S. B. (Simeon Baldwin) Chittenden.

History of Henry county, Illinois : it's taxpayers and voters; containing also, a biographical directory, a condensed history of the state; map of the county; a business directory...etc online

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Online LibraryS. B. (Simeon Baldwin) ChittendenHistory of Henry county, Illinois : it's taxpayers and voters; containing also, a biographical directory, a condensed history of the state; map of the county; a business directory...etc → online text (page 2 of 78)
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Louis ; St. Philip, about forty-five miles below Cahokia, and four miles
above Fort Chartres ; Fort Chartres, twelve miles above Kaskaskia ;
Kaskaskia, situated on the Kaskaskia River, five miles above its conflu-
ence with the Mississippi; and Prairie du Rocher, near Fort Chartres.
To these must be added St. Genevieve and St. Louis, on the west side
of the Mississippi. These, with the exception of St. Louis, are among


the oldest French towns in the Mississippi Valley. Kaskaskia, in its best
days, was a town of some two or three thousand inhabitants. After it
passed from the crown of France its population for many years did not
exceed fifteen hundred. Under British rule, in 1773, the population had
decreased to four hundred and fifty. As early as 1721, the, Jesuits had
established a college and a monastery in Kaskaskia.

Fort Chartres was first built under the direction of the Mississippi
Company, in 1718, by M. de Boisbraint, a military officer, under command
of Bienville. It stood on the east bank of the Mississippi, about eighteen
miles below Kaskaskia, and was for some time the headquarters of the
military commandants of the district of Illinois.

In the Centennial Oration of Dr. Fowler, delivered at Philadelphia,
by appointment of Gov. Beveridge, we find some interesting facts with
regard to the State of Illinois, which we appropriate in this history:

In 1682 Illinois became a possession of the French crown, a depend-
ency of Canada, and a part of Louisiana. In 1765 the English flag was
run up on old Fort Chartres, and Illinois was counted among the treas-
ures of Great Britain.

In 1779 it was taken from the English by Col. George Rogers Clark.
This man was resolute in nature, wise in council, prudent in policy, bold
in action, and heroic in danger. Few men who have figured in the his-
tory of America are more deserving than this colonel. Nothing short of
first-class ability could have rescued Vincens and all Illinois from the
English. And it is not possible to over-estimate the influence of this
achievement upon the republic. In 1779 Illinois became a part of Vir-
ginia. It was soon known as Illinois County. In 1784 Virginia ceded
all this territory to the general government, to be cut into States, to be
republican in form, with " the same right of sovereignty, freedom, and
independence as the other States."

In 1787 it was the object of the wisest and ablest legislation found
in any merely human records. No man can study the secret history of


and not feel that Providence was guiding with sleepless eye these unborn
States. The ordinance that on July 13, 1787, finally became the incor-
porating act, has a most marvelous history. Jefferson had vainly tried
to secure a system of government for the northwestern territory. He
was an emancipationist of that day, and favored the exclusion of slavery
from the territory Virginia had ceded to the general government ; but
the South voted him down as often as it came up. 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 City. On July 5, Rev. Dr. Manasseh Cutler, of
Massachusetts, came into New York to lobby on the northwestern terri-
tory. 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 Almighty. Cutler was a graduate of Yale received his
A.M. from Harvard, and his D.D. frqm Yale. He had studied and taken
degrees in the three learned professions, medicine, law, and divinity. He
had thus America's best indorsement. He had published a scientific
examination of the plants of New England. His name stood second only
to that of Franklin as a scientist in America. He was a courtly gentle-
man 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 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 Massachusetts company had collected enough to pur-
chase 1,500,000 acres of land. Other speculators in New York made
Dr. Cutler their agent (lobbyist). On the 12th he represented a demand
for 5,500,000 acres. This would reduce the national debt. Jefferson
and Virginia were regarded as authority concerning the land Virginia
had just ceded. Jefferson's policy wanted to provide for the public credit,
and this was 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 northwestern
region. This fired the zeal of Virginia. The South caught the inspira-
tion, and all exalted Dr. Cutler. The English minister invited him to
dine with some of the Southern gentlemen. He was the center of interest.

