Skip to main content

Full text of "Centennial history of Illinois"

See other formats




111. Hist. SurV. 

Jllinoi* Centennial publications 




























A. C. McCLURG & CO, 








1870 C.M.T. i 


1870-1876 C.M.T. 28 

III. LIBERAL REPUBLICANISM, 1870-1872 . . C.M.T. 54 

IV. THE FARMERS' MOVEMENT, 1872-1875 . C.M.T. 82 


1880 C.M.T. 123 

VIII. NEW FORCES ASTIR . . Agnes Wright Dennis 162 









Nellie O. Barrett 



. Fuller 






















INDEX 533 



VIEW OF WORLD'S FAIR, CHICAGO, 1893 Frontispiece 




R. J. OGLESBY 144 



C. H. McCoRMicK . 224 



1892 302 




THE period between 1870 and 1893 ^ as probably been 
equaled by no other period of equal length in our history 
for the magnitude and far-reaching importance of the economic 
changes that occurred within its span. Until this time Illinois 
had ranked as an agricultural state, standing high among the 
states of the union in almost every branch of farming. Its 
expansion along these lines still went on apace. But in addition 
to agriculture the state began now to develop concurrently 
other lines of industry. The coal fields of southern Illinois 
began to be tapped and the mining industry began to be de- 
veloped. At the same time manufactures were built up along 
lines for which the state was peculiarly suited by reason of the 
presence of the necessary raw materials. Industry was thus 
diversified, cities were established, and the interests of the peo- 
ple of Illinois expanded and broadened. Important social and 
political results accompanied these economic changes. 

Partly result and partly cause of these movements was the 
enlargement and transformation of the transportation system. 
This period saw a vast extension of the railway and a corre- 
sponding decline of water transportation. Traffic now passed 
from west to east and no longer from north to south. The 
diversion of freight from the Mississippi river and its 
tributaries to the railroads was definitely consummated. The 
mechanism of credit and exchange also underwent the same 
expansion as did the machinery of transportation, and was 
fitted to the needs of a growing industrial state rather than of 
one purely agricultural. 

Not only in Illinois, but throughout the United States as a 
whole, this period was one of extraordinary economic expan- 
sion, of exploitation of natural resources, and of unbridled 
competition. It offered rich rewards to the energetic, the 
daring, and the far-sighted business man. In spite of a tern- 


porary interruption of prosperity as a result of the panic of 
1873, the period was marked by notable material achieve- 
ments. But to the laborer it did not always promise equal 
advantages. Trade-unionism was striving to establish itself 
and in this era of struggle made large use of the strike and 
similar methods incident to the early stages of the labor move- 
ment. Uncertain as to its objective, the movement was some- 
times diverted into political channels, as by the greenback party, 
or became discredited by the excesses of the extreme radicals, 
as in the case of the anarchist aberration. Of labor legislation 
there was as yet practically nothing. Opposed by men of 
capital, the labor movement seemed at times to have become 
real industrial warfare. All in all, however, the period was 
one of solid and enduring progress. 

The authors desire to express their appreciation of valuable 
assistance which has been rendered in the preparation of this 
volume. The writer of the chapters on economic development 
wishes to note the aid given by the following research assistants 
in the preparation of preliminary studies and reports on special 
phases of the subject. These were Yetta Scheftel, manufac- 
tures; George H. Newlove, agriculture; Clare E. Griffin, 
railroad transportation; Walter Prichard, road and water 
transportation; E. B. Mittelman, labor. For the use of this 
material, however, and for any errors of fact or judgment 
the author alone should be held responsible. Because of the 
author's entrance into war service, Miss Nellie Barrett of 
the Illinois State Geological Survey staff was engaged to write 
chapter eighteen on mining. 

The author of the political chapters was called to the work 
much later than were the other authors of the Centennial His- 
tory and has, therefore, been forced to lean for support on 
others. During the period of research he was ably assisted 
by Miss Anita Libman and received courteous help from Mrs. 
John A. Logan and others; but to Mrs. Agnes Wright Dennis 
must be given the credit for the final form of the chapters, for 
the author, caught in the meshes of war work, was compelled 
to place in her charge the complete revision of the manuscript. 
The author's acknowledgments to this brilliant young woman 


have become a sad duty. On July 13, 1919, sh and her hus- 
band were drowned in the Cedar river, Iowa. With the cordial 
indorsement of the editor-in-chief the name of Agnes Wright 
Dennis is placed as author of chapter eight, for her thorough 
revision made it her own. 

In closing, both authors desire to express their sense of 
indebtedness to the editor-in-chief of the Centennial History, 
on whose shoulders has fallen unavoidably much more respon- 
sibility for this volume than he had reason to expect. We 
fear that we have added unduly to his many perplexities and 


URBANA, September i, 1919. 





THE quarter century following the year 1870 saw radical 
changes in the life of the people of Illinois. A period 
of industrial expansion began on a scale hitherto unknown 
in this country: manufacturers enlarged and combined their 
plants; railroad companies extended their lines in every direc- 
tion through building and consolidation; cities grew as if by 
magic. Here were the real beginnings of modern industry 
with its enormous capital, its monopolistic features, and its 
widespread economic influence. Politically, the period saw a 
deep-seated unrest, which manifested itself in the organiza- 
tion of new parties; greenbackers, liberal republicans, and 
other types of independents divided with the older political 
parties the attention of the people. Time and again the repub- 
licans met the bitter attacks of their opponents, yet not until 
the very close of this period were they forced to hand over 
the state administration to their old enemy, the democrats. 

One of the most significant events of this period was the 
making of the constitution of 1870, which, with slight altera- 
tions, has served for almost fifty years as the organic law of 
the state. Demands for alterations and changes, and even for 
a thoroughgoing revision of the constitution of 1848, were 
almost as old as the constitution itself. No sooner had that 
instrument been adopted than it was seen that several of its 
provisions were inadequate and even pernicious; during the 
next two decades its shortcomings became more and more 
apparent. The greatest specific evil under the constitution of 
1848 grew out of the authority conferred on the legislature to 


enact private laws. Every session of the general assembly 
saw the legislative calendar crowded with bills designed to 
favor individuals or localities with little or no regard for the 
welfare of the state as a whole; the time and attention of 
the lawmakers were consumed by duties which should have 
been performed by administrative officers acting under general 
laws. Moreover, the practice not only permitted but it 
invited corruption on the part of the members of the legisla- 
ture and instilled in the minds of the people a suspicion that 
state laws and bribery were intimately associated if not insep- 
arable. 1 

In general the constitution was too inelastic for the needs 
of a growing commonwealth; its designers, in attempting to 
meet the needs arising from rural conditions, had not pre- 
pared for urban problems relating to the judiciary, to police 
and fire protection, to sanitation, and to government. More- 
over, the inadequacy of the constitution was demonstrated in 
many other ways. Salaries, for example, were so low that in 
the case of the governor the legislature usually voted " expense 
money" for maintaining the executive mansion and grounds; 
to other state officials additional sums were voted, usually, as 
in the case of the judiciary, for additional services rendered 
the state in some unimportant or even trivial capacity. What- 
ever the justification for violating the letter of the constitution, 
the practice was a dangerous precedent, bound to create 
dissatisfaction and distrust in the minds of the people. 

The first response to the insistent demand for a constitution 
better adapted to the needs of the new era in midwestern 
American life was the constitutional convention of 1862; its 
labors, however, owing to the complexity of the political situa- 
tion, to the unsettled condition of the times, and to several 
obnoxious provisions contained in the proposed constitution. 

1 Illinois State Register, April 15, 1870. 


were abortive. 2 During the next few years the republican 
press of the state kept the subject of another constitutional 
convention constantly before the people; and in 1869, after 
the submission of the question to the voters, the legislature 
ordered an election of delegates to a new constitutional 
convention. 3 

In December of that year, eighty-five delegates assembled 
in convention in the old statehouse at Springfield "to revise, 
alter, or amend the Constitution of the State of Illinois." 4 
These men varied greatly in nativity, in educational training, 
and in distribution among professions and occupations. Only 
eleven of the entire body were native Illinoisians, only five 
were naturalized foreign born, while the great majority were 
natives of the older states lying to the east and to the south. 5 
Some of the members had enjoyed scarcely any school training, 
while others were graduates of the best colleges and academies 
of the east or of leading professional schools of the country. 
The widest variety of occupations was represented; along with 
two blacksmiths, one minister, and one editor were six doctors, 

2 See Centennial History of Illinois, 3 : 267-272. 

3 Chicago Tribune, January i, 7, 16, 1867; Illinois State Journal, January 3, 
1867; Aurora Beacon, January 17, 1867; Canton Weekly Register, January 18, 
1867; Carthage Republican, January 24, 1867, December 3, 1868; Belleville 
Democrat, February 21, 1867, December 3, 1868; Rockford Gazette, June 25, 
November 12, 1868; Ottawa Republican, October 29, 1868; Rushville Times, 
November 26, 1868; Joliet Signal, December 8, 1868. 

4 During the period of the convention four delegates died and one resigned; 
three places were filled by special election; thus the total number of delegates 
that sat in the convention was eighty-eight. For list of names of delegates see 
Blue Book of Illinois; Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, 
volume i. 

5 Of the foreign born elements the absence of both German and Irish, so 
powerful numerically in the state, is to be noted; of the five foreign born mem- 
bers, two were from England, two from Scotland, and one, Joseph Medill, from 
Canada. Sixteen states were represented. Twenty-one members were natives 
of New York; nine of Kentucky; nine of Ohio; five of Maine; four of Penn- 
sylvania; four of Vermont; four of Tennessee; three of Massachusetts; three of 
Virginia; two of New Hampshire; two of Maryland; two of Indiana; and one 
each from New Jersey, Connecticut, Missouri, and Rhode Island. New England- 
ers and New Yorkers came chiefly from the northern counties, and the Kentuckians 
and Tennesseeans from the southern and central section. 


four merchants, three bankers, two manufacturers, and, out- 
numbering all others almost two to one, were fifty-six law- 
yers. 6 

Although a correct political classification of the members 
appears difficult, since several of them insisted that they were 
independent in politics and as such had been elected to the 
convention, yet in the practical outcome they divided along the 
lines of their old party affiliations. As a result, only one dele- 
gate, Elijah M. Haines, may be considered a real independent; 
and of the eighty-eight members, forty-four may be classed as 
democrats and forty-three as republicans. The entire delega- 
tion from southern Illinois, with the exception of Charles F. 
Springer of Edwardsville and William H. Underwood of Belle- 
ville, was democratic, as were also the members from the Mili- 
tary Tract; the republicans came from the northern and central 
counties and from the counties along the Indiana state line. 
Thus the sectionalism that had characterized Illinois politics 
for years persisted in the selection of members for the con- 
stitutional convention : the southern and western counties in 
one political camp; the eastern, central, and northern in the 
other. 7 

6 An interesting correlation between age and occupation is here apparent. 
Of the twenty-three members fifty years of age or over, only eleven were law- 
yers; but of the thirty who were forty or less all but five were lawyers. Thus 
the convention was not only dominated by lawyers, but, more important, by 
young lawyers. Of the seven members from Cook county only three were 
lawyers, while two were bankers, one was a manufacturer, one was an editor. 
An entirely different situation existed in the southern counties, which sent, with 
the exception of two farmers, a blacksmith, and a miller, an entire delegation 
of lawyers. No doubt such differences may be accounted for on the ground 
that ambition for political preferment and interest in legislative and constitu- 
tional development was confined in the latter section more exclusively to the 
legal profession than was the case in urban communities, such as Chicago and 
other places in the north. This entire analysis is based on Moses, Illinois, 
2:787-790; Bateman and Selby, Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois; various news- 
papers for the period of December i to 15, 1869; county histories; questionnaires 
sent out to county clerks, relatives and friends of the delegates; but more 
especially on an autograph album kindly loaned by William K. Fox (son of 
Jesse C. Fox, delegate to the convention, 1869-1870). 

7 Illinois State Register, May 10, 1870. 

When the hour for organizing the convention arrived, John 
Dement of Fayette county, well known for his services as state 
treasurer and receiver of public moneys, was, after a sharp 
skirmish, elected temporary president. Then began a long- 
drawn-out wrangle over the wording of the oath which the 
members of the convention should take before a permanent 
organization could be effected; the republicans contended that 
they should swear to support the state constitution, and the 
democrats that it was the height of absurdity to swear to sup- 
port that which they had come together to destroy. For three 
days the debate raged with ill-feeling on both sides. When the 
republicans charged the democrats with a desire to usurp too 
much authority drawing an odious comparison between their 
attitude and the attitude of those southern secession conventions 
which had given the people no chance to express themselves in 
the matter of disunion the discussion at once became sec- 
tional as well as political. Fortunately, some of the more 
influential members recognized that the convention, if it con- 
tinued to dispute over such nonessentials as the definition of 
words, would soon be discredited in the minds of the people ; 
and late on the third day of the convention the delegates 
adopted by a vote of forty-four to forty a compromise reso- 
lution offered by Orville H. Browning of Adams which pro- 
vided that the members should swear to support the constitution 
of the United States and the constitution of Illinois so far as 
its provisions were compatible with and applicable to each one's 
position as delegate. 8 

This resolution did not, however, settle the oath question. 
Dissatisfied with the decision of the majority, some of the 
members at the opening of the session on the fourth morning 
proposed that each delegate be permitted to frame the oath 

8 Controversy over the content of the oath is found in Debates and Proceed' 
ings of the Constitutional Convention, i : 7-49. 


which he himself should take. To this proposition the conven- 
tion refused to agree. Judge Samuel H. Treat of the United 
States district court then administered "to such of the dele- 
gates as appeared at the bar of the Convention" the oath 
agreed on by the majority. After more wrangling, in which 
at least one member withdrew in anger from the floor of the 
convention, 9 it was voted to allow as many delegates as desired 
to subscribe to the oath which the legislature had stipulated 
in the act authorizing the election of delegates practically 
the oath for which the republicans had been contending; there- 
upon those members who deemed it their duty to swear to 
support the state constitution were sworn by Judge Treat; and 
the convention was finally ready for permanent organization. 
Before the nominations for president could be made, it 
became apparent that the delegates were divided into two 
camps. Practically all the republican members favored a plan 
to organize the convention along political lines. The demo- 
crats, however, on account of the independent tendencies of 
some of their number, could not hope effectively to organize 
their majority in this manner. Along with a few independent 
republicans, therefore, they opposed the drawing of party lines 
in the organization. Consequently, the independents, who 
were largely from Cook county, held the balance of power. 
One of their number, William F. Coolbaugh, secured the floor 
and, speaking for the independent nonpolitical faction, nomi- 
nated one of his colleagues, Charles Hitchcock, a republican, 
for president. Immediately Laurence S. Church of McHenry, 
as spokesman for a party candidate, arose and nominated the 
well-known newspaper man, Joseph Medill, another repub- 
lican, for the same office; in doing so, he attempted to placate 
the opposing faction by pointing out that since Medill had 
received the unanimous indorsement of the voters of his dis- 

9 E. M. Haines of Lake county. 


trict irrespective of political affiliations, he now stood not as 
the candidate of any one party but as the representative of 
all parties. 

The issue was not to be thus clouded; it was quite clear 
that the republicans were pushing Medill as a party candidate, 
and in this they were opposed by a few of their own number 
as well as by the democrats. The few "willful" republicans 
agreed with Samuel S. Hayes of Cook, who declared that he 
felt it to be the wish of his constituents that he vote " for the 
'independent' candidate and republican the gentleman 
from Cook [Hitchcock]." 10 When the vote was cast every 
member in the convention participated; with two exceptions 
the entire Cook county delegation supported the candidacy of 
Hitchcock, who also received the support of all the downstate 
democrats; as a result Hitchcock received forty-five votes to 
forty for Medill. The election was therefore a victory for 
Chicago, for the democrats, and for the independents. Victory 
for the so-called nonpartisan combination they further suc- 
ceeded in electing an equal number of democrats and repub- 
licans for the remaining permanent officers of the convention 
rested on the fact that since the convention was not organ- 
ized politically it was under the domination of no political 

With the election of permanent officers out of the way, the 
convention was ready to settle down to a serious consideration 
of the state's needs and of the best and most efficient ways of 
meeting them in the new constitution. Yet, despite the intelli- 
gence and integrity of the members, much time was wasted in 
airing sectional animosities and in quibbling over details too 
trivial for the consideration of men selected to draw up an 
organic law for the government of one of the most important 
commonwealths in the American republic. As the convention 

10 Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, i : 50. 


proceeded with its deliberations the delegates, subjected to 
long sessions, heavy committee work, and bitter discussions, 
became exhausted and easily irritated; consequently, day by 
day the practice of squandering valuable time in debating trivial 
questions increased the matter of providing postage stamps 
and stationery was a prolific source of contentious debating in 
which hours and even days were wasted. Frivolous proposi- 
tions over which the convention had no control received 
extended attention. One such proposition, which came up 
again and again, had to do with the removal of the federal 
capital from Washington City to Illinois. Nauvoo and 
Warsaw, both in Hancock county, each desired to be the seat 
of the new capital, while the supervisors of Whiteside county 
offered to " cede to the federal government all authority of 
law held or exercised by said board of supervisors in or over 
said county. . . . Provided, said federal government 
locate said federal capitol within said county." 11 The most 
senseless debate during the entire sitting of the convention 
was on the question of asking the state geologist, Amos H. 
Worthen, to publish in his next annual report an essay entitled, 
" Origin of the Prairies, " written by Judge John D. Caton. 

The practice of debating resolutions introduced primarily 
for the purpose of embarrassing state officials also consumed 
a great deal of time. The secretary of state, Edward Rummel, 
came in for criticism on numerous occasions, as did Newton 
Bateman, superintendent of public instruction, who was charged 
with being interested in the publication and sale of schoolbooks 
and with having illegally accepted money from the various 
state educational institutions for performing duties that clearly 
fell within his own office; nothing came from these veiled 
accusations of dishonesty except the loss of valuable time and 
of cordiality among some of the members. 

11 Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, 1:180. 


The animosity toward Chicago was displayed on numerous 
occasions by many of the downstate delegates; some, under 
the pretense of saving a principle, condemned every proposi- 
tion advanced in the interest of Cook county. They professed 
to believe that Chicago was a hotbed of political corruption 
and hence a standing menace to democracy. The most passion- 
ate expressions in this respect came from delegates who repre- 
sented the eastern side of the state and the tier of counties 
along the Wisconsin line, two sections that had felt the weight 
of competition from Chicago industry. 

The chief source of dissension in the convention was 
political, yet political discussion as such occupied surprisingly 
little time, considering the bitter feelings of the time over 
reconstruction and the fifteenth amendment. Apparently the 
leaders among the delegates recalled the result of dragging 
political animosities into constitution making, for it had been 
that very factor which caused the convention of 1862 to be 
discredited and its labor to be rejected by the people. So care- 
ful were they in this respect that Governor Palmer's name 
appears never to have been mentioned on the convention floor, 
while President Lincoln was referred to but once; and then 
his name was coupled with that of Stephen A. Douglas in a 
resolution expressing the pleasure of the convention in seeing 
the portraits of the two illustrious men hanging on the walls 
of the convention hall. Now and then, however, the hot-heads 
on either side broke away from restraint; on these occasions 
the republicans usually twitted their political opponents about 
the defects of the old constitution, while the democrats retal- 
iated by criticizing the extravagances of state administrations 
since 1860. Once only did the discussion take a more serious 
turn, when Elijah M. Haines of Lake, the staunch independ- 
ent and " antimonopolist," held President Grant up to rid- 


Despite these many digressions which caused the people 
over the state to suspect the honesty of the delegates and to 
fear that the constitution was a product of intrigue and cor- 
ruption, the convention did give itself to a serious examination 
of the needs of the state, as the instrument they framed bears 
witness. The delegates spent long hours in open debate after 
having considered carefully every measure in its appropriate 
committee. Of these measures six have had, and continue to 
have, an important bearing on the history of the state. The first 
related to the purchase and lease of the Illinois-Michigan canal; 
a second to the franchise, in which the whole question of suffrage 
in its relation to aliens, Negroes, and women was discussed; 
another to minority representation, which, it was hoped by its 
sponsors, would break down political sectionalism within the 
state; a fourth to the regulation of railroads in general, with 
special reference to the power of the state over the Illinois 
Central railroad; a fifth to the judiciary of the state, but 
more especially to the kinds, number, and jurisdiction of the 
courts in Cook county; while a sixth related to education and 

One of the first proposals which the convention took up 
seriously related to the Illinois-Michigan canal, which had 
been opened to navigation in 1848. Not only in revenue from 
tolls but also in opening up to settlement the sections of the 
state in which it was located, the canal, alone of all the vast 
system of internal improvements undertaken in the thirties, 
had been a fair success. 12 For that very reason, however, in 
the minds of many people the canal was no longer a state enter- 
prise, operated for the benefit of all, but rather a local one 
benefiting only those living in its vicinity. Hence the sections 
of the state remotely removed from the route of the canal 
either manifested little interest in its success or came out boldly 

12 See Centennial History of Illinois, 2: 194 ff. 


against it, denouncing it as a sectional enterprise. Previous 
legislation, uncertain as to the canal's ultimate success as a 
highway of commerce and unwilling to formulate policies that 
might be unpopular, had followed a halting policy in dealing 
with the canal. It is little wonder then that although the dele- 
gates felt the necessity of making some definite provision for 
the canal's future, yet in formulating these provisions a spirit 
of sectionalism should arise among them. 

On January 19, 1870, the standing committee on canals 
and canal lands reported its first constitutional section, which 
provided that the canal and " any addition or extension " 
which might "be made thereto" should "never be sold, leased 
or otherwise disposed of, to any person or corporation what- 
ever," but should " remain forever the property of this State 
and under its management and control." 13 An identical sec- 
tion was offered by the standing committee on internal improve- 
ments, and the two were considered as one. A week's debate 
ensued, 14 downstate members referring to the canal as a 
"running sore;" they objected to turning the Chicago river 
into the canal to making "the State . . . the scav- 
enger of Chicago." The animus of the opposition was aggra- 
vated by the desire of certain downstate members to embarrass 
Chicago in its efforts to secure adequate constitutional provi- 
sions for governing a rapidly growing urban community. The 
"shrieks of locality" filled the air: the distribution of the 
state school fund, the number of Cook county criminals in the 
penitentiary, the treatment accorded downstate visitors by 
Chicago hotel keepers, the wealth of Chicagoans both indi- 
vidually and as a group all were ramifications of the canal 
debates. 15 

13 Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, 1:210. 

14 Illinois State Register, January 26, 28, 1870. 

15 Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, i : 397. 


When on January 27, 1870, the article was finally taken 
up in the committee of the whole the opposition used three 
main points of attack. Silas L. Bryan of Marion county 
asserted that the canal expenditures up to that time had been 
a poor investment and hence that the legislature should not be 
prohibited by the constitution from leasing or selling the canal, 
should it ever be advisable to do so; James C. Allen of Craw- 
ford contended that the management of all such state enter- 
prises was lamentably weak and especially so in Illinois; a 
third somewhat indirect argument asserted that if the state 
as such desired to engage in transportation it should build 
railroads, for it had already been conclusively demonstrated 
that as routes of travel and transportation they were far 
superior to canals. 16 

Friends of the proposal, in addition to denying the validity 
of the argument that all state controlled enterprises, such as 
canals, were poor investments and invariably managed at a loss, 
took the high ground not only that the state should maintain 
the canal but also that it should enlarge it and by operating it 
check, if possible, the tendencies of railroad rates to increase; 
the state should never allow the railroads themselves to gain 
control of the canal as rumor had it about the convention 
they meant to do with the idea primarily of abandoning it. 
Medill, in support of the proposed article, made a distinction 
between leasing and selling; while he was willing to grant to 
the legislature the authority to lease it, he was unwilling to 
grant a similar authority as to its sale. At once southern 
members charged Chicago with a desire to maintain its hold 
on the canal, which in their opinion would be easier to accom- 
plish provided the legislature had no power to sell it; fur- 
thermore, they charged that the prohibition relating to lease 
would not affect the arrangement between Chicago and the 

18 Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, 1:310-320. 


state, which had been entered into under the old constitu- 
tions. 17 

For days the debate went on. Substitute after substitute 
and amendment after amendment were offered in an effort to 
change the meaning of the original article submitted by the 
two committees. On account of the uncertainty of the outcome 
no group demanded a vote, and no group manifested any 
willingness to postpone debate. Finally, on February 4, 
Browning of Adams county offered an entirely new article, 
which in a simple and common sense way provided that the 
canal should " never be sold or leased until the specific propo- 
sition for the sale or lease thereof" should first have been 
submitted "to a vote of the people of the State at a general 
election, and have been approved by a majority of all the votes 
polled at such election." 18 The committee of the whole 
indorsed the Browning amendment and accordingly reported 
it to the convention, recommending that it be made a part of 
the constitution. The convention adopted it by a vote of forty- 
nine to eleven, the Cook county delegation, with the exception 
of one member, refusing to vote. 19 

Fully as bitter as the debates over the canal were those in 
which the franchise question was the issue at stake. The 
fifteenth amendment to the constitution of the United States 
was then up for discussion; the women of the state were active 
in demanding the right to vote ; Illinois was rapidly becoming 
a center of a foreign born population. Four groups of inhabit- 
ants, therefore, demanded serious consideration: native white 
males, foreign born white males, women, and Negroes. Re- 
garding the limits to which the franchise should be extended 

17 In 1865 Chicago had leased the canal, the state agreeing, if the canal 
should revert to the state, to reimburse Chicago for any expenditures that might 
be made on it. In 1871 the state took over the canal. Andreas, History of 
Chicago, 2: 123. 

18 Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, 1:478. 

19 Illinois State Journal, January 31, February 2, 3, 4, 6, 1870. 


by the constitution there existed obviously a wide difference of 
opinion; a storm of debate was precipitated when the com- 
mittee on the right of suffrage, unable to agree among them- 
selves, offered one majority and two minority reports to the 
convention. 20 Though these reports differed in several respects, 
that of chief interest concerned qualifications for voting. The 
majority report recommended that " every person who was an 
elector in this State on the first day of April, A. D. 1848, and 
every male citizen of the United States above the age of 
twenty-one years, who shall have resided in the State one year 
and in the election district sixty days next preceding any elec- 
tion," should be entitled to vote at such election. 21 

Six of the nine members of the committee signed the 
majority report, but of the six, four offered a supplementary 
report which provided that the voters of the state should be 
permitted to express themselves on the question of extending 
the election franchise to women. The minority report proper, 
which was signed by three committee members, all of whom 
were from the southern part of the state, 22 proposed to restrict 
the franchise to white males, though willing that the voters of 
the state should decide whether or not the franchise should be 
withheld from Negroes. The issue then was not only the 
matter of franchise but also the question of permitting legally 
qualified voters of the state to decide what limitations, if any, 
should be placed on the privilege of both women and Negroes 
to vote. 23 

In the debate that followed, the fifteenth amendment was 
condemned, its supporters were criticized, and the question of 
the place of the Negro in American society and government 

20 Illinois State Journal, February 26, 1870. 

21 Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, i : 856. 

22 James M. Sharp of Wabash, William G. Bowman of Gallatin, and 
Charles E. McDowell of White county. 

23 Illinois State Register consistently opposed Negro suffrage. See issue of 
April 15, 1870. 


was thoroughly discussed. 24 Medill, however, took the position 
that the members of the constitutional convention had " nothing 
to do with the right of the colored man to vote," since he had 
" the same right to the suffrage as the white man," and it did 
not lie within "the power of this Convention to take it away 
from him." 25 

Woman's suffrage received even more serious consideration, 
though its enemies in the convention vainly tried to stop debate 
on the ground that a mere discussion of the right of women to 
vote was degrading to womanhood. Then they resorted to 
ridicule; they charged that the woman's suffrage question was 
the product of unbalanced minds and that its adherents were 
chiefly " long haired men and short haired women." 26 

The political status of unnaturalized adult males was also 
a source of prolonged debate. Under the constitution of 1848. 
a residence of one year within the state was the only require- 
ment for voting, and the members of the convention generally 
desired to impose more stringent requirements on foreign born 
voters. They found it difficult, however, to agree on the nature 
and extent of these requirements ; though some took the ground 
that it was highly inconsistent and indefensible to grant the 
franchise to Negroes and to withhold it from foreign born 
whites who had not yet been naturalized, the majority sub- 
scribed to a different view. Dement favored restricting the 
voting of unnaturalized inhabitants on the ground that any 
other course would give them privileges in directing the 
government without imposing on them corresponding obliga- 
tions and duties. Referring to the experiences of the Civil 
War, he declared "that these foreign-born citizens [voters in 
Illinois] that had not naturalized under the laws of the country 

24 Illinois State Register, February 7, 24, March 17, 24, April 9, 1870. 

25 Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, 2: 1290. 

26 Illinois State Register, March 10, 1870. 


came in when there was danger of a draft and plead the pro- 
tection of their sovereign, their allegiance to whom they had 
never renounced. . . . While the naturalized citizens and 
our native citizens were putting down the rebellion they were 
basking at home, protected by their allegiance to the sovereign 
of a foreign government. " Dement concluded that: "If we 
enfranchise them, and should be so unfortunate as to engage 
in another war, it is doubtful whether we could draft these 
enfranchised foreigners into our ranks to fight for this govern- 
ment, that was so kind and liberal to them as to give them the 
right of suffrage and the right to elect the officers of our 
government. " 27 Medill, in further support of this view, held 
tfyat'no state or nation was justified in extending the right of 
voting, nor could it safely do so to any one who still held 
allegiance to a foreign power. Their opponents, however, 
though evading the question of the inseparableness of rights 
and duties, contended that inasmuch as the unnaturalized for- 
eigners, as a class, were men of intelligence and many had 
proved their loyalty to the union by enlisting in the northern 
army, reliance should be placed on their good will to support 
the government in times of stress, and they should therefore 
be permitted to participate in the direction of government. 28 

The result of this long-drawn-out debate was that the 
franchise was restricted to citizens of the United States, to 
all electors in the state in 1848, and to all foreigners who had 
" obtained a certificate of naturalization, before any Court of 
record" in Illinois prior to January i, iSyo. 20 

The committee of the whole adopted the majority report 
which gave the ballot to Negroes and withheld it from women; 
but because one portion of the minority favored one minority 

27 Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, 2:1285. 

28 Ibid., 1285, 1290. 

29 Ibid., 1293; Illinois State Journal, April 16, 1870. 


report and another portion favored the other, it was impossible 
to say how many of the total negative votes of eighteen were 
influenced by the woman question and how many by the Negro 
question. The friends of woman's suffrage, therefore, follow- 
ing the report of the committee of the whole, forced the direct 
issue by offering a substitute for the committee report; in the 
final vote, with twenty-seven members not voting, they mustered 
twelve supporters. 30 

Another phase of the franchise question had to do with 
minority representation in the state legislature. Its advocates 
had in mind to decrease, if not to destroy, the intense sectipnal- 
ism that had characterized Illinois politics since the settlement 
of the northern counties. Before the war southern Illinois 
democratic in politics and southern in sympathies and extraction, 
was arrayed against northern Illinois, composed largely of 
New Englanders and New Yorkers with whig tendencies, while 
the central counties were divided both in politics and in sym- 
pathy. The war itself tended in a way to create a- better 
understanding; yet in 1870 practically every legislative dis- 
trict in southern and western Illinois was democratic; while in 
the eastern and northern sections, though not to the same 
degree, the republicans predominated. As a result the legis- 
lators from each section held a political as well as a sectional 
bias; and much of the legislation was colored by national 
politics. Already methods for breaking down this sectionalism 
had been discussed both in the newspapers and on the stump, 
and it was the generally accepted opinion throughout the 
state that the constitutional convention would examine the 
matter. 31 

The first move came on December 1 7, 1 869, when Robert P. 

80 Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, 2:1281; 
Illinois State Register, April 16, 1870. 
31 Ibid., January 4, 1870. 


Hanna of Wayne offered a resolution which provided that the 
proper committee should consider the advisability of recom- 
mending to the convention some plan whereby the number of 
representatives in a district should be greater than the total 
number of votes allowed to each elector, thereby giving the 
minority party in each district a chance to elect its own candi- 
date. Though creating little comment at the time, this sugges- 
tion was finally incorporated in the report of the committee on 
electoral reform 32 and after some modification was pushed to 
the vote. The provision met the opposition of only the few 
members opposed to the principle of minority representation 
itself, so that when the previous question was moved and a 
vote taken the measure was adopted by a vote of forty-six to 
seventeen. This plan of cumulative voting, whereby " each 
qualified voter may cast as many votes for one candidate as 
there are representatives to be elected, or may distribute the 
same, or equal parts thereof, among the candidates," was so 
novel that it was decided to submit it to the voters of the state 
as a separate section. 33 

Even more revolutionary than the adoption of minority 
representation was the stand taken by the delegates regarding 
the regulation of railroads by legislation. At the outset, when- 
ever the question of railroad regulation arose, the opinion was 
freely expressed that the only regulative principle possible was 
competition. "Build competing lines," said Hanna; "hold 
out liberal inducements for capitalists to come from every 
portion of the country and invest their capital and compete 
with them. When you have done this, the problem is solved, 
and the true and only relief furnished." 34 In this connection 

82 Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, 1:72; Illinois 
State Register, February 17, March 31, 1870. 

33 See letters of William M. Springer and Joseph Medill, Ibid., Septem- 
ber 21, 1870; Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, 2: 1878. 
For a further discussion, see Centennial History of Illinois, 5 : 294 ff. 

84 Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, i : 577. 


Medill pointed out: "It is easy for gentlemen in their wrath 
to declare that railroad extortion must be stopped by law. 
. . . They must be governed by the same common and 
general laws, under which we all live and hold our possessions, 
and enjoy our rights. ... I am not able, with what 
investigation I have given this subject for years, and with all 
the light I have been able to extract from able and astute 
lawyers, to conceive of any adequate and sufficient means of 
checking railroad overcharges and rapacity, by statute law of 
this State." 35 

This was the opinion held b.y a large majority of the dele- 
gates until the last few days of the convention, when Reuben M. 
Benjamin of Bloomington, an authority on constitutional law, 
began to advance arguments which took entirely different 
ground. Railroad corporations, he held, had been created 
for the public good; and inasmuch as they had been given 
power of eminent domain they were under control of the 
legislature; the lawmaking body had as much right to regulate 
rates on railroads as to regulate bridge and ferry tolls; fur- 
ther, the rights of private corporations ought not and could not 
stand in the way of public rights, despite any action of the 
legislature in creating corporations or in issuing charters. His 
arguments were so well supported, both in law and in fact, 
and he was so well able to substantiate them with case after 
case and opinion after opinion, that his contention began to 
effect a radical change in the attitude of the convention. 36 

Consequently, when on May 3 the committee on railroad 
corporations brought in a report, which provided that the 
legislature might fix railroad rates, the weight of argument in 
the most scholarly debate of the session swung to the other side. 
Not only did the lawyer members feel safe in the niceties of a 

35 Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, i : 325. 

36 Ibid., 2:1641-1643. 


constitutional question, but the old guard had already suc- 
cumbed to Benjamin's logic and with a right-about face were 
now advancing his arguments. When Medill spoke carefully 
and with good effect on the right of the constitution to authorize 
the legislature to control railroads, his reasoning was a com 
plete reversal of that which he had used a few months pre. 
viously. Then he had denied the existence of such a right; now 
he held to the exact opposite. His "investigation" extending 
over a series of years and the "light" he had "extracted" 
from numerous lawyers was lost. Speaking as a " layman," 
Medill set aside without serious consideration whatever claim 
of vested interests the railroads or their friends might make 
and took the position that any power the legislature might have 
conferred on the railroads to charge extortionate rates was 
clearly void and could be legally set aside. " I believe 
there is no remedy to be obtained in competing lines. . . . 
The real remedy is for the people, through this Conven- 
tion and the State Legislature, to assert their sovereignty 
and supremacy over all the creatures of the Legislature, 
and declare what the law shall be in this regard. ... It 
is within my recollection, sir, that decisions of the highest 
courts have been overruled and overturned by the uprising of 
the people by the ground swell of the masses." 37 During 
the debate, which extended over four days, the whole question 
of vested rights held by the railroads was threshed out and 
their claims thoroughly examined. Finally the convention 
agreed, though the vote was rather close, to restrict the rate 
making power of the railroads by lodging it in the hands of 
the legislature. 

With the policy toward the railroads of the state settled, 
there remained the necessity of determining exactly what rela- 
tion should exist between the state and the Illinois Central 

37 Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, 2: 1645. 


railroad, which had been aided by the donation of public lands. 
Hitherto the road had paid a definite proportion of its receipts 
into the state treasury, in return for which it was exempt from 
taxes. Although a majority of the members of the convention 
favored a continuation of this policy, a radical minority urged 
that the road be placed on the same taxing basis as all other 
railroads in the state. For this, they advanced two chief argu- 
ments: first, they contended that with the property of the 
road exempt from taxation the counties in which the lines of 
the Illinois Central railroad were located were finding it 
increasingly difficult to raise sufficient funds by local taxation; 
second, they pointed out that since the road was compelled to 
pay large sums into the state treasury, it took advantage of 
that fact to charge higher freight and passenger rates than 
would otherwise have been the case. 

The first argument Allen of Crawford met with a scathing 
indictment of the counties along the road of the Illinois Central. 
"They come here and whine and whimper to induce us to 
release them from the obligations they entered into with us 
when we made the contract with the railroad company, and 
they beg the other counties, ' for God's sake relieve us from 
the terms of that contract.' 

"That is wrong. They have no moral right to ask it. 
They got all we contracted to give them when they got the 
Illinois Central railroad. They have all its advantages, while 
we in the other counties, for every mile of railroad we have 
built, have had to draw from our own pockets, and tax 

" Now they ask us to surrender the interest of the State 
in the seven per cent, that the people of counties on the road 
may not be burdened by this taxation. Burdened ! Why, 
gentlemen, the Illinois Central railroad has made you rich. 
It has poured into the lap of those counties millions of 


wealth. It has built up large towns and cities all along its 
line, while the other sixty odd counties have not had one 
dollar's benefit from it, except as they have derived it from 
the taxes paid into the State treasury." 38 

In the end the convention agreed to continue the seven per 
cent provision of the Illinois Central charter; and in order to 
prevent it from ever becoming an issue in the legislature they 
submitted to the people a separate section which provided that 
" no contract, obligation or liability whatever of the Illinois 
Central railroad company to pay any money into the State 
treasury . . . shall ever be released, suspended, modified, 
altered, remitted, or in any manner diminished or impaired by 
legislation or other authority." 30 This provision was indorsed 
by the people, with the result that under the constitution of 
1870 the question of the liability of the Illinois Central rail- 
road to pay a portion of its gross receipts into the state treasury 
has never been questioned. 

A fifth series of debates was over the reorganization of the 
judiciary. All portions of the state felt the need of more 
speedy justice, but to Cook county it had become a matter of 
vital importance. The rapid congestion of population in Chi- 
cago had increased legal business of all descriptions; numerous 
land sales, the rapid multiplication of grain elevators, and the 
growth of the Board of Trade were among the factors which in- 
creased civil law cases ; while the easy opportunity for robberies, 
thefts, and even murder among a dense and cosmopolitan popu- 
lation of a quarter million, multiplied the need of more criminal 
law machinery. Chicago, therefore, wanted more courts, and 
more and better paid judges; and, because this number far 
exceeded that which the same number of people downstate 
either desired or needed, the judiciary debates in the end con- 

88 Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, 2: 1615. 
89 Constitution of 1870, ibid., 1878. 


cerned themselves chiefly with whether or not Chicago should 
attain its needs. 

Various schemes were proposed for relieving the legal 
congestion under which not only Chicago, but, to a less degree, 
many other sections of the state suffered. One scheme favored 
several appellate courts made up of circuit court judges taken 
temporarily from the circuits within each appellate district; 
another suggested a court of common pleas, having concurrent 
jurisdiction with the circuit courts, to handle the less important 
cases that would ordinarily go to the circuit courts. The scheme 
which brought forth the most debate, however, provided that 
in the downstate circuits there should be ninety or a hundred 
thousand inhabitants for each judge, while in Chicago for each 
judge there should be fifty thousand or less. This proposal 
met the bitter opposition of many downstate members, not 
because their sections of the state needed more judges or 
because Chicago needed fewer; but because, as they said, in a 
constitution there should be no discrimination between local- 

As the debates proceeded and it became increasingly difficult 
successfully to deny the claims of Chicago, the opposition 
resorted to ridicule. " Now, the time was when the rural 
districts required more judges for the same number of inhabit- 
ants. It was at a time when there were a great many law- 
suits growing out of the wild hog question; but in those rural 
districts there is no more mast-fed pork; and the result is, 
litigation has measurably ceased. [Laughter.] They are a 
quiet, honest and industrious people, and do not require a 
judge for every forty thousand, as they do in those cities 
where there are people who propose to live off of each other, 
by just peeling each other every time they pass upon the 
street." 40 Ridicule, however, was of no avail; the better 

40 Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, i: 117. 


sense of the delegates overcame their prejudices, with the 
result that the constitution made provision not only for the 
increasing business of the courts downstate, but also, in a much 
more radical manner, for the peculiar interests of Chicago. 41 
In matters of religion and education the delegates con- 
sidered the relation of church and state, the various types and 
kinds of religious organizations in their relation to the school 
system and to each other, and examine with considerable care 
the principle of free education in all its ramifications. " Sepa- 
ration of church and state" the delegates appeared to have 
clearly in mind; time after time in different debates, the mem- 
bers, while expressing their profound conviction that the well- 
being of the state of Illinois depended on its citizens giving their 
hearty allegiance to Christianity, insisted that the new constitu- 
tion should restrict neither by word nor implication the full 
and complete right of each citizen to hold whatever religious 
views he desired. 42 William H. Underwood of St. Clair 
expressed the sentiments of a majority of his colleagues when 
he said: "The line between church and State in this country 
is clearly drawn. The duties to Almighty God are not touched 
in any manner whatever by human government. We have no 
jurisdiction of the subject. While our social relations and our 
duties to our fellow creatures are properly and legitimately 
the subject of human legislation, all efforts heretofore made 
in the old world and in this country to introduce religious tests 
or to incorporate in a Constitution or government made by all 
the people for all the people, any part of the creed or any one 
church, are, in my humble judgment, tyranny and despotism, 
and an abuse of the power of human government wholly 
unwarranted, which, in modern times, will not be submitted 

41 See Constitution, article vi, section 23. For a full discussion of the subject, 
see Centennial History of Illinois, 5 : 323 ff. 

42 Constitution, article II, section 3 ; Illinois State Journal, January 28, 1870. 


to, and ought not to be submitted to by a free people who claim 
for themselves the sovereign right of religious liberty, and are 
equally determined to grant the same right and privilege to 
every other human being." 4S 

More difficult was the question of the place of the parochial 
school in the state's educational system. The members as a 
group stood for free elementary education, and a majority 
opposed any diversion of the school funds to the use of private 
schools; and, although great pressure was brought to bear on 
the convention for a provision in the constitution whereby 
school funds might be paid to "schools and other institutions 
of learning of classes of the people whose conscientious scruples 
prevent them from using the public schools, by appropriations 
to the extent of the school taxes paid by such classes," yet in 
the end it was decided to keep the entire school fund intact 
for the public schools. 44 

Closely related to the proposition to appropriate a portion 
of the school funds to parochial schools was that to tax the 
real estate owned by church organizations but not used directly 
in worship. On the authority of Medill, it was stated on the 
floor of the convention that Chicago alone had twenty million 
dollars worth of such property, the exemption of which 
increased the taxes paid by other property owners at least 
fifteen per cent. Since no general rule, however, could be laid 
down for determining just how or when property was used 
for religious worship, the convention could not attempt to 
settle the matter. 

Proposals to have the Bible read in the public school started 
a torrent of debate. James G. Bayne of Woodford, in starting 
the discussion, declared that the Bible " is the only book now 
extant in the world by which man can have any definite idea 

43 Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, 2: 1319. 

44 Ibid., 1:622; Constitution, article vm, section 3. 


of his origin or of his creation." 45 William H. Snyder of 
St. Clair opposed the proposal on the ground that it would be 
an imposition on the Catholics of the state. "Has it ever 
struck our protestant fellow-citizens," he said, "who are the 
authors of this movement, what the consequences would be, 
if their position and that of our Catholic countrymen were 
reversed, and if Douay instead of the King James version of 
the Bible, were sought to be enforced by law upon the public 
schools of this State if their hard earned means were wrested 
from them by the tax-gatherer in order that the doctrines of 
a hostile church and what they consider the most pernicious 
of errors, were about to be impressed forever upon the young 
and tender minds of their darling children?" 46 Snyder's 
view prevailed; the constitution went to the people with no 
reference to the use of the Bible in the public schools. 

Public education occasioned even more debate than religion, 
for here again sectional interests were at play. Members from 
the northern counties, whose proportion of taxable property 
outran their proportion of school children, sharply protested 
the proposition to apportion state funds among the counties 
according to school population. Allen of Crawford and other 
southern members argued, with effect, that the well-being of 
children was the concern of the state rather than of individual 
counties, and this larger aspect was the decisive factor in 
formulating the decision of the members. 

