
was had in greater abundance than in the central and northern por-
tion, and the immigrants of this region, after the manner of the
children of Israel, went " thither to buy and to bring from thence
that they might live and not die."


The Legislature, during the latter years of territorial existence,
granted charters to several banks. The result was that paper money
became very abundant, times flush, and credit unlimited; and every-
body invested to the utmost limit of his credit, with confident
expectation of realizing a handsome advance before the expiration
of his credit, from the throng of immigrants then pouring into the
country. By 1819 it became apparent that a day of reckoning
would aj)proach before their dreams of fortune could be realized.
Banks everywhere began to waver, paper money became depreci-
ated, and gold and silver driven out of the country. The Legisla-
ture sought to bolster up the times by incorporating the " Bank
of Illinois," which, with several branches, was created by the ses-
sion of 1821. This bank, being wholly supported by the credit of
the State, was to issue one, two, three, five, ten and twenty-dollar


notes. It was the duty of the bank to advance, upon personal prop-
erty, money to the amount of $100, and a larger amount upon real
estate. All taxes and public salaries could be paid in such bills;
and if a creditor refused to take them, he had to wait three years
longer before he could collect his debt. The people imagined that
simply because the government had issued the notes, they would
remain at par; and altliough this evidently could not be the case,
they were yet so infatuated with their project as actually to request
the United States government to receive them in payment for their
public lands! Although there were not wanting men who, like
John McLean, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, fore-
saw the dangers and evils likely to arise from the creation of such
a bank, by far the greater part of the people were in favor of it.
The new bank was therefore started. The new issue of bills by the
bank of course only aggravated the evil, heretofore so grievously
felt, of the absence of specie, so that the people were soon com-
pelled to cut their bills in halves and quarters, in order to make
small change in trade. Finally the paper currency so rapidly depre-
ciated that three dollars in these bills were considered worth only
one in specie, and the State not only did not increase its revenue,
but lost full two-thirds of it, and expended three times the amount
required to pay the expenses of the State government.

Lafayette's visit.

In the spring of 1825 the brave and generous LaFayette visited
Illinois, accepting the earnest invitation of the General Assembly,
and an aifectionately written letter of Gov. Cole's, who had formed
his personal acquaintance in France in 1817. The General in reply
said: " It has been my eager desire, and it is now my earnest inten-
tion, to visit the Western States, and particularly the State of Illi-
nois. The feelings which your distant welcome could not fail to
excite have increased that patriotic eagerness to admire on that
blessed spot the happy and rapid results of republican institutions,
public and domestic virtues. I shall, after the 22d of February
(anniversary day), leave here for a journey to the Southern States,
and from New Orleans to the "Western States, so as to return to
Boston on the 14th of June, when the corner-stone of the Bunker
Hill monument is to be laid, — a ceremonv sacred to the whole Union
and in which I have been engaged to act a peculiar and honorable


General LaFajette and suite, attended by a large delegation of
prominent citizens of Missouri, made a visit by the steamer Natcb.
ez to the ancient town of Kaskaskia. No military parade was
attempted, but a multitude of patriotic citizens made him welcome.
A reception was held, Gov. Cole delivering a glowing address of
welcome. During the progress of a grand ball held that night, a
very interesting interview took place between the honored General
and an Indian squaw whose father had served under him in the
Eevolutionary war. The squaw, learning that the great white chief
was to be at Kaskaskia on that night, had ridden all day, from early
dawn till sometime in the night, from her distant home, to see
the man whose name had been so often on her father's tongue, and
with which she was so familiar. In identification of her claim to
his distinguished acquaintance, she brought with her an old, worn
letter which the General had written to her father, and which the
Indian chief had preserved with great care, and finally bequeathed
on his death-bed to his daughter as the most precious legacy he had
to leave her.

By 12 o'clock at night Gen. LaFayette returned to his boat and
started South. The boat was chartered by the State.


In the year 1822 the term of ofiice of the first Governor, Shadrach
Bond, expired. Two parties sprung up at this time, — one favorable,
the other hostile, to the introduction of slaver}^, each proposing a
candidate of its own for Governor. Both parties worked hard to
secure the election of their respective candidates ; but the people at
large decided, as they ever have been at heart, in favor of a free
State. Edward Coles, an anti-slavery man, was elected, although a
majority of the Legislature were opposed to him. The subject of
principal interest during his administration was to make Illinois a
slave State. The greatest effort was made in 1S24, and the propo-
sition was defeated at the polls by a majority of 1,800. The aggre-
gate vote polled was 11,612, l)eing about 6,000 larger than at the
previous State election. African slaves were first introduced into
Illinois in 1Y20 by Renault, a Frenchman.

Senator Duncan, afterward Governor, presented to the Legisla-
ture of 1824-5 a bill for the support of schools by a public tax; and
WiUiam S. Hamilton presented another bill requiring a tax to be



nsed for the purpose of constructing and repairing the roads, — both
of which bills passed and became laws. But although these laws
conferred an incalculable benetit upon the public, the very name of
a tax was so odious to the people that, rather than pay a tax of the
smallest possible amount, they preferred working as they formerly
did, five days during the year on the roads, and would allow their
children to grow up without any instruction at all. Consequently
both laws were abolished in 1826.

In the year 1826 the office of Governor became again vacant.
Ninian Edwards, Adolphus F. Hubbard and Thomas C. Sloe were
candidates. Edwards, though the successful candidate, had made
himself many enemies by urging strict inquiries to be made into
the corruption of the State bank, so that had it not been for his
talents and noble personal appearance, he would most probably not
have been elected. Hubbard was a man of but little personal merit.
Of him tradition has preserved, among other curious sayings, a
speech on a bill granting a bounty on wolf-scalps. This speech,
delivered before the Legislature, is as follows: "Mr. Speaker, I rise
before the question is put on this bill, to say a word for my constit-
uents. Mr. Speaker, I have never seen a wolf. I cannot say that
I am very well acquainted with the nature and habits of wolves.
Mr. Speaker, I have said that I had never seen a wolf; but now I
remember that once on a time, as Judge Brown and I were riding

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 6 of 79)