The entire South rallied round him. Massachusetts could not vote
against him, because many of the constituents of her members were
interested personally in the western speculation. Thus Cutler, making
friends with the South, and, doubtless, using all the arts of the lobby,
was enabled to command the situation. True to deeper convictions, he
dictated one of the most compact and finished documents of wise states-
manship that has ever adorned any human law book. He borrowed from
Jefferson the term " Articles of Compact," wbich, preceding the federal
constitution, rose into the most sacred character. He then followed very
closely the constitution of Massachusetts, adopted three years before.
Its most marked points were :

1. The exclusion of slavery from the territory forever.

2. Provision for public schools, giving one township for a seminary,


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.

Be it forever remembered that this compact declared that " Religion,
morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the
happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall always
be encouraged."

Dr. Cutler planted himself on this platform and would not yield.
Giving his unqualified declaration 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 in Phila-
delphia. On July 13, 1787, the bill was put upon its passage, and was
unanimously adopted, every Southern member voting for it, and only one
man, Mr. Yates, of New York, voting against it. But as the States voted
as States, Yates lost his vote, and the compact was put beyond repeal.

Thus the great States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wis-
consin a vast empire, the heart of the great valley were consecrated
to freedom, intelligence, and honesty. Thus the great heart of the nation
was prepared for a year and a day and an hour. In the light of these eighty-
nine years I affirm that this act was the salvation of the republic and the
destruction of slavery. Soon the South saw their great blunder, and
tried to repeal the compact. In 1803 Congress referred it to a committee
of which John Randolph was chairman. He reported that this ordinance
was a compact, and opposed repeal. Thus it stood a rock, in the way
of the on-rushing sea of slavery.

With all this timely aid it was, after all, a most desperate and pro-
tracted struggle to keep the soil of Illinois sacred to freedom. It was
the natural battle-field for the irrepressible conflict. In the southern end
of the State slavery preceded the compact. It existed among the old
French settlers, and was hard to eradicate. The southern part of the
State was settled from the slave States, and this population brought their
laws, customs, and institutions with them. A stream of population from
the North poured into the northern part of the State. These sections
misunderstood and hated each other perfectly. The Southerners regarded
the Yankees as a skinning, tricky, penurious race of peddlers, filling the
country with tinware, brass clocks, and wooden nutmegs. The North-
erner thought of the Southerner as a lean, lank, lazy creature, burrowing
in a hut, and rioting in whisky, dirt and ignorance. These causes aided
in making the struggle long and bitter. So strong was the sympathy
with slavery that, in spite of the ordinance of 1787, and in spite of the
deed of cession, it was determined to allow the old French settlers to
retain their slaves. Planters from the slave States might bring their


slaves, if they would give them a chance to choose freedom or years
of service and bondage for their children till they should become
thirty years of age. If they chose freedom they must leave the State
in sixty days or be sold as fugitives. Servants were whipped for offenses
for which white men are fined. Each lash paid forty cents of the fine. A
negro ten miles from home without a pass was whipped. These famous
laws were imported from the slave States just as they imported laws for
the inspection of flax and wool when there was neither in the State.

These Black Laws are now wiped out. A vigorous effort was made
to protect slavery in the State Constitution of 1817. It barely failed.
It was renewed in 1825, when a convention was asked to make a new
constitution. After a hard fight the convention was defeated. But
slaves did not disappear from the census of the State until 1850. There
were mobs and murders in the interest of slavery. Lovejoy was added
to the list of martyrs a sort of first-fruits of that long life of immortal
heroes who saw freedom as the one supreme desire of their souls, and
were so enamored of her that they preferred to die rather than survive her.