In all the debates, divisions of opinion among the delegates 
merely reflected similar divisions among the people; for that 
reason the convention deemed it advisable to submit to the 
voters for their special consideration such articles as might 
endanger the indorsement of the constitution proper. Accord- 
ingly, the voters were asked to adopt or reject, in addition to 

45 Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, 2: 1740. 
"Ibid., 1743. 


the constitution, eight separate articles: those in relation to 
corporations, warehouses, removal of county seats, minority 
representation, canal, Illinois Central railroad, municipal sub- 
scriptions to railroads or private corporations, and an article 
entitled "counties." All were indorsed by large majorities, 
the closest vote being on minority representation, which was 
99,022 to 70,080. The proposed constitution was therefore 
indorsed in toto by the people. 47 

^Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, 2:1296. Sec 
Centennial History of Illinois, 5: 190 ff., for a full analysis of the contents of the 



THE early seventies in Illinois marked a period of growth, 
characterized by the changing aspect of the school and 
the pulpit, by the incorporation of new ideas, and by the widen- 
ing outlook on life. Awakening social consciousness brought 
conflict political, social, religious, racial. "We are fallen 
upon a time of agitation," commented the Chicago Tribune. 
"There is a general shaking up of the virtues, and the vices, 
and the pools of society are being vigorously stirred by the 
angels of reform." * 

That lowering of the moral tone, public and private, which 
reflective men had noticed so markedly in the latter sixties, 
still left its shadow over the land; it was a gloomy picture 
that editors painted in New Year summaries. "The world of 
morality has little to boast of. Crime has increased rapidly. 
Corruption has left its taint all over the land. Public and pri- 
vate trusts have been betrayed in a reckless manner. Defalca- 
tions, embezzlements, frauds, murders, swindles, violence, riots 
and thefts are and have been the order of the day and the 
prospect does not brighten any with the advent of the new 
year." Cairo gained the reputation of killing one man per 
week, while Chicago increased its notoriety for gamblers, 
"bunko ropers," confidence men, and murderers. 2 

"A clearing out" was advocated in Springfield on the 
ground that that city was "infested with an unwholesome 

1 Chicago Tribune, February 26, 1874. 

2 Ibid., January i, 1875; Illinois State Register, September 8, 1873, June 30, 
1874; Ogle County Reporter, December 17, 1874; Chicago Tribune, May 28, 29, 



debris consisting of bullies, strumpets, vagrants, and sneak 
thieves." On one occasion, Christmas eve, 1873, "the city 
was practically in the possession of a gang of drunken vaga- 
bonds. A negro was beaten on the street, ladies were insulted, 
men assaulted, a religious festival interrupted, and various 
other acts of ruffianism perpetrated." 3 

To the public generally the "Williamson county war" was 
the most flagrant example of untrammeled lawlessness. This 
" war " had originated in a fued between two Williamson 
county families " growing out of some trivial cause " and had 
attained such huge proportions that within two years the 
vendetta had reaped the toll of twenty-seven murders, a number 
which rumor swelled to as high as forty. Journalistic comment 
unmercifully lashed the participators in the feud, the county 
officials, and especially Governor Beveridge for allowing the 
"reign of terror" and "carnival of blood" to continue in 
Williamson county. The Chicago Tribune scored its " Napo- 
leonic governor" for permitting " KuKluxism in this State," 
while the State Register urged the governor to " wake up," 
and to cease being " as dumb as an oyster," and " as action- 
less as a post." 4 It was only by the trial of the bandits under 
the Ku Klux law, however, that the vendetta was finally 

By far the most terrific social and economic calamity of the 
period was the great Chicago fire. Like many western cities, 
Chicago had grown so rapidly that at this time almost all the 
56,000 buildings within the city limits were of pine construc- 

During the summer of 1871 the whole country had suffered 

3 Illinois State Register, May 16, 1871, December 27, 1875. 

4 Illinois State Register, May 25, 1875; Chicago Tribune, August 6, 9, 19, 
1875. For typical journalistic comments and press dispatches on the feud, see 
ibid., December 18, 1874, May 25, July i, August 2, 6, 9, 20, 1875; Cairo Evening 
Bulletin, August 3, 1875, clipped in Illinois State Register, August 6, 1875 ; Chicago 
Tribune, May 25, August 9, 10, 18, 1875. 


from a severe drought, and in Chicago almost no rain had 
fallen. Owing to its situation that city is exposed to sweeping 
winds from every side; those from the lake are generally wet, 
but the hot, dry winds from the southwest were the ones the 
city feared. They passed over acres of flimsy frame buildings, 
leaving them as dry as tinder, before reaching the more sub- 
stantial business section within the fire limits. " Chicago, then, 
had for years been exposed to a destructive fire. All that was 
required was the concurrence of certain circumstances 
a long continued dry season; a fire starting among wooden 
buildings on the West Side; a negligent or worn-out Fire 
Department, and a gale of wind strong enough to carry the 
fire-brands across the South Branch and the river. On the 9th 
of October they happened together." 5 

Even after the fire was well started in the west division, no 
general alarm was felt, for the river was considered sufficient 
protection to the south and north division. But the " fire was 
accompanied by the fiercest tornado of wind ever known to 
blow here, and it acted like a perfect blow-pipe, driving the 
brilliant blaze hundreds of feet with so perfect a combustion 
that it consumed the smoke, and its heat was so great that fire- 
proof buildings sunk before it, almost as readily as wood." 
When the fire jumped the river the whole city lay at its mercy. 
Soon "billows of fire were rolling over the business palaces 
of the city, and swallowing up their contents. Walls were 
falling so fast that the quaking of the ground under our feet 
was scarcely noticed, so continuous was the reverberation. 
Sober men and women were hurrying through the streets from 
the burning quarter some with bundles of clothing on their 
shoulders ; others, dragging trunks along the sidewalk . . 
children trudging by the sides or borne in their arms. Now 
and then a sick man or woman would be observed, half con- 

Chicago Tribune, October 9, 1872. 


cealed in a mattress doubled up and borne by two men." 6 
Carts, wagons, carriages dashed through the streets while men 
still frantically sought for some conveyance to bear them away. 
Nearer the disaster "people were mad. Despite the police 
indeed the police were powerless they crowded upon frail 
coigns of vantage, as fences and high side walks propped on 
wooden piles, which fell beneath their weight, and hurled them, 
bruised and bleeding, into the dust. They stumbled over broken 
furniture and fell, and were trampled under foot. Seized with 
wild and causeless panics, they surged together backwards and 
forwards in the narrow streets, cursing, threatening, imploring, 
fighting to get free. . . . Everywhere dust, smoke, flame, 
heat, thunder of falling walls, crackle of fire, hissing of water, 
panting of engines." 7 To make the helplessness of the city 
more complete, the great pumping stations were disabled by a 
burning roof falling upon them, so that not enough water could 
be lifted from the lake to quench a bonfire; the tearing down 
and blowing up of buildings was found to be almost the only 
method of stopping the flames. 

The total area of the burnt district covered 2,024 acres 
on which 13,500 buildings were consumed; the dwelling places 
of 100,000 citizens were destroyed, 92,000 persons being ren- 
dered homeless. It was estimated that 250 people lost their 
lives, while the financial loss reached the sum of $187,927,000. 
Relief poured in from other states and even foreign countries 
to an amount little short of $5,000,000 the nine railroads 
entering Chicago could hardly furnish cars to transport the 
provisions and clothing that came in. 8 The state legislature, 
called into special session by Governor Palmer, was powerless 
to render direct aid to the stricken city; it passed, however, 

8 Letter of W. B. Ogden, quoted by Andreas, History of Chicago, 2:704; 
ibid,, 734. 

7 Chicago Post, October 18, 1871. 

8 Koerner, Memoirs, 2 : 532. 


an act redeeming the canal from the lien thereon for the cost 
of its improvement by Chicago, and the amount of $2,955,340 
was thus constitutionally placed at the disposal of Chicago. 

Individual lives and fortunes had in a great many cases 
suffered irreparable misfortune, but the city itself now seemed 
to come into quicker and fuller life. Within two years the 
bare ground on State and the streets parallel with it was worth 
more than land and buildings were before the fire, for the 
entire destruction of the old business section had cleared the 
way for all sorts of improvements. 

Brick, stone, and later steel buildings were erected in the 
place of the earlier frame buildings, and within four years 
after the fire it was estimated that nearly $18,000,000 had 
been expended for stone and brick construction. 9 

If the fire did not check the material growth of Chicago 
very seriously, neither did it, for more than a season or so, 
banish those arts of living which that city had so early shown 
a desire to cultivate. 10 Chicago had long been favored with 
good opera and plays of the better type. During the winter 
season of 1875 the Italian Opera Company playing in Chicago 
included "La Traviata," "Lucia," "Faust," and "Lohen- 
grin" in its repertoire, theater-goers were afforded the oppor- 
tunity of seeing actors like Edwin Booth and Clara Morris in 
"Richelieu" and " Camille," while Sunday night concerts at 

9 Chicago Tribune, July 20, 1874. Strange as it may seem, the city did not 
at once take adequate precaution against future fires; and it was not until a fire 
in 1874 destroyed $4,000,000 worth of property and exacted $2,381,400 from insur- 
ance companies that the board of underwriters and the withdrawal of insurance 
companies forced remedial action. A popular mass meeting of the board of under- 
writers demanded a reorganization of the fire department; extension of fire 
limits; organization of a force of sappers and miners; increase of the capacity 
of water pipes and plugs ; protection of the business section from the frame 
buildings in the southern, western, and northern parts of the city; and removal 
of the lumber yards to a more remote section. On July 22, the mayor signed an 
order extending the fire limits to the outer boundaries of the city, and other 
improvements were not long after made. Chicago Tribune, July 18, 20, 22, 
October 9, 1874. 

10 See Centennial History of Illinois, 3 : 436 ff. 


the Chicago Academy of Music and recitals by the Liederkranz 
and other societies were again offering their attractive pro- 
grams. 11 The first reception at the Fine Arts Institute after 
the fire Chicago had heralded in 1 874 : " Time was, before the 
fire, when art receptions were notable events. . . . Then 
came the fire and burned up the galleries and many of the 
pictures, and drove the artists here, there, and everywhere, 
so that they no longer had local habitation or name. . . 
As the new city, however, began to rise out of the ashes, one 
after the other they began to return again, and now there are 
more artists here than there were before the fire." 12 

Other cities of the state were neglecting neither music nor 
art. In 1875 Springfield indulged in a three-day carnival of 
music when, at its invitation, twenty-two singing societies sig- 
nified their intention of attending the sdngerfest on the twenty- 
eighth and twenty-ninth of June. 13 At Jacksonville, an art 
society was organized in 1875 an< ^ conducted an exhibit of the 
five "pieces of art owned in the city" an effort which the 
Chicago Tribune approved as showing " a remarkable evidence 
of aesthetic culture." The Illinois Industrial University was 
the proud owner of a "grand collection," said to be "the 
largest west of New York; " the art gallery there was formally 
opened January i, 1875, with four hundred pictures and four 
hundred pieces of sculpture on exhibit. 14 

Libraries and lecture courses still furnished an important 
element of culture. At a lecture course in Sterling, Senator 
Carl Schurz, Professor Swing of Chicago, Schuyler Colfax, 
" Eli " Perkins, Mrs. Scott-Siddons, the Boston Quintette, the 
Camillo-Urso Troupe, General Banks, and Lillian Edgerton 

11 Chicago Tribune, January 2, 14, 16, 18, 1875. 

12 Ibid., February 13, 1874. 
lbid., June 3, July i, 1875. 

14 Ibid., January 22, 1875. Citizens of Champaign and Urbana contributed 
the funds for the collection which was purchased in Europe by Dr. John M. 
Gregory. Ibid., January 2, 1875. 


offered their various talents during the winter of 1875. In 
Chicago, Sunday lectures, literary societies, classes in English 
literature, and the extensive use of libraries indicated a con- 
scious effort at improvement. 15 

The diversions of rural life changed but little during the 
seventies. Exorbitant railroad rates still largely forbade 
traveling, so that occasional visits to the neighboring town to 
see Barnum and Company's circus or to attend the county fair 
were the only trips that took the average farmer and his family 
out of their accustomed environment. A pioneer mail order 
firm offered its customers only croquet, playing cards, dominoes, 
chess, and cribbage boards, though occasionally an agricultural 
paper would advertise " Chivalrie, The New Lawn Game." 16 

For reading matter, in addition to the family Bible, which 
in most homes was the only book the house afforded, 17 there 
was sometimes a community or metropolitan newspaper, but 
for mental stimulus the entire family depended upon the agri- 
cultural paper, which found its way into almost every home. 
Within its few pages was combined a wide variety of matter; 
political news of interest to farmers; progress of the state 
granges; scientific and popular articles on agriculture and its 
new developments; labor-saving devices on the farm and in 
the home; fiction and poetry for children; occasional love 
stories or extracts from diaries of farm women; poetry, puz- 
zles, anagrams, enigmas these were a few of the varied 
items to be found in a typical agricultural paper of the day. 18 

If rural life afforded little in the way of formal amuse- 
ment, it was growing richer in organized social life. The 
serious business of fighting the railroads had led to the forma- 

15 Chicago Tribune, January 8, May 13, 1875, February 21, 1876. New York 
Post clipped in the Chicago Tribune, January 2, 1875. 

16 Prairie Farmer, June 20, 1874. 

17 Catalogs of Montgomery Ward and Company for 1874, 1876, and 1878 
advertised no books. 

18 See volumes of Prairie Farmer, 1870-1876. 

Population of 

Illinois per 

square mile in 



100 to 200 

55 to 100 

45 to 55 

35 to 45 

Less than 35 


tion of farmers' clubs, and of local and state granges. Women 
were admitted on an equal footing with men, and consequently 
when business was over the session took on the air of a festive 
gathering. Local granges often provided for picnics and excur- 
sions ; and delegates to grange conventions listened to programs 
where poetry as well as papers on cheaper transportation 
played a part. 19 

One of the most marked evidences of social growth in the 
state was the broadening scope of education. During these 
years, kindergartens were inaugurated, schools for deaf-mutes 
and feeble-minded were established, night schools were opened, 
while industrial education and optional studies in the curriculum 
had their beginnings. 20 In 1872 compulsory education began 
to be seriously advocated; in February a teachers' institute 
adopted resolutions declaring that not only is compulsory edu- 
cation necessary to the school system, but upon it rests the 
" foundation of liberty and good management," and in October 
of the same year, similar resolutions were even proposed at 
the regular republican convention. Two years later a com- 
pulsory education bill was introduced into the state legislature; 
it provided that children between the ages of nine and fourteen 
should be compelled to attend school at least three months a 
year; it stipulated the subjects to be taught during that time 
and imposed fines in case of violation of the law. 21 

The Chicago Tribune hailed the proposed bill as a salutary 
measure which, if carried out, would by lessening ignorance 
tend to lessen crime as well. To the Chicago Times, however, 
the proposed bill created "by force of statute a new crime, 
to-wit: the crime of liberty in education. It declares it to be 

19 Prairie Farmer, March 28, July 4, July n, 1875 ; Chicago Tribune, August 
24, 1875, September 12, 1876; Proceedings of the State Grange of Illinois, 1875. 

20 Ottawa Republican, February 15, 1872, July 31, 1873, July 15, August 19, 
December 23, 1875; Chicago Tribune, January i, 29, 1874, February 10, 1875, 
October 6, 1876; Illinois State Register, July 3, 1875. 

21 Chicago Tribune, February 15, October 2, 1872, January 21, 23, 1874. 


a crime for parents to be the educational guardians of their 
own children." 22 The bill was killed in the senate and the 
State Register records its defeat as being " among the many 
good acts of the adjourned session." 23 

Signs of educational growth and change did not appear 
without strong opposition, and democrats in particular found 
much to criticise in the school system as a whole. The State 
Register fought the public schools on the grounds of unwar- 
ranted expenditures, too extended a curriculum, and general 
mismanagement. " Our schools, as now conducted, cost the 
people of the state over $9,000,000 per year and the result is 
absolutely nil. . . . The only way to save the public 
school system from extirpation as a nuisance is to reform it. 
If the general assembly will pass a bill restricting the studies 
in all public schools to the English branches, excluding all and 
singular flub-dubs and fribbles ... it will be a grand 
reform." 24 High schools were claimed to be "tax-eating 
monopolies " and " instead of being schools to furnish all 
children a good common school education are quasi colleges, 
where dead and foreign languages are taught, and children are 
turned out expensive blockheads without even the rudiments of 
a common school education." 

Democrats were ably seconded in their criticism by Catholic 
journals. "All the stock arguments hashed and rehashed up 
from time to time by the Protestant press in favor of our 
common-school system have been answered and refuted cen- 
turies ago," said the Western Catholic of Chicago. "The 
corollary to be deduced from the general principles stated is, 
that the denominational system of education is the only sound 
one. It is just as economical as any other. The injustice of 

22 Chicago Tribune, January 22, 1*74; Chicago Times, January 22, clipped in 
Chicago Tribune, January 26, 1874. 

23 Chicago Tribune, March 24, 1874; Illinois State Register, April 3, 1874. 

24 Ibid., March 23, 1875. 


Protestantism is singularly exemplified by its permitting the 
Catholics to pay for two systems, as they are compelled to do 
under the present order of things. They are taxed for the 
common schools, which they cannot use, and they have to sup- 
port, in addition, their own educational establishments." 25 
Democrats, however, disdained the charge that their criticism 
might be based on sectarian grounds. "The Journal insists," 
commented the State Register, "that no one is displeased with 
tl] present perverted public school system but Roman Catho- 
lics. This is an unworthy, puritanical charge, and is as mean 
as it is false. . . . Scores of Protestants of the strictest 
sect, demand that the High School be abolished, the grades of 
all the schools raised, and that the city furnish common school 
educations, and not make sickly and expensive attempts at 
collegiate courses, contrary to the original intention of the 
common school law. The most radical persons we have met 
on this subject belong to the Methodist church." 2G 

The question of admitting Negroes to common schools 
roused great political and sectional bitterness. It was urged 
that the admission of Negro pupils was unwarranted, uncon- 
stitutional, unnecessary; that it exposed Negro children to 
ridicule; that to have Negro children thrust into the schools 
was unfair to white pupils. Springfield was the seat of a 
decidedly heated controversy over the so-called " public school 
outrage." The Illinois Journal claimed that the fourteenth 
amendment practically bound them to open schools to Negro 
children, that it was the constitution and the law which were 
to blame, if the members of the school board opened the 
schools to Negroes in a conscientious discharge of their duty. 
The State Register answered that the fourteenth amendment 
" is not violated by the establishment of separate schools for 

25 Chicago Tribune, July 6, 1875. 

26 Illinois State Register, August 2, 1873. 


colored children. ... If the negro race were the equal 
or even the superior of the white race, we should still be 
opposed to the mixing of white and black children in our 
public schools for the reason that such intermixing of chil- 
dren tends to establish social intimacies, which will result in 
intermarriage and amalgamation." 27 Many of those who 
opposed admission of Negro children began to look about 
them for private and other schools in which to place their 
children. On October 20, 1873, "eighteen negro children/' 
of Springfield "were admitted to the Fourth ward school;" 
the following day several prominent protestants began to 
arrange "with the Christian Brothers of the Roman Catholic 
church for the establishment ... of a school embrac- 
ing the various grades for boys." 28 

Chicago supplied a bone of contention for educators when 
by the action of the school board a unanimous vote dropped 
Bible reading and the Lord's Prayer from school programs. 
Protest and commendation at once greeted this action. The 
resolutions of a public mass meeting condemned the action of 
the school board; the Chicago presbytery strongly deprecated 
it, while Methodist ministers petitioned for the rescinding of 
the action. Other members of the clergy, however, indorsed 
the change; the Reverend E. F. Williams, a congregational 
minister, thought it "unwise to insist upon Bible-reading as 
an exercise in the public schools," believing it to be " a viola- 
tion of the conscientious convictions of many good citizens, and 
in this way a species of tyranny and oppression which ought 
not be countenanced by a Government professing to be repub- 
lican in form." 29 Dr. Samuel Fallows, a Reformed Episcopal 
rector, argued for the entire separation of church and state, 

27 Illinois State Register, October 14, 21, 1873. 

2s lbid., October 21, 1873. 

29 Chicago Tribune, October i, 5, 30, November 9, 29, 1875. 


while the Reverend C. L. Thompson, a Presbyterian clergy- 
man, claimed that since schools were supported by taxation 
from all, it was unfair to compel " children of Romanists and 
Jews to engage in a form of worship which they do not 
believe." 30 

The impartial spirit that led such men to a stand which 
would probably have been impossible to ministers of the fore- 
going generation was significant of the general broadening that 
was coming over the religious world. That it was an age of 
transition was obvious to all; the awakening scientific attitude 
was affecting the life of the spirit. In some pulpits fear of 
the new dispensation took the form of a puritanical reaction 
against any form of current amusements. The Methodists 
expressed officially their "cause for apprehension concerning 
another growing evil, the fondness of social and public 
amusements. . . . We do not refer to the theatre, the 
circus, the ball room, or the wine-party. These confessedly 
lead to spiritual death." They frowned upon the practice of 
laymen reading Sunday papers, pronounced against Sunday 
trains, and denounced the Sunday meat market, though such 
restrictions were laughed down by many laymen. 31 

The years 1874 and 1875 witnessed a great upheaval of 
the revival spirit. When before overcrowded halls and taber- 
nacles evangelists wrestled with the demon sin and showed 
their audiences how to down him, they met with whole-hearted 
popular response and effected many conversions. At Joliet, 
where a great revival was in progress, four hundred conver- 

30 The school board took the latter stand, and by a vote of ten to three 
refused to rescind their action. Chicago Tribune, October 4, November 13, 1875. 

31 Ibid., January i, 12, 1875. When resolutions embodying such pronuncia- 
mentos were passed by the Rock river conference the Chicago Tribune scoffingly 
remarked that when such measures could be passed " in this good and centennial 
year of grace, railroads, telegraphs . . . [it] must give us cause sufficient 
to rub our eyes and see if there is not some old woman hanging from the 
telegraph-pole, or some erring brother branded with a scarlet letter for eating 
unsanctified beans for his Sunday dinner." Chicago Tribune, October 19, 1876. 


sions were reported in a few weeks, and a revivalist at 
Bloomington in two weeks converted 1,000 persons. A camp 
meeting in progress at Sulphur Springs near Carlinville had 
5,000 people in attendance, while Kankakee was a close second 
with an average daily attendance of 4,000 people. 32 But in 
Chicago, the "godless" city, the revival wave reached its 
height. It was rocky soil that confronted the great evangelists, 
Moody and Sankey, but their enthusiasm did not blench; the 
first meeting was held at eight on Sunday morning an hour 
which put "the zeal of the good people of Chicago to a rather 
dangerous strain, but the result fully justified the measure, for 
when he [Moody] came to his preaching desk exactly at the 
hour he found awaiting him an audience of 7,000 people." 
The afternoon service of the same day was attended by over 
8,000 people. During the whole time that the revival labors 
were being carried on, the people of Chicago flocked to 
his tabernacle in great numbers, and "the signs of a great 
awakening" were in evidence. 

The old and new forces in the formal spiritual life of the 
day found direct expression in a bitter war between orthodoxy 
and latitudinarianism. To many the crying need of the period 
was some faith to bridge the gap between scientific discoveries 
and old religious traditions; where such an atmosphere pre- 
vailed it was natural that pulpit preaching should change. The 
sermon of "physical hells, actual devils, bona-fide infernos, 
and all sorts of sulphurous horrors," passed away, and the 
exposition of " harsh and vindictive dogma " was being 
" avoided by most ministers." He who attempted much lati- 
tude of interpretation, however, was liable to the charge of 

82 Illinois State Register, February 10, 1873, September i, 1875; Ottawa 
Republican, February 19, 1874; Chicago Tribune, September i, 1875. One 
Chicago preacher pointed out a singular connection between financial panics 
and revivals of religion, since panics produce demoralization, and "demoraliza- 
tion has invariably been succeeded by a profound and universal religious 


heresy; the Reverend Mr. McKaig of the Ninth Presbyterian 
church stood trial for heresy charged with making utterances 
which would " seem to imply that some of the portions of the 
Bible are not inspired, by representing it as containing ' incon- 
gruous admixtures,' 'strange stories,' . . . 'bad science,' 
'jarring dates,' 'historical discrepancies.'" 33 The 
Reverend David Swing, another Presbyterian preacher of 
Chicago, who had been hailed as a thinker able to harmonize 
scientific discoveries with religious perceptions, was also tried 
for heresy. It was charged that Swing had delivered a lecture 
in the aid of a Unitarian chapel " and thereby aided to pro- 
mulgate heresy;" that he had used "unwarrantable language 
with regard to Penelope and Socrates," that he had eulogized 
John Stuart Mill, "a well-known Atheist;" and that he dif- 
fered from some of the vital points affirmed by Calvinism. 
Professor Swing was acquitted by the trial court but resigned 
before the appeal of the prosecution was taken further. The 
members of the synod were said to have attended the special 
session " for the simple purpose of showing by their votes that 
they will not sanction any latitudinarianism in the Presbyterian 
Church, or the faintest departure from the Standards." 34 

Such trials were merely the signs of the restlessness which 
was stirring the people, and accusations of heresy often served 
to transform doubt into action. After his trial Swing left the 
presbytery and established an independent "central" church 
where he preached to immense crowds. The celebrated trial 
of the Reverend Charles E. Cheney of Chicago had been 
followed by one of the most significant secession movements 
in religious circles the organization of the Reformed Epis- 
copal church of America, which by 1875 embraced thirty-five 

88 Chicago Tribune, January 12, December 20, 1875, September 12, 1876. 

34 Ibid., April 15, May 23, October 17, 1874, September 12, 1875. The 
Tribune saw in the charges not the indictment of one man but the "outbreak of 
Old School Presbyterianism against New School." 


church organizations with a membership of about four thou- 
sand communicants. 35 

The movement for independence expressed itself only 
when some crisis precipitated an issue. When all over the 
state it could be said that " Evangelistical churches show them- 
selves extremely restless under the yoke of their various creeds. 
Their members are yearning for a more cheerful view of life 
and of God," it was not surprising that the formation of inde- 
pendent churches was frequent. At times merely the desire 
for tolerance and a broadening of the points of view seemed 
to instigate change; in the little town of Henry a new church 
was organized which was "broadly and mutually independent, 
the pastor being free to preach what he likes so long as he 
sticks to the New Testament as his 'basis of authority,' while 
his hearers are equally free to believe him or not, just as they 
prefer." 36 

The new social consciousness which was influencing educa- 
tion and religion in the seventies found in the temperance 
movement a concrete issue upon which it could lavish its 
energy. The temperance question was by no means a new one 
in the politics of the prairie state. In ante helium days it had 
been a force to be reckoned with; and after suffering an 
eclipse it had again appeared in church resolutions and on the 
banners of "radical reformers;" once more it became a sub- 
ject of heated discussion on the debating forum and was 
thundered forth from lecture platforms. When temperance 
men, not content with mere agitation, insisted upon entering 
practical politics with their own candidates in the field, old-time 
politicians looked askance. Republicans were at first inclined 
to assure " an educated, practical people, Germans and Amer- 
icans, composing the republican party," that the republican 

35 Chicago Tribune, May 13, December 6, 1875; Centennial History of Illi- 
nois, 3:425. 

36 Chicago Tribune, May 26, 1874, January 8, 1876. 


candidate was " as good a Champion of Temperance Prin- 
ciples As Any Man Can Desire." 37 One wing of the republican 
party, however, soon came out openly for temperance, but the 
democrats steadfastly refused to temporize with the issue. 
When the Bloomington Democrat heard that not only a tem- 
perance candidate was in the field but that the republican 
nominee had taken a temperance stand, it ejaculated: "If 
both these candidates are monomaniacs on this subject, which 
is a thread-bare hobby, we trust the congressional democratic 
convention . . . will bring out a man whom all sensible 
people can and will support." 38 This attitude the 
democrats consistently maintained, and it began to worry 
republicans somewhat; when John V. Farwell was nominated 
for congressman-at-large by the prohibitionists, he declined, 
declaring, " I am a Republican in my political convictions, 
and I can see no practical result to follow the nomination of 
a temperance ticket at the present time but the weakening of 
the Republican party for the advantage and benefit of the 
Democratic party. I cannot be an instrument in producing 
such a result." 39 

The definite goal at which the temperance forces were 
aiming was the enactment of a law which would adequately 
express their attitude toward the liquor traffic and which would 
" provide against the evils resulting from the sale of intoxi- 
cating liquors in the State of Illinois." They formulated a 
measure which required a licensee to give bond for $3,000, 
with two good sureties, conditioned that he would "pay all 
damages to any person or persons which may be inflicted upon 
them, either in person or property, or means of support, by 
reason of the person so obtaining the license." Moreover, 

37 See Centennial History of Illinois, 3:421 ; Illinois State Journal clipped in 
Illinois State Register, August 16, 1870. 

38 Ibid., August 27, 1870. 

39 John V. Farwell to the Chicago Tribune, September 16, 1870. 


members of the family who had been injured in person or 
property or means of support by an intoxicated person could 
require damages, conjointly from him who sold or gave the 
intoxicating liquor and from him who owned the property 
from which the liquor was dispensed. Other stringent pro- 
visions regarding Sunday closing and further indictments and 
penalties insured the fiercest opposition to and the most dog- 
matic championship of the proposed bill. Before the opposi- 
tion forces fully realized how strong the temperance wave 
had become, however, their agitation, meetings, pleas, and 
persuasion culminated in the passage of the temperance 
bill of 1872. It was approved by Governor Palmer on Jan- 
uary 13, 1872, but, since it was not to go into effect until 
July i, the intervening months gave opportunity for a sharp 

The forces backing the temperance bill claimed to have 
all the elements of morality, decency, and honesty arrayed with 
them. The churches, indeed, had taken a decided stand in favor 
of temperance. In Chicago, during the first weeks after adop- 
tion, enthusiastic meetings were held in many churches. At 
one meeting early in February, hundreds were turned away. 
When the Reverend Dr. Fowler spoke on the new temperance 
law, he praised the law as the best that could be obtained and 
wanted it enforced " even at the point of the bayonet." In 
opposition to such support the Ottawa Republican listed three 
classes " the keepers of low groggeries, the owners of hovels 
in which these groggeries are kept, and that despicable class of 
small politicians who court and depend upon the influence of the 
groggery element." 40 

The opposition did not expend their energies in vain invec- 
tive, but immediately after the passing of the bill organized 
themselves to bring about its repeal or defeat its execution. 

40 Ottawa Republican, February 29, 1872 ; Chicago Tribune, February 12, 1872. 


In Chicago, and indeed wherever there was a large body of 
German citizens who felt their personal liberty to be endan- 
gered by this development, opposition was particularly spirited. 
Early in February, meetings of protest were held by Germans 
to oppose the law in so far as it applied to the sale of beer 
and wines. At Quincy, on January 29, a huge mass meeting 
of Germans gathered together at which prominent citizens 
denounced the law as unconstitutional and illiberal and as 
intended to operate especially against the foreign population. 
At Peoria, on February 12, the "antis" organized to prevent 
the law's enforcement. On the ninth of March, the Chicago 
Wholesale Liquor Dealers' Association decided to make a 
concerted effort to secure the repeal of the law. 41 Finally, 
"in consequence of action in the central part of the state," on 
the fourteenth of March the opposition called an antitemper- 
ance law convention at Springfield. It was heavily attended by 
Cook county and downstate Germans, who were, for the most 
part, brewers and liquor dealers. After effecting a permanent 
organization under the imposing title of " state association 
for the protection of personal liberty," resolutions were 
adopted, which, claiming to " abhor habitual drunkenness 
and the habitual drunkard as much as any so-called temperance 
men," opposed "the so-called temperance law because, while it 
hypocritically affects to be in the interests of an advanced 
morality, it is only a species of class legislation in behalf of 
the wealthy and against the poorer, but equally worthy citi- 
zens; giving the former power to poison, (as alleged), while 

41 Chicago Tribune, February 13, 16, March 9, 1872; Illinois State Register, 
February 2, 1872. The Illinois State Register, February 29, 1872, hailed this 
development with enthusiasm: "We are rejoiced that the law is to be tested, 
for the questions involved are such as interest every man in the community, 
and for the reason that the law will obtain in the courts a dispassionate scrutiny, 
a calm discussion, and a fair argument, which it seems not to obtain anywhere 
else." In striking contrast to the attitude of the Germans was that of the Swedes ; 
in Kane county they pledged themselves to vote only for such municipal candi- 
dates as favored the temperance movement. Chicago Tribune, April 12, 1872. 


the same is refused to the latter." 42 Pro-temperance advocates 
seemed little impressed by this move of the opposition; they 
were inclined to dismiss the whole convention as a "demon- 
stration of the bummers, saloonkeepers, and balance of 
power parties," where " the low groggery element largely 
predominates." 43 

In the end, the temperance forces were triumphant in 
preventing the repeal of the law, and on July i, 1872, it went 
into effect. It was another matter, however, to enforce it. 
Opposition on the part of the German element made it espe- 
cially difficult to enforce the measure in Chicago and in other 
of the larger cities. From the first, republican leaders were 
doubtful as to the attitude of this group toward prohibition. 
When, on October 10, 1872, the mayor of Chicago "issued 
an order to the Police Commissioners for the closing of all 
saloons, public bars, and other places where intoxicating liquors 
are sold on Sunday," the Chicago Tribune raised the question 
" whether lager-beer comes under the designation of ' intoxi- 
cating drinks,' " arguing that since lager beer does not produce 
intoxication, " though it may, if taken in sufficient quantities, 
produce stupefaction," an exception might logically be made 
in favor of that beverage. The mayor's orders were enforced, 
however, and " there was a grim feeling among the Ger- 
mans." 44 Again the Tribune made the plea in behalf of the 
disgruntled element that " Beer is the national beverage of 
the German. He has drank it daily from youth up. It is the 
bread and meat of the peasant, and as indispensable to him 
as water to the American laborer. . . . The enforcement 
of the law in such a manner as to stop the German from 
drinking beer is not only foolish as invading his personal 

42 Illinois State Register, March 15, 1872. 

43 Ibid., March 18, 1872. 

44 Chicago Tribune, October n, 21, 1872. 


rights . . . but it is foolish, also, because it threatens 
the public with new dangers and serious disturbances of the 
peace. It will tend to provoke riots, and perhaps blood- 
shed." 45 In spite of anything the Tribune could say, now that 
enforcement of the law was bringing disagreeable results, the 
fact remained that the republican party had stood back of 
the measure in the first place; many Germans began to show 
serious disgruntlement with the party to which they had long 
given full allegiance. This fact and the anxiety of republican 
leaders, the democrats gleefully seized upon. "The action of 
the Germans and others who oppose the law," commented the 
State Register, "has quite taken these political gentlemen by 
surprize, for they were quite sure nothing would induce the 
Germans to leave the Republican party." Where now was 
the assurance of a republican leader who declared that "the 
Dutch couldn't be kicked out of the republican party?" 

German opposition finally went so far that the Illinois 
Staats-Zeitung urged its readers to vote for no man, irrespec- 
tive of party affiliation, who was not pledged to vote for the 
repeal of the existing temperance and Sunday law. Whereupon 
the Chicago Tribune, alarmed at such independence, solemnly 
declared that the Zeitung had come "very near overstepping 
the line which separates a truly loyal paper from a traitorous 
Copperhead sheet." 46 But the break had now become real, 
and during the next two years there was a marked exodus of 
Germans from the republican party. Because of their accession 
to the democracy, German politicians like Antone Hesing and 
John Lieb advocated the reorganization of the democratic 
party. A meeting purporting to accomplish this was held by 
democratic editors, at which " Mr. Hesing strongly advocated 
a reorganization of the party, saying that the Democratic 

45 Chicago Tribune, October 23, 1872. 
48 Ibid., October 24, 1872. 


party was the only one which could keep down the puritanical 
element and guarantee the peculiar freedom the Germans 
demand." 47 

Despite all opposition, the temperance enthusiasm con- 
tinued and during the next two years its advocates plied agita- 
tion with unabated energy. All over the state temperance 
clubs and organizations were greatly in evidence. There was 
the " Prohibition Party," the " Good Templars of Illinois," 
the "Women's Christian Temperance Union," the "Chicago 
Temperance Alliance," "Sons of Temperance," the " Catholic 
Total Abstinence Union of Illinois," and the "Women's Tem- 
perance Association of Illinois," of which Miss Frances E. 
Willard was president. At Peoria the churches held meetings 
and listened to discourses upon the subject. In many towns 
appeared such typical notices as that in the Ottawa Republican, 
March 12, 1874: "Temperance noon-day prayer meetings 
will be held every day until further notice at the rooms of the 
Academy of Sciences, Cheever's block." 

Friends of the law and its enforcement gathered at the 
Methodist church at Ottawa and adopted resolutions indors- 
ing " the fundamental principle in our State Temperance law." 
"Rousing meetings" were also held at the Ottawa Catholic 
church, 48 where great impetus was given to the prohibition 
movement in that locality. 

The year 1874 stands out in the temperance movement as 
the year of the '-'woman's temperance crusade," an organized 
attempt made by Illinois women to effect state wide temperance. 
Using some church as a local center, the women would gather 
and divide into two bands some starting out on the active 
mission of reforming saloonkeepers, " while their co-workers 

47 Chicago Tribune, May 28, 1874, January 7, 1875. The Chicagoer Neue 
Freie Presse, a prominent German paper, opposed this " bold scheme of Hesing 
and Lieb to democratize the Germans." 

48 Chicago Tribune, February 13, 1872; Ottawa Republican, March 5, 12, 1874. 


in the cause remained behind to invoke the Divine blessing 
upon the work." 49 The crusaders met with varying success; 
at Springfield, " the prevailing sentiment was altogether favor- 
able to the new movement prayer and entreaty with the 
saloonkeepers to give up the traffic, and with the bibulous to 
give up their tippling habits." At Yorkville fifteen women 
"went in a body to Sullivan's and Beck's saloons, this being 
their second visit. Mr. Sullivan talked pleasantly with them, 
and signified his intention of quitting the business. The ladies 
indulged in song and prayer." 50 Not always, however, did 
the crusaders meet with such a flattering reception. " The 
scene which occurred on Saturday night in front of Rayburn's 
saloon was not calculated to aid morality or to inspire reflec- 
tion," asserted a Springfield item. "The facts are that the 
temperance crusaders having agreed to pay Mr. Rayburn, the 
alleged value of the liquor in his saloon, proceeded to carry 
out bottles, demijohns, and barrels, and destroy them in the 
presence of an excited crowd. Some of the lookers on tried 
with rough good humor to seize the bottles and with these the 
ladies struggled. When a religious hymn was being sung, the 
crowd shouted and yelled, and when Rev. Mr. Reed . . . 
mounted an empty whisky barrel to address the crowd, he was 
received with shouts of derision." 

The women sometimes extended their labors into other 
fields. When recruits for the pledge were sought, a committee 
of young ladies was organized to call on the clerks of Spring- 
field, and there to "use all their pretty devices and winning 
ways to induce them to sign" the pledge. On one occasion 
when the general assembly was in session " the temperance 
crusaders raided both houses of the legislature for signatures 

49 Illinois State Register, March 18, 1874; Ogle County Reporter. April 16, 

50 Chicago Tribune, March 5, 1874; Illinois State Register, March 13, 1874. 


to the pledge. The senate * promptly took a recess 
to allow the ladies to get their autographs. When the house 
was reached, however, the yeas and nays were called to deter- 
mine whether its members would 'quit drinking' or not, and 
was decided in the affirmative and a recess was taken, during 
which all the members ' took the pledge,' and all will go home 
sober." 61 

After several weeks of this campaign, the Chicago Tribune 
remarked that "the fervor of the intemperate temperance 
women is abating, dying; and yet . . . saloons are as 
numerous; the number of drunkards about as great. . . . 
The volume of orisons made a momentary impression on the 
air, excited the ridicule of the anti-religious world, awakening 
regret in the breasts of those whose religion is not wholly 
irrational and sensational and these are the only results 
which have been produced by 'praying women." More 
tangible results, however, were pointed out. On April 20, the 
bells were ringing for a temperance victory in Bloomington, 
while in May came a call to the temperance element of Illinois, 
that " in view of the unprecedented successes of the temperance 
cause within the past few months," a state jubilee should be 
held; further activities along the same lines were proposed, 
and the motto " throttle the wretch, and down with the dram- 
shop " was advocated. 52 

During the temperance campaign the anxious eye with 
which politicians regarded German opposition afforded an 
instance of the great influence wielded by the foreign element 
in the political life of Illinois. They were always courted by 
political bosses, for, with the coming around of election day 
the "nationalization mill began to run rapidly," with new 
citizens ground out sometimes at the rate of one hundred per 

51 Illinois State Register, March 21, 27, 1874. 

52 Chicago Tribune, March 30, April 21, May 26, 1874. 


evening. 53 Moreover, they had a greater strength than mere 
numbers might insure, for in Chicago and other cities the 
foreign population of artisan and laboring classes had already 
attained a group solidarity which commanded respect. They 
were organized into German, Polish, and Scandinavian 
branches of the International Workingmen's Association. 
Since the business meetings were conducted in the native tongue 
of the members, English-speaking craftsmen were barred from 
membership and American workingmen were years behind 
foreigners in the development of such organization. One of 
the problems which campaign organizers faced was the diffi- 
culty of meeting the demand for German, Irish, Bohemian, or 
French speakers; they constantly heard the cry that one or the 
other of these would do more good in a given locality than 
all the English speakers that could be sent. 54 

The deference which was accorded foreign groups afforded 
fuel to old know nothing fires among the native Americans 
which in turn aroused a species of foreign know nothingism. 
The Swedish citizens of Henry county in a mass meeting at 
Galva protested at the charge that they had "been petted, 
deferred to, courted and fooled round long enough" and that 
they were after " all the offices and fat places." In spite of 
protestations against such charges, accusations grew steadily 
more direct. " But HESING and LIEB, controlling two news- 
papers printed in German, having long been personal enemies, 
have united and organized an exclusively foreign ticket, and 
placed it before the people of this country for the sole purpose 
of excluding persons of native birth from office. They have 
united the Germans, Irish, Scandinavians, Hollanders, Bohe- 
mians, French, Poles, Austrians, and all others of foreign 

63 Chicago Tribune, January 22, 1872. 

54 Ibid., June 16, 1874; Burford to Goodell, October 16, 1876, Cowa to 
Goodell, October 30, 1876, Guertin to Democratic Central Committee, Novem- 
ber 5, 1876, Berry to Goodell, November 6, 1876, in McCormick manuscripts. 


nativity . . . excluding all persons of native origin," 
while the charge is further extended to the effect that this 
foreign party has for its object the "political disfranchisement 
of Americans." 55 The Chicago Tribune was especially indig- 
nant over an incident that took place in the city council. " In 
his search for a proper man to fill the place of City Marshal, 
the Mayor selected a gentleman who happened to be American 
by birth. The Foreign Know-Nothings in the Council ascer- 
tained the Mayor's purpose . . . and simply resolved 
that they would not receive the nomination. ... Is not 
this thing gone far enough? . . . We began to object 
when the Foreign Know-Nothings refused to build a Court- 
House unless an 'Irishman' or a 'German' were appointed 
as architects. We object still more now that the stand has been 
taken that no American shall be appointed Marshal. It is 
past all endurance that American nativity should become a 
political ban. Is this the idea of ' Home Rule,' about which 
the Irish patriots are so fond of airing their eloquence?" 66 
The Irish indignantly denied the imputation of know 
nothingism, and indeed more than once threw their influence 
against its appearance. The Irish were prominent at a meeting 
in Springfield in April, 1874, held by "foreign-born citizens 
to express disapprobation of any attempt, real or imaginary, to 
revive the spirit of know nothingism." The Irish seemed to 
discern the basic insidiousness of the appeal as when one of 
their number thus expressed himself: "You know, and every 
thinking man knows, that when a party asks the support of the 
Irish people for a man on account of his nationality that they 
are reviving the old know nothing principles which every true 
Irishman has been fighting for twenty years past, and which 

55 These Swedish people adopted resolutions declaring that although they 
had always been good republicans, they had held only one office in eighteen years. 
Chicago Tribune, January 22, 1872, November 2, 1875. 

Ibid., July 21, 1875. 


! Illlilll U iiiimi 


they will continue to battle against while there is a trace of it 
left, whether it be native or foreign. . . . We vote for 
men, not for nationalities." 57 

57 Illinois State Register, November i, 1872, April i, 1874. 


THE political history of the state of Illinois during the 
quarter century following 1870 was characterized by 
the rise and decline of third-party movements. The first of 
these was liberal republicanism a general protest against 
the policies and acts of the regular republicans as a party, 
with special emphasis on the administration of President Grant. 
This movement was short-lived, its organized activities ceasing 
with Grant's reelection to the presidency in 1872. During the 
next three years, the center of the political stage was held by 
the farmers, who had as a common aim the elimination of 
railroad abuses and other injustices to their class. As soon 
as it became apparent, however, that the state government 
could and would regulate railroad and warehouse rates and 
services, the farmers' movement, in so far as it was a separate 
political phenomenon, quickly disintegrated. Immediately the 
greenbackers entered the running as a third party, and for a 
decade their aims and policies affected the politics of the state. 
This movement, like the one carried on by the farmers, in time 
found the ground on which it stood cut away by the disappear- 
ance of the particular abuses that had called it into being; 
with the successful operation of the resumption act and the 
disinclination of a majority of the voters to expand the note 
currency, the reason for the further existence of the greenback 
party vanished. Long before the greenback movement had 
run its course, however, the silver question began to press for 
answer; like its immediate predecessor, the new issue was the 
outcome of an insistent demand for more and cheaper money. 
The various movements clearly indicate a political unrest 



that sprang from a deep dissatisfaction with economic condi- 
tions, aggravated by the problems arising from the Civil War 
and reconstruction. The readjustment of industry to meet the 
needs of peace was no simple matter; the tariff needed to be 
revised, prices must be adjusted to conditions of peace and to 
the gold level, capital and labor shifted from war to non-war 
industries, and production speeded up to make good the losses 
occasioned by the war itself. Such readjustment necessarily 
created confusion and entailed hardships on individuals and 
sections. Moreover, the disappearance of the frontier line 
during the seventies, the rapid growth of population and 
wealth, and the rapidly increasing stream of immigrants from 
Europe combined to intensify political unrest. 

Between the movements of protest and the democratic 
party there was, generally speaking, a feeling of sympathy. 
Several times this sympathy developed into open coalition on 
the state ticket, while local fusion was a common occurrence. 
The republicans, on their part, viewed every sign of political 
unrest with disfavor, for they as a party had everything to 
lose and little to gain by new and strange political alignments. 

In 1870 the republican party could look back over ten 
years of increasing power and prosperity; and, still pointing 
to its exploits during the years of civil strife, it demanded con- 
tinuance in power as the party of justice and freedom. The 
decade, however, had brought changes within republican ranks; 
the austere idealism of 1860, when the cry of justice and 
freedom had rallied able men and powerful leaders to its 
standard, had in 1870 become the laxness of prosperity; able 
men and powerful leaders were becoming restive at the con- 
tented mouthing of once stirring phrases. They demanded 
positive action pacification of the south, revision of the 
tariff, reform of the civil service; but their demands went 
unheeded by the " radicals " in power, and there was a growing 


conviction that no heed would be given under the administration 
of President Grant. 

