William Henry Perrin.

History of Jefferson County, Illinois online

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St. Philip, about forty-five miles below Ca-
hokia, and four miles above Fort Chartres;
Fort Chartres, twelve miles above Kaskas-
kia; Kaskaskia, situated on the Kaskaskia
River, five miles above its confluence with
the Mississippi-, and Prairie du Rocher,
near Fort Chartres. To these must be add-
ed 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 inliabitants.
After it passed from the crown of France
its population for many years did not ex-
ceed fifteen hundred. Under British rule,
in 1773, the population had decreased to
four hundred and fifty. As earl}' 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. deBoisbraint, 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 mil-
itary 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 dependency of Canada,
and a part of Louisiana. In 1765 the Eng-
lish 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 history of America are more deserving
than this colonel. Kothing short of first-
class ability could have rescued Vincennes
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 Virginia. 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 inde-
pendence 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

THE "compact of 1787,"

and not feel that Providence was guiding
with sleepless eye these unborn States. The
ordinance that on July 13, 1787, finally be-
came the incorporating 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 frmn the territory Vir-
ginia bad ceded to the general government;
but tlie South voted him down as often as
it came np. lu 1787, as late as July 10 tb,
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 Xew York City. On July
5th, Rev. Dr. Mannasseh Cutler, oi Massa-
chusetts, came into Xew York to lobby on
the northwestern territory. Everything
seemed to fall into his hands. Events were

The state of the public credit, the growing
of Southern prejudice, the basis of his mis-
sion, 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. from
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 JSTew
England. His name stood second only to
tliat of Franklin as a scientist in America.
He was aci:>urtly 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 company
that desired to purchase a tract of land now
included in Ohio, for the purpose of plant-
ing a colony. It was a S]iecnlation. Gov-
ernment mone}' was worth eighteen cents
on the dollar. This Massachusetts companv
had collected enough to purchase 1,-500,000
acres of land. Other speculators in Xew

York made Dr. Cutler their agent (lobbyist).
On the 12th he represented a demand for
5,500,000 acres. Thi? would reduce the
national debt. Jeiferson 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 some-

Massachusetts then owned the Territory
of Maine, which she was crort'ding on the
market. She was opposed to opening the
northwestern region. This fired the zeal of
Virginia. The South caught the inspiration,
and all exalted Dr. Cutler. The English
minister invited him to dine with some of
the Southern gentlemen. He was the cen-
ter 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 tlie most
compact and finished documents of wise
statesmanship that has ever adorned any
human law book. He borrowetl from Jef-
ferson the term "Articles of Compact,"
which, preceding the Federal constitution,
rose into the most sacred character. He
then followed very closely the constitution
of Massachusetts, adopted three years be-
fore. Its most marked points were:

1. The exclusion of slavery from the ter-
ritory forever.

2. Provision for public schools, giving
one township for a seminary, and every sec-
tion numbered 16 in each township; that



is, one thirty-sixth of all the land, for public

3. A provision prohibiting the adop-
tion of any constitution or the enactment
of any law that should nullify pre-existing

Be it forever remembered that this com-
pact declared that " Religion, morality and
knowledge bein2 necessary to good govern-
ment and the happiness of mankind,
schools and the means of education shall
always be encouraged."

Dr. Cutler planted himself on this plat-
form 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 unanimousl}'
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,
[llinois, Michigan and Wisconsin — -a vast
empire, the heart of the great valley — -were
consecrated to freedom, intelligence and
honesty. Thus the great heart of the na-
tion was prepared for a year and a da}' and
an hour. In the light of these eighty-nine
years I affirm that this act was the salva-
tion of the republic and the destruction of
slavery. Soon the South saw their great
blunder, and tried to repeal the compact.
In 1S03, Congress referred it to a commit-
tee of which John Randolph was chairman.
He reported that this ordinance was a com-
pact, and opposed repeal. Thus it stood a