The population of 12,282 that occupied the territory in A.D. 1800,
increased to 45,000 in A.D. 1818, when the State Constitution was
adopted, and Illinois took her place in the Union, with a star on the flag
and two votes in the Senate.

Shadrach Bond was the first Governor, and in his first message he
recommended the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal.

The simple economy in those days is seen in the fact that the entire
bill for stationery for the first Legislature was only $13.50. Yet this
simple body actually enacted a very superior code.

There was no monej r in the territory before the war of 1812. Deer
skins and coon skins were the circulating medium. In 1821, the Legis-
lature ordained a State Bank on the credit of the State. It issued notes
in the likeness of bank bills. These notes were made a legal tender for
every thing, and the bank was ordered to loan to the people $100 on per-
sonal security, and more on mortgages. They actually passed a resolu-
tion requesting the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States to
receive these notes for land. The old French Lieutenant Governor, Col.
Menard, put the resolution as follows: " Gentlemen of the Senate : It is
moved and seconded dat de notes of dis bank be made land-office money.
All in favor of dat motion say aye ; all against it say no. It is decided
in de affirmative. Now, gentlemen, I bet you one hundred dollar he
never be land-office money!" Hard sense, like hard money, is always
above par.

This old Frenchman presents a fine figure up against the dark back-
ground of most of his nation. They made no progress. They clung to
their earliest and simplest implements. They never wore hats or caps.


Thev pulled their blankets over their heads in the winter like the Indians,
with whom they freely intermingled.

Demagogism had an early development. One John Grammar (only
in name), elected to the Territorial and State Legislatures of 1816 and
1836, invented the policy of opposing every new thing, saying, "If it
succeeds, no one will ask who voted against it. If it proves a failure, he
could quote its record." In sharp contrast with Grammar was the char-
acter of D. P. Cook, after whom the county containing Chicago was
named. Such was his transparent integrity and remarkable ability that
his will was almost the law of the State. In Congress, a young man,
and from a poor State, he was made Chairman of the Ways and Means
Committee. He was pre-eminent for standing by his committee, regard-
less of consequences. It was his integrity that elected John Quincy
Adams to the Presidency. There were four candidates in 1824, Jackson,
Clay, Crawford, and John Quincy Adams. There being no choice by the
people, the election was thrown into the House. It was so balanced that
it turned on his vote, and that he cast for Adams, electing him ; then
Went home to face the wrath of the Jackson party in Illinois. It cost
him all but character and greatness. It is a suggestive comment on the
times, that there was no legal interest till 1830. It often reached 150
per cent., usually 50 per cent. Then it was reduced to 12, and now to
10 per cent.


In area the State has 55,410 square miles of territory. It is about
150 miles wide and 400 miles long, stretching in latitude from Maine to
North Carolina. It embraces wide variety of climate. It is tempered
on the north by the great inland, saltless, tideless sea, which keeps the
thermometer from either extreme. Being a table land, from 600 to 1,600
feet above the level of the sea, one is prepared to find on the health
maps, prepared by the general government, an almost clean and perfect
record. In freedom from fever and malarial diseases and consumptions,
the three deadly enemies of the American Saxon, Illinois, as a State,
stands without a superior. She furnishes one of the essential conditions
of a great people sound bodies. I suspect that this fact lies back of
that old Delaware word, Illini, superior men.

The great battles of history that have been determinative of dynas-
ties and destinies have been strategical battles, chiefly the question of
position. Thermopylae has been the war-cry of freemen for twenty-four
centuries. It only tells how much there may be in position. All this
advantage belongs to Illinois. It is in the heart of the greatest valley in
the world, the vast region between the mountains a valley that could


feed mankind for one thousand years. It is well on toward the center of
the continent. It is in the great temperate belt, in which have been
found nearly all the aggressive civilizations of history. It has sixty-five
miles of frontage on the head of the lake. With the Mississippi forming
the western and southern boundary, with the Ohio running along the
southeastern line, with the Illinois River and Canal dividing the State
diagonally from the lake to the Lower Mississippi, and with the Rock and
Wabash Rivers furnishing altogether 2,000 miles of water-front, con-
necting with, and running through, in all about 12,000 miles of navi-
gable water.