The constitution of 1870 raised no problem in Illinois 
which could crystallize this discontent; nor did the campaign 
of 1870 offer issues which would make concrete the dissatis- 
faction which was in the air. The democrats offered no con- 
structive program to raise any questions, but merely contented 
themselves with redoubling their ridicule of Grant and with 
denouncing the republican party as sectional, corrupt, and 
inefficient. In reply, therefore, the republican press expressed 
satisfaction with the national administration. The Chicago 
Tribune, which had already been showing symptoms of polit- 
ical independence, now straightened its face, claiming that the 
pledges made by the party platform of 1868 to institute 
economy in government expenditures and to reform the collec- 
tion of taxes had been redeemed by Grant; even so, however, 
it could not forbear expressing the belief that the president 
would wreck the party if he continued, as in the San Domingo 
affair, to carry on his administrative policies without reference 
to the cabinet. 1 

In the state convention at Springfield in September the 
republicans attempted to carry through a thoroughly loyal 
party program. They unanimously adopted a platform which 
viewed with pride the record of the party in its relations to 
the homestead law, to the Pacific railroad, to emancipation, 
to the Civil War, to reconstruction, and to the Mexican 
situation. They indorsed Grant's administration, calling it 
honest, economical, and efficient, and condemned the demo- 
crats for their attacks on the policies of the president. All 
these eminently proper party sentiments, however, were 
entirely at variance with the revolutionary tariff plank; 
therein they definitely set their faces against their eastern 

1 Chicago Tribune, July 8, August 15, 1870. 


colleagues by emphatically declaring that it was "wrongful 
and oppressive for congress to enact revenue laws for the 
special advantage of one branch of business at the expense 
of another," and that the "best system of protection to 
industry is that which imposes the lightest burdens and the 
fewest restrictions on the property and business of the 
people." 2 

If the state party platform could not entirely conceal the 
dissatisfaction of one wing, lack of harmony was more fully 
revealed in the bitter contests for the republican nomination 
in the Peoria and Springfield congressional districts. In the 
Springfield district one of the four contestants was finally 
nominated only after disgusting the better elements of leader- 
ship and discrediting the nominating convention in the eyes 
of the people by flagrant wirepulling and political swapping. 3 
The Peoria district, warned by the Springfield situation, took 
precautions against a similar outcome in its nominating con- 
vention by adopting the Crawford county system of primaries. 
When a victory for Eben G. Ingersoll was announced, however, 
several of the most important republican newspapers of the 
state declared their intention to support the independent- 
democratic candidate, Bradford N. Stevens. 4 Then followed 
one of the most bitterly contested congressional campaigns 
ever held in the state, in which Ingersoll was beaten by a 
coalition of regular democrats, various independent groups, 
and the dissatisfied elements in his own party. 5 Despite these 
evidences of disintegration, the republicans elected, though by 

2 Chicago Tribune, September 2, 1870; Moses, Illinois, 2:796. Compare this 
plank with the tariff plank of the Indiana republican state convention held on 
February 22, 1870. Chicago Tribune, February 24, 1870. 

3 Ibid., July 29, 1870; Illinois State Register, July 29, 1870; Illinois State 
Journal, July 29, 1870. See Chicago Tribune, August 4, 1870; Illinois State 
Register, August 4, 1870. 

4 Peoria Review, Galesburg Free Press, Princeton Republican. 

6 See Illinois State Register, September 28, 1870; Ottawa Republican, Octo- 
ber 13, 1870. 


a reduced majority, the entire state ticket, including the one 
congressman-at-large, while they carried eight of the thirteen 
congressional districts. 6 

With the election out of the way, republican leaders who 
felt that the policies of the party ought to be revised and 
restated began a campaign for reform. On November 12, the 
Chicago Tribune declared that: "The general result of the 
recent elections indicates that the issues growing out of slavery 
are settled; that the mere platform of 'economy 
and reform,' without specifying by what measures these glit- 
tering generalities are to be put in practice, is as available 
to one party as another, and, consequently, is not available 
as the special platform of any party; and that, on the pres- 
ent living issues, as to the proper mode of laying taxes and 
tariffs for the support of the government, the two old party 
organizations can no longer be relied upon for their full party 
vote." 7 

Coming from an influential republican newspaper with 
independent tendencies, this declaration attracted nation wide 
attention and by stating concisely what thousands were vaguely 
thinking gave the first impulse toward an independent political 
organization. In Illinois four general causes made for such 
an organization: industrial conditions were unsatisfactory; 
leaders as well as many of the rank and file in the republican 
party could not become reconciled to the methods used in 
reconstructing the late confederate states; the national admin- 
istration was under suspicion of being corrupt and nepotistical; 
and relatively large groups of leaders, who had come from 
the democratic party of the time of the Kansas-Nebraska split 
over slavery, felt that the spirit which had drawn them from 

6 Republican majorities: 1878 (president) 51,159 majority; (governorl 
50,099 majority; 1870 (congressman-at-large) 23,610 plurality. 

7 Chicago Tribune, November 12, 1870. 


their old allegiance had now passed from the republican 

Times were undeniably hard. Illinois farmers complained 
of the low prices which they were compelled to take for their 
grain and meats. Land values were low and fluctuating; farm 
mortgages difficult to meet in the face of low prices; and the 
feeling prevailed among the farmers that they were being 
literally robbed by the railroads and kindred interests. Even 
the report of the Chicago Board of Trade cautiously admitted 
that "the year just closed [1869] has been, in some respects, 
an unfortunate one, at least so far as the business of dealing 
in the products of the earth are concerned; and, in fact, all 
branches of trade have, to a greater or less extent, shared the 
general depression." 8 The farming classes were not alone 
caught in the net of industrial maladjustment; laborers, both 
skilled and unskilled, complained of low wages and of the 
exactions of the employing classes; and their discontent was 
beginning to take form in strikes and boycotts. The Chicago 
Tribune attributed what it called u stagnation in business " to 
"the paralysis of production, the want of employment for 
labor, the locking up of capital because it cannot find remu- 
nerative use." 9 

But many had a more direct explanation to offer; they 
felt that the national government was being administered not 
only inefficiently and on a partisan basis but also in the interest 
of favored classes, particularly eastern manufacturers and the 
stockholders of national banks. Even the Chicago Tribune, 
which up to this time was in thorough accord with all republican 
policies except the tariff, expressed the belief that the national 
government was favoring the east in the matter of financial 

8 Report of the Trade and Commerce of Chicago, 1869, p. i. 

9 Chicago Tribune, February 8, 15, 1870; Tazeivell County Register clipped 
in Illinois State Register, December 12, 1870. 


legislation. "We believe that in the organization of national 
banks and in the distribution of the currency partiality has been 
shown to the East." 10 

To this dissatisfied group may be added those led by 
Senator Trumbull, who stood out against the methods em- 
ployed by congress in reconstructing the southern states. 
Nearly all of them had been democrats, who, being out of 
sympathy with the " squatter sovereignty " doctrine of Douglas, 
had first formed the nucleus of the anti-Nebraska wing of 
the democratic party and then had gone over to the republicans. 
They had played as important a part as the old whig leaders 
in electing Lincoln in 1860 and in supporting his policies during 
the war. Now, however, they were entirely out of sympathy 
with the post helium policies of the party. To their way of 
thinking, the republicanism of Lincoln and Yates had ceased 
to exist, with the result that they, standing where they had 
always stood, were no longer within its ranks. Trumbull's 
changing position in the republican party is typical of this 
group. " He agreed with Lincoln's plan of Reconstruction, 
embodied it in the Louisiana Bill, reported it favorably from 
the Judiciary Committee, tried to pass it in the closing days 
of the Thirty-eighth Congress. . . . He ceased to be the 
leader of the Senate as he had hitherto been, on this class of 
questions, and he became a reluctant follower. . . . This 
course he pursued until the Anti-Ku Klux Bill was agreed to, 
by the Judiciary Committee, in 1871. . . . Trumbull did 
not change his principles, but he made an error in common 
with his party and he corrected it as soon as he became con- 
vinced that it was in error." n 

This group also found immediate cause for dissatisfaction 
in the administration at Washington; indeed, whether a man's 

10 Chicago Tribune, December 21, 1870. 

11 White, Life of Lyman Trumbull, 423, 424. 


discontent sprang from his dissatisfaction with economic adjust- 
ments, from lack of pacificatory measures toward the south, or 
from the corruptness of the civil administration, both local 
and national, the conviction was rapidly growing that no 
redress could come under Grant. 

The three years of his administration had seriously under- 
mined the president's reputation among reflecting men and 
had shaken his popularity among the masses as well. His 
conduct of public matters was flavored by his private affairs; 
he rewarded his personal friends with political office and per- 
secuted his political opponents. u His acceptance of large gifts 
while President, the appointment of numerous members of his 
and his wife's family, some of whom were wholly unqualified 
for the offices bestowed upon them, his waging a relentless 
war against those Republican members of Congress who had 
opposed some of his favorite measures, and the half-enforced 
resignation of some of the very best members of his cabinet 
had created deep dissatisfaction." 12 Consequently, those 
Illinois republicans who recognized that slavery as such was 
a dead issue, that war tariffs were no longer defensible, and 
that the democratic party had outlived the imputation of dis- 
loyalty, cast about for some effective means of expressing their 

The anti-Grant movement, which had been just perceptible 
during the campaign of 1870, rapidly gained headway in 
Illinois after the November election. The democrats from 
the first had been more than interested spectators; they eagerly 
fomented dissension in the ranks of the enemy, hoping thereby 
to regain some of their lost political control. In the first 
general assembly under the new constitution, the republican 
majority met sharp opposition throughout the state, even in 
the enactment of the necessary laws to comply with the new 

12 Koerner, Memoirs, 2: 518. 


constitutional provisions. In the chief political event of the 
session, however, the election of the United States senator 
to succeed Richard Yates, 13 disintegration within the repub- 
lican ranks was apparent. To Logan, perhaps the most 
popular of the candidates, there were several objections; in 
the first place he had an unexpired term as congressman-at- 
large, and his election to the senate would entail the expense 
of a special election to fill his place; moreover, " a great many 
Republicans could not overlook the fact that he was a rather 
recent convert to Republicanism and that he had been one of 
the most violent, dyed-in-the-wool, radical Democrats, not to 
say secessionists. He had now become as radical a Republican, 
just when a great many Republicans had adopted moderate 
and conservative views and were in favor of closing the gulf 
between the North and the South." 14 This opposition, how- 
ever, was more than counterbalanced by the influence which 
Logan wielded over the "boys in blue," for he was commander 
of the Grand Army of the Republic. The military reputa- 
tion of Oglesby, the other principal candidate for the nomi- 
nation, did not command anything like the following which 
was accorded Logan. 15 For these reasons Gustave Koerner, 
backed by the German press and some other leading republican 
journals, as well as by influential and dissatisfied republicans 
throughout the state, was induced to enter the field. 

Before the legislature convened, Logan had left his seat 
in congress and had returned to Springfield to direct his cam- 

13 See Chicago Tribune, January 4, 5, 10, n, 12, 14, 16, 1871; Ottawa 
Republican, January 12, 1871; Illinois State Register, January 6, 10, 12, 1871. 
In comparing the candidacy of Logan with that of Oglesby the Chicago Tribune 
of January 16, 1871, remarks: "General Logan, however, had the advantage 
from the beginning, not only by reason of having more patronage at his disposal, 
but also by virtue of superior activity and perseverance; and, what is perhaps 
of still greater importance, he had a forum for the exhibition and proof of his 
qualities as a member of the National House of Representatives." 

14 Koerner, Memoirs, 2: 519-520. 
16 Ibid., 520-521. 


paign in person. He took " possession of two large rooms 
on the ground floor opposite the bar of the principal hotel, 
crowded constantly with his friends and admirers, and extended 
great hospitality. Mrs. Logan held her court in one of the 
ladies' parlors, and carried on the campaign for her husband 
most vigorously." Such tactics were severely criticized. "If, 
as reported, in all the newspapers and denied by none, Mrs. 
Gen. Logan keeps reception rooms at the Leland House in 
Springfield, and is daily and hourly using the arts and blandish- 
ments of her gifted tongue and pleasant, plausible nature in 
the interest of her distinguished husband, that sort of audacity 
deserves a square and substantial rebuke at the hands of this 
Legislature." Logan, however, had better calculated the effect 
of the alleged audacity, for " many of the rural members of 
our Legislature, after calling on her, left thinking that they 
were much bigger men than they thought themselves before 
they entered her presence." 16 And, by the time the legislature 
convened, so sure was Koerner that the Logan following was 
larger than that of his and Oglesby's combined that he desired 
to withdraw from the contest. Oglesby and his friends, how- 
ever, professed to believe otherwise, assuring Koerner that 
the Oglesby strength, which was bitterly opposed to Logan, 
would be thrown to Koerner in case the republican caucus 
came to a deadlock. Koerner, as it turned out, had more 
accurate perception, for Logan had largely won over the 
uninstructed members of the legislature upon whom Oglesby 
had counted; 17 these votes tipped the balance and Logan was 
named the party candidate, thus assuring his reelection at 
the hands of the legislature. 

16 Koerner, Memoirs, z: 521, 522; Ottawa Republican, January 12, 1871. 

17 Both Logan and Oglesby had during the summer of 1870 adopted the then 
novel practice of canvassing the state to get the indorsements of local conventions 
or the promise of support from legislative nominees; this action had been severely 
condemned by some republican newspapers. Chicago Daily Journal, September 
26, 1870. 


His victory widened the republican breach; in the bitter 
contest for his successor as congressman-at-large, the dissatis- 
fied republicans united with the democrats against the regular 
republicans. The republican convention in nominating John L. 
Beveridge of Cook county apparently attempted to placate 
their disaffected colleagues by a series of resolutions favoring 
a more liberal policy toward the late leaders of secession, a 
modification of the tariff law, and a reduction of the public 
debt; they "Resolved that the . . . time has come when 
the enmities engendered by the war must yield to the friend- 
ship of peace . . . that the continuance of the political 
disabilities imposed for participation in the rebellion longer 
than the safety of the republic requires not only tends to 
perpetuate feelings of unkindness among the people, but is 
incompatible with the principle of political equality which lies 
at the basis of the Republican creed . . . that the large 
surplus remaining in the national Treasury calls for a still 
further reduction of the public burdens." 18 The dis- 
affected, however, had apparently become suspicious of fair 
words; and when the democratic state convention, besides 
nominating S. S. Hayes of Cook county, adopted a liberal 
platform it attracted the attention of every discontented repub- 
lican element in the country, who very generally were support- 
ing the democratic nominee. Even so, however, Hayes was 
beaten, Beveridge being elected by a majority of twenty 

Illinois but shared the general republican unrest that was 
sweeping the country. At Washington prominent senators 
Sumner, Cox, Fenton, Forney, and Schurz as well as Trum- 
bull had become open enemies of the administration. That 
Horace White and Joseph Medill were rapidly transforming 

18 Chicago Tribune, September 21, 1870; Illinois State Journal, September 
21, 1870. 


the Chicago Tribune into an independent journal was merely 
typical of the republican press throughout the country; Horace 
Greeley of the New York Tribune, hitherto the chief organ 
of the republican party, had become openly opposed to Grant, 
while the Philadelphia Press, the New York Evening Post, 
the Springfield Republican, the New York Nation, and the 
Missouri Democrat showed the same tendencies. It was in 
Missouri that the revolt, sharpened by local conditions, first 
reached an articulate stage; and the disaffected republicans, 
adopting the name of liberals, in January called a mass meet- 
ing; they adopted resolutions advising reconciliation with and 
a general amnesty to the south, recommended a reduction of 
the tariff, denounced the use of presidential patronage, and 
advocated civil service reform. They further proposed a great 
mass convention of all liberal republicans in the United States 
to be held in May at Cincinnati. Throughout the northern 
states this move met with hearty approval, but nowhere did 
it meet prompter or more enthusiastic approbation than in 

In March a number of prominent republicans of the state 
sent an address to the Missouri liberals, declaring that: "We, 
Republicans of Illinois, wish to express our concurrence in the 
principles lately set forth by the Liberal Republicans of Mis- 
souri. . . . We believe that the time has come when the 
political offenses of the past should be pardoned, that all 
citizens should be protected in the rights guaranteed by the 
Constitution ; that federal taxes should be imposed for revenue, 
and so adjusted as to make the burdens on the industry of the 
country as light as possible; that a reform of the civil service 
should be such as to relieve political action from public official 
patronage. . . . And we also believe that at this time 
a special duty rests with the people to do away with corruption 
in office, with the hope that the movement begun in Missouri 


will spread through all the States and influence every political 
party." 19 County conventions throughout the state soon 
adopted the Missouri platform, while republican state officials, 
including the secretary of state, the auditor, superintendent of 
schools, attorney-general, and even the chairman of the state 
central committee, were numbered among the advocates of 
the new movement. Its most influential leaders, however, 
were John M. Palmer, governor of the state, Lyman Trum- 
bull, just finishing his third consecutive term as United States 
senator, and David Davis, associate justice of the supreme 
court of the United States. Davis, a genial, amiable man, was 
personally very popular in Illinois. He had been a thorough- 
going whig of the old school and, influenced by his intimate 
friendship with Lincoln, had joined the republican party but 
had always remained in its most conservative wing. He was 
a tariff man, sound on all questions of currency; as a judge, 
he had set his face against arbitrary arrests in states not in 
rebellion and had discharged prisoners arrested under the 
habeas corpus act. Trumbull, once the radical antislavery 
leader in congress, had long since been left in the rear by the 
present radical vanguard in the senate; now, in contrast to 
his vindictive colleagues, he represented a most conservative 
point of view, " pacification of the south. " 

Despite Palmer's position as governor of the state and his 
radical republicanism from 1861 to 1865, he had not hesitated 
incisively to condemn the corruption in state government. Long 
continued power had seemingly impregnably intrenched the 
" Springfield ring," and Palmer felt that only sweeping changes 
could oust the administration henchmen who flaunted their 
graft at the state capital. To Palmer the need of civil service 
reform was imperative. He had, indeed, cherished the hope 
that these reforms might be attained within the party and had 

19 Koerner, Memoirs, 2:536, 537. 

[From photograph in the possession of Mrs. Jessie Palmer Weber, Springfield] 


so expressed himself in an interview in the Chicago Tribune for 
March 22, 1872. Less than a month later, however, Palmer 
addressed a letter to the editor of the Carlinville Democrat in 
which he declared that the republican state convention, which 
had been called to meet in May, would be packed in support 
of Grant's candidacy for reelection; and, since the national 
administration had neither the inclination nor the ability to 
enforce economy and reform in the government, he argued 
that civil service reform, which the people were demanding, 
should be carried out by the state. The action of the president 
in authorizing General Sheridan to employ troops to police 
Chicago after the fire had brought about a sharp collision 
between the two executives, 20 in which Palmer, referring to 
his ample power to raise and equip a militia, had firmly resisted 
the employment of federal aid supplied by Grant. In this 
letter he further criticized the president's action in that affair, 
declaring that " if the powers claimed and acted upon by the 
President in these instances exist in him, the State of Illinois 
is but a dependency of the Government at Washington, and 
the lives and liberties of the people are subject to the will of the 

This letter, forecasting as it did Palmer's break with Grant 
and his backers, did more than any other single thing to con- 
centrate public attention in Illinois on the liberal republican 
movement. Even the most unobserving and least concerned 
must have felt that a governor of the state would not break 
with his party without good reason. In an attempt to minimize 
the significance of his action the republicans ridiculed Palmer, 
while the more partisan newspapers called him an ingrate 
and characterized him as a traitor to the cause of republican- 
ism. 21 

20 Letter in Chicago Tribune, April 17, 1872. 

21 Ottawa Republican, April 25, 1872; Rochelle Register, April 27, 1872. 


During this period very few leaders had any idea of pre- 
senting nominees for president and vice president at the liberal 
republican convention at Cincinnati. " The general idea was 
to organize the Liberal party, recommend State conventions to 
assemble that should appoint regular delegates to a national 
convention, to be held after the administration Republicans 
had held theirs. In all probability, the regulars . . . 
would be terrified, and not nominate Grant, but some distin- 
guished man of reformatory tendencies; and they had several 
such amongst them. The Liberals might then endorse the 
regular nominee. But as it became manifest that the Cincin- 
nati Convention would be very numerously attended, and by 
very many prominent Republicans, some of whom were 
amongst the founders of the Republican party, the idea of 
making no nominations was soon given up." 22 Each of the 
three Illinois leaders had a strong local backing for the Cin- 
cinnati nomination, but since Palmer was less well known 
nationally than either of the others, Davis and Trumbull 
received stronger support. Trumbull's chief strength lay in 
Chicago and its vicinity, and the Chicago Tribune led in the 
Trumbull movement. "We ask the delegations from each 
State ... to ... unite upon one who shall be 
recognized at once throughout the country as a thorough 
Liberal statesman, whose record shall indicate at once national 
views, experience, vigor, breadth of mind, honesty, success, 
and thorough sympathy with, and leadership in, the present 
reorganization of parties. ... If Mr. Trumbull's record 
were subjected to the closest scrutiny of a party canvass, it 
would be found that no American statesman had ever stood 
so nearly midway between the violence of fanaticism on both 
sides." 23 The Chicago Journal, on the contrary, bitterly 

22 Koerner, Memoirs, 2 : 538. 

23 I ss ue of April 26, 1872. 


opposed the efforts of Trumbull's friends to secure the nomi- 
nation for him ; " Trumbull [when he voted to acquit President 
Johnson] had a little scheme, which he held on to with anxious 
persistency. He wanted to be a ku-klux president . . . 
riding into political Jerusalem on the foal of a ku-klux ass." 24 
Trumbull himself appears to have stood unaffected. In reply 
to the solicitation of personal friends he neither affirmed nor 
denied the rumors that he desired the Cincinnati 'nomination. 
On the twenty-seventh of April he wrote to Koerner: "I 
think the nominee for President will be taken from Illinois, 
unless the rivalry between the friends of various candidates 
from that state prevents it. . . . I do not wish to be 
nominated as the result of any combinations or arrangements 
between rival interests, nor unless there is a general feeling, 
not manufactured for the occasion, in my behalf." A little 
earlier he had declared: "I am in earnest in this movement, 
believe it can be made a success, and I am willing to abide by 
the action of the Liberal Republican Convention, so its nomi- 
nation falls upon any good Liberal Republican." 25 

Davis' strength lay in his personal popularity, for not much 
capital could be made of liberal decisions from the bench. The 
most outspoken Davis newspaper in the state was the Chicago 
Times, while "Long John" Wentworth, Jesse W. Fell, and 
Leonard Swett worked indefatigably in his behalf. "They 
organized meetings in the central and northern parts of the 
State, which appointed numerous delegates instructed for Judge 
Davis; besides this they called on the friends of the Judge to 
repair to Cincinnati to swell the crowd. Free passage was 
given to anyone who would go, without much reference to his 
party relations." 26 

24 Chicago Daily Journal, February 12, 1872. 

25 White, Life of Lyman Trumbull, 375; Koerner, Memoirs, 2:543-544. 
"Ibid., 544- 


The day before the opening of the convention, the Illinois 
delegation, numbering between four and five hundred, met in 
Cincinnati for the purpose of deciding on some policy of action 
and on the method of presenting this policy to the convention. 
It was determined after considerable debate that the number 
of delegates from Illinois should be forty-two, divided among 
Davis, Trumbull, and Palmer in the ratio of one^half, one- 
fourth, and one-fourth respectively; a later arrangement, 
however, gave the Palmer following to Trumbull. 27 

The platform which the Cincinnati convention adopted 
clearly reflected the liberal republican conviction that first and 
foremost the personal regime of Grant, with its mass of alleged 
corruption, must be ended, and that secondly the gulf of hatred 
between the north and south must be closed by the immediate 
and complete removal of political disabilities. The urgency of 
these first two needs had swung into their ranks men whose 
views were at opposite poles on the tariff question; the liberals, 
therefore, deemed it expedient to leave a clear-cut policy in that 
direction to a more propitious time. Horace Greeley formu- 
lated the action finally taken; as a result the tariff plank merely 
stated the situation and left the people to decide by their choice 
of congressmen what course the future should pursue. 

Sanguine as were the hopes raised by the adoption of this 
sound and loyal document, the liberals realized that their fate 
really hung upon the selection of an available presidential 
nominee. "The hopes of success had turned on the selection 
of a candidate who first of all, by a record of political strength 
and sagacity, should divert Republican votes from Grant, and 
then, by a record of sympathy with some article of the ancient 
creed of the Democrats, should make it easy for them to follow 
him in dropping the issues of the war." 28 When the voting 

27 Cincinnati Commercial, May i, 1872. 

28 Dunning, Reconstruction Political and Economic, 197. 


began Charles Francis Adams, David Davis, Lyman Trum- 
bull, and Gratz Brown were leaders whose possible nomination 
was regarded with equanimity by the liberals, but the rapidly 
developing strength of Greeley was ominous. Soon it was 
clear that neither Illinois candidate could measure strength 
with Greeley or Adams. Horace White, a Trumbull lieu- 
tenant, had seen as soon as he arrived at Cincinnati that the 
chances of his chieftain were slim. Davis, strongly favored 
by the democrats and at first sharing with Adams the brightest 
chances for the nomination, met violent objection from the 
Adams men. "They charged his friends with bringing a great 
body of hirelings from Illinois, and with attempting to 'pack' 
the Convention, with resorting, in short, to the alleged prac- 
tices of the Republicans who were still opposing the Democratic 
party. They announced that even if Judge Davis should be 
nominated they would not sustain him." Moreover, Davis 
was objectionable to the " editorial fraternity who . 
resolved that they would not support him if nominated, and 
caused that fact to be made known." 29 This influential and 
unyielding opposition was fatal to Davis, and as his star 
declined that of Greeley rose. For five ballots the forty-two 
Illinois delegates stood equally divided between Trumbull and 
Davis; then, since it was clear that either Adams or Greeley 
would get the nomination, Koerner, in order, if possible, to 
swing the Trumbull and Davis vote to Adams, asked .leave 
for the Illinois delegation to withdraw for consultation. 
Koerner writes of this conference : " I urged the delegation 
with all my power, as Trumbull had no chance, to drop him 
and to unite upon Adams, saying that Greeley's nomination 
would drive thousands of Liberals from our ranks. I was 
supported by Horace White and other prominent delegates. 

29 Elaine, Twenty Years of Congress, 2:523; White, Life of Lyman 7>u- 
bull, 380-381. 


Messrs. Swett and Dexter, being considerably hurt by our 
opposition to their favorite Judge Davis, refused to fall in. 
I proposed a vote, and although twenty-eight votes went for 
Adams as against fourteen for Greeley, the Davis men would 
not be bound by the vote, and upon returning to the convention 
I announced the vote accordingly amidst tremendous applause. 
But it. was too late. If we had been able to make the an- 
nouncement ten minutes sooner, it might have changed the 
result." 30 

The nomination of Greeley was a bitter disappointment 
on the floor of the convention "were curses loud and deep." 
Greeley's name had not been seriously considered previous to 
the convention; and his selection was out of the reckoning of 
those founding the liberal party. As the liberal candidate he 
had a double disability; how could the democrats welcome their 
old enemy? How could the free traders welcome their bitter 
opponent? " The blow falls very heavily upon the free-traders 
of the West. They were the originators of this reform move- 
ment. To them it meant almost first of all, tariff reform, and 
they struggled long and earnestly to put their ideas on this 
subject in the front. But . . . they have lost every- 

"The tariff plank resolution is practically and almost in 
words Greeley's compromise and the candidate is the one man 
in all the country who believes most sincerely in protection and 
fights its battles most ably." 31 In the west the task of winning 
support to a platform which had compromised on the tariff 
was difficult enough ; could they now hope that the free traders 
would vote for the great protectionist? Koerner, speaking 
for Trumbull, would not consider the latter's nomination for 

30 Koerner, Memoirs, 2: 555. 

31 1 bid., 556; Springfield Republican, M*ay 4, 1872; Blaine, Twenty fears of 
Congress, 2 : 524. 


vice president in the. heat of the moment declaring that "a 
man cannot swim with a mill stone around his neck." 

Despite the dissatisfaction at the nomination the liberal 
republicans proceeded with their plan of campaign. By this 
time, indeed, there was no hope of success against Grant except 
through Greeley. The democrats, who had encouraged the 
revolt in the hope that some moderate republican whom they 
could cordially accept would receive the nomination, were at 
first in a dilemma. Yet the die was cast it was to be Grant 
or Greeley. So clearly was this realized that the democrats of 
Illinois immediately indorsed the nomination of the Cincinnati 
convention, even though there remained the possibility that the 
regular democratic convention, which had been called to meet 
in Baltimore, in July, would not declare for Greeley. The 
St. Louis Republican quoted William R. Morrison as express- 
ing the opinion that " the democracy of Southern Illinois are 
almost unanimous in support of Greeley and Brown, and will 
not vote for a straight-out democratic ticket if nominated." 
Two days previously the Elizabethtozvn Democrat had declared 
its intention to support Greeley and Brown. Soon similar 
action was taken by such democratic sheets as the State Register, 
the Bloomington Democrat, and the Carlinville Enquirer, the 
Effingham Democrat, and the Car mi Courier, while on June 4 
Daniel Cameron, editor of the Chicago Times and president 
of the Democratic Press Association, sent word to Greeley 
that " the Democratic press of this State stands at this time 
57 in favor of Greeley to 4 opposed; and that the Convention 
soon to assemble in this state will be overwhelmingly in favor 
of the indorsement of Mr. Greeley at Baltimore." Cyrus 
McCormick, later chairman of the liberal democratic forces, 
assured Greeley that " comparatively quiet as matters seem 
to be yet, the good work is going forward gloriously, and will 
burst forth in a volcanic blaze when the Baltimore Convention 


pronounces for 'Greeley & Brown.'" 32 The Chicago News 
vainly set itself against this tide. " Until the assembling of 
the national convention," declared the News, "no democrat 
is authorized to speak for it. Should Mr. Greeley then be 
taken up, it will be proper to hoist his name; but meantime it 
is the duty of democrats to keep themselves free from all 
entangling alliances." 33 The State Register, however, took 
the stand that the convention owed its existence largely to the 
encouragement which the democratic party had extended to 
the liberals. "We protest that the Register, by putting up 
the names of Greeley and Brown has placed the democracy 
in a false attitude. Such false attitude can only be assumed 
by going back on its encouragement of the liberal republican 
movement." 34 Republican newspapers, for their part, exerted 
themselves to spread the belief that the acceptance of Greeley 
by the Baltimore convention would mean an indorsement of 
protection by the democratic party. 35 

The national republican convention, which met at Phila- 
delphia June 5 and 6, unanimously nominated Grant for 
president. The anxiety with which their leaders had watched 
the growing strength of the liberals had very largely been 
dispelled by the nomination of Greeley. They confidently 
calculated that the democrats alienated by Greeley their 
implacable enemy for thirty years would outnumber the 
republicans won over by him. "If the 'Democratic conven- 
tion should refuse to indorse Greeley, the opposition to Grant 

32 See Chicago Tribune, May 6, 14, 17, 1872; Illinois State Register, March 8, 
May 7, 1872; Ottawa Republican, May 16, 1872; St. Louis Republican, May 10, 
1872. In May the executive committee of the democratic state central committee 
resolved, " that, should the democratic national convention endorse the nominees 
of the Cincinnati convention we pledge our hearty support of the ticket." Chicago 
Tribune, May 9, 1872; McCormick to Greeley, June 4, 1872, McCormick manu- 

33 Chicago Daily Neivs, May 7, 1872. 
84 tesue of May 8, 1872. 

35 See Rochelle Register, May 25, 1872. 


would be divided and powerless; if the convention should 
give its indorsement, the problem of defeating Horace Greeley 
as the nominee of the Democracy seemed ridiculously easy of 
solution." 36 The platform, aside from the eulogies usually 
pronounced by the party in power, shrewdly appealed to the 
sectional prejudices of the north; it revived the war spirit and, 
with the cry of treason and rebellion, rallied northern senti- 
ment to the old war chief. It defended the severity shown 
the south by the president and congress; and, though cleverly 
avoiding offensive phraseology, it took a clear-cut stand for 
protection, declaring that " revenue . . . should be 
raised by duties on importations, the details of which should 
be so adjusted as to aid in securing remunerative wages to 
labor, and promote the industries, prosperity and growth of 
the whole country." 

The democrats in convention at Baltimore July 9 were 
confronted by anathema in both presidential candidates; they 
were, however, too far committed to the liberals to withdraw, 
and, moreover, of the two they would rather have seen their 
old enemy Greeley in office than to have Grant continued 
another term. Therefore, they indorsed both the candidates 
and the platform of the Cincinnati convention. This action, 
which definitely acknowledged defeat in the dead issues of 
war and reconstruction, was interpreted by republicans as a 
surrender on the part of the democratic party of the principles 
for which it had stood for half a century. "Dead! Dead! 
The democratic party met in national convention in Baltimore 
on Tuesday last for the sole purpose of declaring to the world 
that as a political organization it is without hope and practi- 
callv dead." 37 

36 Dunning, Reconstruction Political and Economic, 199. 

37 Rochelle Register, July 13, 1872. In September those democrats unwilling 
to support the liberal republican movement nominated a ticket of their own. 


The national contest thus assumed a clear-cut appear- 
ance; on one side were the regular republicans, well organ- 
ized and strong in eleven years of federal control; on the 
other, the dissatisfied republican elements, loosely allied with 
the democratic party. In the Illinois campaign national 
issues were taken over bodily to the exclusion of state prob- 
lems. The regular republicans echoed and reaffirmed the 
national platform and headed the state ticket with the names 
of ex-Governor Richard J. Oglesby and John L. Beveridge. 38 
Palmer's espousal of the liberal republican cause had made 
Oglesby the only logical candidate for the republican nomi- 
nation, though democratic and liberal republican newspapers 
charged that his real political designs were directed toward 
Senator Trumbull's seat in the United States senate, which 
would become vacant in i873. 39 

Even before the assembling of the national democratic 
convention, which alone had the authority to pass on the ques- 
tion of indorsing the liberal republican national ticket, the 
democrats in Illinois had come to the conclusion that their 
only hope of defeating Oglesby and the rest of the state ticket 
lay in uniting with the liberal republicans. Accordingly, on 
June 26 the two parties met in separate convention in Spring- 
field. Governor Palmer presided over the liberal republican, 
James C. Allen over the democratic convention. A conference 
committee unified the actions of the two conventions, candi- 
dates for state officers being chosen from both parties. The 
governorship by common consent was to go to the liberals; 
Palmer at once declined to be considered for the nomination, 
while Trumbull, learning that he would probably be nominated, 
frankly declared that if the liberals were successful he preferred 

88 Illinois State Journal, May 23, 1872; Chicago Tribune, May 23, 1872; 
Rochelle Register, May 25, 1872. 

39 Chicago Tribune, April n, May 25, 1872. 


being returned to the senate. Gustave Koerner, high in the 
counsels of the liberals, was then nominated. 40 Though he 
had enjoyed an honorable political career in his adopted state, 
his influence over the German vote was his greatest claim to 
availability; the Germans were known to be hostile to Greeley; 
and it was hoped that their countryman would counterbalance 
this antipathy. 41 

When the nominations were agreed upon the two conven- 
tions met for a joint jubilee meeting, and, " as thousands of 
people had gathered outside, a mass-meeting had been arranged 
on the public square. Trumbull addressed the crowd on the 
east, C. M. Clay on the west side. All Springfield apparently 
had come out. Calcium lights and fireworks were let off, and 
the hurrahing and speaking lasted until midnight. The so-often 
abused saying that the people were wild with excitement, was 
here literally true. On a smaller scale ... I could not 
compare this night with anything else but the one after Lin- 
coln's nomination in Chicago in i86o." 42 

The high prospects of hearty democratic cooperation were 
quickly clouded; the opposition of the old "Bourbon" demo- 
crats was to be expected, but within the state executive com- 
mittee itself a petty quarrel arose which for months paralyzed 

40 Other nominations were: lieutenant governor, John C. Black (democrat) ; 
secretary of state, Edward Rummel (republican) ; auditor, Daniel O'Hara 
(democrat) ; treasurer, C. H. Lanphier (republican) ; attorney-general, Law- 
rence Walden (democrat). Because Koerner and Rummel were both Germans 
the cry arose of "Too much Dutch" on the liberal ticket. Illinois State Register, 
July 5, 1872. 

41 The Germans did indeed align themselves generally for the liberal 
republican ticket; it was expected that the German vote would decide the elec- 
tion. The Illinois State Register optimistically stated that " of the 40,000 in 
the State who have heretofore voted the Republican ticket we have the most 
trustworthy evidence that six-sevenths are for Greeley and Koerner. Five thou- 
sand more German Republicans in Chicago will vote the same ticket," October 
12, 1874. In contrast to the liberal persuasion of most Germans the Chicago Daily 
Journal estimated that "a careful canvass shows that 10,000 of the 11,000 Nor- 
wegians, Swedes and Danes in Chicago are for the re-election of Piesident 
Grant." Ottawa Republican, August 15, 1872. 

42 Koerner, Memoirs, 2:563-564. 


democratic activities. In July, Lyman Trumbull wrote that 
the liberal republicans were "actively at work" and urged 
that these "bickerings" of the democrats be not permitted to 
interfere with the prompt and active work necessary to carry 
the state; in August the quarrel had not yet been settled, and 
Horace White declared that the whole story seemed "so 
pitiful and small that I could hardly keep my patience. . . . 
The idea of stopping now to have a quarrel in our own ranks 
is so absurd and vile that I refuse to believe you can entertain 
it for a moment." 43 

It was not until September that the democrats got actively 
to work. The confidential circular sent out from the national 
democratic headquarters, July 25, outlining the plan of cam- 
paign, was not responded to by Illinois until late in September, 
when the difficulties were finally settled and the liberal repub- 
lican and democratic committees consolidated. Then the 
chairman, Cyrus McCormick, on September 20 sent out a 
tardy spur to county and precinct organizers. " We are of the 
opinion that every person entitled to vote should be seen, and 
a record made of him. . . . Our prospects look well 
for this State, but we have a determined foe with a perfect 
organization to combat. Pure zeal must be opposed to the 
zeal of the Army of officeholders Postmasters, Assessors, 
and the like. They are an interested party; we are not 
having nothing but the good of the Country at heart. . . . 
It is not enough to elect Greeley; we must rebuke Grantism. 
Let us endeavor to do this by securing not a mere majority, 
but an overwhelming one. Call on every honest and good 
man to come to your aid. Canvass the County thoroughly. 
Canvass by precincts and by wards. Organize Ward and 
Precinct Committees. Urge all to do this work thoroughly, 

48 Trumbull to McCormick, July 22, 1872, Horace White to McCormick, 
August i, 1872, in McCormick manuscripts. 


and do you send in at the earliest moment full and complete 
lists." 44 

Throughout the campaign, republican orators and news- 
papers defended the administration, advocated a protective 
tariff which would make everybody prosperous, and pleaded 
with the voters to secure the fruits of victory in the Civil War 
by voting for Grant and Oglesby. 45 The liberals had an 
imposing array of orators in the field; among them were 
Trumbull, Palmer, Schurz, Leonard Swett, "Long John" 
Wentworth, and Governor Blair of Michigan. They bitterly 
denounced the corruption of the Grant administration, insisted 
on thoroughgoing civil reform, held up the republican party 
to scorn for its insistence on the force bill and its treatment 
in general of the late confederate citizens, and called on the 
citizens of the state to forget the past. 46 

The liberals were failing, however, to advance any specific 
inducements to the farmers, who now comprised the most 
discontented element in the state. The farmers themselves 
could see no particular advantage in turning out the repub- 
licans under whom had occurred whatever advance the state 
had made in regulating railroads and warehouses; what assur- 
ance had they that a liberal republican state administration 
would be able to handle the railroad and warehouse situation 
better than had the republicans? 47 Moreover, the Cincinnati 

44 Horace White to McCormick, September 20, 1872, in McCormick 

45 Chicago Tribune, July 20, October 23, 1872, March 15, 1872; Ottawa 
Republican, September 5, 1872. Senator Logan, among other Grant speakers, 
even plumed the administration upon the sale of $6,500,000 worth of arms from 
the arsenals of the United States; this disclosure of open violation of federal and 
international law they represented as a great financial stroke could you expect 
military officers to be lawyers? Koerner, Memoirs, 2:573. 

46 Chicago Tribune, July 30, 1872. 

47 The farmers had expected great things of the railroad and warehouse 
commission and failed to appreciate the fact that it possessed no power which 
would work revolutionary changes. Many farmers suspected Koerner, who was 
chairman of the commission, of being too lenient in his official dealings with the 
railroad interests; and for this reason his candidacy created less enthusiasm 
than the liberals had expected. 


convention had evaded the tariff issue; and the liberal repub- 
licans, as a national party, had skillfully avoided its discussion. 
Many of the Illinois republican farmers, therefore, who might 
have broken their party ties to vote against protection, sup- 
ported republican candidates or remained away from the polls. 

In overlooking the fact that their program was not par- 
ticularly attractive to the farmers, liberals also miscalculated 
the prejudices of the great body of voters; appeals for reform 
and for pacification proved to be poor politics. It was too 
soon to ask that the dead past bury its dead; the rank and file 
when reminded of the military exploits of the general forgot 
condemnations of the president. The discontent which had 
spurred the leaders had never vitally reached the great mass 
of the voters. Moreover, whatever inherent elements of 
weakness might have inevitably militated against them, the 
leadership of Greeley was fatal to success. " The qualities 
of head and heart for which he was notorious justified the 
common remark among Republicans that to turn a knave out 
of the White House for the purpose of putting a fool in was 
hardly worth while ; and the discovery of any single expression, 
in all his writings of thirty years, signifying aught but contempt 
for whatever pertained to Democracy was a task beyond the 
power of himself or any of his friends." 48 

The rank and file of democrats felt no obligation to go to 
the polls to support a man they desired so little. "If there had 
been a chance to beat Grant, they argued, we should have 
voted for Greeley, but as there is none we will not vote at 
all, for he has heretofore been our strongest and lifelong 
enemy." 49 Illinois returns, with this stay-at-home policy of 
the democrats markedly evident, were typical of the land- 
slide that defeated Greeley. The whole republican ticket was 

48 Dunning, Reconstruction Political and Economic, 197. 

49 Koerner, Memoirs, 2: 574. 


successful. Though Grant's vote was slightly less than it had 
been in 1868, never before had a presidential candidate carried 
the state by such a large majority; despite the fusion the 
Greeley vote was almost ten thousand less than the democrats 
alone had cast for Seymour four years previously. 50 

50 Official vote: Grant electors, 241,936; Greeley electors, 184,884; election 
returns from the secretary of state's office, Springfield. 


THE failure of the liberal republican-democratic state 
ticket rested largely on the fact that the platform on 
which it made its campaign was not especially attractive to the 
farmers, the most discontented element in the state. What 
the new party dwelt upon was political reform, and the farmers' 
hopes were primarily concerned with economic improvement. 
Charges of extravagance and mismanagement against Grant 
and his administration stirred them less than did the extor- 
tionate demands and the discriminating railroad rates. One 
was remote and capable of various interpretations, the other, 
immediate and definite; it was to the excessive commission 
charges of the middlemen and to the exorbitant freight rates 
that the farmers attributed the low prices of farm products 
and the high prices of manufactured goods. 1 " Poverty, if 
not bankruptcy, now stares us in the face. In the midst of 
such overwhelming abundance as to choke the marts of trade, 
and while the consumers on the seaboard and across the waters 
are hungry for our products, we cannot realize enough to pay 
our taxes and labor. Unless some remedy be found, our lands 
must greatly decline in value, agricultural labor yet more 
reduced in price, rural improvement must suffer a blight, and 
general poverty cover the land, and thus dwarf and wither 
every interest dependent upon the farmer's prosperity." 2 

1 Chicago Tribune, December 30, 1872; Chicago Inter-Ocean, February 20, 
1873; Prairie Farmer, March 22, 1873; Ottawa Republican, April 17, May 8, 
1873. The Illinois State Register, November 18, 1872, analyzes the expense of 
sowing and of shipping corn to the New York market. 

2 From an address of L. D. Whiting delivered before a state meeting of 
farmers. Prairie Farmer, January 25, 1873. The secretary of the Illinois 
State Farmers' Association described the hovel-like home of the typical Illinois 



His acute realization of his hardships led the farmer to a 
new evaluation of the railroad. Prior to this decade the rail- 
road had been regarded as a blessing which magically bestowed 
prosperity wherever it passed. Incidental evils, it was believed, 
could be remedied by competition, and the demand was steadily 
for more railroads. The railroads, however, by consolidations 
and agreements had easily nullified the effects of competition; 
they regarded their trade as a private business with transpor- 
tation as a commodity to be sold " at the best rates that could 
be got from the individual customer. The big shipper got 
the wholesale rate; the small shipper paid the maximum. 
Favoritism, discrimination, rebates, were the life of the rail- 
road trade." 3 But the hardships that such methods entailed 
upon large groups of people were evolving from them the new 
idea of regulation by the state ; and, once articulate, the demand 
for legislative regulation became insistent. The dominant 
republican party, however, manifested no inclination to accede 
to so far-fetched a departure. It was then sharply borne in 
upon the farmers that so long as they protested as individuals, 
the managers of railroads and warehouses had little cause to 
consider their complaints seriously; even their representatives 
in the legislature had little to fear from neglecting their 
interests. Organization would put a different face on the 
matter. It would then become only a question of time before 
opposition to the conduct of public enterprises after the manner 
of private concerns would have to be taken seriously into 
account, both by the corporations themselves and by the law- 

On account of its influence and its widespread activities 
the Order of Patrons of Husbandry was, during the seventies, 

farmers " with barely room to stand up in, with never a flower or shrub near, 
without the kindly shade of a tree; a bare, black, wretched abode, fit for nothing 
but the squalid and the pigs." Prairie Farmer, August 30, 1873. 
3 Paxson. The New Nation, 70. 


the farmers' organization attracting the most attention. The 
order had its conception in the mind of O. H. Kelley, an 
employee of the department of agriculture at Washington; 
he had an abiding conviction that unsatisfactory conditions 
among the farming classes, both north and south, were due 
largely to a lack of organization. Accordingly, in 1867, he 
set on foot a movement which had as its aim the betterment of 
farmers everywhere through organization in local " granges." 
These granges, professedly nonpolitical, were intended to 
serve as forums where all sorts of economic and social ques- 
tions affecting agriculture might be discussed. To that end 
the order provided for the admission of women, and as time 
went on they were given more and more authority and respon- 
sibility in the organization. 