rock, in the way of the on-rushing sea of

With all this timely aid, it was, after
all, a most desperate and protracted strug-
gle 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 institu-
tions with them. A stream of population
from the North poured into the northern
part of the State. These sections misun-
derstood and hated each other perfectly.
The Southerners regarded the Yankees as
a skinning, tricky, penurious race of ped-
dlers, filling the country with tinware,
brass clocks and wooden nutmegs. The
Northerner thought of the Southerner as a
lean, lank, lazy creature, burrowing in a
hut, and rioting in whisky, dirt and igno-
rance. 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
mio'ht bring their slaves, if they would
o-ive them a chance to choose freedom or
years of service and bondage for their chil-
dren till they should become thirty years
of age. If they chose freedom they must
leave the State in sixty days or be sold as
fuffitives. Servants were whipped for of-
fenses 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 hiws were
imported t'roin the shive States just as thcj-
imported laws for tiie inspection of flax
and wool when there was neither in the

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 mur-
ders in the interest of slavery. Lovejoy
was added to the list of martj'rs — 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 enam-
ored 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 Con-
stitution 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 Michi-
gan Canal.

The simple economy in those days is
seen in the fact the entire liill for station-
ery for tlie first Legislature was only
$13.50. Yet this simple body actually
enacted a very superior code.

There was no money in the Territory
before the war of 1812. Deer skins and
coon skins were the circulating medium.
In 1821, the Legislature 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 personal security, and
more on mortgages. They actually passed
a resolution requesting the Secretary of
the Treasury of the United States to re-
ceive 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 hank be made land office
money. All in favor of dat motion say aye;
all against it say no. It is decided in de af-
firmative. 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 fig-
ure up against the dark background of
most of his nation. They made no prog-
ress. They clung to their earliest and
simplest implements. They never wore
hats or caps. They pulled their blankets
over their heads in the winter like the In-
dians, with whom they freely intermin-

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 op-
l)osing 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 Gram-
mar was the character of D. P. Cook, after
whom the county containing Chicago was
named. Sucli was his transparent integri-
ty and remarkable ability that his vvill 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, regardless of
consequences. It was liis integrity that
elected John Qiiinc}' Adams to the Presi-
dency. There were four candidates in
1824, Jackson, Clay, Crawford, and John
Quincy Adams. There being no choice by
tliepeiple, 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 sufff^estive comment on the times,
that there was no legal interest till 1830.
It often reached 150 per cent., usually 50
percent. 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, stretcliing in latitude
from Maine to Xorth Carolina. It embraces
wide variety of climate. It is tempered on
the north b}- the great inland, saltless, tide-
less sea, which keeps the thermometer from
either extreme. Being a table land, from
600 to 1,200 feet above the level of the sea,
one is prepared to find on the health maps,
prepared by the general government, an al-
most clean and perfect record. In freedom
from fever and malarial diseases and con-
sumptions, 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, su-
perior men.

The great battles of history that have
been determinative of dynasties and desti-
nies 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 boundarv, with
the Ohio running along the southeastern
line, with the Illinois river and canal divid-
ing 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, connecting with,
and running through, in all about 12,000
miles of navigable 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
awav from the lake to the gulf. The lake
now empties at both ends, one into the At-
lantic and one into the gulf of Mexico.
The lake thus seems to hang over the land.
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
Pichmond; it favors every product of the
continent, including the tropics, with less



tliaii lialf a dozen exceptions. It produces
every great nutriment of the world except
bananas and rice. It is liardly too much
to say that it is the most productive spot
known to civilization. With the soil full
of bread and the earth lull of minerals;
with an upper surface of food and an un-
der layer of fuel; with perfect natural drain-
age, and abundant springs and streanis and
navigable rivers; halfway between the for-
ests of the north and the fruits of the south ;
witliin a day's ride of the great deposits of
iron, coal, copper, lead and zinc; eontain-
ing and controlling the great grain, cattle,
pork and lumber markets of the world, it
is not strange that Illinois has the advan-
tage of jjosition.