But this is not all. These waters are made most available by the
fact that the lake and the State lie on the ridge running into the great
valley from the east. Within cannon-shot of the lake the water runs
away from the lake to the Gulf. The lake now empties at both ends,
one into the Atlantic and one into the Gulf of Mexico. The lake thus
seems to hang over the laud. This makes the dockage most serviceable ;
there are no steep banks to damage it. Both lake and river are made
for use.

The climate varies from Portland to Richmond ; it favors every pro-
duct of the continent, including the tropics, with less than half a dozen
exceptions. It produces every great nutriment of the world except ban-
anas and rice. It is hardly too much to say that it is the most productive
spot known to civilization. With the soil full of bread and the earth full
of minerals ; with an upper surface of food and an under layer of fuel ;
with perfect natural drainage, and abundant springs and streams and
navigable rivers ; half way between the forests of the North and the fruits
of the South ; within a day's ride of the great deposits of iron, coal, cop-
per, lead, and zinc ; containing and controlling the great grain, cattle,
pork, and lumber markets of the world, it is not strange that Illinois has
the advantage of position.

This advantage has been supplemented by the character of the popu-
lation. In the early days when Illinois was first admitted to the Union,
her population were chiefly from Kentucky and Virginia. But, in the
conflict of ideas concerning slavery, a strong title of emigration came in
from the East, and soon changed this composition. In 1870 her non-
native population were from colder soils. New York furnished 133,290 ;
Ohio gave 162,623; Pennsylvania sent on 98,352; the entire Soutli gave
us only 206,734. In all her cities, and in all her German and Scandina-
vian and other foreign colonies, Illinois has only about one-fifth of her
people of foreign birth.



One of the greatest elements in the early development of Illinois is
the Illinois and Michigan Canal, connecting the Illinois and Mississippi
Rivers with the lakes. It was of the utmost importance to the State.
It was recommended by Gov. Bond, the first governor, in his first message.
In 1821, the Legislature appropriated $10,000 for surveying the route.
Two bright young engineers surveyed it, and estimated the cost at
$600,000 or $700,000. It finally cost $8,000,000. In 1825, a law was
passed to incorporate the Canal Company, but no stock was sold. In
1826, upon the solicitation of Cook, Congress gave 800,000 acres of land
on the line of the work. In 1828, another law commissioners appointed,
and work commenced with new survey and new estimates. In 1834-35,
George Farquhar made an able report on the whole matter. This was,
doubtless, the ablest report ever made to a western legislature, and it
became the model for subsequent reports and action. From this the
work went on till it was finished in 1848. It cost the State a large
amount of money ; but it gave to the industries of the State an impetus
that pushed it up into the first rank of greatness. It was not built as a
speculation any more than a doctor is employed on a speculation. But
it has paid into the Treasury of the State an average annual net sum of
over $111,000.

Pending the construction of the canal, the land and town-lot fever
broke out in the State, in 1834-35. It took on the malignant t} 7 pe in
Chicago, lifting the town up into a city. The disease spread over the
entire State and adjoining States. It was epidemic. It cut up men's
farms without regard to locality, and cut up the purses of the purchasers
without regard to consequences. It is estimated that building lots enough
were sold in Indiana alone to accommodate every citizen then in the
United States.

Towns and cities were exported to the Eastern market by the ship-
load. There was no lack of buyers. Every up-ship came freighted with
speculators and their monfey.