The first Illinois grange was organized in April, 1868, in 
the office of the Prairie Farmer. Growth during the next three 
years was slow; up to the beginning of the year 1872 only 
eight local granges had been organized. During that year, a 
period filled with the activities of liberal republicanism, sixty- 
nine more were organized. Then, with the reaction against 
the political movement which had offered little or no relief to 
the farming classes, there came an intensification of the feeling 
among the farmers that organization alone could gain for them 
some relief from railroad, warehouse, and kindred abuses. 
The grange movement, in so far as the organization of locals 
was concerned, reached its greatest prosperity during the years 
J 873, when 761 local granges were organized, and 1874, 
when 704 new organizations were formed. These two years 
saw the most intense struggle between the public and the corpo- 
rations for ultimate control of the railroad rates. When the 
struggle was keenest the number of local granges inaugurated 
was almost twenty times as great as the number organized 
during the previous four years; correspondingly, when the 


foremost aims of the farmer were attained the number 
of new granges fell to fifty in 1875, and in 1876 to twenty- 
seven. 4 

The method of organizing local granges was simple. Any 
number of persons " engaged in agricultural pursuits, more 
than nine, and not over thirty," could form a grange. Charter 
members paid initiation fees of three dollars for men and 
fifty cents for women; other members paid four dollars and 
two dollars respectively. Dues paid by the locals to either 
state or national organization were relatively small. "After 
the charter is full there is sent to the State Grange one dollar 
for each male member and fifty cents for each female member 
initiated in all the degrees. None of this goes to the National 
Grange. A monthly due of ten cents for each member is 
collected, and six and a quarter cents of this is sent to the 
State Grange each quarter, or twenty-five cents annually for 
each member. A small portion of this, ten cents per annum 
for each member, is sent to the National Grange, and this is 
all the National Grange receives after the first payment of 
ten dollars." 5 When the organization became stronger in 
numbers, the dues paid into the national treasury were reduced 
to five cents per member. 

The founders of the grange provided for national, state, 
and local units. In working out the details of their organi- 
zations they drew upon many sources ; they had a ritual similar 
to that of a leading American secret society and provided for 
advanced degrees to which both men and women were admitted. 
The total number of the degrees was seven, four of which the 
local grange had the authority to confer under certain restric- 
tions. Each degree bore a name; those for men were known 

4 For a history of the grange movement in Illinois see Buck, The Granger 
Movement; Paine, The Granger Movement in Illinois; Martin, History of the 
Grange Movement. 

5 Prairie Farmer, January 4, 1873. 


as laborer, cultivator, harvester, and husbandman; for women, 
they were maid, shepherdess, gleaner, and matron. The fifth, 
or Pomona (Hope) degree, the state grange could confer on 
masters and past masters of local granges and their wives. 
The national organization alone could confer the sixth, or 
Flora (Charity), and the seventh, or Ceres (Faith) degrees, 
and then only to a select few. Only members of the fifth 
degree were eligible for the sixth, while the seventh was made 
up exclusively of members of the sixth who had served one 
year in that capacity. 

This elaborate organization, with all the appeal of secrecy 
and ritual, never lost sight of the grim reasons which had 
called it into being. With considerable straightforwardness, 
the grangers went forth to meet the problems of tire farmers; 
until political changes could be wrought the railroads stood 
out of their reach, but might they not outmaneuver the mer- 
chants, bankers, and middlemen who had victimized them? 
The farmer had long since lost all assurance that his products 
once in the market would be honestly handled by the broker 
or commission merchant, while at the same time he was put to 
a great disadvantage in buying. Since he had little ready cash, 
he was often compelled to buy on credit; and the price of 
"credit" goods was exorbitant. It was purposed, then, that 
granges should secure cooperation among the farmers in sell- 
ing their products and in buying their supplies, particularly 
farm machinery. 

The evils of the credit system, and the lower cost of large 
scale production, furnished the keys to effective action. The 
grange leaders undertook to educate the farmers to the desir- 
ability of paying cash for supplies and equipment and of 
concentrating their buying power. They then arranged with 
the manufacturers of agricultural implements, usually through 
the grange's state purchasing agent, to make special prices to 


members. 6 The results were gratifying; prices fell, in some 
cases as much as one half. " Reapers for which the middle- 
men charged $275 were secured by the granges for $175. 
Threshers were reduced from $300 to $200, wagons from 
$150 to $90, sewing machines from $75 and $100 to $40 
and $50, and other articles in like proportion." 7 

The saving in the purchases of machinery and tools caused 
the farmers to cast about for further fields of action. Far- 
sighted business men, eager to gain the trade of this group 
with its growing class consciousness, launched various schemes 
to meet their demands. They advertised their establishments 
as being especially fitted to take care of the farmers' trade 
and backed up their claims with large stocks and low prices. 

It was this endeavor that produced mail order houses, 
which eliminated the middleman. In 1872 Montgomery Ward 
and Company of Chicago introduced this system " to meet the 
wants of the Patrons of Husbandry." As the "original grange 
supply house," backed by the recommendations of the national 
grange, the company soon built up a thriving trade. "We 

The Cyrus H. McCormick Company regarded these developments with 
some anxiety, for as a company it had yielded very little to granger demands; 
the company finally sent out questionnaires to its agents, endeavoring to ascertain 
whether it would have to accede to the demands. The answers are interesting as 
giving an intimate, if prejudiced, point of view. 

" So far as my acquaintance extends among the Grangers," declared John H. 
Shaffer of Kankakee, " I am free to say that the best men in the County will not 
have anything to do with them. The principle men who are grangers are that 
class of men . . . who do not like to get right down and tuork but who are 
in hopes of getting a living by some Hook or Crook without labor. In short, 
they are faultfinders, agitators, men who aspire to some political position. . . . 
My plan is to let them severely alone unless they purchase of us the same as 
other men do." 

" My opinion is," wrote William F. Carr of Freeport, " any policy favoring 
' Grangers "... will be highly suicidal not only to your interests but to 
the entire manufacturing interests of the Nation." E. K. Butler of Sterling was 
succinct. " You cannot serve two masters. No more can you make terms with 
Grangers and deal with white men too." " Extracts from Agents' Letters on the 
Subject of Farmers' Granges," in McCormick manuscripts; Chicago Tribune, 
January 30, 1874. For an argument against the method of pooling purchases 
see Rock Island Union, March, 1874, passim; Ottawa Republican, March 26, 1874. 

7 Paine, The Granger Movement in Illinois, 40. 


don't pay Forty Thousand a year Rent. . . . We don't 
sell Goods to Country Retailers on six months' time. We 
buy for Cash and sell for Cash. . . . We don't employ 
any middlemen to sell our Goods" were the slogans which, 
combined with "the power of the Grange," in four years 
" saved the Consumers millions of dollars by breaking up 
monopolies and forcing dealers to sell their goods at fair 
prices." Montgomery Ward catalogs advertised a wide 
variety of dry goods, furniture, cutlery, and groceries; their 
customers bought through written order only; goods were 
sent by express, " and each consignee is, by express contract, 
authorized to open the package of goods, examine them, and 
if not satisfied, can decline taking the things sent him. . . . 
In no event is he in any way obliged or compelled to take the 
goods, or pay therefor, except by his own volition." In order 
that the farmer might still further escape the services of the 
middleman, this company would receive consignments of all 
sorts of grain and seeds: "All Grain consigned to us will be 
sold at once and returns made the day of sale, unless other- 
wise directed. We charge one cent per bushel for handling 
Grain, and 25c per car for inspection." 8 

The farmers themselves often took the initiative in organ- 
izing stores and warehouses for their own benefit. Here and 
there they formed local stock companies on a cooperative 
basis, usually with the idea of eliminating the middleman; 
cooperative fire insurance was also undertaken. Some of these 
enterprises were successful, but on the whole they were much 
less profitable than their organizers had anticipated. 9 

Side by side with the grange there was growing up a large 
number of nonsecret and more or less independent farmers' 

8 Chicago Tribune, December 24, 1873 ; Montgomery Ward and Company, 
Catalog, number u, p. 2, 3, number 17, p. i, number 20, p. 3. 

8 Paine, The Granger Movement in Illinois, 43-45 ; Ottawa Republican, 
January 16, 1873; Prairie Farmer, December 12, 1874. 


clubs which were not bound by the nonpartisan character of 
that organization. Overlapping the grange in aims and often 
in membership, these clubs differed in method; they were 
coming more and more to feel that the remedy for the graver 
problems of the farmer lay in legislative action. "They are 
down on railroads and rings, and conspiracies, and monopolies, 
and treason against the general welfare. . . . They say; 
If the war lasts for ages they intend to fight it out to the 
bitter end, and woe be to the politician who stands in their 
way to the end fought for." 10 The influence that the grange 
acquired, as it came to personify the farmers' movement, these 
clubs converted into political pressure. As early as 1869 the 
farmers and their friends had succeeded in placing on the 
statute books of the state a law which was supposed to remedy 
conditions by preventing discriminatory rates and service. The 
law, however, was ineffective; and conditions continued very 
much as they had been before its passage. In the meantime 
the constitutional convention had been called, and the friends 
of regulation had finally been successful in embodying in the 
new constitution definite provisions for regulating both rail- 
roads and warehouses; railroads were declared public high- 
ways, and to the legislature was delegated ample power to 
regulate them. 11 

10 W. H. Herndon in the Illinois State Register, February 19, 1873, con- 
tinues: "They say it is too hard to give fifty bushels of corn (an acre of corn) 
for a pair of boots, simply to satisfy tariff monopolists. They say it is too hard 
to have to sell corn here (in your city) for twenty-two cents, and have to pay a 
dollar for the same corn in Chicago to feed the stock you take to supply the 
markets. . . . They demand free trade as opposed to high protective tariff. 
They intend to keep demanding till this iniquity high tariff shall be blotted 
from the statute book of the nation. ... I am requested to go to several places 
and organize other clubs. I shall go and do all the good I can to the farmers, 
gardeners, horticulturists, laborers and all others struggling to better their 

11 The sections of chief interest in this connection are numbers 12 and 15 of 
article xi: 

" Section 12. Railways heretofore constructed or that may hereafter be con- 
structed in this State, are hereby declared public highways, and shall be free to 
all persons for the transportation of their persons and property thereon, under 


It was with keen interest that the farmers watched the 
convening of the first general assembly under the new consti- 
tution j what would be the forthcoming railroad legislation? 
Their interests were well represented; almost at once sixty-five 
members had organized a Legislative Farmers' Club, which 
had for its purpose the securing of legislation beneficial to 
the farming classes, but more especially of legislation that 
would curb the railroads. With such leverage it was com- 
paratively easy to get a majority of the legislators to favor 
railroad laws. 

Of the comprehensive and complex " railroad act of 1871 " 
three provisions were of chief interest; charges for a long 
haul should never be equal to or less than charges for a 
shorter haul; handling and storage should be uniform; and 
no road could charge a greater mileage rate on one portion 
of its line than on any other portion. The legislators also 
attacked the problem of regulating grain warehouses, since the 
farmers charged that the warehousemen were guilty of dis- 
criminating in favor of individuals and of localities, and also 
guilty of falsifying their records in the matter of weights and 
grading. 12 

Enactment of laws to regulate railroads and warehouses 

such regulations as may be prescribed by law. And the General Assembly shall, 
from time to time, pass laws establishing reasonable maximum rates of charges 
for the transportation of passengers and freight on the different railroads in this 

"Section 15. The General Assembly shall pass laws to correct abuses and 
prevent unjust discrimination and extortion in the rates of freight and passenger 
tariffs on the different railroads in this State, and enforce such laws by adequate 
penalties, to the extent, if necessary for that purpose, of forfeiture of their 
property and franchises." 

12 A suit to test the warehouse act of 1871 was instituted against a Chicago 
firm of warehouse men, named Munn and Scott, for not taking out a warehouse 
license as required by law. The lower court sustained the state's contention, 
declaring the defendants guilty. The defendants then appealed the case to the 
state supreme court, which in 1873 sustained the decision of the lower court. The 
case, widely known as Munn <v. Illinois, was then carried to the supreme court of 
the United States. In 1876, that tribunal sustained the courts below, thus setting 
a legal precedent which had a far-reaching influence in the United States on 
legislation affecting warehouses. 


was comparatively easy, for few legislators had either the 
desire or the hardihood to oppose legislation offered primarily 
in the interest of the most numerous voting class in the state; 
enforcement of these laws, however, was a different and more 
difficult thing to accomplish. In order in some degree to meet 
this difficulty, the legislature had authorized the formation of 
a railroad and warehouse commission, and with the appoint- 
ment of three railroad and warehouse commissioners 13 the 
first step toward enforcement was taken. This body was a 
unique one, Massachusetts being at this time the only state 
having a commission for railroad control, while the inclusion 
of warehouse regulation was without precedent. As soon as 
the new board had effected an organization, it directed the 
railroads in the state to report on earnings and mileage, in 
order that the commission might determine which of the legal 
passenger rates should apply to each road. The law went into 
effect on July i, and during the next three months practically 
all the railroads reported, though usually under protest. They 
took the ground that the law under which the commission had 
called for reports was unconstitutional and hence not binding 
on the railroad companies. They were willing, however, to 
" furnish such information as the mode of doing our business 
makes reasonable and practicable." 

The commission itself had little authority in the matter of 
fixing passenger rates, so that even though the railroads sub- 
mitted the reports called for, that concession. indicated no 
intention of obeying the state regulatory law, particularly as 
it had to do with passenger and freight rates. The farmers, 
therefore, felt compelled often to take the matter of passenger 

13 The first three commissioners were Gustave Koerner of St. Clair, 
Richard P. Morgan of McLean, and David S. Hammond of Cook. For a dis- 
cussion of the advisability of appointing a commission see issues of Illinois State 
Register, Bloomington Pantograph, and Elgin Gazette for first two weeks of 
August, 1871. 


rates into their own hands. It was not unusual for groups 
of them, especially when going to farmers' conventions, to 
board trains, offer the maximum fare stipulated in the state 
law and refuse to pay more. Sometimes they succeeded in 
carrying out their purpose, sometimes trainmen ran the train 
on a side track and refused to proceed. "The railroads of 
the State, in some cases, carry passengers free who will pay 
legal fare. In other cases such passengers are ejected by 
force. At Rantoul, the other day, a whole carload of legal 
fare passengers were switched off upon a sidetrack and left, 
while the engine and balance of the train went on." On one 
occasion the farmers, when the trainmen attempted to oust 
them from the cars, drew revolvers and bowie knives and 
repulsed the attacking party. 14 The Illinois State Farmers' 
Association tacitly approved these vigorous methods of secur- 
ing legal rights. On one occasion W. C. Flagg, president of 
the association, speaking before a large farmers' meeting in 
Champaign county, told with considerable satisfaction of how 
a club had been formed in McLean county " to ride according 
to the law; and the only thing that prevented them from doing 
so was their inability to make the conductor receive anything. 
They were obliged to ride for nothing." The association also 
" Resolved, That persons traveling on the railroadp of Illinois, 
having tendered to the proper officers the legal fare, are in 
the line of their duty, and, having complied with the law 
so far as circumstances would permit, are entitled to and 
should receive the protection of the civil power of the state, 
and any interference with such persons by attempt on the 
part of an officer or employee of the railroad to eject them 
from the cars, for the reason that they have not paid the legal 
fare demanded, is a crime against the peace and dignity of 
the state a violation of the rights of the citizen, and 

14 Periam, The Groundswell, 297; Prairie Farmer, February 15, 1873. 


should be summarily punished by exemplary fines and 
penalties." 15 

To the farmer his own direct action in enforcing the state 
law was preferable to the slow procedure of the court, though 
he, as an aggrieved passenger, alone had the right to bring 
suit. The railroad commission, however, held that no perma- 
nent settlement of difficulties could be secured by such methods, 
and by indirection it had several test cases instituted. One of 
these suits was begun in August, 1871, by Stephen H. Moore 
of Kankakee against the Illinois Central railroad, which, the 
plaintiff claimed, had charged him a higher passenger rate than 
the state law permitted. More than a year later the circuit 
court decided in favor of the railroad company. 16 The case 
was appealed to the state supreme court, where after another 
twelvemonth the judgment of the circuit court was affirmed. 
The higher court decision, while it seemed to the farmers and 
their friends to favor the railroads, really left the issue exactly 
where it started, since on technical grounds it absolved the 
company from blame and refrained from expressing any 
opinion on the constitutionality of the law under which the 
suit had been brought. 

In the meantime the railroad and warehouse commission 
had instituted in McLean county a suit against the Chicago and 
Alton railroad on the ground that it had charged, in open vio- 
lation of the law, a higher rate on lumber for the no miles 
from Chicago to Lexington than for the 126 miles between 
Chicago and Bloomington. Counsel for the defense contended 
first that the act under which the suit had been brought violated 
the rights guaranteed by the constitution of the United States; 
and second that the rate between Chicago and Lexington was 
reasonable, the one for the longer haul being maintained by 

15 Prairie Farmer, January 25, February 8, 1873. 

16 Illinois State Register, August 10, 1871. 


the Chicago and Alton at a loss in order to compete with the 
Illinois Central. The commission and its attorneys took ex- 
actly the same ground occupied by some of the delegates in the 
constitutional convention in contending that any right which the 
legislature might have conferred on the railroads detrimental 
to the public welfare was void, since the legislature by so doing 
had exceeded its authority. The decision of the circuit court, 
which was handed down in November, 1.872, sustained the con- 
tentions of the commission. The railroad appealed the case to 
the state supreme court, which in the January term, 1873, 
reversed by a unanimous vote the judgment of the McLean 
county circuit court. Speaking for the court, Chief Justice 
Charles B. Lawrence declared that the railroad act of 1871 
was contrary to the state constitution but not to the constitution 
of the United States. 

Indignation was intense among the great mass of farmers; 
such a decision was all that was necessary to coalesce the loosely 
organized farmers' clubs into an Illinois State Farmers' Asso- 
ciation with the definite object of attaining their rights through 
political action. 17 They would no longer wait for the support 
"of legislators or courts whose pockets are filled with free 
railroad passes." 18 Almost the first act of the association 
was the adoption of a series of radical resolutions relating to 
transportation, wherein it asserted, " that the power of this 
and all local organizations should be wielded at the ballot- 
box, by the election of such and only such, persons as sym- 

17 The association was built on broader lines than was the grange; it organ- 
ized farmers into state, county, and community units and tried to coordinate and 
unify farming interests. It included in its ranks granges as well as other kinds 
of farmers' organizations; membership in state meetings was to "consist of 
delegates from the various Farmer Clubs, Granges, and other agricultural and 
horticultural societies of the State." 

18 The Prairie Farmer, March 8, 1873, discreetly hid criticism of the decision; 
"the law being unconstitutional we are glad to know it at this early date," but, 
it said: "Let us now look to the legislature for the amendments recommended, 
and let us have these amendments at once." Ibid. 


pathize with us in this movement." The state legislature was 
then in session, and the executive committee of the newly 
organized association issued a call for a state farmers' con- 
vention at Springfield, April 2, " for the purpose of attending 
to our interests in the legislature, and of giving that body and 
the governor to understand that we mean business, and are 
no longer to be trifled with; that while we have no disposition 
to infringe upon the rights of others, we demand that protec- 
tion at their hands from the intolerable wrongs now inflicted 
upon us by the railroads, which they have a constitutional 
right to give us." 19 

The farmers realized that their fight would be won pro- 
vided the legislature would enact an adequate regulative law 
not inconsistent with the state constitution, but the railroads 
were equally alert to that fact, and both sides brought all 
pressure possible upon the legislature. The railroads main- 
tained hired lobbies, while the farmers and their friends 
through their local granges and organizations and through 
several state meetings impressed the lawmakers with their 
determination to carry on the fight until satisfactory railroad 
legislation had been enacted. 20 In these meetings the argu- 
ment that "cheap railroads and cheap ships are necessary to 
cheap freights " made the farmers take a decided stand against 
protection; and this was the first indication that the move- 
ment was to expand into the formation of an independent 
national party. In September a state farmers' convention 
went on record as favoring "the immediate repeal of the 

19 Prairie Farmer, October 5, 1872, March 29, 1873; Turner Essays in 
American History, 142. 

20 The farmers' first significant victory came when, because of stout objec- 
tions to his appointees on the railroad and warehouse commission, Governor 
Beveridge withdrew the names he had submitted and allowed the farming inter- 
ests to dictate the nominations. Prairie Farmer, February i, 8, 15, 1873; Illinois 
State Register, February 8, 9, 1873; Ottawa Republican, February 13, 1873. A 
complete account of a state meeting of farmers which convened on April i, 1873, 
is found in Prairie Farmer of April 12; see also Chicago Tribune, April 3, 1873. 

9 6 

protective duties on iron, steel, lumber and all materials which 
enter into the construction of railroad cars, steamships, vessels, 
agricultural implements." In general, farmers were " opposed 
to protecting one class or kind of industry by legislation, at 
the expense of another, and declare for giving equal rights 
and exacting equal duties to and from all." Moreover, the 
farmers, feeling the pinch due to a scarcity of money, accused 
the banks, particularly the national banks, of being respon- 
sible in large measure for the hard times, since it was thought 
that these institutions had united to oppose the inflation of 
the currency by the issuance of greenbacks. 21 

The fight on the immediate political issue railroad regu- 
lation continued for months in the legislature, with the 
farming interest steadily gaining the upper hand. In May, 
the legislature enacted the railroad law of 1873," much more 
radical and much more effective than any so far passed. For 
a long time the railroads refused to acknowledge defeat; they 
at once assumed an attitude of having been illtreated and 
began to interpose what obstacles they could to the adminis- 
tration of the law. The state cannot, declared the annual 
report of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railway, 
" abridge or take away the right of the Railroad Company 
to operate its Road, and to fix, adjust, and collect reasonable 
tolls and charges for transportation thereon. These rights, 
and the money invested in order to insure their use and exer- 
cise, are private property, and not to be destroyed or impaired 
by legislation without the consent of the owner." 23 

21 Illinois State Register, September i, 1873. It is not to be supposed that 
the farmers were a unit in regard to inflation. Flagg, the president of the state 
association, strongly urged the opposite. 

22 Prairie Farmer, February i, 8, 15, 1873; Illinois State Register, Feb- 
ruary 8, 9, 1873; Ottawa Republican, February 13, 1873. For example of the 
influence of the farmers on the act see Illinois State Register, March 5, 1873. 

23 Chicago Tribune, April 23, 1874. Ex-Governor Palmer, in addressing a 
meeting of farmers, thus summed up the attitude of the railroads: "They rely- 
ing upon perverted theories of constitutional law have arrogated to themselves 


But the tide was setting in strongly for the farmer; in 
every state and local election this or that candidate trimmed 
his sails to his particular demands : every candidate was the 
" farmers' candidate." The reaction of the two old political 
parties to the independent movement was, of course, dictated 
by self-interest; the democrats, who had everything to gain by 
weakening the republicans, generally encouraged the move- 
ment; while the republicans, their power endangered, con- 
demned this attempt of an industrial group to gain their 
ends by political means. The State Register enthusiastically 
announced that it was " in favor of any nominations made 
by any body of men, called democrats or by any other name, 
who are opposed to the salary steal, railroad extortion, cor- 
poration monopolies of all kinds, and in favor of free trade 
and equal rights to all and special privileges to none. This is 
our platform, and the Register will only support candidates 
who stand on it." 24 The State Journal betrayed " radical " 
republican uneasiness when it sneered at the composition of 
the farmers' movement; "the efforts of democratic bummers 
and dead beats, all over the country, assisted by a few theo- 
retical agriculturists, to convince the people of the absolute 
necessity for the organization of a 'new,' or 'farmers' party,' 
do not seem to be encouraging. We have yet to see the first 
republican paper, however vigorously it may be urging reform 
in the management of the railroads, that indorses the proposed 
movement." 25 

a vested right to defy the popular will, as declared in the constitution and laws. 
And even yet it is apparent that they are defiant . . . railroad managers, 
have as yet shown no disposition to accept this law in the just spirit in which it 
was enacted. On the contrary, they have found in its passage a new pretext for 
extortion." Illinois State Register, March 3, 1874; Chicago, Burlington and 
Quincy Railroad Report, 1874, p. 24. 

24 Illinois State Register, November 9, 1872, July 8, 11, 1873; Ottawa Repub- 
lican, August 14, 1873; Chicago Tribune, July n, 1874. 

25 Quoted in Illinois State Register, July u, 1873. See also Rochelle Register, 
August 16, 1873. 


As to how independent a step they should take, the farmers 
themselves were divided. The ones who openly advocated 
an alliance with one of the. old parties were bitterly opposed 
to those who favored the organization of an independent party. 
" If those that see the necessity of this great movement being 
made political in order to accomplish the overthrow of the 
monopolies of which the farmers complain, should make the 
mistake of attempting to attach it to the democratic party, 
they will soon discover that they cannot accomplish their under- 
taking. The republican members of the Clubs and Granges 
will not, as a general thing, support the democratic party, and 
the republican party will thus be enabled to continue to rule 
the country in the interest of the giant monopolies." Tazewell 
county farmers went squarely on record against coalition by 
declaring that both old parties were the "tools of grabbers 
and monopolists." 26 

The formal entrance of the farmers into politics as an 
organized body came in 1873 at tne judicial elections. It had 
needed only the McLean case to convince many that the rail- 
road interests controlled the judiciary; and that if any solid re- 
sults were to be attained, the courts as well as the legislature 
must be renovated. As a beginning, therefore, it behooved the 
farmers to see to it that the judicial candidates should not be 
found wanting in a proper reaction to the railroad laws. In 
the fifth district, where the term of Chief Justice Lawrence, 
who had spoken for the court in the McLean case, was about 
to expire, this feeling was particularly strong. When Law- 
rence was renominated by means of the influence of the lawyers 
of the district, the farmers held a convention at Princeton, 
where they nominated Alfred M. Craig, who, in the constiru- 

26 Prairie Farmer, June 21, September 13, 1873. For opposing opinions on 
the significance of the farmers' movement as a political issue see the Nation, 
1873; Harper's Weekly, 1873. 


tional convention of 18691870, had shown himself favor- 
able to railroad regulation. They further adopted resolutions 
demanding effective action from both the legislature and the 
courts in support of the railroad provisions of the constitution; 
they declared their intention of supporting no one not in 
accord with the farmers in these matters, and recommended 
that the " antimonopolists" of the state nominate their own 
candidates for the judicial positions in the various districts. 

The farmers in the second district, the only other one 
where a supreme court vacancy was then occurring, and in 
eight or nine of the twenty-six circuits of the state adopted 
the advice of the Princeton meeting, while candidates in many 
other districts voluntarily declared their sympathy with the 
farmers' views. The election results revealed not only to 
the farmers, but to astounded politicians as well, the power 
which the new movement had gained. Nearly every candidate 
nominated or backed by the farmers was elected, even Judge 
Lawrence in spite of a spirited campaign in his behalf 
being defeated. 

Such victories promised well for the independents in the 
county elections that fall, and preparations were soon under 
way. A device which stimulated much enthusiasm was the 
celebration of a " farmers' Fourth of July." On that day the 
farmers of every vicinity gathered to listen to fiery addresses 
from their members, to discuss earnestly the political condi- 
tions of the day, and to hear a clever parody " The Farmer's 
Declaration of Independence" which succinctly set forth 
the farmers' cause. 27 The machinery of local clubs and organ- 

27 After a preamble, a statement of " self-evident truths," with the sins 
committed by the railroad, the declaration concludes: 

" We, therefore, the producers of this State, in our several counties assem- 
bled ... do solemnly declare that we will use all lawful and peaceable 
means to free ourselves from the tyranny of monopoly, and that we will never 
cease our efforts for reform until every department of our Government gives 
token that the reign of licentious extravagance is over, and something of the 


izations was everywhere set in motion, and county after county 
began to hold conventions and nominate farmers' candidates, 
until sixty-six of the one hundred and two counties had such 
" antimonopoly " nominees. Old party lines were completely 
ignored; for in some counties one and in some the other of 
the old parties refrained from making its own nominations 
and fell in with the independents. When the November returns 
came in they showed the farmers, or "antimonopoly" party, 
victorious in fifty-three of the sixty-six counties in which they 
had their own nominees; republicans carried sixteen, demo- 
crats twenty, and "independents" thirteen of the remaining 
counties. 28 

Such results could not but stimulate the hope of a similar 
outcome in the state elections in the following year; indeed, 
with 1874 an "off-year," everything was favorable to the 
development of a strong state party. True, the railroad situa- 
tion was no longer a menace, and other issues which had been 
rallying points for the granges, had passed away; but the 
agrarian organization, conscious of power, failed to recognize 
that the solving of those problems meant also the relaxing of 
the strong cohesive force which had held together the farming 
group. No other fundamental question had supplied a unify- 
ing issue; and consequently old differences of republicans and 
democrats, as well as newer differences of "hard" and "soft" 
money men, began to become active. The force of organiza- 
tion, however, largely concealed these disintegrating agencies 

purity, honesty, and frugality with which our fathers inaugurated it has taken 
its place. 

"That to this end we hereby declare ourselves absolutely free and independ- 
ent of all past political connections, and that we shall give our suffrage only to 
such men for office . . . as we have good reason to believe will use their 
best endeavors to the promotion of these ends; and for the support of this decla- 
ration, with a firm reliance in Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each 
other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." Chicago Tribune, June 
17, 1873. 

28 Buck, The Granger Movement, 82-89. 


and, at the same time, brought into relief the demands for 
which the antimonopolists now stood. Their call to convention 
at Springfield in June, 1874, came from "the farmers, mechan- 
ics, laboring men, and other citizens of Illinois 
deeming it needful for the best interests of this state and 
nation that independent political action be taken by and in 
behalf of the producing, industrial, and other business classes, 
and in opposition to the corporate monopolies that are influenc- 
ing and even controlling our legislatures, courts, and execu- 
tives, and taxing and oppressing our citizens; " and they urged 
all voters of the state to unite with them in supporting the 
platform and nominees of the convention. 20 Representatives 
of all political organizations were present; ex-Governor 
John M. Palmer, John H. Bryant, Jonathan B. Turner, 
G. W. Miner, W. C. Flagg, and William B. Anderson were 
among the prominent members. Palmer made the principal 
speech, in which he spoke against "grinding monopolies" and 
reiterated what he had said two years previously about the 
uselessness of the two old political parties, declaring that they 
"had accomplished their work, and that it was time for them 
to give way. Whatever these parties might have been in the 
past, certain it was that they had outlived their usefulness." 30 
That the government was extravagant and that the civil 
service law was being evaded, the agricultural classes were 
now convinced. Furthermore, they were dissatisfied with the 
way in which the government had extended aid to the Pacific 
railroads; they felt that they were being exploited by the 
banking interests and were becoming more and more distrust- 
ful of the protective tariff. Their platform had a salutary 
influence on subsequent political utterances when it demanded 

^Chicago Tribune, June n, 1874; Illinois State Register, June xi, 1874; 
Prairie Farmer, June 20, 1874. 

30 Chicago Tribune, June n, 1874. 


retrenchment in government expenditures, strengthening of the 
civil service law, repeal of the national bank law, replacement 
of national bank notes by legal-tender currency issued by the 
national government, and revision downward of the tariff. 
The candidates nominated were David Gore for state treasurer 
and Samuel M. Etter for superintendent of public instruction. 31 

The republicans had watched this whole development with 
some anxiety; they asserted again and again "that there is 
no occasion, nor is there any principle involved, nor issue at 
stake to justify men who had been Republican, or Democrats, 
all their lives to set themselves up as an Independent Party." 
But in their convention a week later at Springfield, the dele- 
gates, still flushed with the rather easy victory of 1872, did 
not hesitate to squabble over issues and candidates. Thomas S. 
Ridgeway was finally nominated for state treasurer, and Wil- 
liam B. Powell for superintendent of public instruction, while 
the Chicago Tribune dismissed the republican platform as "on 
the whole an apologetic and nerveless document, indicating 
unmistakably that the party does not know where it stands on 
the questions treated." 32 

In the latter part of the next month the democratic state 
central committee, in pursuance of the power vested in it 
by the democratic convention of 1872, called a state conven- 
tion to be held at Springfield on August 26. The committee 
invited all democrats, liberals, and all others opposed to the 

31 For an account of the convention see Chicago Tribune, June n, 1874; 
Illinois State Register, June u, 1874. 

32 Chicago Tribune, January 18, 1874, January 4, 1875. The financial plank 
of the platform consumed hours of discussion in committee, which finally reported 
to the convention, that it declared for a resumption of specie payments and 
against an increase in the volume of greenbacks. The first portion of the plank 
the convention adopted; the second portion, the one dealing with greenbacks, it 
rejected by the close vote of 298 to 234. In other planks of the platform the 
convention put the republicans of the state on record as favoring the national 
banking system, the election of president by direct vote of the people, and 
adequate laws for regulating railroads. For pre-convention comments on issues 
see Chicago Tribune, May 29, 1874, quoting from Sullivan Progress, Paxton 
Journal, Illinois State Journal, and Bloomington Pantograph. 


republican party to unite in sending delegates to the conven- 
tion. That it was to take issue with the farmers over the 
currency was seen when it announced the purposes of the con- 
vention to be the restoration of gold and silver as the basis 
of the currency of the country, the speedy resumption of specie 
payments, and the payment of all national indebtedness in 
the money recognized by the civilized world. They further 
declared for free commerce, individual liberty and opposition 
to the sumptuary laws, the right and duty of the state to pro- 
tect its citizens from extortion and unjust discrimination by 
chartered monopolies, the rigid restriction of the government, 
both state and national, to "the legitimate domain of political 
power by excluding therefrom all executive and legislative 
intermeddling with the affairs of society, whereby monopolies 
were fostered, privileged classes aggrandized, and individual 
freedom unnecessarily and oppressively restrained." 33 

With the publication of the above call a bitter controversy 
arose over the prospective attitude of the convention toward the 
candidates already named by the independents. The independ- 
ents themselves, though somewhat ambiguous in their attitude 
on tariff and the currency, had, on the whole, committed them- 
selves to the greenback policy; the democratic party had now 
taken an uncompromising stand for resumption and specie 
payments. Still, the independents, with the exception of those 
who feared that indorsement spelled disintegration, desired the 
indorsement of the democratic convention for their candidates; 
this desire was shared by many democrats, particularly by 
those who placed the defeat of the republicans before the 
preservation of their party organization. A very large number 
of democrats, however, took the ground that the time had 
come for the democrats to stand squarely on their own prin- 
ciples and candidates. "The only way that the Democratic 

23 Chicago Tribune, July 30, 1874; Illinois State Register, August 5, 1874. 


party," declared the State Register, " can be true to itself and 
gain the confidence of the people is to honestly and boldly 
declare for Democratic doctrines on all questions and at all 
times, that the country may know in what we believe, and 
knowing, may either indorse or reject. The day of shuffling, 
subterfuges, and experiments is past." 34 

The platform as adopted demanded a tariff for revenue 
only; favored individual liberty, which in this connection 
meant opposition to temperance laws; denounced monopolies 
and class distinction, and declared that it was the right and 
duty of a state to protect its citizens against oppressive cor- 
porations. The only contest of importance over the adoption 
of a platform of principles concerned the plank dealing with 
" resumption." Two reports came from the platform com- 
mittee, the majority urging speedy resumption; the minority 
proposing resumption when possible "without injury to the 
business of the country." 35 Led by William R. Morrison, the 
friends of the majority report pleaded with their fellow dele- 
gates to place the convention on record as opposed to any plan 
or policy that might be considered repudiation even in the slight- 
est degree. William J. (Josh) Allen and J. M. Crebs headed 
the opposition, which took the ground that the majority report 
proposed " to establish one currency for the people and another 
for the bond-holders." During the debate a Cook county 
delegate offered an amendment to the minority report, declar- 
ing against inflation and in favor of the payment of the national 

84 Chicago Tribune, August 12, 1874. Permanent organization was effected 
with ex-Governor Palmer in the chair, and his acceptance wa's the last step in his 
return to the democratic party after an absence of twenty years. 

35 Chicago Tribune, February 26, 1874. The differences of opinion among 
the democratic delegates over resumption and inflation were not confined to the 
members of that party, for even the republicans were not a unit regarding these 
questions. Despite the lack of a sharp party cleavage, however, they served as 
party issues, since President Grant's veto of the inflation bill had tended to array 
the republicans on one side and the democrats on the other. Chicago Tribune, 
April 24-30, 1874. 


debt in the money of the civilized world. All day the delegates 
debated over the resumption plank. Finally the chairman, 
Palmer, took the floor, pleading with the delegates to support 
the "hard money" proposition in some form. The convention 
then adopted the minority report, declaring at the same time, 
however, against inflation. The convention nominated Charles 
Carroll, of Gallatin county, for treasurer, and indorsed the 
farmers' candidate, Samuel M. Etter, for superintendent of 
public instruction. 36 

In spite of the efforts of leaders to stir up enthusiasm in 
the campaign, it was a very quiet election "in Illinois there 
is nothing material at stake from a party point of view." 
Though old party issues were threadbare, the "standpat" 
voter too often lacked the initiative to find his place in this 
transitional era and therefore remained away from the 
polls. Even the agrarian population, at the height of its 
power, shared this inertia. The Prairie Farmer, in its last 
issue before the election, urged that " it is the duty of every 
man in Illinois entitled to a vote, to be at the polls on Tuesday 
next. It is absurd for men to stay at home on election day 
and then grumble that the country is misgoverned, and that 
politicians are all scoundrels." 37 Already, however, farmers 
over the state were realigning themselves, with the struggle 
of 1876 in view; some were returning to the republican or 
democratic camps which they had left upon the formation of 
the state grange; and still others were coming more and more 
under the influence of the greenback agitators. 38 

The results of the election indicated clearly that disintegra- 
tion had not yet destroyed the antimonopolists; the agricul- 

36 For an account of the democratic convention see Illinois State Register, 
August 27, 1874; Chicago Tribune, August 27, 1874. 

37 Chicago Tribune, October 29, 1874; Prairie Farmer, October 31, 1874. 

38 As early as 1874, Willard C. Flagg, president of the Illinois State Farmers' 
Association, in leading an insistent minority had urged the adoption of an anti- 
inflation resolution, which failed, however, to meet the approval of the majority. 


tural and working elements had beyond question secured the 
balance of political power in the state. Though the republicans 
elected their candidate for treasurer, they secured only six of 
the congressional districts; the fusion candidate for superin- 
tendent of public instruction easily triumphed. 39 

Despite the fact that in the legislature the nine independ- 
ents held the balance of power and that one of their number, 
E. M. Haines, sat in the speaker's chair, they left no distinctive 
impression upon the work of that body to mark their passing. 
The following year the " antimonopolists " were absorbed 
into and became a component part of the national greenback 
party, and that move ended the organized political life of the 
farmers in Illinois. But the influence of the " grange " was 
not so easily obliterated. Primarily a protest of the masses 
against aggregations of oppressive power, they had demon- 
strated the value of organization in making effective their 
political demands. Thus they established the power of the 
people to force forward vital issues evaded by old conservative 
parties. Above all, the "grangers" had evolved the idea of 
public control and regulation which, as yet a mustard seed, 
was to grow mightily and bring forth much fruit. 

39 The relative strength of these different organizations as shown at the 
polls was: 


Republican 162,974 INSTRUCTION 

Democrat 128,169 Fusion 197,490 

Independent 75>58o Republican 166,984 

Manuscript election returns, secretary of state's office, Springfield. 


IN THE west the economic unrest which, ever since the 
Civil War, had come more and more to affect the political 
life of the country, found in the currency question a tangible 
peg on which to hang its grievances. The laborer and the 
farmer, face to face with hard times and falling prices, with 
unemployment and small returns, had long been resentfully 
viewing the policy which the government was pursuing in 
regard to the greenbacks. This depreciated paper money, 
representing a portion of the war debt, the treasury had in 
1865 begun to retire in favor of long-time bonds in order that 
the government might speedily return to a sound credit basis. 

The greenbacks represented, however, not only a part of 
the national debt, but they had become almost the only circu- 
lating medium. Depreciated money such as this was bad 
money; but every greenback withdrawn reduced by just so 
much the circulating medium of the country, and there was 
always the fear that the volume of money would drop below 
the actual business needs of the country. As retirement of the 
greenbacks progressed, the circulating medium remaining had 
to work harder and harder demand, and with it the market 
value of the "dollar," increased with a consequent fall in 
the money price of all other commodities. 

The west, new and growing, was a debtor country; its 
" boom " had commenced after the Civil War, and its indebted- 
ness was coincident with depreciation. The creditor east could 
view with complacency the prospect of an appreciated dollar 
their selfish interests coincided with the desirability of return- 



ing to a sound money basis. But the western debt, which 
represented extensive farm improvements, besides the more 
aggressive merchandising and brokerage operations of the 
cities, had been accumulated in the legal-tender dollars of 
depreciated greenbacks. All the eastern forces demanding 
resumption of specie payment were conspiring to make the 
debt of the west a greater burden. "Had the East loaned 
gold to the West, and it was now proposed to substitute for 
gold a new and hitherto unknown and now depreciated legal- 
tender, the complaint might have some force; but the creditor, 
having unloaded his 6o-cent dollars on the West, can hardly 
object to being paid in the same kind of currency, worth now, 
however, 95 cents on the dollar." l 

The pressure from the west combined with other forces 
led congress in 1868 peremptorily to block any further con- 
traction of the currency. But this, the west declared, was not 
enough; only more and more money would ease their diffi- 
culties. The panic of 1873 augmented the clamor for inflation. 
The president's veto of the so-called "inflation bill of 1874" 
and the passage of the resumption act of 1875 were sufficient 
to mark sharply the lines of cleavage that divided east from 
west within both parties and to insure the formation of a new 
national organization. Moderate inflationists were left to 
retain their old affiliations; but in May, 1876, an impressive 
number of extremists, regardless of party ties, gathered 
together at Indianapolis to form the independent or green- 
back party. Their standard bearers were Peter Cooper and 
S. P. Gary; and though the question of the currency made a 
narrow platform, it was a vital one. 

Both republicans and democrats regarded the currency 
question with anxiety and uncertainty; with division within 
their own ranks they hesitated to commit themselves irrevo- 

1 Chicago Tribune, June 15, 1877. 


cably either way. Republican leaders were well aware that 
their official stand against inflation was alienating large masses 
of voters; yet democrats feared the reaction, if they pressed 
too hard the charge that, despite their words, the republicans 
were slothfully delaying specie payment. Would republican 
waving of the "bloody shirt" or democratic cries for reform 
suffice in the face of the greenback appeal? 

In Illinois factional division over the currency had so 
broken party ties that the greenbackers had been able to per- 
fect party organization some time before the assembling of 
the national convention. Like all other groups, the farmers' 
or antimonopoly party of 1874 was far from being a unit on 
the greenback question; yet the majority, two years earlier, 
had been able to declare themselves as practically coinciding 
with greenback contentions. About the currency question 
clustered a periphery of banking, bond, land, and railroad 
issues that made the farmers' organization quite willing to 
merge itself into the greenback movement; they formed a 
lusty nucleus about which, in the eyes of the Chicago Tribune, 
the " reckless, broken-down speculators, and equally reckless, 
broken-down politicians, without any standing in the old 
parties," 2 could rally a new party. 

On February 16, the greenbackers called an "Independent" 
convention at Decatur. W. C. Flagg of Madison county pre- 
sided over the 299 clamorous and insistent delegates for 
the most part farmers and laborers from sixty-five counties. 
Naturally, the chief plank in their program covered the 
financial question: "we demand the repeal of the Specie- 
Resumption and National Bank acts and the substitution of 
legal-tender paper money for the National Bank circulation; 
the perfecting of a monetary system based upon the faith and 
resources of the nation and adapted to the demands of legiti- 

2 Chicago Tribune, January i, 1876. 


mate business, which money shall be a legal-tender in payment 
of all debts, public and private, duties on imports included, 
except that portion of the interest and principal of the present 
public debt that is by the express terms of the law creating it 
made payable in metallic money; this money to be made 
interchangeable at the option of the holders with registered 
Government bonds bearing a rate of interest not exceeding 
3.65 per cent per annum." 3 Lewis Steward of Kendall county 
was chosen to head the ticket. 4 

If the convention and its platform drew support from the 
inflationists in both parties, it called forth, irrespective of party, 
the opposition of sound-money men. The Chicago Tribune 
alluded to the convention as a " gathering of sorehead nonde- 
script log-rollers," called the supporters of inflation "bucolic 
nurses of the Rag-Baby," and ridiculed their measures. 5 " The 
Decatur Convention of Independents, among other things, 
'resolved' to 'demand the election of competent and honest 
men to all offices in the gift of the people.' After that they 
proceeded to assume that they alone constitute the ' competent 
and honest men,' and, consequently, they were entitled to all 
the offices in the gift of the people. Then they proceeded to 
put in nomination the standard-bearers of the Rag-Baby, some 
of whom are old political bummers and played-out partisan 

3 Chicago Tribune, February 17, 1876. They further declared for honest elec- 
tions for reforms in the civil service, for improvements in water transportation 
for equal rights for capital and labor, reform of legal procedure, for protec- 
tion of laborers engaged in " mining, manufacturing and building pursuits," for 
state regulation of all corporations, and for a reduction of public expenditures. 

4 The other nominees were J. H. Pickrell of Macon county, lieutenant 
governor; M. M. Hooton of Marion county, secretary of state; John Hise of 
Cook county, auditor ; Henry T. Aspern of Champaign county, treasurer ; and 
W. S. Coy of Ford county, attorney-general. The national greenback convention 
assembled in Indianapolis three months later indorsed a platform which con- 
demned the specie resumption act, called for the payment of government 
obligations in greenbacks, protested against the further sale of government bonds 
to foreigners, and criticized the government for buying silver for subsidiary 
coinage. Ibid., February 17, 1876. 

6 February 16, 1876; Ogle County Reporter, February 17, 24, 1876. 


plugs, and others of them are about as intelligent as horse- 
blocks, but all of them are inflationists and dilutionists of the 
most crazy description." 

Meanwhile the republicans, secure in power, were content 
to follow the national policy in regard to currency and were 
chiefly concerned in determining which of their leaders was 
likely to make the strongest race for governor. Beveridge, 
who had succeeded to the governorship on Oglesby's election to 
the United States senate early in 1873, na d not proved to be 
a popular leader; indeed, the new governor's advocacy of 
temperance had created so powerful an opposition within the 
party that he was out of the running. Elihu B. Washburne, 
an experienced politician and statesman, was strongly sup- 
ported in Chicago, while Shelby M. Cullom was the choice of 
downstate interests. 7 Cullom's ability as an organizer and 
his popularity as a legislator gave him an advantage over his 
opponent, which was increased by the fact that it was highly 
desirable to nominate a candidate from the central section of 
the state; 8 therefore the republican state convention held in 
Springfield on May 24 selected Cullom by a vote of 387 
against a vote of 87 for Governor Beveridge. The delegates 
adopted a platform in keeping with the policies of the national 
administration; besides praising Grant personally, the plat- 
form approved the currency legislation of the Grant adminis- 
tration, applauded the president for prosecuting the "whisky 
ring," condemned a democratic congress for discriminating 
against union soldiers in filling offices, and urged greater care 
on the part of the executive in protecting union men in the 

8 Chicago Tribune, February 19, 1876. 

''Illinois State Register, March 18, 1876; Chicago Tribune, March 22, 1876. 