This advantage has been supplemented
by the character of the population. In the
early days when Illinois was first admitted
to the union, her population were chietly
from Kentucky and Virginia. But, in the
conflict of ideas concerning slavery, a
strong tide of emigration came in from the
East, and soon changed this composition.
In 1870 her non-native population were
from colder soils. Xew York furnished
133,290; Ohio gave 102,623; Pennsylvania
sent on 98,352; the en ti^-e South gave us
only 20f!,T34. In all her cities, and in all
her German and Scandinavian 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 Illi-
nois and Michigan Canal, connectinar the
Illinois and Mississip])i Rivers with the
lakes. It was of the utmost importance to
the Suite. It was i. con mended by Gov.

Bond, the first governor, in his first mes-
sage. In 1821, the Legislature appropri-
ated $10,000 for surveying the route. Two
bright young engineers surveyed it, and
estimated the cost at §600,000 or STOU.OOO.
It finally cost §8,000,000. In 1825, a4aw
was passed to incorporate the Canal Com-
pany, 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 — commis-
sioners appointed, and work commenced
with new survey and new estimates. lu
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 in-
dustries of the State an impetus that
pushed it up into the first rank of great-
ness. It was not built as a speculation any
more than a doctor is emploj'ed on a specu-
lation. But it has paid into the treasury
of the State an average annual not 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 type 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 build-
ins 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 hick of bnvers. Every np-siiip
came freif^iiteil with speculators and their

This distempter seized upon the Legis-
lature in 1836-37, and left not one to teil
the tale. They enacted a system of inter-
nal improvement without a parallel in the
gi-andeur of its conception. They ordered
the construction of 1,300 miles of railroad,
crossing the State in all directions. This
was surpassed by the river and canal im-
provements. 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 distribution of
$200,000 among them. To inflate this
balloon beyond credence, 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. Re-
member that all this was in the early days
of railroading, when railroads were luxu-
ries; that the State had whole counties
with scarcely a cabin; and that the popu-
lation of the State was less than 400,000,
and yon can form some idea of the vigor
with which these brave men undertook tha
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 cra-

At this juncture the State Bank loaned
its funds largely to Godfrey Gilman & Co.

and to other leading houses, for the pur-
pose 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 pop-
ulation 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, Nau-
voo. This debt was to be cared for when
there was not a dollar in the treasury, 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 peo-
ple 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 througli 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 bla^ck sandy loam, from six
inches to sixty feet thick. On the Ameri-
can bottoms it has been cultivated for one
hundred and fifty years without renewal.

About the old French towns it has yield-
ed corn for a century and a half without
rest or help. It produces nearly every-
thing green in the temjierate 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 in-
calculable. Her mineral wealth is scarce-
ly second to hev agricultural power. She



has coal, iron, lead, copper, zinc, many va-
rieties of bnikliTiw stone, fire clay, cnma
clay, common brick clay, sand of all kinds,
gravel, mineral paint — everything 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 appre-
ciative handling in figures. We can han-
dle it in oreneral terms like alsjebraical
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 underlaid with a de-
posit of coal more than forty feet thick on
the average (now estimated by recent sur-
veys, 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 yon could bury scores of European
and ancient empires, and have room all
round to work without knowing 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 Brit-
ain has 12,000 square miles of coal ; Spain,
3,000; France, 1719; Belgium, 578; Illinois
about twice as many square miles as all
combined. Virginia has 20,000 square
miles; Pennsylvania. ir),O00; Oliio, 12.000.
Illinois has 41,000 square miles. One-
seventh of all the known coal on this con-
tinent is in Illinois.

Could we sell the coal in this single State
for one-seventh of one cent a ton, it would

Online LibraryWilliam Henry PerrinHistory of Jefferson County, Illinois → online text (page 9 of 76)