This distemper seized upon the Legislature in 183637, and left not
one to tell the tale. They enacted a system of internal improvement
without a parallel in the grandeur of its conception. They ordered the
construction of 1,300 miles of railroad, crossing the State in all direc-
tions. This was surpassed by the river and canal improvements.
There were a few counties not touched by either railroad or river or
canal, and those were to be comforted and compensated by the free dis-
tribution of $200,000 among them. To inflate this balloon beyond cre-
dence it was ordered that work should be commenced on both ends of


each of these railroads and rivers, and at each river-crossing, all at the
same time. The appropriations for these vast improvements were over
$12,000,000, and commissioners were appointed to borrow the money on
the credit of the State. Remember that all this was in the early days of
railroading, when railroads were luxuries ; that the State had whole
counties with scarcely a cabin ; and that the population of the State was
less than 400,000, and you can form some idea of the vigor with which
these brave men undertook the work of making a great State. In the
light of history I am compelled to say that this was only a premature
throb of the power that actually slumbered in the soil of the State. It
was Hercules in the cradle.

At this juncture the State Bank loaned its funds largely to Godfrey
Oilman & Co., and to other leading houses, for the purpose of drawing
trade from St. Louis to Alton. Soon they failed, and took down the
bank with them.

In 1840, all hope seemed gone. A population of 480,000 were loaded
with a debt of $14,000,000. It had only six small cities, really only
towns, namely : Chicago, Alton, Springfield, Quincy, Galena, Nauvoo.
This debt was to be cared for when there was not a dollar in the treas-
ury, and when the State had borrowed itself out of all credit, and when
there was not good money enough in the hands of all the people to pay
the interest of the debt for a single year. Yet, in the presence of all
these difficulties, the young State steadily refused to repudiate. Gov.
Ford took hold of the problem and solved it, bringing the State through
in triumph.

Having touched lightly upon some of the more distinctive points in
the history of the development of Illinois, let us next briefly consider the


It is a garden four hundred miles long and one hundred and fifty
miles wide. Its soil is chiefly a black sandy loam, from six inches to
sixty feet thick. On the American bottoms it has been cultivated for
one hundred and fifty years without renewal. About the old French
towns it has yielded corn for a century and a half without rest or help.
It produces nearly everything green in the temperate and tropical zones.
She leads all other States in the number of acres actually under plow.
Her products from 25,000,000 of acres are incalculable. Her mineral
wealth is scarcely second to her agricultural power. She has coal, iron,
lead, copper, zinc, many varieties of building stone, fire clay, cuma clay,
common brick clay, sand of all kinds, gravel, mineral paint every thing
needed for a high civilization. Left to herself, she has the elements of
all greatness. The single item of coal is too vast for an appreciative


handling in figures. We can handle it in general terms like algebraical
signs, but long before we get up into the millions and billions the human
mind drops down from comprehension to mere symbolic apprehension.

When I tell you that nearly four-fifths of the entire State is under-
laid with a deposit of coal more than forty feet thick on the average (now
estimated, by recent surveys, at seventy feet thick), 'you can get some
idea of its amount, as you do of the amount of the national debt. There
it is ! 41,000 square miles one vast mine into which you could put
any of the States ; in which you could bury scores of European and
ancient empires, and have room enough all round to work without know-
ing that they had been sepulchered there.

Put this vast coal-bed down by the other great coal deposits of the
world, and its importance becomes manifest. Great Britain has 12,000
square miles of coal; Spain, 3,000; France, 1,719; Belgium, 578; Illinois
about twice as many square miles as all combined. Virginia has 20,000
square miles; Pennsylvania, 16,000; Ohio, 12,000. Illinois has 41,000
square miles. One-seventh of all the known coal on this continent is in.

Could we sell the coal in this single State for one-seventh of one cent
a ton it would pay the national debt. Converted into power, even with
the wastage in our common engines, it would do more work than could
be done by the entire race, beginning at Adam's wedding and working
ten hours a day through all the centuries till the present time, and right
on into the future at the same rate for the next 600,000 years.

Great Britain uses enough mechanical power to-day to give to each

Online LibraryS. B. (Simeon Baldwin) ChittendenHistory of Henry county, Illinois : it's taxpayers and voters; containing also, a biographical directory, a condensed history of the state; map of the county; a business directory...etc → online text (page 2 of 78)