8 For the twenty years since the presidential campaign of 1856 Cullom had 
been active in political affairs and almost continuously in office, either as a 
member of the state assembly or as a representative in congress. During the 
twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth general assemblies he had presided over the 
house, showing a marked ability to handle and direct affairs. 


late seceding states. The convention, with enthusiastic Elaine 
and Logan supporters dividing the field, finally instructed the 
delegates to the national republican convention to support the 
candidacy of James G. Elaine of Maine for president; three 
weeks later, however, the national convention passed Elaine 
by and named as its standard bearer Rutherford B. Hayes of 
Ohio. 9 

The democrats were more cautiously weighing the situa- 
tion. They were slowly regaining power in the state, and their 
anxiety was to play their cards so that they would not retard 
their growing strength. Four years before their alliance with 
the liberal republican movement and their indorsement of an 
impeccably sound and loyal program had gone far to remove 
among nonpartisan people in spite of the still energetic 
waving of the "bloody shirt" the stigma of opposition to 
the Civil War. With this new status, the national party was 
laying elaborate plans for the presidential campaign; and in 
June the nomination of Tilden had made " reform " unques- 
tionably the battle cry of the national democracy. 

In Illinois the issues growing out of the currency loomed 
high on the horizon; the consequences of the slow and vacil- 
lating policy of the government toward providing relief were 
more easily perceived than those of its maladministration, 
conspicuous as they were. Thus for weeks after the national 
convention had met democratic leaders still hesitated; were 
they strong enough to make a campaign alone or should they 
indorse the greenback candidates? The national platform 
had denounced " the financial imbecility and immorality of that 
party which, during eleven years of peace, has made no advance 
towards resumption no preparation for resumption but 
instead . . . has annually enacted fresh hindrances 

9 For complete account of the republican state convention see Chicago 
Tribune, May 25, 1876. 


thereto. As such a hindrance we denounce the Resumption 
clause of the Act of 1875, and demand its repeal." It 
had also demanded a "judicious system of preparation by 
public economies, by official retrenchments, and by wise 
finances," which would restore the national credit before the 
world; and had also demanded resumption of specie payments 
on the legal-tender notes of the United States. 10 Here was 
a rigorous attack on republican financial policy, and possibly 
the democrats might be interpreted as taking a "softer" 
stand than the "hard money" professions of their opponents, 
but by no stretch of interpretation could it be taken as green- 
backism. Which, then, should Illinois democrats place first: 
a symmetrical party organization or the defeat of Grantism? 

Over this question democratic leaders hesitated so long as 
to threaten dissension within their ranks; the Cairo Bulletin 
called the postponement "a piece of cowardice" and "an 
insult to the democracy." li On July 27, the democrats finally 
held their state convention in Springfield, and the advice of 
those who urged the wisdom of a " harmonious union of all 
the opposition elements" finally won the day; 12 they adopted 
the national democratic platform, indorsed two greenback 
candidates Steward for governor, and Hise for auditor 
and named candidates from their own ranks for the rest of 
the state offices. 

Their position decided upon, the democrats set systemati- 
cally to work to organize their forces. The formation of Tilden 
reform clubs was the weapon against republicanism which the 
national committee was advocating a club in every town 

10 Campaign Text Book, p. 4, 8. 

11 Issue of March 17, 1876, clipped in Illinois State Register, March 21, 1876. 

12 McClernand to McCormick, July 28, 1876, in McCormick manuscripts. In 
this chapter, through the courtesy of the McCormick family and of Mr. Her- 
bert A. Kellar of the McCormick Agricultural Library, extensive use has been 
made of the great mass of papers and correspondence received by the democratic 
state central committee in 1876 and preserved by Cyrus Hall McCormick. 


or polling place in every county of every state. In Illinois, 
Cyrus H. McCormick as chairman of the state central corri- 
mittee put his executive ability, business experience, and his 
personal force into the cause of reviving the democracy; and 
under his direction a vigorous campaign was initiated. Tilden 
clubs spread rapidly, preaching their gospel that with a thor- 
ough administrative reform business would revive and pros- 
perity be restored. 13 Sometimes they frankly proceeded on 
the practical assumption that to the voter suffering from 
hard times "bread & butter is more to them than Hays & 
Wheeler." 14 To combat directly the "bloody shirt," an 
especial appeal was made for the soldier vote one zealous 
worker "sent out 3000 of those soldier letters this week." 16 
The crying need of reform had been set down in a campaign 
textbook of seven hundred and fifty pages wherein the sins of 
omission and commission of the republican party stood fully 
revealed. Letters, textbooks, together with poll books in 
which district organizers returned a complete canvass of the 
political standing of their neighbors, were carefully distributed 
over the state. By August the democracy was roused from 
Cairo to Chicago, the state central committee being in touch 
with seventy-five of the counties in Illinois. 16 

A special effort was made to secure the German vote, since, 
if the democrats could win this from the republicans, it would 
count doubly against their opponents. The temperance ques- 
tion and other local issues had tended to weaken republican 
control over the Germans, so that this was an auspicious 
moment to win them back to their first allegiance. Such 
reports as "Nearly All the Germans have turned over to 

13 Confidential form letter from the chairman of the national democratic 
committee of 1876, in McCormick manuscripts. 

14 Isaac B. Hymer to McCormick, September ix, 1876, ibid, 
B T. W. S. Kidd to Goodell, October 27, 1876, ibid. 

16 Daniel Cameron to McCormick, August 23, 1876, ibid. 


us & will vote for Tilden," raised high hopes of success; 
from their canvass and correspondence in September the state 
committee felt that "the German element may safely be 
counted as three-fourths for Tilden & Hendricks, change 
enough of itself to almost secure the state." 1T 

Industrious democratic workers were found in every 
foreign group; some of the ablest speakers of the state were 
Irish, and were in great demand; Swedish, Bohemian, and 
French speakers, each armed with campaign literature in his 
own tongue, went out to proselyte among their peoples. Even 
in the southern counties, where the colored population, it 
was said, "vote solid against us" and "there is no pros- 
pect of obtaining a democratic victory," colored speakers 
were engaged in the hope of breaking up the solid republican 
phalanx. 18 

As always, naturalization played its part in securing the 
foreign vote. On September 20, the campaign committee of 
Chicago sent out a circular urging the importance of equipping 
those who possessed the legal requirements and "who favor 
the cause of Democracy and Reform with tickets that will 
entitle them to certificates of naturalization Free of Charge." 
Sometimes such efforts were handicapped by the determina- 
tion of "dirty Black Republican" clerks to prevent the papers 
from being issued in time ; ll> but on other occasions seventy- 
five men might be rounded up in one little town. 20 

Popular response to this organization of the Illinois 
democracy had never, since the days of Douglas, been so 
enthusiastic. 21 The feeling that "we have never before had 

1T Daniel Cameron to McCormick, September n, 1876, Hermann Lieb to Jim 
Cameron, November i, 1876, Charles Parker to McCormick, October 19, 1876, ibid. 

18 O. Edson to McCormick, October 28, 1876, ibid. 

19 W. E. Cook to Goodell, October 31, 1876, ibid. 

20 James Braun to Goodell, November 3, 1876, ibid. 

21 When Thomas Hoyne went to Oregon to speak he was met at the station 
by a delegation of enthusiastic young men. " My God," a correspondent reported 


so good a chance " 22 permeated leaders as well as the rank 
and file. Correspondence from all over the state indicated 
that, while there was no change of democrats to republicans, 
many republicans were going over to the democracy. The 
demand for campaign literature indicated a disposition to read 
and consider the political situation which was found highly 
encouraging." "The bands of party are broken in this state, 
and there is no need to resort to falsehood on our part. 
TRUTH properly presented is the most powerful weapon we 
can use." 23 Old-time "monster meetings" of ten thousand 
to fifteen thousand people, barbecues, torchlight processions 
with speeches, speeches, speeches filled the days. Trumbull, 
Palmer, James C. Robinson, John Farnsworth, Edward Vor- 
hees and Thomas Hoyne talked in every corner of the state, 
and still telegrams poured into the state committee pleading 

for their services. 


A democratic barbecue at Cairo drew crowds " from Mis- 
souri, Kentucky and Illinois by trains, boats, on horseback 
and on foot." A rally of the democrats and independents 
of Champaign county drew thousands from the surrounding 
towns. "An immense procession of between one and two 
miles long . . . with several hundred other horsemen 
and wagons and footmen, passed through the two cities and 
then adjourned" to listen to the speakers of the day. 24 More- 
over, the "bloody shirt" of republicanism began to show 
decided signs of wear, particularly when loyal democratic 
generals stumped the state, pitilessly exposing republican cor- 

The greenbackers were the uncertain element in democratic 

him as saying, " how I wish Douglas had have lived. It warms me up and give* 
me encouragement, to see you young men take hold of the campaign." F. H. 
March to Daniel Cameron, October 27, 1876, in McCormick manuscripts. 

22 Daniel Cameron to McCormick, August 23, 1876, ibid. 

28 Daniel Cameron to McCormick, September n, 1876, ibid. 

2 * Illinois State Register, October 28, 1876. 


calculation; and as the unknown quantity, their importance 
tended to be magnified rather than minimized. Republicans pro- 
fessed to believe that their opponents' coalition would bring into 
sharper relief their differences, and their energy would thus 
be dissipated. In September, from reports received from all 
over the state, democrats estimated that Cooper would poll 
twenty thousand votes. The shrewder observers were not 
unduly alarmed at this showing, for it was believed that three- 
fourths of this number had heretofore been republican and, 
therefore, " instead of hurting this will help the National 
ticket 10,000 votes." 25 Many democrats, however, mani- 
fested almost nervous concern over the greenback strength 
and sought opportunities to curry favor with these independ- 
ents. As the campaign continued there grew up, in spite of 
the most reassuring reports from the field, 26 a prevalent feeling 
that the state democratic candidates should be withdrawn and 
independents substituted. As late as October it was being 
contended that the democrats on the ticket were men of 
straw what then could be better than substitution of an 
entire greenback ticket, " if thereby we could solidify the 
opposition & by any possibility carry the State elect Tilden 
save our delegation in Congress & gain a senator or accomplish 
even a part of these results." 27 The opposition to such a 
move was sufficient to prevent it John A. McClernand 
declaring " that it would be wrong in principle and a blunder 
in policy." 28 

25 Daniel Cameron to McCoi-mick, September n, 1876, in McCormick manu- 

26 "At first Many Dem were for Peter Cooper but now not one Dem here in 
this whole county can be found who will waste his vote on Cooper but will vote 
straight for Tilden." Parker to McCormick, October 19, 1876, ibid. 

27 H. Chrisman to McCormick, October 23, 1876; Power and Harl to Goodell, 
October 31, 1876, ibid. 

28 " I learn with regret that some of our political friends are countenancing 
and as I think very injudiciously, the substitution of the democratic State nomi- 
nees by so many independent nominees. This in my opinion would be an 
inglorious surrender of the democratic party, its platform and presidential ticket. 


Few discerned clearly that the influence of the green- 
backers was on the wane. That deep-seated conservatism of 
the common voter, which operated to keep him safe within the 
established party fold whenever hope of attaining his desires 
was given him therein, was now sapping the life of the green- 
back organization. But the movement had inspired such whole- 
some respect that, even in November, fear of its possible 
strength sponsored the recommendation that "tickets headed 
Cooper & Booth with Tildan [sic] & Hendrics [sic] Electors 
at ev[er]y precinct" would give the democracy ten thousand 
votes. 29 

Throughout the campaign in the state, as in the nation, 
neither party had any real issue to proffer; the democrats 
cried reform and mercilessly attacked the republican administra- 
tion for corruption, extravagance, and the patronage system; 
the republicans on the defensive denied these charges, ascribed 
the hard times to nonpolitical causes, preached retrenchment, 
and, while continually flaunting the "bloody shirt," endeav- 
ored to bring to light new as well as old sins of their oppo- 
nents. 30 With the injection of personalities the campaign 
became intensely bitter; nothing derogatory to a candidate's 
character escaped the "watchful eyes of the mud-heavers." 
The republicans had made little effort to conceal their disdain 
of the fanning and laboring classes, and the democrats eagerly 
pounced on any slip of their opponents which might gain for 
them the support of those groups. " Cullom, the whisky ring 
candidate for governor," commented the State Register, 

It would be in contempt of the authority of the democratic State Convention 
which to the extent of its democratic nominees, discriminate in their favor 
against rival independents. It would tend to chill the ardor of many old and 
true democrats whose zeal essentially centers in Governor Tilden. It would 
tend to repel the application of the Germans. It would be wrong in principle and 
a blunder in policy. I protest against it. I hope you will make a stand against 
it." McClernand to McCormick, October 27, 1876, in McCormick manuscripts. 

29 I. F. Fairman to McCormick, November 3, 1876, ibid. 

80 Chicago Tribune, June 2, 8, 16, 17, 29, 1876. 


"speaks of Mr. Steward, the democratic candidate, as 'The 
barn-yard' candidate. . . . The men of the shops and of 
the farms, the laborers of the cities and towns, in short, the 
workingmen, are the real owners of the country. They fight 
its battles in war and they support its revenues in peace; the 
man who works in his barn-yard has a better claim upon the 
suffrages of his fellow citizens than has the banker who clips 
off coupons and shaves notes." 31 

As the campaign continued, excitement and enthusiasm 
became feverish. The republicans, strong in a powerful and 
well-organized machine, used much the same plan of campaign 
as did the democrats. In Chicago and downstate towns 
Hayes-Wheeler clubs were formed, their members garbed as 
"minute-men;" in Rockford a Swedish republican club was 
organized, while in some instances colored republican clubs 
and German republican clubs stirred up enthusiasm among 
their brethren. Robert G. Ingersoll, John A. Logan, Carl 
Schurz, and James G. Elaine with dozens of lesser lights tried 
in vain to stamp out the fire of regeneration sweeping through 
the Illinois democracy. If they influenced many through their 
"borrowed ticket borrowed crowd borrowed guns," the 
democrats outmatched them in spontaneous enthusiasm. Some- 
times two hundred speeches within a week would be made in 
a single district, and even a call of a meeting at a country cross- 
roads brought hundreds of farmers. 32 

By such leaps and bounds did democratic vigor rise and 
cut into republican supremacy that, when the election returns 
came in, the results were for a time in doubt; and both parties 
in Chicago held mammoth jollification meetings. When the 
votes were all counted it was found that though the republicans 

81 Illinois State Register, October 25, 1876. 

32 J. C. Black to Goodell, October 29, 1876, in McCormick manuscripts; 
Chicago Tribune, April-November, 1876. 


had again carried the state, Cullom was elected only by about 
seven thousand against the fusion candidate, and Hayes by 
about twenty thousand plurality. 33 . 

Before Illinoisians could draw breath over the outcome 
they were caught up in the hysterical excitement which swept 
the country; was Hayes or Tilden elected would Hayes or 
Tilden become president? The joy that possessed the democ- 
racy when the news went out that now at last they had wrested 
power from a party which they believed had long debauched 
the government changed to chagrin over the delay in according 
them full rights as victors. When republicans set about secur- 
ing beyond peradventure the votes of the three doubtful south- 
ern states, their opponents first watched with unbelieving 
eyes, then with flaming wrath, determined to checkmate so 
high-handed a proceeding. Less than a week after the election 
both sides prepared to investigate conditions in the south, 
selecting for that purpose prominent leaders of the respective 
parties, who came to be known as " visiting statesmen." Among 
them were seven Illinois men: Charles B. Farwell, Abner 
Taylor, James M. Beardsley, and S. R. Havens, republicans ; 
John M. Palmer, Lyman Trumbull, and William R. Morrison, 
democrats. The "visiting statesmen" did nothing to relieve 
the taut nerves of the nation they only increased the con- 
viction of the people that anarchy and chaos were upon them. 

In Illinois, democrats at white heat and democrats in 
passive despair held county and state conventions to express 
their sentiments over the crisis. Republicans might with 
feigned complacency dismiss these " democratic war meetings " 
as " not very harmonious in their councils. While one faction 
was brandishing its tomahawks, the other was waving the 
white banners of peace It was a competition between idiotic 

33 Chicago Tribune, November 6, 1876; election returns from the secretary of 
state's office, Springfield. 


fury on the one side and calm sense on the other, in which the 
latter seems to have had the advantage; " but the situation for 
a while really endangered civil peace. "The people were in 
a warlike spirit. The idea that a man should be juggled into 
the office of President who had been beaten by a popular vote 
of more than a quarter of a million, and, if the white vote 
alone were counted, by one million two hundred thousand, 
seemed so preposterous to common sense and natural justice 
that perhaps ninety-nine out of a hundred Democrats thought 
it would be entirely justifiable to resort to another civil war." 34 

Meanwhile the Illinois legislature had convened a legis- 
lature in which the greenback independents held the balance 
of power. The first business was the selection of a United 
States senator to succeed Logan, whose term would expire 
March 4, 1877; an d here the greenbackers held the whip 
hand. Logan and Palmer held the caucus vote of the two old 
parties; but since neither could hope to gain the prize without 
the support of the greenbackers, the contest resolved itself into 
a struggle on the part of the old party leaders to secure suffi- 
cient votes from the independents to elect their own candidate. 
Balloting began on January 17, and continued for a week with- 
out effecting a choice. The republicans finally shifted their 
support to Judge Charles B. Lawrence; thereupon the demo- 
crats, fearful of a republican victory, joined with the inde- 
pendents in the support of Judge Davis, who, on January 25, 
was elected to the United States senate. 

Meanwhile, for two months and more after the election 
various schemes for effecting settlement in the national situa- 
tion had come to nothing. The democrats were more than 
willing that the election of the president should devolve on 
the national house of representatives, which happened to be 
democratic. To any such plan the republicans would not agree. 

84 Kocrner, Memoirs, 2 : 616. 


Finally, it was decided to submit the whole controversy to an 
electoral commission composed of five senators, five represent- 
atives, and five judges of the United States supreme court. 
Obviously, it was impossible to select men entirely without 
political bias and, just as obviously, neither party was willing 
that the other should have a majority on the commission. 
Consequently, it was planned to make Judge David Davis of 
Illinois the fifteenth member, on the ground that his whole 
political course had been as nonpartisan as anyone could expect 
of a public official. On the very day, however, of the passage 
of the electoral commission law the Illinois legislature elected 
Davis United States senator, thus eliminating him from the 
commission. Later, Trumbull appeared before the commission 
as counsel for the Tilden side, but his efforts were in vain, 
the commission deciding that the disputed returns should be 
counted for Hayes, who was inaugurated president in 
March, 1877. 

The democrats were again defeated, but it was a defeat 
which presaged a return to power. Fear of greenbackism 
as a separate political organization had now largely passed, 
though in a different phase the currency question for twenty 
years continued to trouble the waters of Illinois politics. 



THE election of 1876 and the narrow margin by which 
republicans had retained state control was a crisis which 
seemed to consume the strength of their opponents and 
allowed republicans a return to peaceful power. Not that 
opposition was killed; but from the republican point of view the 
array of opponents plainly at odds and disunited, each seeking 
his own end rather than the common aim of defeating repub- 
licanism, could be viewed with equanimity, not to say satisfac- 
tion. To them it held no menace comparable to the distressing 
alliances of enemies which for several years had been able in 
places of power persistently to clog the wheels of the republican 

In previous years democrats, under the sting of conscious 
weakness, had for expediency's sake reluctantly espoused green- 
backism; now, flushed with their return to recognition as the 
second great party, they attempted no concealment of the fact 
that they were in reality hopelessly out of harmony on that 
question. It was true that one faction sympathized with the 
greenback agitation; but others, scorning the "rag baby," 
cried for hard money; while some desired a reduction of the 
public debt, others opposed any reduction. The greenbackers 
girding up their loins for their last stand for the resump- 
tion act would go into effect in 1879 heard the State Register 
calling greenbackers "Inflationists and Lunatics" and paper 
money " the invention of the devil." 1 To be sure, the Salem 

1 Illinois State Register, March 3, 27, 1878; Chicago Tribune, September 
16, 1878. 



Advocate held them in different esteem, declaring that " the 
strongest argument of the goldites, of the usurists, bankers 
and bondholders has been that ' congress has no power in 
time of peace to make the notes of the treasury a legal tender 
for private debts,' and this we are pained to see, is the lunacy 
of the State Register, the one excuse for being counted out of 
the party, and working for and with the Wall street finan- 
ciers;" 2 but the more powerful party press as well as official 
democratic approval was withdrawn from such financial heresy. 
Democrats and republicans regarded with equal disdain 
the new alliance into which the greenbackers had entered 
that with the workingmen. Old party leaders, still harking 
back to the ideals and issues which had animated them during 
war and reconstruction, regarded the whole labor movement 
with contempt and loathing. The consciousness of "labor" 
was a new thing before the great railroad strike of 1877 
" the large mass of our people contented themselves with the 
belief that in this great and free Republic there was no room 
for real complaint." The rapidity and spontaneity of that 
industrial mutiny revealed great unrest and brought to realiza- 
tion by the public grave labor problems. It became known 
that there existed a workingmen's party. 3 The press was a 
little vague as to the component elements of the movement 
which was now seeking political expression, though " the new 
secret society of workingmen called the Knights of Labor," 
along with those of a communistic or socialistic persuasion, 
was usually cited. 4 The press, regardless of party, condemned 
out of hand not only the theories but the specific demands of 
labor, holding it impossible that American workingmen could 
listen to the call of the communistic gods of France. When 

2 Salem Advocate quoted in Illinois State Register, March 27, 1878. 
8 Schilling, " History of the Labor Movement in Chicago," in Parsons, 
Life of Albert R. Parsons. 

4 Chicago Tribune, July 26, 1878. 


the workingmen took a stand for the reduction of the hours 
of labor to eight, the abolition of child labor in all industrial 
institutions, the compulsory education of children under four- 
teen years of age, the inspection of food to the end that all 
impurities might be detected, the establishment of a national 
bureau of labor statistics, they met decided disapprobation. 
At times their demands were mildly but finally dismissed with 
" there is nothing in their platform that is connected in the 
most remote manner with the interests" of the community, 
while the public was assured that "there is no danger of an 
infection of the Americans . . . the Socialistic heresies 
are too foreign to our institutions and the American character 
to gain a foothold among us." In more heated moments, 
however, it was declared: "If the chief end of man is to 
become a lazy lout, a shiftless vagabond, a pestilent petrifac- 
tion, a brawling, long-haired idiot, a public nuisance, and an 
enemy of his race, let him turn Communist." 5 It was in the 
larger cities, particularly Chicago, that the labor agitators 
found an abiding place, and they were "mostly foreigners 
and many of them aliens," though there was a smaller English 
section. Such propositions as that " the means of labor should 
be National, whilst the result of labor should be personal 
every man must make himself useful to the commu- 
nity; all his functions should be utilized to the benefit of the 
community," were dismissed as mumbo jumbo befitting an 
alien source. 6 

5 Chicago Tribune, August 22, 1877, March 24, 1879. 

6 In the spring of 1879 Chicago was amazed to find that the socialists or 
communists had cast 12,000 votes for their candidate for mayor, and, in 
addition to the alderman elected in 1878, they now succeeded in placing three 
others beside him in the common council of Chicago. By November, however, 
the votes polled by "this pestiferous organization" had dwindled to four thou- 
sand, and internal strife soon split the socialists into opposing factions. " Good 
times " had relieved the labor situation, so that in 1880 the Chicago Tribune 
declared " a marvelous change " had been wrought in the condition of the 
working people. Chicago Tribune, March 24, October 14, November 6, 1879, 
November 28, 1880; Parsons, Life of Albert R. Parsons, xxi. 


The patent absurdity of the demand for a working day of 
eight hours and the " charlatan " impracticability of prohibition 
of child labor were bad enough in the purely economic field; 7 
but it was beyond the ridiculous to bring them as issues into the 
political arena. Now, because labor stood also against the re- 
tirement of the greenbacks, against the national banking sys- 
tem, and " against official barnaclism," it had joined hands with 
the greenbackers as the greenback labor or industrial green- 
back party. In the coalition, moreover, the greenbackers 
ceded " everything except the name. They promise to adopt 
the Workingmen's platform with slight variations. 
The fatted calf, so to speak, is to be divided; the tail and 
hide, representing certain offices, are to be given to them 
[greenbackers], and for this concession they are truly 
thankful." 8 

To the public at large the greenback issue proper was being 
rapidly overshadowed by a new phase of the currency question. 
During the winter of 18771878 the silver discussion in con- 
gress aroused the country to the most intense excitement. A 
crime, so the public called it, had been committed by the 
demonetization of silver in 1873. The line between the east 
and the west, so characteristic of the greenback discussion, was 
in this case even more sharply drawn. No party alignment 
could be made in Illinois; republicans, democrats, greenbackers, 
and labor passionately took issue against the "evil conspiracy 
against the welfare of the American people." Chicago bankers 
might raise their voices in opposition to the silver bill, but their 
protests were drowned in the chorus of ardent support. Illinois 
was convinced that the " country could not prosper or recover 
from depression and curtailing markets while money continued 
to ascend in purchasing power and property, and wages to 

7 Chicago Tribune, August 22, 1877, April 3, 1878. 

8 Ibid., October 17, 1877. 


descend. As the gold dollar rose, the weight of debt and tax 
rose with it, and wages and employment sank at the other end 
of the beam. . . . While the Shylocks waxed fat, bankrupts 
and tramps filled the streets. The Eastern gold-grabbers 
have acted the part of vampires, sucking the life-blood out 
of productive enterprise." 9 It was believed that the silver 
convention at Springfield to which Quincy alone contributed 
fifty-five delegates expressed the feeling of "nine-tenths of 
the people" in regard to the "wrong and fraud which had 
been perpetrated in demonetizing silver;" the convention 
resolved: "We view with intense indignation the efforts now 
being made by the money-power of New York, and other 
cities of the East, to enforce public opinion in the West 
and South upon the question of silver remonetization. And 
. we say most emphatically that the honest convic- 
tions of the people of this section of the Union will never be 
surrendered at the dictation of greedy capitalists and bond- 
holders, let the consequences be what they may." 10 The state 
grange, then in session at Peoria, telegraphed a resolution 
expressing its hearty sympathy with the purposes of the 
meeting, and enthusiastic meetings at such places as Blooming- 
ton, Quincy, Peoria, and Princeton expressed "the sentiment 
of the great West on the vital question of the restoration of 
the dollar that was surreptitiously withdrawn from the cur- 
rency of the nation in 1873." ll With remonetization success- 
ful, Illinois was exultant. "The victory is one of the people. 
It is a victory that was needed to remind the world that Wall 
street no longer controls and dictates national legislation. For 
the first time, perhaps since the War there has been legislation 
on a question of finance which has not been inspired by and in 

9 Chicago Tribune, January 26, March i, 1878. 

10 Illinois State Register, January 16, 1878. 

11 Chicago Tribune, December 7, 22, 1877, January 16, 1878; Illinois State 
Register, January 3, 13, 24, 1878. 


the interest of those who live by gambling in money and public 
securities." 12 

The action of a republican congress in February, 1878, in 
passing the Bland-Allison bill over the president's veto, by 
which the United States was forced to purchase annually a 
large quantity of silver, added to the glory of that party in 
a state which had reacted so keenly to the silver question. 
Still, it was the disunion of their enemies, rather than enthu- 
siasm for republicanism, that was decisive in the biennial elec- 
tion of 1878. With an independent vote four times as great 
as it had been two years before more than sufficient to carry 
the state if combined with the democrats the election of 1878 
was a clean sweep for the republicans. 13 The greenbackers 
themselves saw ultimate victory in their own defeat. They 
professed to see the beginning of "hard times," which would 
awaken the people to the necessity of voting the greenback 
ticket. "The coming years, instead of bringing better times 
than we have just been passing through, is going to bring 
' honest ' money and harder times than you have ever witnessed. 
God pity the poor ! " 14 

To the republicans the most pleasing feature of their vic- 
tory was undisputed control of the legislature after a lapse 
of four years, during which independents of one stripe or 
another had held the balance of power. Again chief interest 
centered around the struggle over the senatorship, which would 
now assuredly go to a republican. The most prominent candi- 
dates were ex-Senator Logan and Senator Oglesby, whose 

12 Chicago Tribune, March i, 1878. 

13 / bid., September 16, 1878. Official vote: 


John C. Smith 206,458 James P. Slade 205,461 

Edward L. Cronkrite . . . 170,085 Samuel M. Etter 171,336 

Erastus N. Bates 65,689 F. H. Hall 65,487 

Manuscript election returns, secretary of state's office, Springfield. 
14 National Greenbacker, November 15, 1878. 


term of office would expire in March, iSyQ. 15 Logan had 
failed of reelection to the senate in 1877; and during the 
intervening two years his friends had carefully prepared the 
way for his election in 1879, hoping that it would be a stepping- 
stone to the presidency in 1880 or in 1884. Logan, with an 
almost solid backing from the Grand Army of the Republic, 
had built up a powerful machine which insured the support of 
the rank and file of his party; and because of his dashing 
personality and brilliant military record, he commanded the 
support of many democrats. Oglesby, on the other hand, while 
popular, had not made the same brilliant record as a military 
officer, nor had he, as a member of the United States senate, 
measured up to the expectations of his supporters. 16 Despite 
every effort of Logan's bitter enemies for there was a grow- 
ing restiveness under the yoke of political bossism within the 
republican party on January 17, a republican caucus nomi- 
nated him by a vote of 80 to 26 for Oglesby. 17 When the 
democrats united on John C. Black, Logan's election was 
assured. He received 106 votes to 84 for Black, 14 being 
divided among several other candidates. 

The following year the opposing forces lined up for the 
quadrennial fight over the presidency. With the return of 
the now reconstructed southern states to the party fold, the 
democrats were looking forward to contesting for national 
control on a better basis than they had known for twenty years. 

15 During the campaign the friends of both candidates had endeavored with 
varying degrees of success to pledge the support of republican legislative candi- 
dates. This practice many of the republican newspapers opposed; but it appears 
to have had the sanction of the state committee, for that body had tabled a reso- 
lution which requested " local committees to refrain from pledging legislative 
candidates on the senatorial vote." 

16 For contrary opinion see Chicago Tribune, December 10, 1878. 

17 The Chicago Tribune declared that Logan " was opposed to all reforms 
in Government," that he was " the embodiment of the worst phase of machine 
politics." Illinois States Register, July 21, 1878, January 8, 1879; Chicago 
Tribune, January 7, 9, 1879; Nation, February 19, 1881; Senate Journal, 1879, p. 


Within the state the result of refusing coalition with the green- 
backers two years before had been to hand over undisturbed 
domination to the republicans; now again they looked favor- 
ably on fusing with the greenbackers or at least profiting by 
a large defection from the republican ranks due to the green- 
back movement. The greenbackers themselves professed 
to believe that the working of the resumption act in effect 
on January I, 1879 was so unsatisfactory as to force 
the expansionist elements of both parties into their own 

In the republican situation both the democrats and the 
greenbackers thought that they saw a combination of circum- 
stances which would cause the defeat of their enemy in the 
state as well as in the nation. Rutherford B. Hayes had been 
in no sense a popular president; furthermore, his decision not 
to become a candidate for reelection caused a scattering of 
party leadership. A somewhat similar condition existed in 
the republican party of the state; Shelby M. Cullom was a 
successful executive, but he was compelled, though bearing the 
brunt of democratic attacks, to share leadership with Oglesby 
and Logan. 

While the general political situation was in this fluid state 
it became evident that subtle influences were pushing Grant 
forward as a third-term candidate. His statement in 1876 
that he would not accept a third term unless " such circum- 
stances as to make it an imperative duty" should arise, had 
been seized upon by his managers, who now, violently waving 
the "bloody shirt," began to point to such circumstances 
specifically, the attitude and speeches of southern members in 
the last congress; there was "still danger to the country from 
the rebel Brigadiers." In 1878 the Chicago Tribune, dis- 
turbed by clouds " already considerably larger than a man's 
hand," had declared that " if we are to have trouble from 


internal dissensions, either from the Socialists or from the 
Democratic party, a man of the Cromwellian breed and blood, 
like Grant, is needed at the helm. A great public crisis gener- 
ally brings to the front the man that is wanted." 18 Now, in the 
spring of 1880, Logan, speaking in Chicago and elsewhere, 
was declaring that "there is danger, and great danger, to be 
apprehended to our country in the near future," and in gen- 
eral terms was affirming that "the evidence of this has been 
accumulating for some time, and thoughtful people have 
observed it." 19 

Unfortunately for the consistency of this attitude, Grant, 
while his managers were crying wolf, wolf, was touring among 
erstwhile confederates and " eulogizing the good behavior of 
the men who wore the grey." On April 16, Logan was 
declaiming in Chicago about the " ' great emergency ' which 
would, in his estimation, excuse and justify a third term;" 
and in Cairo, Grant was applauding the good citizens of the 
south loyal to the union and devoted to the old flag. 20 It 
was a bad setback for a boom, and it seemed apparent to many 
that the "bloody shirt" was too threadbare to prevail over the 
prejudice against the third term, while " Grantism " had of 
itself long ago won implacable enemies. 

Logan was not discouraged; Grant's popularity in his 
state, combined with his own powerful influence, he deemed 
sufficient to win for Grant the Illinois vote in the national 
convention. Preliminary to an open campaign in the state, 
Grant's managers arranged for a visiting tour in which he 
should be received in several Illinois cities not as a presiden- 
tial candidate but as the leading citizen of the state, a Civil 
War hero, and an ex-president. As such, even the democrats 

18 Chicago Tribune, June 29, 1878. 

19 Nation, February 26, 1880. 
- Q Ibid., April 22, 1880. 


were forced to receive him with open arms. At Springfield, 
on May 5, 1880, ex-Governor Palmer welcomed Grant and 
eulogized his acts in preserving the union, carefully refraining, 
however, from any mention of his service as president. 

Evidence of a third-term enthusiasm continued slight, while 
anti-Grant and anti-third-term men became more outspoken. 
By April " the third term movement makes a feeble showing 
in Illinois. . . . Twelve counties with eighty-five delegates 
have elected only twenty-seven Grant men; and Sangamon 
county having sent a divided delegation. The sudden journey 
of General Logan homeward is understood to have had some 
connection with this impediment to the boom. The machine 
has now been put under a full head of steam, rumors have 
been sent out in every direction, and every possible effort is 
making to reverse the current of party opinion." 21 

Yet, notwithstanding every effort, when the state conven- 
tion came together in May, Logan had been unsuccessful in 
subduing the independents; the convention was divided over 
issues, over candidates, and over methods of naming delegates 
to the national convention. Grant and anti-Grant forces con- 
tended for support; 22 Cullom and Oglesby each had a strong 
following for governor; the leaders Were anything but unani- 
mous in the matter of national issues. The first fight began 
over the seating of delegates from Cook county; directed by 
Logan, it resulted in a victory for Grant. The convention 
next discussed the method of choosing delegates to the national 
convention. In previous presidential campaigns, each congres- 
sional district had chosen its own delegates and alternates, but 
the Grant forces proposed to abandon the plan, leaving the 
choice of the entire state delegation to a committee of the state 

convention. All day and far into the night the debate raged 

21 Nation, April 22, 1880. 

22 Illinois State Register, May 20, 1880. 


over the proposed change. Finally, at two o'clock in the morn- 
ing the convention by a vote of 389 to 304 indorsed the change, 
and by a still larger majority instructed the delegates to the 
national convention to support Grant's candidacy. 23 

The success of the Grant men in the state convention 
threatened to disrupt it. It was charged that all anti-Grant 
and anti-third-term men were kept out of the convention. 
" General Logan is the state Boss, and has the usual Boss's 
control of the State Committee, and the State Committee has 
the direction of the organization of the Convention." 24 The 
convention adopted no regular platform, leaving that respon- 
sibility to the national convention. On the third day it took 
up the nomination of state officers. The first ballot showed 
the delegates divided among seven candidates, Governor 
Cullom and General John I. Rinaker leading. The first four 
ballots were taken without a choice, but with the fifth and 
decisive ballot, the contest narrowed to the two leaders. 
County after county which had been supporting one or the 
other of the weaker candidates went over to Cullom or 
Rinaker, with the result that the former was chosen, first 
by a majority vote and then unanimously, though under 
protest. 25 

As the success of the Grant men had torn asunder the 
convention, it now threatened to disrupt the republican party 
throughout the state. A mass meeting of Chicago republicans 
"declared that they would not submit to Boss rule; that they 
would not have a third term; that they would defeat the 
villainous attempt to deprive them of their liberties. . . . 
They drowned in groans a complimentary allusion to Grant." 

23 Chicago Tribune, May 21, 22, 23, 1880; Illinois State Register, May 21, 
22, 23, 1880; Moses, Illinois, 2:862, 863. 

24 Nation, May 27, 1880. 

25 John M. Hamilton was nominated for lieutenant governor, Henry D. 
Dement for secretary of state, Charles B. Sweigert for auditor, Edward Rutz 
for treasurer, and James McCartney for attorney-general. 


From Rockford, Bloomington, Freeport, Dwight, and Moline 
protests arose. 26 

On June 2 the republican national convention met in 
Chicago, and there the struggle between the Grant and the 
anti-Grant factions in the state was renewed. Many of the 
congressional districts, unwilling to surrender to the state 
convention the privilege of naming delegates to the national 
convention, had selected their own delegates and alternates. 
The result was a contest for seats, in which the Grant forces 
were beaten. And in convention the Grant men worked in 
vain; on the thirty-sixth ballot the convention nominated 
James A. Garfield of Ohio, who as a delegate was helping 
to manage the candidacy of John Sherman. Thus both the 
leaders, Grant and Elaine, were defeated and the prize went 
to a dark horse. 

A week after the republicans began their deliberation in 
Chicago, greenback delegates met in national convention in the 
same city. For president they nominated James B. Weaver 
of Iowa, and for vice president, E. J. Chambers of Texas. 
Several planks of their platform pointed the way to radical 
reform; one declared that "legal tender currency should be 
substituted for the notes of the national banks, the national 
banking system abolished, and the unlimited coinage of silver, 
as well as gold, established by law;" another, that it was 
the duty of congress to regulate interstate commerce in order 
that there should be secured for the people "moderate, fair, 
and uniform rates for passenger and freight traffic," and 
denounced as dangerous the efforts everywhere manifest to 
restrict the right of suffrage. They named Alson J. Streeter 
for governor, and A. M. Adair for lieutenant governor. 

28 Illinois Staats-Zeitung, May 24, 1880; Chicago Tribune, June i, 1880. 
See in this issue dispatches from Rockford, Bloomington, Freeport, Dwight, and 
Moline, which show opposition to the action of the state convention. 


On June 10 the democratic state convention met at Spring- 
field with S. S. Marshall presiding. The platform declared 
for reform in the civil service, for a " constitutional currency 
of gold and silver, and of paper convertible into coin," for 
better laws relating to the collection of wages, and against 
protective tariff laws. Lyman Trumbull and Lewis B. Parsons 
headed the ticket. 27 

The Illinois delegates to the national democratic conven- 
tion, which convened in Cincinnati on June 22, supported the 
candidacy of William R. Morrison of Illinois, though there 
appears to have been little enthusiasm for him in any other 
state. Winfield S. Hancock of Pennsylvania with William H. 
English of Indiana as his running mate became the presidential 
nominee. The platform, which declared against everything 
republican, resembled somewhat the one adopted by the green- 
backers, though it was less radical and less constructive. 

With all the candidates named and the platforms pub- 
lished, the campaign of 1880 began in earnest. The repub- 
licans had the advantage of official patronage and the optimism 
that went with twenty years of uninterrupted political power. 
They were handicapped, however, by the sore spots that went 
with the success of Cullom and the Grant men in the state 
convention and with the defeat of both Elaine and Grant in 
the national convention. Fortunately for the party, Garfield 
was proving to be popular, and it was hoped by the leaders 
that differences might be temporarily buried and a united front 
be offered to the enemy. 28 

The democrats also received their presidential nominee 

27 John H. Oberly, secretary of state; Lewis C. Starkel, auditor; Thomas 
Butterworth, treasurer; and Lawrence Harmon, attorney-general. Illinois State 
Register, June 12, 1880. The same convention appointed Melville W. Fuller, 
John A. McClernand, S. S. Marshall, and W. T. Dowdall delegates-at-large to 
the national democratic convention. Ibid., June n, 1880; Chicago Tribune f 
June ii, 1880. 

28 Ibid., May 22, 27, June 9, 1880. 


with satisfaction, and the lack of internal dissensions among 
the state leaders gave hope of success. The long services of 
Trumbull as a republican in the United States senate, however, 
tended to neutralize his efforts to be elected governor of the 
state on a democratic ticket. The Chicago Tribune even 
accused him of appealing for republican support on the basis 
of his political activities while yet a member of that party. 
" Indeed, it is said that he goes so far as to remind Repub- 
licans not merely that he was part author and active supporter 
of the constitutional amendments and Reconstruction acts 
which the Democrats denounced as ' unconstitutional, null, and 
void,' and which they are now seeking to repeal, but that also, 
during his career in the Senate as a Republican, he procured 
certain offices and advocated the allowance of certain claims 
for Republicans." 29 

The campaign as a whole appears to have been conducted 
by both parties on a somewhat higher plane than had been 
their custom, although personal attacks and slander were 
plentifully used. Republicans declared that the democratic 
platform was "mainly a condensation of the principles, pur- 
poses, and accomplishments of the Republican party during 
the past twenty years" with the single exception of the 
" heresy of State-sovereignty, to which the Democrats cling." 30 
They laid chief stress on the value of protection, pointing to 
the good times as conclusive evidence of its beneficent effects 
on industry. Both the other parties denied the existence of 
prosperity as best they could, while the greenbackers boldly 
called for the remonetization of silver and for the abandon- 
ment of the national banking law. The greenbackers, however, 
without the support of the democratic press, which had been 
accustomed during the previous two presidential campaigns 

29 Issue of September 7, 1880. 

30 Chicago Tribune, June 26, 1880. 


to give aid and comfort to the third party, were waging a 
losing battle. 

As election day approached the democrats began to lose 
courage. Hancock, their candidate for president, by making 
his famous declaration that the tariff was a local issue, damp- 
ened the enthusiasm of the leaders and cut away the ground 
on which they were basing their arguments against protection. 
In October Indiana went against the democrats with the effect 
that many of the Illinois leaders of democracy gave up the 
contest. 31 

The election itself was a republican victory. Both Cullom 
and the republican electors carried the state by a comfortable 
majority, the greenback vote being actually less than one-half 
as great as it had been in the state election two years before. 32 
Of the nineteen representatives elected to congress thirteen 
were republicans and six were democrats. The legislature was 
also safely republican, thirty-two out of fifty-one senators and 
eighty-two out of one hundred and fifty-three representatives 
being members of that party. 

The thirty-second general assembly, which convened 
January 5, 1881, found little constructive legislation either 
necessary or demanded. The Chicago Tribune took the ground 
that the legislature should confine itself primarily to a bill 
regulating trials before justices of the peace, to amending the 
landlord and tenant act, to the biennial appropriations, and 
to a new apportionment of the state based on the tenth census 
(i88o). 33 The legislators themselves thought otherwise; 

31 Palmer, Personal Recollections, 439. 
82 Official results: 


Cullom 314,565 Republican 318,037 

Trumbull 277,532 Democratic 277,331 

Streeter 28,898 Greenback 26,358 

Manuscript election returns, secretary of state's office, Springfield. 
33 Issue of January 5, 1881. 


they gave their attention to a great variety of legislation and 
undertook investigations that consumed weeks of time, drag- 
ging out the first session to the last of May. They passed 
laws dealing with the sale of deadly weapons, with the adul- 
teration of food, drink, and medicine, with the practice of 
dentistry and pharmacy, with the inspection of tenement houses, 
and with the publication of annual reports of financial officers. 
They did not, however, pass an apportionment bill, and they 
refused to legislate for the Illinois-Michigan canal. The 
next year Governor Cullom called a special session, which 
sat from March 23 to May 6, 1882, to consider apportion- 
ment and the canal. The law relating to the cession of the 
canal was submitted to the people, and the state was reappor- 
tioned so as to give the republicans thirty-two senatorial dis- 
tricts and the democrats nineteen. 34 Thanks to these gerryman- 
dering activities, the republicans were able to retain control of 
the legislature with a majority of eleven in the senate and one 
in the house, thus assuring the election of a republican sena- 
tor to succeed David Davis, whose term would expire on 
March 4, 1883. 

Competition among republican aspirants to the senatorship 
increased with the convening of the thirty-third general as- 
sembly. Cullom, Oglesby, Thomas J. Henderson, and G. B. 
Raum were candidates. Cullom had the advantage of state 
patronage, an advantage which was somewhat neutralized by 
the feeling that he ought to complete his term as governor 

84 The special session of the legislature naturally gave an early start to the 
campaign of 1882; the republicans named John C. Smith for treasurer and 
Charles T. Strattan for superintendent of public instruction, the democrats nomi- 
nated Alfred Orendorff and Henry Raab, and the greenback nominees were 
Daniel McLaughlin and Frank H. Hall. A fourth ticket, the prohibitionist, 
comprised John G. Irwin and Elizabeth B. Brown. The republicans narrowly 
escaped defeat. Smith was elected by a plurality of a little more than six 
thousand, while Strattan ran slightly behind his democratic opponent. Chicago 
Tribune, May 5, 1882 ; report of republican convention is found in ibid., June 
29, 1882; report of democratic convention is found in ibid., September 8, 1882; 
Illinois State Register, September 8, 1882. 


before asking for another office. The other three candidates 
were men of large political experience, and each of the three 
was entitled to be addressed as " general," an advantage not to 
be passed over lightly in political affairs. On the first ballot of 
the republican caucus Cullom lacked ten votes of a majority, 
being but five votes ahead of Oglesby. The fifth ballot saw 
Cullom victorious, with sixty-three votes to twenty-three for 
Oglesby, thirteen for Raum, and seven for Henderson. The 
democrats honored Palmer by choosing him as their candidate, 
though there was no probability that he could be elected. On 
joint ballot Cullom received one hundred and seven votes to 
ninety-five for Palmer. 

Next to the senatorial election the most important act of 
the thirty-third general assembly dealt with the liquor business. 
For a dozen years or more the question of temperance had 
been a thorn in the side of local politicians. Both the old 
parties had studiously avoided for a time any definite stand, 
though it was generally thought that a majority of the people 
irrespective of political affiliation was opposed to any law 
intended to " regulate the social intercourse or the private 
habits of people." 35 Public men known to be in sympathy 
with the movement found their leadership imperiled, while 
those of the rank and file who held similar views were objects 
of derision and ridicule. Such a feeling in fact went far to 
hamper the administration of Governor Beveridge, who was 
known as a temperance leader, and made his renomination 
impossible. Hostility to the cause, however, did not dampen 
the enthusiasm of its friends. Some undertook the formation 
of a political party which should stand first and last for restric- 
tions on the liquor business, but many more preferred to gain 
the same end through the parties already in existence. After 

35 Chicago Tribune, November 4, 16, 1872; Ottawa Republican, May 30, 
November 28, 1872. 


their victories in 1872 and 1874, little additional legislative 
progress had been made. From time to time petitions asking 
for a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the liquor 
traffic in one or another aspect came before the legislature, 
only to be quietly killed in committee or tabled "until July 4 
next." Even in 1879, when a huge petition containing 175,000 
names was presented to the legislature, it produced no imme- 
diate effect. 

In 1883, William H. Harper of Chicago introduced the 
"Harper high license bill," providing that the keeper of a 
dramshop should pay an annual license of not less than $500, 
unless malt liquors only should be sold, and then the minimum 
license should be $I5O. 36 Republicans lined up behind the 
bill; democrats opposed it. The vote in the house was exceed- 
ingly close and for a time its friends despaired of its passage. 37 
It was openly charged that money was freely used by the 
liquor interests. The temperance forces, however, prevailed, 
and the Harper bill became a law. While it never accomplished 
as much as its closest friends had predicted, it was a step for- 
ward in state prohibition and undoubtedly gave courage to 
the friends of temperance to struggle for further advance. 

Another act of the same assembly deserves notice. The 
state constitution had originally provided that the governor 
might not partially veto an appropriation bill, being compelled 
either to indorse it or to reject it in its entirety. Such grave 
abuses had arisen under the provision that the people were 
generally demanding its modification. Accordingly, the legis- 
lature, in conformity with the provisions of the constitution 
for amending that instrument, submitted an amendment for 
the consideration of the voters, which provided that if the 
governor " shall not approve any one or more of the items 

88 Laws of 1883, p. 92-93. 

37 House Journal, 1883, p. 995. 


or sections contained in any [appropriation] bill, but shall 
approve the residue thereof, it shall become a law as to the 
residue in like manner as if he had signed it." 38 This amend- 
ment the people ratified at the November, 1884, election; and 
on the twenty-eighth of the same month it was formally pro- 
claimed a part of the state constitution. 

88 Laiur of 1883, p. 1 86. 


ILLINOIS politics of the seventies and eighties were charac- 
terized by blind adherence to platforms and candidates, 
by extreme displays of enthusiasm at rallies and jollification 
meetings, and by the influence of the caucus and convention in 
choosing party nominees. It was the day of the " party man " 
when independent voting was regarded with more or less suspi- 
cion, of the torchlight procession with its fantastical costumes 
and its noise, and of the party manager with his swaps and 
trades and petty patronage. Though the typical voter con- 
tinued firmly to believe in the sacredness of the ballot, yet it is 
doubtful if any other period in the state's history ever saw the 
professional politician so bold or his position so secure. Con- 
ventions and caucuses exerted a controlling influence in the 
determination of political policies and candidates, with the 
result that the individual voter was practically powerless to 
register his choice; usually, swept along by the tide of party 
fervor, it did not occur to him that there was any course open 
to him but to render blind allegiance to his chieftains. 

One of the most reprehensible features of party politics 
was the fraud and corruption attendant upon elections. In 
the larger cities particularly, the densely populated districts 
afforded a rich field for unscrupulous " bosses," while the voting 
system itself had no safeguards against all manner of frauds. 
Through the seventies and early eighties abuses had continued 
so flagrant as finally to arouse a really determined hue and 
cry against ballot box stuffing, " repeaters," and falsified 

It was customary for each party to print its ballots privately 



and to distribute them to the voters at the polls. A ballot was 
a small sheet of paper which usually read: 

For (name of office) 

JOHN SMITH (name of candidate) 

And since registration of voters was not required, to stuff a 
ballot box was not a difficult matter. Moreover, professional 
" repeaters," men who voted in several precincts, infested the 
polls. The Chicago Tribune dates the systematic use of this 
practice in I872; 1 and at an election in 1875, from the evi- 
dence presented to the supreme court, it was shown that " in 
many wards no poll-books were kept; that no clerks were 
appointed; that no record of the number of names or voters 
was kept or returned; that the ballots were not numbered; 
that the returns were not signed by any clerks; no poll-lists 
or tally-sheets were returned." 2 In the April elections of 1 876 
the Tribune cried aloud over the " outrageous frauds . . . 
a monstrous, dangerous, exasperating fraud has been perpe- 
trated." 3 In 1879, tne same journal declared that "there is 
a 'Tammany' society within the Chicago Democratic organi- 
zation, and this year, for the first time, the society has carried 
into effect, on a large scale, one of the practices of its New 
York prototype. It has been engaged, systematically, in cor- 
rupting the registry-lists by the insertion of fraudulent names, 
the names of repeaters. The Tribune of yesterday published 
a large number of these fraudulently registered names. One 

1 Chicago Tribune, April 17, 1876, " With all the political abuses Chicago 
has suffered since the municipality was formed, we believe there was never any 
systematic and formidable ballot-stuffing until resort was had to that infamous 
practice to carry the reorganization of the city under the general charter of 1872." 

2 Ibid., April 12, 1875. 

3 Ibid., April 8, 1876. 


ward alone shows one hundred and twenty-eight of them 
already detected." 4 Again in November, 1884, charges of 
fraudulent voting were rife. 5 Some of these charges were 
due to mere partisanship the desire of one party to bring 
on its opponent the odium of corruption; but in very large 
part they rested on evidence of illegal tampering with election 
returns. Finally the saner and cleaner forces in both parties 
united in the cause of election law reform. In journalistic 
fields, the Chicago Tribune led the movement, while the Union 
League of Chicago and other clubs were driven by " palpable 
frauds committed under, and the difficulties growing out of, 
the present defective election Laws" to urge a revision of the 
statute law dealing with elections. Small precincts, voting by 
daylight, and the Pennsylvania plan of choosing election judges 
were the remedies advocated. 6 

With the pressure from newspapers, civic organizations, 
and messages from retiring Governor Hamilton and from 
newly elected Governor Oglesby, both urging remedial legis- 
lative enactment, it was inevitable that the matter should 
receive the attention of the legislature. The law finally enacted 
provided for registration of voters, for qualification of elec- 
tion judges, and for strict rules regarding the opening and clos- 
ing of polls; it enumerated election offenses, and provided for 
the pay of judges and clerks. Abuses were lessened but not 

* Chicago Tribune, November 4, 1879. 

5 Some of these charges were due to mere partisanship the desire of one 
party to bring on its opponent the odium of corruption; but in very large part 
they rested on evidence of illegal tampering with election returns. One especially 
flagrant election crime was that in the second precinct of the eighteenth ward of 
Chicago (sixth senatorial district), where a very clumsy forgery had been com- 
mitted. " There is every reason to believe that this forgery was committed in 
a bold and defiant spirit, with the full knowledge that it must eventually be 
detected, but with a purpose to brazen the matter out until the State Senate can 
be organized and a United States Senator can be chosen." The case was finally 
taken up before the federal grand jury, and Brand, democrat, was awarded the 
seat in the state senate against Leman, republican. Chicago Tribune, Novem- 
ber 19, 1884. 

6 Ibid., January 4, 1885. 


seriously checked until the adoption of the Australian ballot 
in i88t. 7 

In the political campaign of 1884, John Marshall Hamil- 
ton, who had succeeded to the gubernatorial chair upon the 
election of Governor Cullom to the senatorship, was a candi- 
date to succeed himself, but the party convention favored 
ex-Governor Oglesby and chose him by acclamation. 8 The 
platform expressed the party's pride in the administrations of 
Arthur and Hamilton; demanded revision of the criminal law 
code, a tariff that would protect labor, and laws for the protec- 
tion of workmen; it denounced election frauds in the south 
and instructed the delegates to the republican national con- 
vention to support the presidential candidacy of Logan. Thi? 
last plank gave evidence of the efficiency of the state party 
machine, for even in Illinois the name of Blaine had more 
magic than that of Logan. "The mention of Logan's name 
provoked a storm of applause that of Elaine's a cyclone of 
uncontrollable enthusiasm from all parts of the hall the 
Logan feeling rallied at the second mention of the Illinois 
Senator's name, but the applause which followed lacked that 
spontaneity and long-sustained power which characterized the 
reception of that magic, magnetic name of the idol from 
Maine." 9 

Even after the state convention had given its formal 
indorsement, Logan's managers encountered obstacles in push- 
ing his candidacy. Many of the republicans of the state had 
never become reconciled to his active support of the third term 
movement in favor of Grant; and many more believed that 

7 Laws of 1885, p. 188-196. 

8 Other nomiiiKitions were J. C. Smith, lieutenant governor; Henry D. 
Dement, secretary of state; Jacob Gross, treasurer; and George Hunt, attorney- 
general. Moses, Illinois, 2:895. See Chicago Tribune, February 2, 24, March 23, 
1884; Illinois State Register, March 23, 1884. 

9 For account of the convention see Chicago Tribune, April 17, 1884; Illinois 
Statt Register, April 17, 1884. 


" Nature made him a soldier and a politician, but neither 
nature nor art ever designed him to be a statesman." 10 
Furthermore, it was felt in republican circles that Elaine not 
only was capable but also that he had honestly earned the 
highest honor the party could confer on him the presidential 

As the day for opening the national convention approached, 
a rumor gained ground that the managers of Logan were 
trying to arrange a coalition with Elaine men whereby Logan 
should become candidate for vice president on a Elaine ticket. 11 
Logan's supporters, however, denied any such intention, insist- 
ing that their candidate would get the presidency or nothing. 
Accordingly, when the convention, which assembled in Chicago 
on June 3, called for nominations, Senator Cullom placed 
before the delegates the name of John A. Logan, whom he 
characterized as the tried hero and patriot, the sagacious and 
incorruptible statesman, the man who had never skulked in 
his life. Three ballots were taken without a nomination. On 
the fourth ballot Cullom asked to be allowed to read a tele- 
gram from Logan. 12 This request was denied, whereupon 
thirty-four of the forty-four Illinois votes were cast for Elaine, 
who was subsequently nominated. Logan was then nominated 
for vice president. 

In July, the democrats met in state convention at Peoria, 
with Palmer as the keynote speaker. The platform presented 

10 "General Logan has stumbled up to very near the head of his class in 
politics, by dint of perseverance, self-confidence, good-fellowship, and active 
wire-pulling. ... In point of education, training, solidity of parts, mental 
grasp, and the general equipment so desirable -in a Presidential candidate, 
General Logan is so seriously deficient that his nomination would be looked 
upon in the Eastern States as something altogether outre." Nation, April 3, 1884. 

11 Illinois State Register, June 3, 1884. 

12 The Logan telegram was reported to have been as follows: "The repub- 
licans of the states that must be relied upon to elect the president, having so 
strongly shown a preference for Mr. Blaine, I deem it my duty not to stand in 
the way of the people's choice, and recommend my friends to assist in his nomi- 
nation." See Illinois State Register, June 7, 1884; Chicago Tribune, June 7, 1884. 


to the convention was comprehensive and plain; it denounced 
the republicans for not reducing taxes and for not amending 
the criminal code, declared for an eight-hour day and the right 
of labor to organize, and praised temperance, though it com- 
mitted the state democracy as " earnestly opposed to all sump- 
tuary legislation . . . and to the enactment of prohibition 
liquor laws as being fanatical in emanation, destructive of the 
rights of freemen, vicious in principle, utterly inefficacious for 
good, and fraught with manifold evils." All this and more 
the delegates were ready to accept without serious question; 
but on the matter of protection there were grave differences of 
opinion, which appeared when Carter H. Harrison of Chicago 
moved to refer the revenue-only tariff plank to the national 
convention. Harrison, so he stated, did this in the interest of 
harmony, since many of the Chicago delegates, though they 
opposed high protection rates, believed in discriminatory duties. 
William R. Morrison replied with some warmth. Palmer 
sided with Morrison. The debate became personal; Palmer 
declared that Harrison, who was the leading candidate for 
the gubernatorial nomination, should decline the nomination 
of the convention unless it indorsed the motion to refer the 
tariff plank. Harrison replied that he was being unjustly 
treated. In the end the convention supported the Harrison 
motion by a vote of 653 to 623 and nominated him for 
governor. 13 The next week the democratic national conven- 
tion, at Chicago, named Grover Cleveland for president and 
Thomas A. Hendricks for vice president. 14 

13 The rest of the ticket comprised: Henry Seiter for lieutenant governor, 
Michael J. Dougherty for secretary of state, Alfred Orendorff for treasurer, 
Walter E. Carlin for auditor, and Robert L. McKinly for attorney-general. For 
complete account of democratic convention see Chicago Tribune, July 3, 1884; 
Illinois State Register, July 3, 1884. 

14 Two other parties, though their combined strength was less than the 
republican plurality over the democrats, took part in the campaign; the green- 
back candidate for governor was Jesse Harper, while their national nominee 
was Benjamin F. Butler. In their national platform they indorsed the legal- 


The campaign was enthusiastic. The republicans organ- 
ized Elaine and Logan clubs, uniformed marching units, and 
encouraged the holding of immense political rallies, featured 
by torches, floats, bands, and barbecues. In addition they 
capitalized the popularity of Logan as a soldier, thereby bid- 
ding for the support of the soldier vote irrespective of political 
affiliation. The democrats likewise resorted to rallies, but with 
no leader to match Logan, they were unable to equal the 
republicans in creating enthusiasm. 15 

The chief issue of the campaign was protection. The 
congressional discussion over the passage of the "mongrel" 
tariff act of 1883 had stimulated a deep interest in the tariff 
question. The democrats as never before felt that it was an 
opportune time to stand or fall on that question, for there 
were signs that the people were beginning to feel that high 
tariff rates not only enriched one section at the expense of 
another but also contributed directly to governmental extrava- 
gances and to political corruption. 16 The republicans, on their 
part, recognizing the demand for tariff revision, pledged the 
party in their national platform " to correct the inequalities 
of the tariff and reduce the surplus, not by the vicious and 
indiscriminate process of horizontal reduction, but by such 

tender decision of the United States supreme court, denounced monopoly, 
demanded government regulation of interstate commerce, and favored the sub- 
mission to the people of constitutional amendments designed to give women the 
ballot and to abolish the liquor traffic. The last of these issues served as the 
core of the national prohibition platform, which, in addition to declaring for 
prohibition, demanded that the United States government alone should issue 
money and that a liberal pension policy be followed. They named J. B. Hobbs 
for governor, and John P. St. John for president. 

15 In some sections the democrats tried unsuccessfully to fuse with the green- 
backers, in others to combine forces with dissatisfied republican elements. See 
Chicago Tribune, June 24, 1884; also for the months of September and October, 
1884. Illinois State Register, October, 1884, passim. 

16 A farmers' institute at Princeton in February, 1883, adopted the following 
resolutions and forwarded copies to their representatives in Congress: "Resolved, 
That this meeting of farmers, representing about one half of the industrial toilers 
of this country, desire to join their voice with the common expression of all other 
classes in favor of relief from the excessive and inequitable burden of the present 
tariff." Chicago Tribune, February 16, 1883. 


methods as will relieve the taxpayer without injuring the labor 
or the great productive interests of the country." 17 

That almost universal rebellion of independent republicans, 
or in contemporary parlance "mugwumps," that swept the 
democrats into national power did not make much headway 
in Illinois. Only in Chicago was there a center of strong anti- 
Blaine and Logan feeling; there the mugwumps claimed to 
have enrolled over fifteen thousand names "of Republicans 
who are opposed to the election of James G. Elaine." Outside 
the city, however, there was no strong reaction; 18 accord- 
ingly, in spite of the sweeping victory of the national democ- 
racy, Illinois remained thoroughly republican, electing the 
entire state ticket and a full representation in the electoral 
college. 19 Republicans also had exactly one-half the con- 
gressional representation and one-half the members of the 
state legislature. 20 

Logan's defeat for vice president and the very active 
opposition to him that developed during the campaign of 
1884 did not dampen the enthusiasm of his friends for his 
presidential candidacy; and in order to keep their champion 
on the political stage they concentrated their attention on the 
approaching selection of a United States senator by the legis- 

17 Within Illinois the Harper high license law was a heated issue. The prohibi- 
tionists and republicans charged Harrison, the democratic candidate for governor, 
with the desire of repealing this measure; and the republicans reasoned that the 
prohibitionists could not, therefore, afford to throw away their votes on their 
own candidate. Chicago Tribune, September 29, 1884. 

18 Chicago Tribune, April 12, 29, October 28, 1884. 

19 Official results: 


Oglesby 334,234 Republican 337i4^9 

Harrison 319.635 Democrat 312,351 

Harper 8,605 Greenback 10,776 

Hobbs 10,905 Prohibition 12,074 

Manuscript election returns, secretary of state's office, Springfield. 

20 The election of 1884 was the last in which the greenbackers as a parry 
participated in a state contest. The success of the resumption law, the adherence 
of the democratic party to remonetization, and the general friendliness of the 
people for the national banking law, cut away the only ground on which they 
could stand as a party. 


lature. When that body convened in January, 1885, both 
houses stood nearly equally divided between the two parties; 
the roll of the house showed seventy-six, republicans and seventy- 
seven democrats, including E. M. Haines, the "independent" 
of Lake county; the senate was divided between twenty-six 
republicans and twenty-five democrats, including one " green- 
backer." 21 In the face of such an evenly balanced line-up it 
was especially gratifying to Logan lieutenants that within the 
republican ranks no formidable competitor to Logan appeared, 
whereas the democracy was divided in allegiance between 
William R. Morrison and Carter H. Harrison. 

It was tacitly understood on both sides that the senatorial 
question should be held back as much as possible until after 
the house and senate were organized. 22 In the senate, the 
republicans utilized their majority to bring about a prompt 
organization; the office of president pro tempore went to 
William J. Campbell, a veteran who had occupied the same 
position in 1881 and again in 1883. In the house, however, 
organization was not so readily achieved. Haines, "the 
marplot of several previous sessions," held the strategic posi- 
tion in the speakership fight; and the seventy-six democrats 
conceded an obligation to the " guerrilla " politician that wor- 
ried republican leaders. Although plainly anxious to win 
Haines' allegiance before the senatorial fight should begin, 
the democratic caucus tried to satisfy him with the temporary 
chairmanship, while selecting a regular, Edward L. Cronkrite, 
as their candidate for speaker. Meantime, C. E. Fuller 
of Belvidere was accorded the republican nomination, and 
Joseph B. Messick of St. Clair was selected for the temporary 

After a day of preliminary skirmishing, Haines, aided by 

21 Rochelle Herald, November 20, 1884. Logan Scrapbook, 2. 

22 Illinois State Register, January 6, 1885. 


the vote of a republican admirer, Eugene A. Sittig, 23 secured 
the temporary chairmanship. Once Haines was in the speak- 
er's chair, the anxiety of both Fuller and Cronkrite men became, 
"will he ever be unseated?" Sittig, indeed, now the avowed 
supporter of Haines, declared that there was no "power in 
that Legislature as it is now composed to drive Mr. Haines 
from that chair again, and he will be the Speaker of the 
House not as the slave of the Democratic caucus, but as 
an independent in the fullest meaning of the term. I stand 
between him and the Republican party, and what he does for 
it he will do on my account." 24 The temporary speaker soon 
showed that both democratic and republican fears as to his 
attitude were well founded. When permanent organization 
was proposed by D. Linegar, a prominent Cairo politician and 
Cronkrite man, the chairman firmly ruled his resolution out 
of order. 25 Successive efforts on both sides to bring this ques- 
tion before the house were equally futile; and after days of 
parliamentary wrangling Haines at length deigned to make 
clear his position. Since the state constitution made no men- 
tion of the election of a temporary speaker, he declared that 
in electing him to fill the chair they had constitutionally elected 
him permanent speaker; he insisted, therefore, that the for- 
mality of another election was out of order. 26 Here indeed 

23 Tangible reward for his support came to Sittig, in the form of his appoint- 
ment as a member of the committee on credentials, thus enabling him to retain 
his contested seat in the house against all other contestants, and in later being 
made chairman of the committee on claims. Chicago Tribune, January 9, 1885. 

24 Chicago Tribune, January n, 1885. 

25 House Journal, 1885, i session, 20. 

26 Illinois State Journal, January 10, 1885. In the debate on this clause, 
during the constitutional convention of 1870, its ambiguities had been thoroughly 
thrashed out; Haines had there also maintained that "the substitution o the 
Secretary of State [to call the house to order] dispenses with the temporary 
chairman. It is the permanent speaker that they elect." Debates and Proceed- 
ings of the Constitutional Convention, i : 529. At this point the reader may be 
reminded that just ten years before, in 1875, Haines had raised no objection to 
the election of a permanent speaker following the temporary organization of the 
house. See above, p. 4 ff. 


was a challenge, and before it the house stood aghast. Repub- 
licans at once lined up solidly against this interpretation; 
democrats found themselves divided over it. While Simeon H. 
West of McLean county argued ably for the right of the house 
to govern itself and choose its speaker, Dill of St. Clair 
stoutly maintained that the house was permanently organized 
under the constitution. Haines himself, after asking Crafts 
to take the chair, defended his course for over an hour; but 
his oratory, which was occupied to some extent with u cracking 
old jokes at the expense of Fuller," 27 did not ease the situa- 
tion. The republican determination to force the election of 
permanent officers was unshaken, and they voted solidly 
against adjournment. It became a test of endurance ; ingenious 
filibustering filled the hours until upon an attempted roll call 
at II P.M. the house broke into wild disorder. Led by one 
or two hot-headed partisans, a group of democrats started for 
the republican aisle; the angry republicans surged forward to 
meet them. Fists were shaken in the faces of opponents, 
threats exchanged, and pandemonium broke loose. In the 
meanwhile, "the half-frenzied" speaker "vainly yelled for 
the clerk to suspend the roll-call." It was not until 1 140 in 
the morning that adjournment 28 was effected. 

For four days the controversy was prolonged; again and 
again resolutions were introduced to the effect that the order 
of the day was permanent organization. But the speaker 
steadfastly withstood the attacks of his enemies and pleas of 
his friends. Finally, however, the long struggle began to 
wear down even Haines' resistance, and on January 21 he 
sent word to the republicans that he was ready for a com- 

27 Chicago Tribune, January 17, 1885. 

28 For a complete account see Chicago Tribune, January 17, 1885. It will be 
of interest to note that while Governor Hamilton stated that he would consider 
as invalid any bill passed with Haines as temporary speaker, such prominent 
men as Chief Justice Scholfield and General Palmer said that Haines was legally 
in the right. 


promise and would help them elect either Eugene A. Sittig 
or Abner Taylor as speaker. When the republicans replied 
that they were entirely satisfied with their choice of Mr. Fuller, 
the exasperated speaker declaring that he had been elected 
as an independent democrat and that, since both republicans 
and democrats had no use for him, he would continue as an 
independent .ran down the steps from the speaker's chair 
and locked himself up in the speaker's room. 29 

This action gave victory for the day to the Fuller and 
Cronkrite men; yet it by no means solved the speakership 
problem. Haines' resignation had broken the democratic 
ranks, and they were determined to postpone the permanent 
organization until they were again united. "The Illinois 
House today," read a journalistic comment, " is simply a 
howling mob without a Speaker, without a Clerk, without 
committees, and without function. There have been scenes 
every day during the last three weeks which would disgrace 
a town meeting in a frontier Territory, and in the meantime 
the Senate is awaiting organization to enter upon the business 
of the session, the Governor elected by the people is not per- 
mitted to take his office, the election of United States Senator 
is postponed far beyond the date contemplated by law, and 
one of the most populous and progressive States in the Union 
is dishonored and outraged and humiliated by the spectacle." 30 

The democrats at last realized that organization without 
Haines was impossible. It was openly known that Sittig was 
ready to cast his vote for the Lake county man whenever it 
would elect him, and on January 29 the voting began amid a 
solemn silence. The first ballot resulted in a tie. Fuller's 
vote had gone to Sittig as a final peace offering and a silent 
plea to stand by his party. Upon the second roll call it was 

29 Illinois State Journal, January 22, 1885. 

30 Chicago Tribune, January 25, 1885. 


found that the democracy was solidly in support of Haines. 
When the name of Sittig was reached he arose to vote; but 
before he had a chance to cast his ballot, Fuller jumped up 
and asked leave to have his vote changed from Sittig to 
Haines. In explaining the change Fuller said, u I am not 
willing that any gentleman on this side of the House (point- 
ing toward Sittig) who is false to the dictates of his party 
shall be allowed to give the casting vote which shall make my 
distinguished colleague Speaker." 31 Sittig recorded his vote 
for Haines; the deadlock was broken, and the house perma- 
nently organized. 32 

The intensity of that struggle gave indication of the dra- 
matic quality of the senatorial contest to which the legislators 
now squared themselves. Indeed, there had developed a wide- 
spread recognition that the Illinois senatorial election was to 
be " a national rather than a state contest." 33 In spite of the 
fact that rumor invested Charles B. Farwell, John M. Hamil- 
ton, Thomas J. Henderson, and Joseph G. Cannon with 
senatorial ambition, John A. Logan continued the only promi- 
nent aspirant in the republican ranks; and, moreover, Logan 
had early declared that, " I desire you to know that should I 
allow my name used it would be with the understanding that 
it was for the whole contest, however long it might be pro- 
tracted." 34 Democratic support, in contrast, was sharply split 
between William R. Morrison and Carter H. Harrison. 
"Josh" Allen, after nursing some ambitions of his own, with- 
drew his strength to Morrison, making the latter the favorite 
of all downstate factions, which, according to the Carbondale 

31 Chicago Tribune, January 30, 1885. 

32 Illinois State Register, January 30, 1885. 

33 St. Louis Globe-Democrat, January 30, 1885. "The Illinois Senatorial 
question and the organization of the House have been themes of general conver- 
sation among senators, representatives, office holders, and others at Washington." 
Illinois State Register, February i, 1885. 

34 Chicago Tribune, February 20, 1885; Illinois State Register, February 
20, 1885. 


Statesman, 35 were determined that Harrison, mayor of Chi- 
cago, should be downed. This disunion among his opponents 
contrasted with the powerful unanimity- compelling republican 
machine gave Logan his greatest advantage. The machine 
had so far, however, been unable to whip into line one avowed 
anti-Logan candidate, Eugene A. Sittig, " who declares he will 
not vote for Logan even if he receives the caucus nomination." 
With a republican majority of only one on a joint ballot, this 
defection, if sustained, was so serious as to make "Senator 
Logan's prospects of reelection appear to be very poor." 36 

In the republican caucus General John A. Logan was nomi- 
nated by acclamation and a rising vote after a laudatory 
nominating speech by Senator Lorenzo D. Whiting. 37 In his 
speech of acceptance, Logan showed the quality of his deter- 
mination: "sometimes people feel it incumbent upon them to 
say we can not elect. Would it not be as well for us to say 
we will not let the other side elect? . . . whether we 
achieve victory now, or not, depends on ourselves." 38 

The democratic senatorial caucus had easily effected Mor- 
rison's nomination, and on February 13 the joint assembly 
considered the names of John A. Logan and William R. 
Morrison, which were presented amid the usual burst of 
oratory. 39 Then for weeks progress went no further. Day 

35 Quoted in Chicago Tribune, February 4, 1885. 

36 Nation, January i, 1885. 

37 Illinois State Register, February 6, 1885. 

38 St. Louis Globe-Democrat, February 6, 1885. 

39 The lack of real unity in the democratic party was revealed in its 
balloting; the caucus vote stood 67 for Morrison, 19 for Harrison, 4 scattering, 
and 12 absentees a total of 102 votes or within one of the number necessary 
to elect a senator. "The most urgent need [of the democratic party] . . . 
appears to be an accepted leader, strong enough to command the respect of his 
party, and possessing sufficient of the organizing faculty to unite its forces and 
suppress the paltry jealousies and bickerings of ambitious party chiefs. Without 
such a commanding general, trivial and vexatious discords will continue to baffle 
the efforts of the party hereafter as they have baffled and defeated it in the pro- 
tracted contest which came to an end yesterday." Chicago Times, May 20, 1885; 
Illinois State Register, February 5, 1885. 


after day, the members assembled in joint session to sit in 
ominous calm; or for days together they debated angrily and 
ineffectively. Feverish insistence on one side to force the 
election was obstinately blocked by the. other. There were 
sessions when no votes were cast; sessions when the solid vote 
of one side would be met by no vote at all from their oppo- 
nents; and there were occasions when the only vote cast 
was that of Speaker Haines for William R. Morrison. 40 
Republican unanimity, except for Sittig, remained practically 
unbroken; when that party voted, Logan rarely received less 
than one hundred votes. 41 The democrats, never so amenable 
to party discipline, suffered in addition from the champion 
iconoclast, Senator Alson J. Streeter. A tried and true demo- 
crat, though a greenbacker, he was not a man content to follow 
caucus dictates unquestioningly. On one occasion, disgusted 
by the dillydallying tactics of both sides, which had just 
refrained from voting, he rose to explain his vote and the course 
that he was determined to follow: "We have been here 
now two months, and we have as yet failed to elect a United 
States Senator. Our constituencies, I believe, are dissatisfied 
in the main. . . . We have been led on until we have dis- 
graced ourselves, and our constituencies; until day by day we 
see scenes enacted in this house more befitting a street mob 
than a deliberative body. . . . There is one man in this 
convention who will not bow to king caucus. ... As I 
said, I give you all good notice, and I want you to be here 

40 Illinois State Register, January 14, 1885. 

41 " It is the belief of many of ray constituents," Sittig declared, " that the loss 
of a clear majority of Republican votes in this assembly is due to a narrow and 
restricted party management and the concentration and perpetuation of power 
in the hands of a comparatively few of the friends and admirers of the senior 
Senator from this State." Republican unanimity may in part be accounted 
for by the party pledge exacted by Logan from the republican members of the 
legislature. Logan was able to garner every republican vote but that of Sittig, 
and the latter attributed his defection to this rigorous party regime. Chicago 
Tribune, February 20, 1885; Illinois State Register, February 20, 1885. 


next week and vote, and if you do not I will try to elect a 
senator alone." 42 

Yet through all these weeks no event occurred which could 
unquestionably give victory or defeat to either side; and the 
senatorial election continued to hang in the balance of fate. 
By April 12, three deaths had occurred in the general assembly. 
The first two vacancies involved no change in the political 
line-up; in the election that succeeded the third death, how- 
ever, there occurred an episode which is remarkable in the 
political history of the state; for in a district overwhelmingly 
democratic, the republican candidate was elected. It was 
accomplished by a " still hunt," and is known as the famous 
"gum-shoe campaign" of the thirty-fourth district. 43 " My 
plan is," wrote Henry Craske, the local republican leader, to 
John A. Logan, " for you to select a man in each 
county of the district, whom you know you can depend 
upon; he in turn to select a man in each school district; who 
in turn will select not more than five staunch Republicans 

42 Chicago Tribune, March 17, 1885. On one occasion he gave his vote to 
"John Smith," and admitted that he had no particular man in mind when he cast 
his vote, though he thereby risked defeat for his party. Even Colonel Morrison 
admitted that the presiding officer " could consistently with his duties as Speaker, 
have declared Logan elected, on the ground that Senator Streeter's vote for 
'John Smith' was no vote at all and that, not counting it, Logan had a majority 
of all present." "After the vote was taken, Streeter remarked that he voted for 
'Pocahontas' Smith. That gentleman is dead, and had Streeter declared, in reply 
to some republican during the joint convention, that he voted for 'Pocahontas,' 
Logan would have been elected, because a vote for a dead man would be no vote 
at all. On such slender threads hangs the fate of Senators." Chicago Daily 
Journal, February 19, 1885; House Journal, 1885, p. 180-184; Chicago Tribune, 
February 20, 1885. 

43 There is considerable doubt as to the originator of the plan. Many claim 
to have conceived the idea. The Illinois State Register, May 9, 1885, very 
shrewdly observed, " We suppose every prominent Republican in the State will 
claim the glory of working the scheme in the 34th district." William H. Weaver, 
the elected representative, attributes its origin to John A. Logan himself. The 
above account is based on interviews with William H. Weaver and John 
Purkapile, who distributed the republican tickets in the thirty-fourth district; 
also on a letter from Mrs. John A. Logan, the Logan Scrapbook, and Henry 
Craske's History of the Campaign. Mrs. John A. Logan claims that "Mr. Craske 
conceived, and with the assistance of General Logan's friends caused his wonder- 
ful scheme to be executed." Mrs. John A. Logan in a letter to the author, 
April 25, 1918. 


whose duty it will be to see every true Republican in their 
district who can be depended on to keep it secret, and thus 
secure the attendance of all Republican voters at the polls 
at from three to five o'clock P. M., according to size of town 
or precinct; and with the apparent apathy that will seem to 
be in the Republican ranks, lulling the enemy into fancied 
security, thereby electing a Republican Representative." 44 

So effectively was this plan carried out that the democrats 
of the district did not even know the name of the republican 
candidate. When republicans of the district began to congre- 
gate at the polls it was too late in the day for the democrats 
to rally their forces and the new representative was a 
republican. The chagrin of the democrats not only in the 
thirty-fourth district but all over the state was extreme. "The 
most disgraceful thing which has occurred in Illinois politics 
for years, was the conduct of the democrats in the Thirty- 
Fourth district in permitting their majority of over 2,000 to 
be wiped out and a republican elected. It is disgraceful because 
it was useless it is more than disgraceful it is a political 
crime. By their inaction, if the republicans will all stand 
together, the democracy loses a United States Senator for six 
years, and the possible control of the United States during the 
last half of Cleveland's administration." 45 

Despite the fact that this turn of events seemed now at 
last to assure Logan's election, the democrats refused to con- 
sider themselves defeated. Republicans " stole a check from 
the democrats but they haven't got it cashed yet," 46 they 

44 Craske, History of the Campaign, p. 6 ; see also Mrs. John A. Logan, 
Reminiscences of a Soldier's Wijt, 425. 

46 Illinois State Register, May 8, 1885. 

46 Illinois State Register, May 12, 1885. "It is said that everything is fair 
in war and politics. If our republican friends excuse their political burglary in 
the Thirty-fourth district for this reason, they can not complain if the democrats 
use aU the power they possess within the law to prevent them enjoying the fruits 
of their wickedness." Ibid., May 12, 1885. 


[From photograph in the possession of Mrs. John A. Logan, Washington, D. C.] 


declared hopefully and made a vigorous but unsuccessful effort 
to elect a senator before Weaver should take his seat. 47 The 
republicans meanwhile were joyfully following up their advan- 
tage. The night of May 14 they secretly administered the 
oath of office to the newly elected legislator in the hall of 
the house of representatives; on the following day they for- 
mally demanded his recognition. The democrats protested 
with spirit, but the republicans carried their point, and Weaver 
was seated. 

Even yet the democracy did not give up hope. They 
decided, at this late day, to abandon William R. Morrison 
and substitute at the moment of crucial voting the name of 
Lambert Tree, in the hope that upon him they with the one 
or two dissatisfied republicans would unite. Unsuccessful here, 
in a last desperate effort to defeat Logan they attempted to 
unite" upon Farwell, a republican. 48 

The tide was against them. At noon on May 19, when 
the legislature met in joint session, every member was in his 
seat. The galleries were crowded with eager spectators; 
"politicians of both parties from every section of the State 
were present, while the floor of the house, the aisles and the 
galleries were packed with interested spectators. General 
Logan stood hat in hand in the rear of the Republican side 
of the House. Col. Morrison sat in the midst of the demo- 
crats, while Judge Tree was moving about on the outskirts 
of the crowd." 40 The assembly proceeded to the balloting. 
On the first roll call, the democrats refused to vote. Every 
republican in the senate and all but one in the house cast his 
vote for Logan. When Sittig's name was called, he did not 

47 Chicago Times, May 9, 10, 1885. 

48 Mr. Farwell received 21 votes in the senate, and 72 in the house. See 
Lusk, History of the Contest for United States Senator, before the Thirty-Fourth 
General Assembly of Illinois, l885, p. 48. 

49 Chicago Tribune, May 20, 1885. 


vote. The announcement was met with wild applause by the 
democrats, followed by a deathlike quiet. Logan lacked only 
one vote for election. When the call for absentees was read, 
the democrats again refrained from voting. All eyes were 
turned on Sittig; at last his name was again reached. He 
asked leave to explain his vote, which was instantly accorded 
him. In the course of his remarks, he said: " I found myself 
differing very widely with many Republicans in the choice of 
a candidate for United States Senator. . . . Mr. Speaker, 
I have found John A. Logan's political methods to be galling 
to the independent manhood of those who recognize his leader- 
ship. ... I prefer to say that, in obedience to the Repub- 
licans of the Sixth Senatorial District, who sent me here as 
their trusted servant and officer (but under my personal 
protest) I vote for John A. Logan." 50 The deadlock was 
broken John A. Logan was again United States senator from 
Illinois. 51 

Shout after shout went up from the joyful republicans, 
while Sittig was surrounded by groups of his delighted col- 
leagues. Logan was pulled here and there, shaken, and tossed 
by his frenzied friends. 52 Immediately after adjournment u a 
crowd of the republican members began singing ' Marching 
Through Georgia,' and they proceeded to march up town to 
various saloons where they spent the ballance of the after- 
noon singing songs, yelling like Indians. ... It was 
announced that the town would be painted a deep red at 
night." A brass band was hurriedly got together, and while 
Logan held a levee for the crowds of congratulatory friends 
at his hotel, hundreds of others too exuberant to contain 
themselves, formed a procession and with torches, banners, 

60 Illinois State Register, May 20, 1885; Chicago Tribune, May 20, 1885. 

51 Illinois State Journal, May 20, 1885. 

52 The final vote stood for John A. Logan 103, for Lambert Tree 96, and 5 
scattering; total, 204 votes. Illinois State Register, May 20, 1885. 


and songs paraded " around the principal streets, bawling for 
Logan, John A. Logan." 53 

The triumph of Logan demonstrated the power of the 
smoothly working party machine, as well as the magnificent 
political grasp of the man himself. Even the State Register 
which had consistently and bitterly fought his election, hand- 
somely conceded that "General Logan made a most discreet 
and energetic fight, and fully demonstrated his ability as the 
leader of his party. He deserved to win after he had kept 
his party in line and had secured for it the 103 votes. We 
would like to have seen a democrat elected we would have 
rejoiced to have secured a democratic successor to Logan; but 
we cannot help but admire the perseverance and pluck that 
wrested success from apparent defeat." 54 

53 Illinois State Register, May 20, 1885. 
64 Ibid., May 20, 1885. 


HOWEVER gratifying the sweeping republican success of 
the early eighties in Illinois may have been, old-line poli- 
ticians were becoming acutely conscious of the growing clamor 
of new issues. Into the political field, long sacred to tariff 
discussions, to reconstruction" debates, to senatorial election 
campaigns all saturated with the bitter brine of personal 
invective economic questions now insistently pushed their 
demands. It is true that for almost twenty years, coincident 
with the country's phenomenal business and industrial develop- 
ment after the Civil War, economic discontent had at various 
times tried to become politically articulate. The unfolding of 
business opportunities, the achievements of manufacturers, and 
the expansion of trade had afforded a spectacle of delight to 
the American people generally; but to particular groups this 
development had exhibited only its sinister side, the ruthless 
contest without rules, in which they were always beaten. In 
Illinois, railroads and middlemen had pressed too hard the 
agricultural population ; and the granger movement, conceived 
in stringent economic necessity, had for a period dominated 
politics. The same forces, dissolving into greenback, and later 
into "independent" organizations, had less aptly voiced their 
economic protest. 

Meanwhile, in the thriving young cities of the state, 
diversified industry was leaping into strength. Machine shops, 
foundries, and factories, with nothing to hamper or limit them, 
expanded, organized, united, and went on growing. Poverty 
and unemployment, disease and overcrowding became in a new 
sense pressing municipal problems. At the same time the 
people began to know the names " trusts " and " combinations," 



while newspaper abuse of those "corporations which fatten 
on the people" became familiar enough. 

The growth of industry meant, in a state heretofore so 
largely agricultural, the tremendous increase of industrial 
laborers. Caught in the swirl of changing conditions, buffeted 
and beaten, they had been slow to realize that their individual 
weakness could be changed to strength by united bargaining 
power; when first they did essay to grasp that weapon it was 
not surprising that, divided into foreign language groups, with 
the native element innocent of organization, their demands 
were laughed at and ignored. To the press, labor unrest and 
agitation were only other names for communism and socialism 
a fearful embodiment of things foreign and alien; the 
freely admitted reprehensibility of big business when it com- 
bined into heartless trusts must not confuse the citizen into 
condoning the impractical demands of labor demands for 
shorter hours, for safety devices, for employers' liability, for 
limitation of child labor, for the right of organization any 
of which, if insisted upon, would certainly disturb business. 1 
Such was the doctrine of the newspapers for several years. 
Early in 1880, the thousands of workingmen in the packing 
houses of Chicago were defeated by their employers in a three- 
weeks' strike over their right to organize. " The ' striking 
men,' finding their wives and children suffering for bread . . . 
concluded at last to abandon their nonsense and apply to their 
old employers for work in their old places, at the old rates." 

x On March 13, 1880, the Illinois State Register declared that "one most 
consummate piece of humbuggery ever suggested in connection with the ' labor 
question' is the so-called 'eight hour movement.' The thing is really too silly 
to merit the attention of a body of lunatics . . . and the idea of ' striking ' 
for eight hours is about as sensible as 'striking' for pay without the hours. 
A wise laboring man will work just as long as he agrees to work for certain 
wages, specified between himself and his employer whether for one hour, or 
for twenty-four hours. No legislative body on earth can properly have anything 
to do with the subject. It is purely and exclusively a matter of contract between 
the individual wage-payer and the individual wage-worker." 


They were rejected, however, whereupon a demonstration 
against the "scab" labor took place. The State Register 
termed it " an unpardonable outrage upon the decency of the 
times," and concluded: "Such 'labor agitators' as these 
Chicago mobocrats are a fraud upon all the dignities of honest 
toil. They are traitors, not only to wives and children, but 
to society and government. They deserve no freeman's sym- 
pathy, but detestation. They are entitled simply to the severest 
penalties of the violated law, supplemented, if need be, by 
copious showers of shot and shell!" 2 

Nevertheless in the large centers laboring men began slowly 
to rally; and organization, once under way, progressed 
rapidly. The unions formed in the skilled trades came more 
and more to express discontent and unrest, while the Knights 
of Labor, emerging from their humble beginnings in the 
seventies, in the eighties felt strong enough to come to the 
front with a more aggressive attitude on labor questions. 3 
In June, 1884, they held a meeting in Chicago to urge the 
members of the republican convention then in session to put 
forth in its program something more than vague generaliza- 
tions about labor. Among the foremost demands of the Knights 
were those for an eight-hour day, for a law for the incorpo- 
ration of unions, for the legal prohibition of the labor of 
children under fourteen, 4 for an employers' liability act, and 

Illinois State Register, January u, 13, 14, 1880. 

3 The Knights of Labor, according to the idea of the founder, Uriah S. 
Stephens, received members irrespective of trades and planned a grand army 
of laborers, strong enough to force a respect of their rights. In 1881, the ruling 
of secrecy was removed, and with Terence V. Powderly as grand master, it 
grew by leaps and bounds. Politicians greatly feared its growing strength, 
which in 1886 was rumored to be 5,000,000 or seven times its actual membership. 

4 Labor was actuated by other than the humanitarian motive only, in 
taking the lead in this particular demand. In many industries besides " foundries 
a system of child labor had been introduced. Boys were kept out of school and 
taught how to make the mold for one particular piece of casting and nothing 
else. In foundries where many similar pieces were cast a boy soon became able 
to do the work of a man. Wages ran down the scale almost to the common 
day-labor point." Chicago Daily Nei'.'s (evening), November i, 1890. 


for a law giving the worker a lien on the product of his labor. 6 
The two years from 1884 to 1886 saw such a formidable 
development in labor organization, such bold demands for 
protection and recognition, that, with the great increase of 
strikes, the democratic press descanted upon "the power and 
benefits" of labor organizations; and political aspirants began 
to trim their sails somewhat to this new force. "The una- 
nimity with which congressmen are expressing their friendliness 
to labor legislation is an indication that they are beginning to 
realize the great power possessed by organized labor." 6 Five 
years before, republicans and democrats had regarded with 
equal disdain labor's political demands; now republicans in 
convention were forced to receive politely the demands of the 
labor representatives, while democrats went so far as to discuss 
them. 7 

In October, 1884, the Federation of Trades designated 
May i, 1886, for the inauguration of the eight-hour day. In 
Illinois during the late winter and early spring of that year 
this concrete demand became symbolic to workingman and 
employer alike: to the one it was the substance of greater 
things yet to be; to the other it threatened the right of private 
capital to the autocratic control of production. Every week 
saw enthusiasm grow among the laborers; the Knights of 
Labor formed a hundred new lodges a week until finally they 
were obliged to call a halt lest they become too unwieldy. 8 
Organizations of manufacturers, with opposition to unions and 
Knights as their password, were the answer to this unprece- 
dented growth. 9 The dramatic spectacle of the railway strike 
in East St. Louis a sympathetic demonstration to the strug- 

5 Nation, June 5, 1884. 

6 Illinois State Register, February 5, 1886. 
''Ibid., February 5, 14, 18, 1886. 

8 Ibid., February 25, March 13, 14, 24, 1886. 

9 Ibid., May 25, 1886. 


gle then going on in the southwestern states could not have 
been better staged to spur on both sides. 10 Before his eyes 
the awakening worker saw displayed the power he might come 
to wield; state and federal authority stood helpless before it. 
The owners of industry seemed to see the handwriting upon the 
wall foretelling a new age; and, for the most part, they set 
themselves in uncompromising opposition. The lockout be- 
came as common as the strike. In February, Cyrus McCor- 
mick locked out his fourteen hundred employees when they 
tried to enforce the principle of union labor. " I told them," 
said Mr. McCormick, " that the right to hire any man, white 
or black, union or nonunion, Protestant or Catholic, was 
something I would not surrender. . . . Where we dif- 
fered in the matter that involved principle, I would not yield. 
I also said we would have no trouble about the matter, and to 
avoid any trouble and to sustain that principle, the works 
closed this morning." 11 

During these months the press in general favored labor's 
demand. Five years had converted the eight-hour agitation 
into something " theoretically sound . . . humane and 
unselfish" as long as it asked eight hours' pay for eight hours' 
work. The plan would give the workingman greater oppor- 
tunity for personal development; moreover, it had been found 
that he produced as much in eight as he did in ten hours. But 
there were signs that the movement had " degenerated into a 
demand for eight hours' work and ten hours' pay" a 
"menace" to be deplored. "A twenty per cent increase in 
pay contemplates an industrial revolution which ought not 
rudely to be forced upon the country," just recovering from 
depression. Moreover, would the workingman be satisfied 

10 Chicago Tribune, Chicago Herald, Chicago Daily News, Illinois State 
Register, April i, May i, 1886, passim. 

11 Illinois State Register, February 17, 1886. 


with this victory, or would he, on the contrary, continue to 
demand greater and greater concessions? He could scarcely 
expect sympathy if that were the case. Still, it sometimes 
appeared, with the sweeping enthusiasm among workingmen 
resulting from "the trade and labor unions, the Knights of 
Labor assemblies, the socialistic and international groups," all 
"agitating harmoniously for a full, legal day's work," that 
regardless of theoretical considerations the eight-hour day 
would be successful. 12 

Outside the industrial centers, the state manifested little 
sympathy with the movement. The problems of the agricul- 
tural population were divorced from those of the city; a vague 
alliance which the currency question had cemented between 
farming and industrial classes was almost negatived by sharper 
lines of cleavage. Moreover, labor had too long been identi- 
fied in the minds of the farmers with press accounts of so- 
cialism and anarchy, red flags, incendiary speeches, and alien 
violence to win understanding consideration now. Everywhere 
the forces of law and order were unequivocal in their stand. 
The Catholic church forbade its members to join the Knights 
of Labor. 13 The police force of Chicago reflected the hostility 
of the employing class, regarding strikes per se as evidence 
that the men had placed themselves in opposition to law and 
order. During these months of unrest it became a pastime for 
a squad of mounted police, or a detachment in close formation, 
to disperse with the billy any gathering of workingmen. The 
billy was an impartial instrument: men, women, children, and 
shop-keeping bystanders alike composed its harvest. 14 It was 

12 Ibid., February 14, March 13, May i, 1886; Chicago Herald, May i, 2, 1886. 

13 Ibid., April 30, 1886. 

14 Altgeld, Reasons for Pardoning Fielden, Neebe, and Schwab, 39-40. Alt- 
geld here quotes Judge McAllister in the case of the Harmonia Association of 
Joiners against Brenan et al., gives a letter, dated November 21, 1885, from 
the Peoples' Gas, Light, and Coke Company, and cites several affidavits all 
setting forth the brutality of the police at this time toward working people or 
innocent bystanders. 


the police, aided by the " Pinkertons," who added the great 
leaven of bitterness to the contest. 15 To the workingmen they 
furnished concrete and hateful examples of the autocracy 
against which they protested. 

As May Day approached the tension all over the city of 
Chicago increased. Squads of police guarded the larger 
factories and galloped unexpectedly through quarters where 
laboring men assembled. Meetings and procession's revealed 
the excitement among the workingmen. On April 26 over 
three thousand men marched in procession, the different trades 
bearing such mottoes as "The Proletariat Must be Liber- 
ated;" the terminus of these " Blatant Anarchists on a Tramp " 
was the lake front, where eight thousand people listened to the 
speeches of labor leaders. " Communistic Germans, Bohe- 
mians, and Poles, representing the lumber-yards, coopers, bak- 
ers, the cigar shops, the breweries, and the International 
Workingmen's Association " were now prominent, while " the 
Nihilistic character of the procession was shown by the red 
badges and red flags which were thickly displayed through 
it." 18 The city lived in dread of what might happen. " The 
supreme officers of the police department have ceased in the 
attempt to smooth over the fears of the last few weeks regard- 
ing the labor movement. Their sole idea now is that . . 
there will be a great deal of trouble. It was decided last night 
to place the entire police on reserve early Saturday morning 
. many hundred additional men can be pressed into 
service as special policemen as soon as any serious outbreak 
should occur." 17 

It came then as a surprise that the day passed peacefully 

16 One phase of the activities of the Pinkerton detective agency was to collect 
armed strike breakers from various states and move them from place to place 
to protect property confided to their care. 

16 Chicago Tribune, April 26, 1886; Chicago Herald, April 26, 1886. 

17 Illinois State Register, May i, 1886. 


enough so peacefully that in spite of parades and celebra- 
tions the numerical strength of the sixty thousand men actively 
engaged in the movement was much underestimated. 18 The 
result of the day differed in the various trades; in a few trades 
the eight-hour day with ten hours' pay had already been 
granted, in others the eight-hour day with eight hours' pay 
was now inaugurated, while still more compromised on a nine- 
hour day with nine hours' pay. 19 

But on the " Black Road " leading to the McCormick works 
trouble was brewing. During the winter and spring difficulties 
had grown steadily more acute. The owner would consider 
neither compromise nor arbitration; " scabs" had replaced the 
striking workers; policemen and Pinkertons hovered about the 
place. When, on May 3, the union men held a meeting near 
the plant and again indulged in hoots of contempt and derision 
at the " scab " employees, the owner called in the police. In 
the melee which followed the appearance of a hundred and 
fifty officers of the law, several workingmen were killed and 
a score or so wounded. The news went swiftly through the 
city. The headlines of the Arbeiter Zeitung screamed: 
" Blood ! Lead and Powder as a cure for dissatisfied workmen ! 
About six laborers mortally and four times that number slightly 
wounded! Thus are the eight-hour men to be intimidated. 
This is law and order!" That night "thousands of copies of 
the following circular were distributed in all parts of the city. 
* Revenge ! Revenge ! Workmen to arms ! Men of labor, 
this afternoon the bloodhounds of your oppressors murdered 

18 Chicago Tribune, May 15, 1886. 

19 Ibid., May 30, 1886; Chicago Herald, May 20, June i, 1886; Chicago 
Daily News, May 3, 1890; Illinois State Register, May i, 12, 1886. The matter 
of hours was by no means settled, even where labor had forced concessions. 
A few weeks or months found the old schedules in force again in most places 
and the eight-hour demand remained for years a battle-cry of labor. On May 3. 
1890, the Chicago Daily News declared: "He is a foolish man who thinks that 
this widespread sentiment for a shorter working day can be put down by force 
or frozen out by indifference." 


six of your brothers at McCormick's! Why did they murder 
them ? Because they dared to be dissatisfied with the lot which 
your oppressors have assigned to them. They demanded bread, 
and they gave them lead for an answer.' ' A great mass meet- 
ing at Haymarket square was called for the evening of May 4 
"to denounce the latest atrocious act of the police;" some of 
the notices carried an exhortation to the workingmen to appear 
armed. 20 

The fears of a May-day uprising so recently quieted, now 
awoke again. Reserves of police were held in readiness at 
nearby stations while Mayor Harrison himself attended the 
meeting in order to disperse it if the atmosphere became in- 
flammatory. At about ten o'clock that official left the meeting, 
and, stopping at a nearby police station, informed Inspector 
Bonfield that no violence need be feared the meeting had not 
been of an incendiary character and the thousand or so people 
in attendance were now dispersing. As soon as the mayor 
withdrew, however, Inspector Bonfield, already hated by work- 
ingmen for numerous previous collisions, marshaled one hun- 
dred and twenty-five policemen into formation, marched to 
the meeting and ordered it to disperse. Almost simultaneously 
there was a thundering explosion; a bomb burst among the 
policemen, killing one and fatally wounding several others. 
The police fired wildly into the fleeing crowd, killing and 
wounding many and the "Haymarket riot" was over. 

Fear shook the city; rumors of the firing of public build- 
ings and of the massacre of all anarchists spread over the 
state. The press, long bitter against socialist and anarchist, 
now became hysterical, while labor and its eight-hour demands 
were condemned with the anarchists. " That bomb put an end 
to a good many things beside the blatant mouthings of the 

20 Revenge circular, Thomas J. Morgan files; testimony of Police Inspector 
John Bonfield. 


Anarchists. It broke up the strikes. . . . The necessity 
of putting down Anarchists has made public sentiment im- 
patient with disputes as to hours and wages." 21 Although for 
a fortnight thousands continued idle, the "strikers holding 
out sullenly," 22 the wave of public hostility destroyed the 
stamina of many who had recently caught the enthusiasm of 
collective bargaining. The molders, who had long been one 
of the most actively discontented trades, heard the metal manu- 
facturers announce that one-third of the old hands were back 
on a ten-hour basis. Their union and the Knights of Labor 
assembly issued an appeal, asking: "How can you go back 
when those millions of voices call . ' Now is the day of 

the emancipation of the white slave.' Shall the bosses put brass 
collars on your necks or shall they black list you? . . . 
Why men, this is the battle for labor's freedom: Are you 
content to simply live a slave ? " 23 Striking lumbermen 
" threatened to get up a counter demonstration in the hope of 
keeping weakening workingmen from giving in and going 
back to work." 24 But soon even the hardiest strikers were 
crying quits; lumbermen, molders, tailors, and boot and shoe 
workers went back, while by the end of June, the police and 
"scabs," with the aid of "125 Pinkerton men armed with 
Winchester rifles and heavy Colt's revolvers," had broken the 
morale of the striking Lake Shore switchmen. 25 

Evidently labor was settling down; business, in spite of 
the fact that " a good deal of the spring trade has been di- 
verted from Chicago, and it will take months before the old 
activity prevails," had won in a struggle the outcome of which 
it had feared. The focus of the. whole issue had been shifted 

21 Champaign Daily Gazette, May 5, 1886; Chicago Herald, May n, 1886. 

22 Ibid., May 13, 1886. 

23 I bid., May 16, 1886. 

24 Ibid., May 17, 1886. 

26 Ibid., May 17, 20, June 29, 1886. 


by the Haymarket incident; its consequences held the center 
of the stage. The bomb thrower himself remained un- 
known. 26 Out of the many arrested, eight men were finally 
held for trial. The men were either editors, stockholders, or 
printers of the two international "anarchist" papers of Chi- 
cago ; three of them had made speeches at the meeting the night 
of the riot. 27 The prosecution, unable to establish any evidence 
of even remote personal participation of any of the accused, 
took the stand that in speech and in writing the accused had 
urged the employment of force and it must have been upon 
such advice that some unknown person had acted. Pertinent 
evidence against the men was still so meager, however, that the 
trial soon resolved itself into a trial of " anarchism " and of the 
accused as " anarchists." The popular outcry was for a convic- 

26 That is, he remained officially unknown; there was a strong impression 
that as a matter of fact his identity was not entirely a mystery. In a statement 
now on record in the Illinois Historical Survey, made by Mr. Wallace Rice, 
June 25, 1919, and concurred in by Mr. Clarence S. Darrow and Mr. George 
A. Schilling, all of whom were in a position to know the inside history of the 
case, Mr. Rice says: "It was the impression of all the newspaper men informed 
in the premises that the fatal bomb was made by Louis Lingg and thrown by 
Rudolph Schnaubelt. Many of them believed further that this fact was also 
known to the police and that Schnaubelt was allowed to go after they had taken 
him into custody because he could not be connected in any way with the other 
men afterward condemned, with the possible exception of Lingg and of Michael 
Schwab, who was husband to Schnaubelt's sister. Lingg, however, was thought 
to be the only one of the defendants who had guilty knowledge of the bomb and 
its throwing. 

" Schnaubelt, after his release by the police, went as far and as fast from 
the scene of the crime as he could, and when an indictment was found against 
him at last, was believed to be in southern California near the Mexican line, 
whence he could easily escape to another country. I myself recall dispatches 
received by the Chicago papers which told of his whereabouts and, eventually, 
of his death in Mexico. There was another story, not substantiated, that he had 
fled to Belgium, and died there." 

27 The case against Albert R. Parsons, an eloquent labor agitator known 
in almost every industrial center in the United States, may be cited. Returning 
to Chicago the afternoon of May 4, he had, almost by accident, attended and 
addressed the Haymarket meeting, and with his wife and children had left before 
the bomb was thrown. After reaching a place of safety, he had voluntarily 
returned to the city and had surrendered himself to stand trial with his comrades. 
No evidence except his editorship of the Alarm and his espousal of anarchism, 
could be adduced against him; in fact a report of his speech showed that he 
had decried the unwisdom of violence against particular persons, urging that 
it was the system which must be abolished. He was, however, sentenced to death, 
and died protesting himself the victim of judicial murder. 


tion; the public, convinced that it had barely escaped destruc- 
tion in some fiendish plot, frantically demanded a victim. The 
jury, after listening for eight weeks to the voluminous evi- 
dence, found the eight men guilty of murder and sentenced one, 
Oscar Neebe, to fifteen years' imprisonment, and seven to 
death. 28 Although many eminent men believed it to be a po- 
litical trial and exerted powerful influence to secure executive 
clemency, they could not avert the hanging of August Spies, 
Adolph Fischer, George Engle, and Albert R. Parsons; their 
efforts did procure for Michael Schwab and Samuel Fielden a 
commutation of the capital sentence to life imprisonment. 29 
The eighth man, Louis Lingg, had committed suicide. 

However great the hostility which the anarchist case had 
aroused against labor, many workingmen were too thor- 
oughly aroused to accept tamely the cold shoulder of society. 
Heretofore their entrance into politics was tentative, but now 
they began to lay plans for a third party. " 'Keep out of 
polities' is the advice which the old party hacks, journalistic 
and other, are forever giving the labor organizations;" but, 
the Chicago Herald reminded the workingmen, "To keep out 
of politics is to submit blindly to every abuse of the law-making 
and executive power or to breed anarchists, who, ignoring 
politics, assume to accomplish their desires by force." 30 In 
September a Cook county labor convention, to which nearly 
every Knights of Labor assembly in the county sent delegates, 
was called in Chicago; and in spite of serious differences be- 

28 Chicago Tribune, August 21, 1886. 

29 A petition received the signatures of many conservative and influential men 
who were indefatigable in their efforts to prevent the hanging: Lyman J. Gage, 
president of the First National Bank, Charles B. Holmes, president of the City 
Railway, William Penn Nixson, black republican editor of the Inter-Ocean; 
Potter Palmer, Senator Farwell and Victor Lawson; Judges Tuley, Samuel 
McConnel, Moran, William A. Gowdy, Chester Daws, S. S. Gregory, and A. H. 
Barnum. Petitions from other cities of the country and abroad testified to the 
widespread interest in the case. 

Chicago Herald, June 8, 1886. 


tween the conservative and the radical elements, it organized 
the united labor party, " composed of such regular trade and 
labor unions and Knights of Labor assemblies as shall officially 
repudiate the Republican and Democratic parties." Similar 
manifestations throughout the state resulted in the nomination 
of local and legislative candidates and in the election of fifteen 
independents to the general assembly. 31 

Public opinion in general did not, as many socialists con- 
fidently expected, rise to repudiate, by the means of an over- 
whelming political labor movement, the verdict in the anarchist 
trial. Far from showing " the Republicans . . . that we 
can break up their party in this State," 32 the anarchist incident 
proved a disintegrating factor within organized labor itself. 
However staunch the support of this or that labor group may 
have been, there were many, following the official action of the 
Knights of Labor, who were eager to prove their own skirts 
free from the contaminating touch of anarchism. Labor, they 
felt, had paid dearly for its radical counsel; this division ren- 
dered ineffectual all efforts for united political action. 

The next two years were not calculated to quiet restless 
elements. Serious strikes continued; moreover, the farmers, 
resentful of a discriminating protective tariff, increasingly rest- 
less over currency problems and continued state abuses, showed 
a disposition to unite forces with the Illinois State Labor Asso- 
ciation. When that association met in Peoria in January, 1888, 
representatves of the farming element, "mostly greenbackers 
and anti-monopolists, who hope for success by united action 
with the labor party," joined with it in resolving to form an 
independent political organization; in April the Illinois labor 
party convened at Decatur to draw up a platform and to select 

81 Chicago Tribune, September 23, 24, 26, 28, 1886 ; Chicago Daily Nevis 
(evening), May 14, 1890. 

82 Chicago Tribune, May 14, 1886. 


candidates. The platform advocated " the strict enforcement 
of all laws and obeyance of the same, calls for a lower State 
tax, urges that holders of mortgages be taxed on the same, 
that members of the Board of Railroad and Warehouse Com- 
missioners shall be elected, that means of communication and 
transportation shall be owned by the government, that a mone- 
tary system in the interest of the producer instead of the spec- 
ulator shall be secured, that arbitration shall take the place of 
strikes, that a graduated income tax be established, that United 
States Senators be elected by the people, that both sexes shall 
have the right to vote, and that the Labor party is a prohibition 
party." 33 Harmony within the group was disrupted at the out- 
set, however, when, because of resentment at the nomination of 
W. W. Jones to head the state ticket, several Chicago delegates 
bolted the convention. 

In the campaign of 1888 this situation the general rest- 
lessness together with lack of cohesion in the laboring and farm- 
ing groups gave to the democrats their opportunity; to their 
legitimate strength as the second great party they would add 
these disunited elements. Indeed, the democratic guberna- 
torial nominee, John M. Palmer, 34 appeared to the more con- 
servative wing of his party as "a bull in a china shop" be- 
cause of his " pro-Socialistic speeches." 35 Palmer, in his speech 
of acceptance, outlined the stand which he took everywhere 
on the stump. He turned his back squarely on the old political 
leaders who regarded the governorship " as a stepping-stone 
to other places;" who, disregarding the interests of the peo- 
ple of Illinois, had turned the state into a mere election dis- 
trict. But the issue that made his campaign notable was his 

83 Chicago Tribune, January 12, April 26, 27, 1888. 

84 Other candidates were: Andrew J. Bell, lieutenant governor; N. Douglas 
Ricks, secretary of state; Andrew Welch, auditor; Charles H. Wacker, treasurer; 
Jacob R. Creighton, attorney-general. 

85 Chicago Tribune, July n, 1888. 


direct appeal to the laboring man when he denounced the hated 
Pinkertons; why was it, he asked again and again, that "the 
State has become an object of such contempt that standing 
armies are raised in its midst . . . that private men may 
organize soldiers in the State, hirelings to go with their Win- 
chesters and overawe the people." 36 

The general aspect of the situation was far from encourag- 
ing to the republicans. Their national organization was com- 
mitted to a high tariff with which they had but scant sympathy; 
yet their disavowal of it as a policy of the eastern republicans 
could not prevent the democrats from making capital out of 
it. Further, the party seemed singularly lacking in strong 
candidates to make the presidential race; no one stood forth 
as a leader who could attract united and enthusiastic support. 
In this situation the Illinois republicans entertained hopes of 
naming one or the other of the nominees on the national ticket. 
Senator Cullom was mentioned by some as a possible " dark 
horse" for president; others brought up the name of Oglesby 
for vice president. Neither suggestion met widespread re- 
sponse; so influential a paper as the Chicago Tribune, for in- 
stance, preferred to support Judge Walter Q. Gresham of 
Indiana for president. 37 The national convention quashed 
whatever faint hopes there were by nominating Harrison with 
Morton of New York as his running mate. 

The Illinois leaders therefore turned to the state cam- 
paign, but with forced enthusiasm. At Springfield early in 
May the state convention had nominated Joseph Fifer. The 
Tribune admitted that " it would be sheer hypocrisy . 
to pretend that the convention placed in nomination the strong- 
est candidate beyond recall, correction, or change." It there- 
fore urged " straight party men ... to make the best 

36 Chicago Tribune, May 23, 24, 25, August 9, 26, September 7, 1888. 

37 Ibid., January 19, April 14, 17, 19, 21, 23, May 2, 28, June 12, 27, 1888. 


of it." Fifer was characterized as a "clear-headed, plain, 
every-day sort of man" and as the campaign proceeded repub- 
lican hopes began to revive. Fifer's appeal to the soldier vote 
as a "private," in striking contrast to those who as generals 
had long solicited the veterans' support, was proving very suc- 
cessful; in southern Illinois he won en bloc the enthusiastic 
support of the Negro vote which Palmer, contrary to demo- 
cratic tactics since 1876, was making little attempt to conciliate. 
Further, in answer to Palmer's Pinkerton argument, Fifer 
pointed to the law which had been enacted the year before and 
assured workingmen that it had been and that it would be well 
enforced. 38 

Nevertheless, democratic strength was disquieting. " The 
Tribune can say all it wants to about our deal with the An- 
archists; it won't hurt us any with the labor people," was 
proving true; it was plain that Palmer's strength was formid- 
able in Cook county, while in Chicago " democratic and labor 
votes are self-same." 39 The farmers of the state, too, were 
lending a willing ear to the democratic appeal; like the labor- 
ing men, they were not to be won over by republican talk of 
prosperity and high wages so long as that party carried the 
responsibility for the protective tariff. The argument that 
this measure meant a full dinner pail for the workingman and 
home markets for the farmer as well as protection for the 
manufacturer failed utterly to convince them. 

Accordingly, although the election returns showed that 
the republicans had again secured a governor, the party be- 
held in dismay the havoc their foes had wrought in their strong- 
holds. Their narrow victory revealed an unexpected unity in 
the democracy and made the republicans fear that their op- 
ponents might " hold the Laborites until after the election of 

38 Chicago Tribune, May 4, June 26, July 20, 25, October 16, 24, 1888. 

39 Ibid., August i, 1888. 


November, 1890," in which case they would have an excellent 
chance of doubling their representation in the state senate. 40 
Moreover, the outlook in the state was discouraging to any old- 
line party. In addition to the uncertain and discontented labor 
vote, the restlessness of the farmers was causing both political 
parties uneasiness; the old granger spirit seemed in a fair way 
to revive. In 1885 the Farmers' Mutual Benefit Association, 
popularly known as the F. M. B. A., first established lodges 
in Illinois; within four years, with a membership of forty-five 
thousand, it effected state organization and thereupon quickly 
added thirty thousand new members. Its plan of organization 
" appears to be hybrid, with the old Grange and Knights of 
Labor for models. There are county assemblies and local 
lodges, a secret ritual, a badge, a pass word, and a grip." As 
a protest against the middlemen, "the great class who like 
leeches extort from the farmers the profits that by hard labor 
they have dug from the ground," the association undertook 
to maintain cooperative stores, without " striking success 
although it has ruined the merchants in the small 
towns." The platform struck at a variety of grievances felt 
particularly keenly by the farmers; it included such planks as 
reconstruction of the revenue code, enforcement of the law 
providing for the assessment of property at its fair cash value, 
reduction of the legal rate of interest, reduction of the cost of 
transportation, and legislation against trusts. Similar demands 
were also being urged by the Farmers' Alliance, an organiza- 
tion much like the Farmers' Mutual Benefit Association in 
character, but much less strong numerically, having only ten 
or twelve thousand members. 41 

To accomplish what they sought, the farmers resolved that 
again, as in 1874, they would be represented in the legisla- 

40 Chicago Tribune, April 7, 1889. 

41 Ibid., January 6, April 28, October 29, 1890. 


ture. In May, 1890, a conference between the Farmers' 
Mutual Benefit Association, the Farmers' Alliance, the Grange, 
and the Knights of Labor resolved that " our future success 
and welfare depends upon concerted action;" accordingly, a 
federation of the organizations was effected with J. M. Thomp- 
son, master of the Illinois State Grange, as president. Each 
member was to work in his own party for the nomination of 
candidates favorable to farmers; no state nominations should 
be made by them as a formal third party, but " in legislative, 
senatorial, and congressional nominations, we demand of all 
candidates that they be publicly pledged . . . and we 
will support no candidate not so pledged." The conference 
went on record in favor of the free and unlimited coinage of 
silver, election of senators by direct vote of the people, a na- 
tional law prohibiting dealing in futures on all agricultural 
products, and a tax on incomes. 42 

So successful was this program that besides scoring 
heavily in township and county elections the farmers' organ- 
izations elected fifty republican and democratic farmer assem- 
blymen pledged to the interests of their brethren, and three 
outright Farmers' Mutual Benefit Association members as " in- 
dependent" assemblymen. 43 In the new general assembly, 
the republicans could count only one hundred members and 
the democrats one hundred and one; thus the three inde- 
pendent representatives of the organized farming inter- 
ests two of them former democrats held the balance of 

Inasmuch as the legislature of 1890 had to select a suc- 

42 Chicago Tribune, May 3, 1890. 

43 For several sessions, ever since the farmers had begun to rouse themselves, 
it had been customary for the farmer legislators to form a^club at Springfield; 
on January 15, 1891, the farmers of both houses, irrespective of party, met to 
organize and to draw up an article of the constitution to be thereafter formed: 
" No person shall be eligible to membership in this club whose principal vocation 
is not that of farmer" an article which fifty-eight members of the general 
assembly signed. Ibid., January 15, 1891. 


cessor to United States Senator Farwell the situation was 
peculiarly disquieting to republicans. At just this inauspicious 
moment came the news of the McKinley tariff bill, with its 
proposed increase on the necessaries of life. The strength 
which General Palmer had developed in the gubernatorial 
race made him the logical democratic senatorial candidate; 
what more auspicious for a Palmer boom than tariff reform 
meetings with the McKinley bill as text! Republican leaders 
"can see perfectly well that political affairs are not as lovely 
as they might be. They know or should know, the feeling 
among the farmers and the alliances. They know that the 
party is not gaining as it should, that it is losing many of those 
who have long fought under its flag. They know that this 
McKinleyism is swaying their party in the West, and that the 
wholly unnecessary increased taxation policy repels men from 
the Republican organization." 44 Leading republicans from 
all over Illinois at a meeting in Chicago in May, 1890, said 
not one word "which even a desperate newspaper advocate 
of higher tariff taxes could torture into an approval of the 
McKinley bill." 45 

Under the dark cloud of the McKinley bill what rosy 
inducements could republican legislators offer the Farmers' 
Mutual Benefit Association members? They humbled them- 
selves and waited upon the independents in order to ascertain 
their wishes in regard to the speakership, the senatorship, the 
coming legislation, and what not; but to no effect the trium- 
virate would make no compromise; they wanted "all this ter- 
restrial globe," and "a vast deal of courting and attention'* 
to boot. 46 Indeed the Farmers' Mutual Benefit Association's 
instructions to ignore the caucus choice of both parties auto- 

44 Chicago Tribune, May 6, 1890. 

45 Ibid., May 8, 1890. 

46 Ibid., January 7, 1891. 


matically precluded any understanding. Palmer had long 
been the democratic choice; the republicans, on January 14, 
announced their allegiance to Senator Farwell; while the 
Farmers' Mutual Benefit Association decided to support Alson 
J. Streeter, long identified with parties of protest in Illinois 
politics. 47 "The principal reason that has compelled us to 
the solid support of Mr. Streeter is that his interests are iden- 
tical with the industrial interests of the country We claim 
that the questions of money and railroad transportation are 
the main questions and we know Mr. Streeter to be sound 
on the money question and sound in his opposition to the 
rapacious greed of corporations." 48 

And there the matter stood for two months of struggle 
and uncertainty. The Farmers' Mutual Benefit Association 
yielded not one inch, but quietly waited for one or the other 
of the old parties to accept its choice. It was the republicans 
who were "under the wheel;" the democrats, remembering 
the lesson of previous elections, were a solid one hundred and 
one for Palmer, 49 quietly nursing the hope that his liberal 
record might eventually win the triumvirate. Finally, early 
in March the republicans began advances toward Streeter, 
trying to wring from him such concessions as would make 
their choice of him, "not as an ideal candidate, but as a choice 
of evils," somewhat plausible. Streeter thereupon drew up a 
speech of acceptance defining his position; this he incautiously 
showed to the triumvirate, who immediately declared that the 
republicans had "little by little, sought and obtained from our 
candidate such concessions and promises as would, if carried 
out, entirely unfit him for conscientiously representing the 

47 He had served as chairman of the farmers' antimonopoly convention in 
Chicago in 1884 and as union labor candidate for president in 1888. He was not 
a member of the assembly. McKee, National Conventions and Platforms of All 
Political Parties, 1789-1905, p. 223, 257. 

48 Chicago Tribune, January 14, 1891. 

49 This in spite of the grave uncertainty of many old leaders over his success. 


principles of the independent organizations." 50 Streeter, in- 
deed, as the Chicago Tribune asserted, had "promised every- 
thing to everybody. He has told the railroad folks they need 
not be uneasy if he be elected and he has assured the grangers 
their rights would be protected." 51 As a consequence two 
members of the Farmers' Mutual Benefit Association bolted 
him at the last moment, throwing their votes with the demo- 
crats, and on March 12, 1891, John M. Palmer was declared 
United States senator. 52 

Such a victory, when some of the ablest democratic lead- 
ers had been convinced of its impossibility, could not but excite 
the highest hopes for victory in the national campaign of 1892 
and democrats surveyed the plight of their opponents with 
satisfaction. Republicans had to carry the onus of President 
Harrison and the McKinley bill, and the still greater opposi- 
tion aroused by the proposed " force " measures. In bright 
contrast shone the popularity of Cleveland, the democratic 
nominee, which state pride in his running mate, Adlai 
Stevenson, only augmented. 53 

Conditions within the state offered such palpable breaches 
for assault that when the democrats selected John P. Altgeld 

60 Chicago Tribune, March 13, 1891. It was these same "independent" 
forces which early in August, 1891, formally organized the people's party in 
Illinois indorsing the Cincinnati platform. Ibid., August 14, 1891. 

61 Ibid., March 7, 1891. 

52 Their defeat was a bitter pill for the republicans to swallow, and the 
Tribune placed the first responsibility on " McKinley with his bill. It is to him 
that a score of Democratic State Senators and Representatives owe their seats. 
Next, General Palmer should return ' heartfelt thanks ' to Joe Cannon and the 
twelve other Republican Congressmen from Illinois who voted for the McKinley 
bill, as they could have defeated it. Cannon should get the lion's share, because 
had he chosen, he could have organized an opposition among Western Repub- 
lican members which would have stripped McKinley's measure of its worst 
features and sent it to the Senate so modified as not to be harmful to the party. 
He purposely neglected to do it, and as a consequence is out of public life and 
Palmer is in it." Chicago Tribune, March 13, 1891. 

3 During the winter and spring there was a marked movement in the 
Illinois democracy to father a Palmer presidency boom, and the delegates to 
the national convention were instructed to stand for him, though not to oppose 
Cleveland. Illinois State Register, February 19, 24, 27, March 5, April 12, 24, 
28, 1892. 


to head their ticket, republicans Pondered whether after thirty 
years they might lose control of the gubernatorial chair. Could 
Fifer, as the logical republican candidate for reelection, suc- 
cessfully measure swords with him? Chicago politicians knew 
and feared Altgeld as a bewildering paradox: at once a con- 
summate politician, and a real friend of the people. Elected 
judge by the democratic labor party and long influential in the 
radical wing of the democracy, he had always displayed un- 
canny finesse in the political game a gift which was poten- 
tially at the service of the weak. Still, it was felt that a man so 
frankly a friend of labor suffered a handicap which would 
make it possible to wreck his political hopes. But before the 
gubernatorial campaign was officially launched, Altgeld threw 
about his political weaknesses a protective cloak of other 
issues. 54 

He well knew that his liberal views on social and economic 
questions, which made certain the support of the idealist, the 
humanitarian, and the laboring man, would readily lend them- 
selves to misrepresentation and calumny; in the parochial 
school question he found an issue which would bind to him large 
classes not otherwise to be won. The Catholic, and particu- 
larly the Lutheran, population of the state had become greatly 
exercised over the compulsory school law of 1889, which re- 
quired the teaching of reading and writing in English. The 
fear that the authority of parent and of priest, that even the 
"liberty of religion" were being trenched upon, led to a de- 
termined demand from this body of voters for the law's repeal. 
Altgeld, while declaring himself and the democratic party 
thoroughly in sympathy with the principle of compulsory edu- 

54 At a time when no one had given thought to the fate of the " criminal," 
Altgeld published a pamphlet, Our Criminal Code, which held the seeds of 
scientific criminology. His volume, Live Questions, collected from periodicals and 
newspapers, contained his sympathetic reaction on such questions as " The^ Eight 
Hour Movement," "Arbitration of Strikes," "The Slave Girls of Chicago's 
[Factories]," and " The Administration of Justice in Chicago." 


cation, made himself the champion of these religious groups. 
At a meeting of the state committee, "Judge Altgeld's plan 
of campaign was endorsed and it was decided to make the 
school question the main issue of the state canvass 'we want 
a law enacted that will insure the rudiments of an education 
to every child without trenching upon religious grounds and 
without doing violence to the doctrines that lie at the base of 
republican institutions.' " 55 

The republicans vigorously protested at being thus sad- 
dled with the onus of a nonpartisan bit of legislation which 
had inadvertently roused a tempest. They pointed out to the 
foreign groups that when the measure received the enthusiastic 
support of members of all parties in the thirty-sixth general 
assembly no one suspected the existence of the objectionable 
features that appeared in its practical operation; republicans 
were eager that these features be removed. 56 The offended 
voters, however, heeded this explanation little when it became 
clear that republicans were appealing to the native Americans 
to support the "little red school-house." Indeed charges were 
soon freely circulated that " Governor Joe Fifer is the moving 
spirit behind the . . . rampant and powerful 'know- 
nothing' propaganda and organization, than which nothing 
could be better calculated to bring the foreigner into the ranks 
of the democracy." 57 

Meanwhile Altgeld's "political hand shake," as it was 
bitterly dubbed by his opponents, had brought him a wide ac- 
quaintance over the state. Early in the summer he had quietly 
traveled from county to county in a pre-campaign trip, hold- 
ing informal receptions for the hundreds of farmers or miners 
who had driven in'to meet him or "plodding about the muddy 

65 Illinois State Register, May 25, 1892. 

58 Senate Journal, 1893, p. 26. 

57 Illinois State Register, June i, August 31, September 25, 1892. 


streets getting acquainted with people and giving them an op- 
portunity to get acquainted with him." 58 

In the state campaign Altgeld proceeded on his theory that 
the "principal cause that will lead to Democratic victory is not 
a party issue. It is the growth of the mighty trusts and power- 
ful and unscrupulous monopolies . . . under the wing 
of Republican legislation. The common people are becoming 
alarmed at the extent of these trusts." 50 With that passion- 
ate earnestness which characterized him, he reviewed state 
evils and he boldly revealed national and state extravagance; 
in Illinois were institutions where " it took $600,000 to pay 
and keep employes to expend $400,000 on the inmates of the 
institution." 60 His attacks on the evils of the convict labor 
system, against which organized labor had long protested, and 
on the abortive efforts of recent legislation to remedy these 
evils under the republican administration, and his accusations 
of neglect in many other fields of law enforcement 61 roused 
the republican press to frenzy. The " deliberate and malicious 
falsehoods" of "a brazen demagogue," 62 the fomenter of 
foreign known nothingism, the sympathizer with the " george- 
ites," the millionaire labor leader, were themes which the 
republican press enlarged upon. "The desperation of the 
republican organs is manifested by the way they attack Judge 
Altgeld. 'Altgeld is an anarchist,' shouts one organ; 'Altgeld 

58 " The Journal appears to think it a strange thing for a candidate for 
governor to notice a workingman, much less shake his soiled hands; and it 
tries to cast ridicule on Judge Altgeld for visiting railroad shops and mines to 
meet and become acquainted with intelligent and worthy toilers ... it is 
not the custom of the fine-haired republican office-holders to do so." Illinois 
State Register, May 12, 13, 14, July 22, October 19, 1892. 

59 Chicago Tribune, January 25, 1892. 

60 Illinois State Register, September 28, 1892. 

61 " If the institutions of Illinois are not carelessly and extravagantly, if not 
corruptly managed, then figures lie. Judge Altgeld gave the figures for his 
statements and he laid bare some of the iniquities that prevail in the manage- 
ment of the institutions, and exposed the weakness and faithlessness of the state 
administration." Ibid., September 29, 1892. 

82 Chicago Tribune, September 7, 18, 1892. 


is a goldbug!' cries another; 'Altgeld is only a hundred days 
Man!' blubbers a third; while a fourth organ howls 'Altgeld 
was never in the army at all ! ' " 63 

Such efforts were in vain; the democratic star at last was 
in the ascendant. On November 9, the headlines of the State 
Register ran : " Shout the Glad Tidings, our Country is 
Free Everything Democratic and the Majorities Increasing. 
Illinois over 10,000 on Both State and National Tickets." At 
length " the oppressors of the wage workers of the land " had 
been answered; the democracy rallied in a grand jubilee meet- 
ing at Springfield, with the triumphant state ticket uniting 
"with the gallant democracy of Sangamon county and Central 
Illinois in rejoicing over the glorious victory." 

The new administration now faced the problem of rem- 
edying the wide range of grievances of the voters who had 
brought it into power. Altgeld had been elected not only as 
a democrat but as spokesman for an acute economic and social 
unrest which demanded satisfaction; and immediately after 
the thorough house cleaning among the appointive offices 
which the democratic party demanded as a matter of course, 
his first attention was given to carrying out definite construc- 
tive measures. For the protection of the workers, he appointed 
a woman factory inspector, Florence Kelley, who carried out 
rigidly the hitherto neglected provisions of the factory in- 
spection law in regard to sanitary and safety measures; in the 
interests of a more humanitarian method of dealing with soci- 
ety's dependents he inaugurated the indeterminate sentence 
and parole system for criminals, sponsored the creation of 
the great insane hospital at Bartonville and, at Peoria, the 
Asylum for the Incurably Insane, and in addition improved the 
facilities and administration of the various state institutions. 
Seeing in public education the great hope of social democracy 

* 3 Illinois State Register, August 24, 1892. 


and justice, he spared no effort to improve the school system 
of the state; the normal schools at De Kalb and at Charleston 
stand in large measure as his monument, while the University 
of Illinois received from him heartier support than it had had 
from any of his predecessors in the gubernatorial chair. 

One act, prompted by the uncompromising love of justice 
and sympathy for humanity which were part of the man, was 
to bring down upon his head an avalanche of vituperation such 
as few public men have ever received; this was his pardon of 
the "anarchists" serving sentences for the Haymarket riot. 
Simply a formal executive message setting the men at liberty 
might well have escaped more than passing notice; but Altgeld 
chose to accompany his pandon with an extended exposition of 
his reasons, which comprised a denunciation of the whole trial 
as unfair and illegal and pronounced the sentences wholly 
unwarranted by the evidence. Thus he not only freed the im- 
prisoned men but in effect accused the state of judicial murder 
of the hanged men. 64 The public at large could interpret his 
message only as a plea in behalf of " anarchy," and the press 
from coast to coast united in heaping villification upon the head 
of the executive who thus opened the gates from within to the 
" anarchistic snakes." Only here and there a few labor unions 
and Turner societies, together with judges, mayors, and public 
men, dared salute his "manful and courageous act" as a deed 
which struck deeper than the matter of freeing a few individ- 
uals to the fundamental rights of human beings. 

84 Altgeld, Reasons for Pardoning Fielden, Neebe, and Schwab. It had been 
rumored that Altgeld would grant the pardon; as soon as he was elected he was 
urged to take action by the Amnesty Association which had been indefatigable in 
its efforts to release the prisoners. In answer to Clarence S. Darrow, his law part- 
ner, who reproached the governor for his failure to free the anarchists within the 
first six months of his term of office, urging that it would be a popular move as 
well as the right thing to do, Altgeld replied, " Darrow, I haven't had time to 
go over that case yet, but I am going over the record carefully and if I conclude 
those anarchists ought to be freed I will free them. But make no mistake about 
its being a popular move if I do it I will be a dead man politically." Record 
of interview with Clarence S. Darrow, in Illinois Historical Survey. 


WITH the close of the Civil War, the people of Illinois 
came to cast a freshened eye upon the record of the 
past and upon the needs of the future. There were short- 
comings to be made good. There were abuses to be corrected. 
For good measure, there was the dignity of the commonwealth 
to be exemplified. Within the short space of three years ( 1867- 
1870), a new state constitution was proposed and adopted, the 
cornerstone of a new state capitol was laid, and as the culmina- 
tion of long years of effort, a state university was finally 

At the end of this brief period, Chicago, with a population 
of three hundred thousand, a definite nucleus of culture, and 
justifiable hopes of metropolitan status, was advancing toward 
the most serious check in its history the great fire of 1871. 
This was a check, however, which would serve but to liberate 
a new onrush of ambition and energy one which was to 
lead, some twenty years later, to the triumphs of a World's 
Columbian exposition. 

In 1870 Illinois, from many points of view, was backward. 
The tone of the state was provincial, and large sections had 
made but slight advance from conditions that had ruled on 
the early frontier. Communication was limited; schools were 
lacking in endowment and equipment. As a whole, the 
state still awaited the application of forces which were 
presently to promote cultural activities, heighten social 
amenities, and broaden and enrich the spiritual life of the com- 

The University of Illinois, one of the most important 



factors in the cultural development of the state, was chartered 
in 1867 as the Illinois Industrial University a title which it 
retained until 1885. Its ranges of machine shops and dairy 
barns, for example, still bear witness to the practical spirit in 
which it was conceived. It was, except for the State Normal 
University at Bloomington, founded ten years before, the first 
educational institution within the state boundaries to be estab- 
lished on a basis altogether non-denominational. For a genera- 
tion or more the higher educational interests of the state had 
been in sectarian hands, and several of the earlier institutions 
had been aided by the "college" and "seminary" funds, de- 
rived from the sale of state and federal lands. The Methodists 
controlled McKendree College, Northwestern University, 
Wheaton College, Illinois Wesleyan University at Blooming- 
ton, and Illinois Woman's College at Jacksonville. The 
Baptists controlled Shurtleff College at Alton and the old 
Chicago University (1857-1886). The Presbyterians con- 
trolled Monmouth College, and later were to add Millikin 
University at Decatur, the creation of a local banker. The 
Universalists controlled Lombard College at Galesburg. A 
blend of Presbyterian and Congregational influences was 
operative at Illinois College, Jacksonville; and the same 
influences, less happily adjusted, were felt for a decade or 
more at Knox College, Galesburg. 1 Augustana College, 
founded in Chicago in 1860 and transferred to Rock Island 
in 1875, has been the chief educational seat, secular and 
theological, for the Lutherans. 

There had been hopes in some quarters that the State 
Normal University, the location of which had been largely 
due to the initiative of Jesse W. Fell (1808-1887), an active 
and valued citizen of Bloomingtcn ; itself might serve as the 

1 See statement by Dean Simonds, prepared for Webster, Seventy-five Signifi- 
cant Years: The Story of Knox College, 1837-1912, p. 69, 70. 


basis of the new non-sectarian state institution which was con- 
templated. Such, indeed, was Mr. Fell's own hope. He was 
a law partner of Judge David Davis, a personal friend of 
Lincoln, a man of energy, ability, and integrity; and he was 
desirous of founding at North Bloomington a town which 
should be characterized by sobriety, morality, good society, 
and all the other elements desirable for an educational center. 
Political and financial considerations, however, led to the selec- 
tion of another site. Bloomington Normal, rather re- 
mained as the head of the normal system of the state a system 
which was extended in 1869 by the founding of the Southern 
Illinois State Normal University, at Carbondale, and later 
by that of several state normal schools in convenient sections 
north, east, and west. 

A few county normal schools were also established; in 
1868 the Peoria County Normal School and the Bureau 
County Normal and Model School were organized. In 1869 
came the Cook County Normal School, which, in 1896, was 
taken over by the city of Chicago and handsomely rehoused. 
Normal, however, by reason of its priority and of its large 
and well-trained body of alumni, continued to exercise a strong 
influence on the educational interests of the state, and even, 
in later years, a distinctly definite one upon the state university 

That there came to be a state university at all, however 
belated, was due in large part to the earnest endeavors of Jona- 
than B. Turner of Jacksonville, who for years had labored 
among farmers, educators, and politicians to forward his 
cherished ideals of industrial education. That the new institu- 
tion came to be located in Champaign county was due to the 
political aptitudes of Clark Robinson Griggs of Urbana, who 
had been a member of the state legislature in Massachusetts, 
a railroad promoter in Illinois, and an adroit lobbyist every- 


where. 2 That the university started to advantage on a career 
ultimately crowned by success, meeting, despite many draw- 
backs, the immediate practical needs of a new people in a new 
land, was due to the character and ability of its first regent, 
Dr. John M. Gregory, a high pattern of forcefulness and 

The State Normal University has been, in a peculiar 
measure, the center of scientific culture in Illinois. A con- 
vention held at Bloomington in 1858 had organized a State 
Natural History Society, and in 1862 the legislature had 
granted the society a charter. In 1867, the state granted 
further a small annual appropriation for the salary of a 
curator and for additions to the collections. Under Professor 
John W. Powell (1867-1872), Dr. George Vasey (acting 
curator in 1872), and Professor Stephen A. Forbes (1872- 
1884), the number of specimens was greatly increased; and 
under Dr. Vasey, in particular, many high schools through 
the state were supplied with cabinets of them. 3 In 1871 the 
collection at Normal passed into the possession of the state 
board of education, which in 1877 ordered that a portion of 
it be transferred to the new statehouse at Springfield, where it 
was united with the State Historical Library a union which 
lasted twelve years. The collection was afterward transferred 
to the state arsenal. The portion remaining behind at Normal 
was converted into a State Laboratory of Natural History. 
In 1885 there was an extensive transfer of specimens and 
material to Urbana and the state university. Some months 
earlier Professor Forbes had himself left Normal for Urbana, 
where he was to teach zoology and entomology. He brought 
with him the office of state entomologist; and his other office, 

2 For Griggs and his methods see Nevins, Illinois, 32-40. 

a Forbes, " The State Laboratory of Natural History," in Cook and McHugh, 
A History of the Illinois State Normal University, 236, 239. 


that of director of the State Laboratory of Natural History, 
was transferred soon after. Such accessions could not but add 
to the consequence of the university and help signal its grow- 
ing importance in relation to the general affairs of the state. 
At the same time broader cultural ambitions had begun to 
assert themselves, and the early designation of " industrial," 
it had come to be generally felt, was both a misnomer and an 
embarrassment. Accordingly, in the summer of 1885, the 
university took its present name. 

Thus far the state. In Chicago, in 1870, conditions natu- 
rally bore a different stamp. Large communities do not follow 
the stark educational ideal with the single-minded devotion so 
often shown by the smaller ones : amenities and diversions 
have their part At the beginning of the present period 
Chicago indeed possessed due educational features. It had 
a public school system (one which was trying to grow as the 
town grew) with an enrollment of nearly forty thousand 
children, and with a staff of more than five hundred teachers. 
It had the Baptist University founded in 1857 by Stephen A. 
Douglas, and the St. Ignatius Jesuit College (now Loyola 
University), built in 1869. In its historical society (founded 
in 1856) it had a body intent upon the little that had happened 
and upon the much that was expected to happen. There was 
a worthy opera house, which gave quarters to a gallery of 
paintings and to an Academy of Design; and there was an 
Academy of Sciences with pertinent collections. The town 
enjoyed, particularly among the Germans, an active musical 
life; and it possessed, thanks to the state legislature of 1869, 
a tripartite system of parks and boulevards one well started, 
if still far from completion. It had a magazine, The Lakeside 
Monthly , which had been founded by the admirable devotion 
of Francis F. Browne to combat the "unbecoming awe" which 


was the tribute then paid by the west to the literary east; it 
had a club which was to develop with the years into some 
social prominence; and it had even a " Mai son Doree," a 
restaurant handsomely housed behind the pillars of an early 
colonial mansion and designed to give Chicagoans some idea 
of life's elegancies as practiced in an older and richer "world." 
But the great fire dispersed the academicians, to whichever 
interest they were committed; it put a brake alike upon the 
development of the school system and the park system; it 
caused an hiatus in the orderly issuance of the town's magazine ; 
it forced the historical society to beat a retreat before history 
in the making, and it desolated the " Maison Doree," with 
its portico and its gilded lettering, beyond redemption. But 
it produced one beneficent and immediate cultural effect; 
English sympathizers were moved to make offerings which 
formed the nucleus of a public library a lack which the city 
found itself less likely than before to make good. 

The rebuilding followed the architectural mode of the 
day. In that period, as in later ones, the middle west lay 
open to any assertive outside influence, and modestly abdi- 
cated all right of judgment. The mode then current was that 
of the second French empire a style with no small capacity 
for meretriciousness. Simple examples of it (or early half- 
conscious adumbrations of it) were accepted in various parts 
of the state. Shapes of indigenous red brick, crowned by 
mansards aggressive or timid, found place on the campus of 
Illinois College, Jacksonville, and on that at Urbana. An 
elaborate yet not altogether unfavorable example of this style 
was accepted by Morgan county for its courthouse at Jackson- 
ville (1868). At Springfield a still more elaborate example 
was created (in 1868-1888) in the new state capitol, where 
an endeavor was made to graft on an accepted structural type 
the fashion lately regnant in Paris. 


The college towns of Illinois invoked the aid of landscape 
gardening along with that of architecture. The dwellers on 
the open prairie, without waiting for the landscape architect 
to receive his label, were impelled by their very situation to 
summon the horticulturist and the arboriculturist to their 
obvious opportunities. Few towns possessed the diversified 
surroundings which furnished sites for the educational insti- 
tutions at Alton and Monmouth, and later at Macomb. The 
State Normal University and the University of Illinois were 
alike established on treeless flats. The academic shades which 
they developed were due, in the one instance, to Jesse W. Fell, 
a tree-lover and tree-planter, and, in the other, to the taste 
and knowledge of Dr. Thomas J. Burrill. Similar services 
were performed for Jacksonville and Galesburg, whose sites, 
at the beginning, were equally bare. 

Landscape gardening is one art that may flourish without 
an elaborate centralized apparatus, and literature is another. 
Within two or three years after the great fire, literature began 
to lift its head in Chicago, and literary clubs and literary 
publications to become active. Thus, 1873 saw tne founda- 
tion of the Fortnightly, a club of ladies devoted to social 
amenities and to essays on literature and art. In 1874 was 
founded the Chicago Literary Club, an association of pro- 
fessional men given over to a wide range of humane studies. 
Both clubs are still active. After some months of silence 
The Lakeside Monthly resumed publication; and in 1873 The 
Alliance, a weekly devised by a group of liberal literary 
preachers with a taste for the essay David Swing, Reverend 
Robert Collyer, Dr. Hiram W. Thomas, and others made 
its first appearance and continued through ten years. 

As literature may rise without libraries, so music may 
flourish in reasonable independence of metropolitan facilities. 
During Chicago's earlier days music was chiefly in the hands 


of the German element, and gave a good account of itself, 
whether vocal or instrumental. Theodore Thomas first brought 
his own orchestra to Chicago in 1869. In 1870 the city pos- 
sessed two rival male choruses. German singers had first come 
together, in any considerable body, in 1865, to furnish music 
for the funeral services of President Lincoln. The organiza- 
tion of a permanent male chorus followed; then the customary 
dissensions arose; and five years later a keen rivalry between 
two societies of equal powers was in full force. The Germania 
Mannerchor, engaging orchestra and soloists, gave a perform- 
ance of Weber's opera " Der Freischiitz." The Concordia, 
equipping itself in similar fashion, responded with Mozart's 
" Magic Flute," 4 and the Germania retaliated with Flotow's 
" Stradella." In 1875 more than a score of singing societies 
held a three-day Siingerfest at Springfield. In 1881 the 
twenty-second festival of the North American Sangerbund 
was held in Chicago, with a chorus of eleven hundred voices, 
a mixed chorus of six hundred, an orchestra of one hundred 
and forty, and a fine array of soloists. 

In the lower part of the state, wherever the German 
element was numerous and active, the musical life was active 
in correspondence. Belleville, the capital of St. Clair county, 
may be instanced. The citizens of this advanced community 
had voluntarily taxed themselves for a system of public schools 
before the free educational system of the state was established 
in 1855, and they organized one of the first kindergartens in 
the United States, as well as an early Turngemeinde. Belleville 
had formed a Sangerbund as early as 1855 an organization 
which, in 1873, was merged in a Liederkranz, a male and 
mixed chorus of four hundred voices. In 1867 there was 
founded a philharmonic society with some thirty members. Both 

* For this performance as well as for the one that prompted it, see Chicago 
Tribune, April 7, 1870, and Moses and Kirkland, History of Chicago, 2: 582. 


these organizations early put up their own buildings. A third 
society was the Kronthal Liedertafel, and in 1881 these three 
societies united in a summer night's festival of significant pro- 
portions. Belleville naturally developed its own composers 
and supervisors of music, and also a large choral body formed 
of school children. Thus, in 1871, Belleville was able to 
celebrate in the church (later, cathedral) of St. Peter's the 
twenty-fifth anniversary of the accession of Pius IX with a 
full choir, two bands, and the boys of the parochial school 
attired in the uniform of the Papal Zouaves of the day. The 
juvenile choruses of Belleville, chanting in German and in 
Latin, were perhaps an anticipation of the rise of interest 
in music among the children of the native element in such 
music schools as those of Jacksonville, Galesburg, and De- 

The conspicuous center in Chicago, for a culture predomi- 
nantly musical, was Crosby's Opera House, whose brief, 
brilliant, and varied career lay between the close of the Civil 
War and the great fire of 1871. It was the earliest of a series 
of buildings by means of which idealistic and energetic young 
men endeavored to provide, each in his own day, a gathering 
place for the arts. Crosby's offered opera, both Italian and 
English; extravaganzas and spectacles; 5 it provided studios 
and exhibition halls; and, after some lapses from its early 
ideals, was upon the verge of rededication to art at the hands 
of Theodore Thomas when fire wiped it out for once and for 
all. Music was resumed in Chicago in 1872, with the organi- 
zation of the Apollo Club and the Beethoven Club; concerts 
and lectures were given in churches in residential districts that 
were still standing. The rebuilding of the city was celebrated, 
in 1873, by a Gilmore Jubilee, when a thousand voices and a 

8 Among them " The Black Crook," reprobated by the moralists of the day, 
but revived without objection in 1893. 


great orchestra with many anvils filled the arches of a vast 
new railway station. 

Though 1 literature may spring up here and there almost 
as freely as music, the study of it is best aided by the close 
presence of such cultural mechanisms as are provided by 
educational institutions and their libraries. Thus Jacksonville, 
settled by markedly choice stocks from the south and east, and 
propelled by a blend of influences Presbyterian and Congre- 
gational, early became conscious of itself as the prime diffuser 
of culture throughout the state, was made the site of a group 
of the state's charitable institutions, and led, under the impetus 
of Illinois College and kindred forces, in the formation of 
various clubs and societies designed to serve the advance of 
the higher life. The town, which had founded a literary 
society in 1864 (a society that still exists), and had estab- 
lished later, in 1869, the first Sorosis outside of New York 
City, formed later a Plato Club. This club functioned under 
the direction of Dr. Hiram K. Jones who founded also an 
Academe for the study of classical literature and for the con- 
sideration of educational questions and it was a living force 
in the town's life for more than twenty years. On different 
occasions it was addressed by Emerson, 'Bronson Alcott, and 
Dr. William T. Harris. A second Plato Club was formed 
later at Bloomington, and entertained Alcott and Matthew 
Arnold; and a Philosophical Club, similar in aim and tone, 
was established at Quincy. Later, in 1889 and 1890, the 
clubs at Jacksonville and Bloomington, acting with the Illinois 
Platonic Association, gave formal symposia in honor of the 
birthday of Plato, and these events were duly recorded in a 
bimonthly Bibliotheca Platonica. 6 

Meanwhile, the State Normal University, the actual crea- 

6 This exponent of the Platonic philosophy was edited by Thomas M. 
Johnson, Osceola, Missouri. 


tion of General Charles E. Hovey, its first principal (1857), 
had moved on under the guidance of Dr. Richard Edwards, 
who succeeded him in 1862, and of Dr. Edwin C. Hewett, who 
had succeeded in turn in 1876. During the early years of the 
institution its best energies went into the common branches, 
and conditions remained comparatively static; but a quickening 
of activity was to come at a later period. 

In the early seventies the Order of the Patrons of Hus- 
bandry (predecessor of the different national farmers' alliances, 
18801890, and of the people's, or populist, party, organized 
nationally in 1892), rose into influence, with the object of 
advancing the social needs and of combating the economic 
backwardness of farm life. One of the earliest of its granges 
in Illinois was established in 1872 at Dixon. 7 On its cultural 
side this movement gave an impulse to the establishment of 
libraries, traveling or local, of reading courses, lyceums, and 
farmers' institutes, of improved highways and rural free 
delivery; it encouraged better agricultural exhibits and brought 
about an improved agricultural press; and utilized all other 
practicable means for the lessening of rural isolation and the 
betterment of the farmers' opportunities. Membership, which 
included alike the old and young of both sexes, had by 1874 
risen in the various states to nearly eight hundred thousand. 

In 1876 Illinois took its share in the centennial exposition 
at Philadelphia. Illinois made its appearance frankly and 
consciously as the "prairie state," proud of the productivity 
of the deep loam of its corn belt and its river bottoms and of 
the marked prosperity which was resulting from it. It was a 
soil through which the plow might run mile after mile without 
touching a pebble a soil which made a rotation of crops 
unnecessary through the greater part of the state's confines. 
Though a deplorable hitch in the legislature had cut the state's 

7 Chicago Tribune, March 6, 1872. 


appropriation to $10,000, subscription papers were circulated 
privately and sufficient funds were collected for an adequate 
and representative display. The most successful phase of this 
display was made in the Agricultural Building. The exhibit 
of the Illinois Industrial University, shown in that building 
and in others, was the largest made by any educational insti- 
tution. Its exhibit at Paris, in 1878, received a gold medal. 
But the linked chain which led from a remarkable soil to a 
wonderful productivity in crops and in livestock, thence to 
prosperous farmers, and on to ambitious sons and daughters, 
avid of education and eager to contribute to the strength and 
adornment of the commonwealth all this remained in large 
part a matter for future demonstration, an ideal dawning, 
indeed, but not yet fully clear in the general consciousness 
and awaiting a realization which was to come with the after 
years. Nearly ten were to elapse before the state university, 
as a chief agent in this great metamorphosis, was to take a 
comprehensive and representative name, and more than twenty 
before it should completely establish itself in the collective 
mind of the people as the right engine for a vast work, and 
should begin to receive the full measure of support and recog- 
nition which it required and deserved. 

The centennial first brought art to the general notice of 
the American people. It gave, too, useful indications of cul- 
tural cooperation in a broad fashion. It stimulated our 
historic consciousness. It taught the country, the middle west 
included, something about the value of artistic taste as applied 
to our rising manufactures. It introduced new elements into 
home life and into household ideals. One feature of the 
centennial was the spirited rivalry among manufacturers of 
pianos and sewing machines for awards and diplomas; in fact, 
the final victory of the piano over the melodeon and the parlor 


organ may be said to date from about this period. In the 
later seventies Japanese asymmetry raged throughout the land. 
Closely followed upon this the ideal of Eastlake and the eccen- 
tricities of the English "aesthetic" movement. Art had inocu- 
lated the country ; the west, along with other sections, took to 
the new manifestation with promptitude and with unquestioning 

In 1879 tne Chicago Academy of Fine Arts gave way 
to the Art Institute an organization which, after passing 
through several- buildings of varying styles and varying suit- 
ability, was finally housed, in 1892, in a Palladian palace on 
the lake front. Through the intervening years art made its 
manifestations in environments likely and unlikely. During 
the earlier eighties the Columbia Theater maintained a cred- 
itable art gallery in its lobby. The Hotel Richelieu, 8 an early 
essay in the direction of the elegant, in 1885 showed in its 
upper gallery some two hundred and forty pictures in oil 
and water color. For many years the Calumet Club gave 
annual art receptions; that of 1885 displayed a hundred works. 
In 1882 the Illinois Art Association, which had been formed 
by members of the Illinois Club, a social organization that laid 
stress on the fine arts, devoted $25,000 to gathering a per- 
manent collection of paintings and other art objects. During 
all these years the Interstate Industrial exposition, which had 
been established in 1873 and which continued to the day of 
the Columbian exposition, gave annual exhibitions of increas- 
ing scope and value; that of 1885 offered more than four 
hundred paintings most of which, significantly, were the 
work of American artists. During these same years the 
earlier eighties a union of art clubs was active through the 
central section of the state. Though works of art were them- 
selves necessarily infrequent, the study of the history of art 

8 Andreas, History of Chicago, 3: 355, 666. 


was prosecuted with vigor and enthusiasm, and essays upon 
art and literature were read before large union meetings called 
at Springfield, Champaign, Decatur, and Lincoln. 

Through this same period the musical interests of the state 
grew in strength and variety. The Illinois Conservatory of 
Music, at Jacksonville, one of the oldest schools of its kind 
in the state, had been established in 1871, and was to be 
merged later with Illinois College. In 1876 was established 
the school of music of Northwestern University, which was 
to lead to vastly significant results in the musical life of Evans- 
ton in the early years of the coming century. In 1883 Knox 
Conservatory of Music was founded at Galesburg. In Chicago 
new schools and conservatories came to dispute the field with 
older ones. An Amateur Musical Club, resembling in social 
character the Fortnightly, was formed in 1877, when three or 
four ladies met for piano practice; from this small germ grew 
an organization which was to count some seven hundred mem- 
bers, active and associate, and was to enliven social life for 
many seasons with programs of real value. In 1877, too, 
Theodore Thomas began his long series of summer night con- 
certs in the Exposition Building, and for many years patrons 
were privileged to hear a high order of orchestral music as 
best they might among the amenities of an auxiliary beer 
garden and the tumults of the lake front railroads. In May, 
1882, and again in May, 1884, the Chicago Music Festival 
Association, in conjunction with Mr. Thomas and his orchestra, 
gave successful series of concerts of the highest character. 9 
In 1878 the Edison phonograph was first exhibited in Chicago. 

By this time, too, Chicago had begun to loom larger in 
the eyes of the eastern opera companies. Their visits became 
more frequent and more extended. The city came to be enter- 
tained in a fashion none too legitimately musical by the 

Thomas, A Musical Autobiography. 


struggles of rival managers and the squabbles of rival prima 
donnas. Opera became a recognized means of social display; 
its complicated paraphernalia now seemed abundant and acces- 
sible; and certain ardent, enterprising spirits, moved by a 
desire to emphasize an element undeniably metropolitan and 
to open up a field for picturesque executive action, decided to 
give a great opera festival. This festival was successful in 
itself, but more interesting still was what it led to. First of 
all, where should it be held? No suitable hall existed. Some 
years earlier Central Music Hall had been put up by an ambi- 
tious and idealistic young citizen, George B. Carpenter, who 
paid out his life in the strain of his endeavor. This hall had 
served, and was still to serve, a variety of useful purposes, 
but it was too small for the larger ideas of 1885 ; and, on the 
other hand, the days of coliseums and hippodromes were yet 
to come. It was decided to construct a suitable opera hall 
within the confines of the useful old Exposition Building; and 
it was this extemporized interior which, with its various pecu- 
liarities, was reproduced, mutatis mutandis, in the well-known 
Auditorium, dedicated four years later the life monument 
of Ferdinand W. Peck. It was this vast hall which really 
domesticated the opera and the symphony concert in Chicago, 
and which added so greatly to the collective expressiveness of 
the community, whether on occasions of jubilee or of protest. 
As the city grew, a still larger hall was required, and the 
Coliseum came into being. It originated in an enterprise which 
brought the old Libby Prison from Richmond to Chicago for 
exhibition and museum purposes. After this war relic was 
removed from behind its castellated street screen an arched 
structure of iron girders was substituted, and the new hall, 
since so familiar as the scene of mass meetings, concerts, 
"shows," and political conventions, began its career of service. 
The great libraries of Chicago and that of Urbana were 


still in the future; yet a lesser institution, founded in an early 
day but rehoused during the present period, calls for notice 
the Withers Library at Bloomington. Organized by women 
in 1857, it was installed in 1887 in its new building, erected 
by the contributions and energies of women on the site of 
Mrs. Withers' first home. It existed for many years as a 
subscription library, until taken over by the city and so made 
public; but it stands forth with some prominence among many 
later institutions of like aims, throughout the state, which are 
due, in whole or in part, to the systematized philanthropy of 
Mr. Andrew Carnegie. 

But culture is not a matter to be pursued merely within 
studious interiors, however the multiplication of libraries and 
the retired manner of life amongst early collegians may have 
made it seem. The ideal long ago established by the Greeks 
was to engage the attention of the modern American; he was 
to reach good terms with his body through the cultivation of 
an active out-of-door life. The days of general sport were at 
hand. Baseball, our first modern equivalent for the games of 
the ancient palestra, established itself shortly after the close 
of the Civil War. The Forest City Baseball Club, of Rock- 
ford, was one of the earliest to enjoy a general fame, about 
the years 1865-1870. The sport grew rapidly in favor. In 
1876 the National League of Baseball Clubs was organized; a 
second league followed in 1882; and in 1888-1889 the tour 
of a Chicago ball club round the world made the national 
game known to other countries. Shortly after 1875 lawn 
tennis established itself as a favorite pastime. In 1878 walk- 
ing became prominent as a form of sport, and a Chicago 
postman remained for a while the six-day champion. In 1879 
the first national convention of croquet players ever held in the 
United States gathered at Chicago. In the same year, the 
White Stocking ball park, Chicago, saw the first national 


tournament of the National Archery Association. In 1880 
and in 1884 large roller skating rinks were opened in Chicago, 
the former on the future site of the Auditorium Building. 
During these years, and through later ones, the "Wild West" 
and its ideals exercised a powerful sway; when the loving cup 
was passed around at the banquet which inaugurated the Co- 
lumbian exposition, no drinker was more warmly applauded 
than " Buffalo Bill." The German turner associations had been 
active through the sixties, and one of the earliest buildings 
replaced in Chicago after the great fire was that of the Turn- 
gemeinde on the north side, in which both gymnastics and 
music were cultivated. The influence of turning reacted on 
the Young Men's Christian Association, which began to lay 
greater stress on physical education; a training school for 
directors of such activities was formed in 1885. The safety 
bicycle appeared in 1887, and within ten years the League of 
American Wheelmen had a hundred thousand members, men 
and women. 10 In due season the league ran out its course as a 
promoter of health and pleasure, but the wheel continued to sur- 
vive, especially in rural and suburban districts, as a practical 
convenience and as a supplement to other forms of locomotion. 

If transportation and the various forms of communication 
are to be ranked as adjuncts to cultural development, then 
earlier and vastly more important matters than the bicycle 
must claim attention. The railroad, however, once mentioned 
speaks for itself; so does its notable extension through the 
state. The mileage of Illinois increased from some 4,000 miles 
in 1870 to more than 7,800 in 1880, and to more than 10,000 
in 1890. The extension of telegraph lines was in due 

The spread of information and of ideas through the news- 

10 Paxson, " The Rise of Sport," in Mississippi Palley Historical Review, 
4: 143-168. 


paper press kept pace with the spread of the railway and the 
telegraph. In 1870 the number of titles of periodicals of all 
classes published in Illinois was but slightly over five hundred. 
In 1880 the number had risen to more than a thousand. In 
1890 the total number of publications had passed thirteen 
hundred, including in daily newspapers and 938 weeklies. 
The greatest advance, as will be noted, was made in the 
decade 1870-1880, despite the backsets of the Chicago fire 
and the panic of 1 873. The decade marked the rise of the daily 
to greater importance, and the growth of the Chicago press to 
proportions truly "metropolitan." It was during these years 
that the general change in the characteristics of the American 
newspaper was largely effected. The earlier type of journal 
had been concerned chiefly with ideas; the later type tended 
to lay emphasis on news. The one had been the organ of a 
personality the expression of an individual character which, 
even if violent or crude, was immensely earnest and effective; 
the other tended to become an impersonal property or "plant" 
a composite of many diverse natures and talents addressing 
a world of wider and more varied interests. The one had been 
concerned primarily with the promotion of political thought 
and political fortunes; the other now devoted itself to the 
advance of business interests and the upbuilding of the par- 
ticular community it served. Newspapers appearing at Spring- 
field, Peoria, Bloomington, and Cairo obtained a general 
currency and standing throughout the state and ranked in 
influence with those of Chicago. At meetings of the National 
Editorial Association Illinois has for years occupied a seat of 
honor, and hundreds of able journals have reflected the enter- 
prise and intelligence of their communities and of the state. 
Through this period the principal church organizations in 
the state kept pace in their growth with the increase in popu- 
lation and with the general social advance. This was evidenced 


in a material way by the largely increased cost of church build- 
ings and the great improvements made in church architecture, 
by the mounting value of church property, and by the large 
totals of the annual contributions, whether for home work or 
foreign missions. It was evidenced in a less material way by 
the continuing vigorous life of theological schools and of 
denominational organs. Almost every church organization 
had its theological seminary and its flourishing weekly period- 
ical. The Northwestern Christian Advocate, the Standard, 
the Interior} and the Advance were powers throughout the 
middle west. 

The changes in the habits and manners of the people had 
not been without their effect on religious life and religious 
observances. The old-time days of simplicity in worship and 
in attire, along with certain marked manifestations of early 
fervor, passed away, though the camp meeting still flourished, 11 
and with them passed most of the old-time asperities, jealousies, 
and controversies. The result was brought about, in consider- 
able part, by a general union in Sunday school work; with 
freedom of intercourse came more liberal interpretations and 
broader views. A more important reason for rapprochement 
and union among the various denominations was found in 
the development of evolutionary thought, a portentous, ill- 
understood novelty which approached in the guise of a common 
danger and called for a common defense. Through a dis- 
turbed decade or two, before adjustment and adaptation came, 
it operated to unsettle the religious convictions of the day. 
Further stir and confusion were added by the picturesquely 
sensational lectures of Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899), of 
Peoria; but these faded in importance before the honest, 

11 In the early seventies large camp meetings were held at Des Plaines, Lake 
Bluff, Kankakee, and other favorite headquarters; and in 1884 a national prohi- 
bition camp meeting was held at Decatur. 


thoughtful endeavor to reconcile the elder religious beliefs 
and the newer scientific views. 

The words "club" and "social" have been frequent in 
recent paragraphs. They might almost serve, of themselves, 
to indicate the changes in tone and in methods which had 
begun to steal over the state. The church, the schoolhouse, 
and the county fair had by no means lost their power as sources 
calculated to energize collective social endeavor; but in 
Chicago, at least, other agencies began to take the initiative. 
Here the churches were coming to be supplemented by organi- 
zations active in the central district flocks led by essayist- 
preachers who freed their services from specific sectarian 
dogma : sometimes these churches took the guise of ethical 
culture societies; or, if they held the old designation, they 
called themselves "institutional" churches and devised the 
mechanism for social and cultural betterment. The schools 
began to specialize particularly with the introduction of 
manual and technical training, and with the multiplication of 
high schools yet remained schools merely. The county fair 
took an urbanized form and continued to revive annually, in 
the autumn, within the building of the Interstate exposition. 

But in the decade between 1880 and 1890 the favored 
form of procedure tended more and more to become that of 
the club. Some of these organizations, purely social in nature, 
have been named. Others of the same type were the Chicago 
Club and the Union Club. Some clubs frankly expressed an 
outside an eastern ideal, and when they were found to 
be too far from the definite needs of a new day they died a 
natural death. Other clubs were socio-political in their nature; 
some of them started in residential districts, and when found 
to be too far from the center of things to impress themselves, 
they died too, or else came down town. Clubs like the Iroquois, 


the Marquette, the Hamilton, and the Union League strove 
to raise the tone of political life and aided in the earliest 
assemblage of the "better element" for political and social 
reforms. The Union League Club began in 1887 its elaborate 
annual celebration of Washington's birthday with speakers, 
frequently, of national celebrity. 12 The Woman's Club 
(1876), like other earlier organizations of its kind, began 
to practice parliamentary rule in sessions given over to con- 
siderations of art and literature, but moved on in due season 
to effective dealings with the social problems of a great and 
growing community. The Sunset Club (1889-1901), a 
gathering of young professional and business men, discussed 
weekly over the supper table current questions of both local 
and national interest. A Press Club had been founded in 1879, 
and the first of the athletic clubs made its appearance about 
this time. Hull House, the earliest of Chicago's ameliorative 
settlements, dates from 1889. 

This same decade witnessed further attempts in Chicago to 
establish permanent periodicals. The Dial, begun in 1 880, was 
marked for a continuance into the present day. The Current, 
a weekly with flamboyant literary pretentions, lasted from 
1883 to 1888; and America, a literary and political weekly 
which opposed a threatened preponderance of non-American 
elements, appeared from 1888 to 1891. 

Two architectural developments of the present period 
deserve record, each highly important in its own way. In 1881 
began the building of the industrial town of Pullman, with the 
generous if not fully considered hope of meeting handsomely the 
newer social and industrial developments of the day. The new 
town realized itself in red brick and terra cotta, with a blend- 

12 The first speaker in the series was James Russell Lowell, who had been 
expected to deliver an address on " Our Politics," but who, for some unexplained 
if not inexplicable reason, chose to give instead a lecture on Shakespeare's 
" Richard Hi." Chicago Tribune, February 26, 1887. 


ing of "advanced secular Gothic" and of what was known, 
whether fairly or unfairly, as "Queen Anne." 13 In 1883 was 
designed the first steel cage construction known to the world. 
This earliest of "sky-scrapers" was the Home Insurance 
Building in Chicago, a modest endeavor of ten stories; but 
it revolutionized the building methods and the general aspect 
of American cities. Chicago had lately become a center for 
the construction and installation of passenger elevators, and 
this industry, functioning within the steel cages, has made 
practicable the tall towers which greet the arriving foreigner 
in New York and surprise him afresh within the "Loop" of 
Chicago. Buildings of this new type, looked upon, rightly 
enough, as indications of an urban spirit and as evidences of 
commercial and financial success, were imposed, in cases, on 
towns not at all actuated by an urban spirit nor prompted by 
urban ambitions; surely Illinois has more than one quiet, 
academic town, otherwise homogeneous in tone, which would 
be better for their absence. The new type, a matter of engi- 
neering rather than of true architecture, furnished a frame 
on which to hang a decorative drapery of brick or stone, 
borrowed from various irrelevant and incongruous periods; 
later, it even brought the public under the added tyranny of 
"period" furnishings. In smaller towns, however, real build- 
ings, conceived in the sincerer style of earlier times, continued 
to rise. Many of them, especially, if intended as architectural 
monuments, adopted the rock-faced Romanesque style intro- 
duced by Richardson from central France. This style persisted 
rather late in many parts of the state. A simple, straight- 
forward phase of it was employed at Monmouth in the Warren 
county courthouse; a handsome and elaborate expression of 

13 An illustrated article, "Pullman: A Social Study," by Richard T. Ely in 
Harper's Magazine, 70:452-466, presents the social and zsthetic aspirations 
of Pullman's founder. 


it occurs in the Central Congregational Church, Galesburg; 
and a finely dignified manifestation of it, both exterior and 
interior, in the library of the state university at Urbana. 

The World's Columbian exposition of 1893 had, of course, 
its preliminaries, and they reached further back than many 
people may realize or may remember. In 1885 the directors 
of the Chicago Interstate Industrial exposition expressed them- 
selves to this effect: "Resolved, that it is the sense of this 
meeting that a great World's Fair should be held in Chicago 
in the year 1892, the four hundredth anniversary of the 
landing of Columbus in America." In 1888 the Iroquois Club 
made itself active toward the same end. In 1889 a "World's 
Exposition Company" was organized by Chicagoans, with a 
capital stock of $5,000,000. In 1890 finally came congres- 
sional action : Senator Shelby M. Cullom of Illinois introduced 
a bill at Washington which provided for the holding of the 
"World's Columbian Exposition of the Arts and Industries 
in commemoration of the four hundredth anniversary of the 
discovery of America" a wording similar enough to that 
of the local resolution of 1885, save that it discreetly omitted 
to name any particular city for the site of the enterprise. Into 
this open field entered Chicago, New York, St. Louis, and 
Washington. The early efforts made by Chicago, together 
with its central situation and its reputation for vigorous action, 
gave it the prize. The city was required to show that its 
anticipatory subscription of $5,000,000 could be depended 
upon, and to add $5,000,000 more. A duplex organization, 
consisting of a national commission representing all the states 
and of a local board of directors elected from among the 
original stockholders, was formed. The two bodies, acting 
together, appointed a director-general, and the great enterprise 
was fairly under way. 


The state of Illinois rose to the occasion. Since the cen- 
tennial of 1876, prosperity and enlightenment had increased in 
the west. Here was an undertaking which promised to exceed 
in grandeur any known event of like nature, and it lay close 
at home. Illinois, at a special session of the state legislature, 
appropriated $800,000, put up a large, costly, and conspicuous 
state building, before which stood a statue of " Illinois Wel- 
coming the Nations," and installed an exhibition illustrative 
of the growth and resources of the state and of the develop- 
ment of the various departments of the state government. The 
University of Illinois, which was now rising to its full status 
as a successful and widely recognized state institution dur- 
ing the brief incumbency of Regent Burrill, contributed an 
"extraordinarily large exhibit" one that was "by far the 
most extensi've and most representative," he reported, " shown 
by any institution." Meanwhile, his predecessor, Dr. Peabody, 
acted as director of the exhibit of liberal arts. 

The vast enterprise was carried through, in great part, as 
regarded its practical administrative details, by the citizens 
of Chicago ; the outcome spoke loudly for their pluck, industry, 
liberality, energy, and capacity for cooperation. The exposi- 
tion, in the words of the English commissioner, an experienced 
official, " surpassed all its predecessors in size, in splendor, and 
in greatness both of conception and execution;" nor has that 
result been more than equaled since. The exposition stimu- 
lated national, state, and civic pride, opened new visions of 
utility and beauty in all the varied ways of life, and exercised 
a strong influence on the furtherance of commercial and 
inventive activities, and on the study and appreciation of his- 
tory, science, and art. Three at least of the many phases of 
this vast undertaking will linger indelibly. For the first time 
cosmopolitanism visited the western world; for the first 
time woman publicly came into her own; for the first time, 


and on a grand scale, art was made vitally manifest in the 
American consciousness. 

The varieties of human types and of human thought were 
most clearly and effectively asserted through the many con- 
gresses arranged by the World's Congress Auxiliary. During 
the six months of the fair, gatherings were constantly held 
in the halls of the Art Institute and elsewhere. There were 
congresses, for example, on social reform, on commerce and 
finance, on woman's progress, on science and philosophy, on 
literature, education, and the various arts. 14 Most striking 
and memorable of all, however, was the Parliament of 
Religions, when representatives of various sects at home and 
of many variant schools of thought abroad met on one plat- 
form and tolerantly engaged in an interchange of views. Most 
impressive of the delegates were those from the orient; they 
added picturesque costume to novel discourse, and enlarged 
the western concept of the world and of the "varieties of 
religious experience " within it. 

It was at the Columbian exposition that woman, for the 
first time, asserted herself in the official world on a large scale 
and in an emphatic way. The labors of a board of "lady 
managers " ran parallel to those of the national commission 
and of the local board of directors; and it was soon perceived 
that woman, profiting by the experience in cooperation and 
administration gained during the preceding decade in her 
multifarious clubs, was developing an adequate ability for 
large affairs. A Woman's Building, favorably placed, was 
designed by a woman architect, decorated by woman artists, 
and filled with the evidences of woman's activity and taste. 
Through women, the child, too, received a measure of public 

14 For these congresses two temporary structures were erected within the 
two wings of the Art Institute, each seating about three thousand persons. They 
were called respectively the Hall of Columbus and the Hall of Washington. 
Currey, Chicago: Its History and Its Builders. 


recognition: one of the features of the fair was a creche, or 
children's nursery. The success of women at Chicago had its 
influence through the state. A specific example was furnished 
by Peoria, where, in 1893, a woman's club financed and con- 
structed its own buildings, and soon brought all the social and 
administrative aspects of such an organization into full play. 
But the highest and most reverberant note of all was 
struck by the artistic phases of the exposition, and it rang 
through the state and country for a generation. The directors 
had virtually given a free hand to a committee of architects 
in the laying out of the grounds and the disposition of the 
buildings. The earliest sketches for the fair had been pre- 
pared by the gifted John W. Root, of Chicago; his sets of 
water color sketches covered the undertaking in all its more 
important aspects, showing a strong feeling for festal con- 
siderations and a striking use of color. But Root died while 
the fair was still shaping, and as it shaped it grew; and it 
was presently determined that so large an endeavor, to be 
executed in so short a time, must be not the work of one man 
but the work of many: associated architects from all over the 
country from Chicago, from the east, and even from the 
west beyond Chicago worked in harmony under the general 
direction of Daniel H. Burnham, Root's surviving partner. 
It was seen, too, that no individual style, however picturesque 
and festal, could serve at the present juncture. A standardized 
style was required and was adopted; and that style, adjusted 
to a common scale among its several practitioners, was the 
style taught in Paris, at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where many 
of the participating architects had been trained. There issued 
the White City; the multi-colored city was reserved by the 
years for Buffalo and for San Francisco. The result was an 
ensemble on a scale more magnificent than has ever been 
attempted for such a purpose, and complete in its union of 


variety and harmony: possibly the very lack of color led to 
a heightened distinction. It all showed what could be achieved 
by the cooperation of the allied arts of architecture, painting, 
sculpture, and landscape gardening, and it awoke the nation 
to the value and desirability of beauty as a practical asset. 
The impression it made was nation wide, and beauty began 
to be accepted as the fit national expression of the people's 
general advance. Throughout the state of Illinois schools, 
libraries, bank buildings, and parks soon began to respond 
to the great exemplar which had risen by the shores of Lake 

It was during the fair and the years immediately preceding 
it that Chicago first came to be known as a theatrical producing 
center if one may pass over the troupes of Negro minstrels 
whose weekly improvisations enlivened the seventies. In 
1891-1893 the Chicago Opera House was conspicuous as the 
home of the American Extravaganza Company. The produc- 
tions of this company were large and lavish, and the vast 
attendance of pleasure seeking throngs at the fair gave them 
a wide fame. During these years a local librettist and a com- 
poser together produced a series of light operas, of which 
"Robin Hood" became perhaps the best known. Through 
the same period a German theater, constructed in 1892, and 
housing also a German-American Press Club, contributed to 
the cosmopolitan atmosphere. 15 

While the Columbian exposition was under construction, 
other important building operations with high cultural impli- 
cations were under way. During this time the latest structure 
to be occupied by the Art Institute was completed. The insti- 

15 A German theater had been established in Chicago, on the north side, 
as early as 1858. Another had followed, on the west side, in 1870. On New 
Year's Day, 1875, five German theaters presented plays. During the next two 
decades the German theater, as an institution, was housed in different English- 
speaking theaters of the central district, and in later years returned to its original 
haunts on the north side. 


tute which had succeeded (in 1879) the Chicago Academy 
of Fine Arts and the earlier Academy of Design, and had 
occupied a succession of buildings of various styles and sizes 
received aid from the directorate of the Columbian exposition 
to the extent of $200,000, and occupied its new quarters in 
1893. In this same year was laid the cornerstone of the Public 
Library a cooperative work planned by architectural design- 
ers and practical librarians; also, that of the Chicago Academy 
of Sciences, in Lincoln Park, and that of the latest building of 
the Chicago Historical Society. 16 

More important still was the founding of the University 
of Chicago, whose first halls were completed and occupied 
during the early days of fair building. The old Chicago 
University, a Baptist institution, founded by Douglas in 1857, 
had passed away during the days of depression which had come 
upon denominational and privately endowed colleges in the 
eighties. The later eighties witnessed a happy conjunction 
between Professor William Rainey Harper of Yale and 
John D. Rockefeller of Ohio, himself a prominent Baptist. 
In 1890 Mr. Rockefeller made an offer of $600,000 for 
founding a new university in Chicago, if an additional amount 
of $400,000 were pledged by others. Professor Harper, who 
had become President Harper, took hold of the enterprise in 
the summer of 1891, and building began late in the autumn 
of that year. This new activity started up in the same quarter 
of the city as was witnessing the rise of the various structures 
which were to house the fair only a mile, in fact, from the 
great Court of Honor, and much less than that from some of 
the lighter phases of the enterprise. Cobb Hall and the 

16 September 3, 1892, was "Shovel Day" for the great drainage canal, 
designed to improve conditions in Chicago by turning the flow of the Chicago 
river from Lake Michigan into the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. The sanitary 
district of Chicago was organized in 1889 and the canal was opened in 
January, 1900. 


divinity schools took shape but a few hundred yards from 
the Ferris Wheel and the Street in Cairo. The Gray City rose 
pari passu with the White City, and opened its doors with 
five hundred students and a faculty of one hundred and 
twenty on the first of October, 1892, a few weeks earlier 
than the dedicatory ceremonies held for the exposition itself. 
The conjunction of two such events might be felt as marking 
saliently a stage in the forward movement of the state, and 
might well be accepted as the climax of an almost unequaled 
progress, through twenty years, in the general complex of civil 
life. They represented, in the fields of art and education, such 
a cultural triumph as was the proper and gratifying accompani- 
ment to that comprehensive advance in population, wealth, 
agriculture, invention, and manufacture which had led the 
state on to so notable and widespread a prosperity. 


UNTIL 1870 Illinois was primarily an agricultural state. 
Not only was the major part of its population engaged 
in agriculture, but the other principal pursuits such as manu- 
factures, trade, and transportation were so clearly dependent 
upon this fundamental one that their growth served only to 
proclaim the primacy of agriculture. During this period the 
prairie state presented the remarkable spectacle of a common- 
wealth developing along the lines of agriculture, manufacturing, 
and mining, and securing a high position among the states 
of the union in each field of productivity. 1 

The relative importance of agriculture, curiously enough, 
cannot at all be gauged by the number of persons engaged in 
it, for these figures would lead to the conclusion that agricul- 
ture has been a declining rather than an expanding industry. 
The table on the next page suggests some interesting conclusions. 

In the first place, it is evident that there were actually fewer 
people engaged in farming in 1890 than there had been ten 
years before; furthermore, that although in 1870 one out of 
every two persons gainfully occupied was in agriculture, by 

1 The following table shows the position which Illinois held among the other 
states of the union as an agricultural state: 



Value of 

Value of 

Value of 





land and 








1870. . 






1800. . 








1890 there were three persons in other industries to every one 
in farming. 




Persons in all occupations 

Persons in agriculture a 


Per cent 


Per cent 

1870. . 







1800. . 

a Males and females over ten years of age, exclusive of lumbermen, apiarists, 
fishermen, and other workers in similar pursuits not strictly agricultural. 

A closer inspection of the table suggests one reason for this 
decline. It will be observed that the percentage of the popu- 
lation engaged in gainful occupations, as a whole, increased 
from 29.2 in 1870 to 35.4 in 1890. From these figures one 
might expect a decline in the number of the leisure class or 
of those in attendance at school; as a matter of fact, exactly 
the opposite was the case. The real explanation lies in the 
steady transference during this period of various industries 
from the household to the factory. Whereas previously 
a place had been found in the farm home for such domestic 
industries as garment making, butter and cheese production, 
sugar making, canning and preserving, meat slaughtering, and 
the like, these were now being taken over one after another 
by factories and produced more economically in centralized 
establishments, though perhaps by the same individuals. This 
statistical change has served to magnify the relative impor- 
tance of manufactures and by that much to reduce the relative 
importance of agriculture. 

This explanation, however, does not account for the decline 
in the absolute number of those engaged in agriculture between 

2 Compiled from census reports by C. L. Stewart, Land Tenure in the United 
States, 35. 



1880 and 1890. This decrease came rather as the result of 
the increased efficiency of the agricultural population. Evidence 
of this appears in a comparison of the population engaged in 
agriculture and the number of bushels of cereals produced by 
them. In the table the year 1840 is taken as the base year, 
the statistics for the other years being given as percentages of 
the 1840 figures: 


engaged in 


184.0. . 



18*0. . 

I ? ? 

24.8 6 




1870. . 




4. 1 4.. 7 


1800. . 



a Based on average crops of 1868 and 1870. The crop of 1869 was a complete 

It is seen from this table that while the number of agri- 
cultural workers increased fourfold in the fifty years ending 
in 1890, the production of cereals was fifteen times as great. 
This enormous increase in the productivity of the average 
worker between 1840 and 1870 must of course be explained 
in the first instance by the gains in labor power and efficiency 
effected by the invention and introduction of machinery. Partly 
responsible also for the excellent record made by Illinois agri- 
culture were undoubtedly the character and industry of the 
farming population. Between three-fourths and four-fifths of 
the farmers were native Americans, and of the foreign born the 
Germans and English alone made up a considerable element. 3 

The proportion of farm operators increased between 1870 
and 1890 at the expense of the agricultural laborers. In 
1870 farm laborers made up 33.1 per cent of the agricul- 

8 For table see appendix, p. 481. 


tural workers; this proportion increased to 35 per cent in 
1880, but by 1890 had fallen again to 30.6 per cent, showing 
that at the end of the twenty-year period a larger percentage 
of the workers consisted of operators who were working on 
their own account. The decline in the proportion of laborers 
may be accounted for in part by the increased use of farm 
machinery during this period, and in part by the rise of laborers 
to the status of tenants or owners operating their own farms. 

The farm operators may be divided into the two broad 
classes of owners and tenants. Statistics showing this distinc- 
tion were not gathered until 1880, when it was disclosed that 
already 31.4 per cent of all Illinois farms were being operated 
by tenants; by 1890 this percentage had risen to 34."* In this 
year Illinois ranked third among the states of the union in 
the number of tenant farmers. This increase in the proportion 
of tenants was largely due to the falling off in the number of 
owners, which declined almost 17,000. In 1880 only one 
county, Logan, had a percentage of tenant farms greater than 
50, though two others, Mason and Christian, had over 45 per 
cent. By 1890 nine counties had over 45 per cent of their 
farms operated by tenants, namely, Grundy, Livingston, Ford, 
Marshall, Mason, Logan, Christian, Madison, and St. Clair. 
The counties with the highest percentages were in the east 
central part of the state, Ford county having 53.7 per cent. 5 

The extent of tenant farming in these counties is partly 
accounted for by the holdings of William Scully, an Irish land- 
lord who was accumulating an estate of 21 1,000 acres, making 
him the largest landholder in the United States. In the decade 
before the Civil War he came to America to purchase Mexi- 
can War land scrip. He located thousands of acres in Illinois, 
and continued his purchases until by 1887 he had acquired 

4 Thirteenth Census of the United States, 5: 124. 
6 Stewart, Land Tenure in the United States, 49. 


30,000 acres in Logan county alone. After these years of 
farming operations, Scully returned to England; eventually, 
his holdings were let out to tenants under what became a system 
of ironclad one-year leases : at the end of the year, he or his 
agent had the right to decline to renew a tenant's lease, in which 
case the tenant would have to find a purchaser of his improve- 
ments satisfactory to the agents ; Scully's agent might in any year 
raise the rent or disapprove of the proposed purchaser of a 
tenant's improvements. Scully also made certain requirements 
of his tenants in the direction of scientific farming by requiring 
a definite rotation of crops and specified farming methods. Since 
Scully spent most of his time in England, his holdings involved 
not only the uncertainties of landlordism but also those of 
absenteeism; it was particularly difficult for tenants to appre- 
ciate the point of view of a landlord with whom they had no 
direct contact. The problem, moreover, became an issue of 
state importance as a result of the fact that the tenants were 
generally not prosperous some were paupers brought over 
by Scully agents and since the tenants were required to pay 
the taxes, there was often an inadequate contribution to the 
public school needs and to other public improvements. In 1887, 
feeling against "Lord" Scully produced a widespread impres- 
sion that legal restrictions were necessary. As a result, bills 
introduced into the general assembly by Piatt of Henry county 
and Pierce of Logan county led to the enactment of the anti- 
alien landlord act of June 16, iSSy. 6 To the requirements of 
this law Scully conformed by establishing a residence at Wash- 
ington, D. C., from 1895 to 1901 and taking out citizenship 
papers, so that the status of his holdings remained unchanged. 7 

6 La<ws of 1887, p. 5 ff. An accompanying act prohibited alien landlords 
from including the payment of taxes as a part of the rental of farm lands. Ibid., 
4. See also Chicago Tribune, January 28, 1887. 

7 His naturalization was completed in 1900. Until his death in 1906 he 
continued to make his home in England where he acquired the reputation of being 
" the greatest American farmer." 



More important than any other factor in increasing 
the yield of Illinois farms was the extended use of agricul- 
tural machinery. The invention and introduction of improved 
implements, especially adapted to the new type of prairie 
agriculture, was almost coincident with the settlement of the 
land. It did not become significant until the decade of the 
Civil War, when machinery was introduced on a large scale 
to make good the lack of labor caused by the withdrawal of 
the men for service in the army. The most marked effects 
upon production, however, are observable between the years 
1870 and 1890. 


Value of 
farm implements 

per cent 

per farm 

1870. . 

$27,661,269 a 

6o.O b 




21. Q 


1800. . 




a Reduced to a gold basis. 
b Increase over 1860. 

This table does not show fully the great increase that 
was taking place in the use of farm machinery, for the value 
of these implements was steadily declining during this whole 
period, partly as a result of a general lowering of the price 
level, but more largely because of the improvements in methods 
of production; at the same time, the efficiency of the new tools 
was being steadily increased. 

Almost half, the improved farm machinery used during 
this period was to be found in the northern division of the 
state. 8 The southern division was particularly backward in 

8 Since 1867 the Illinois Horticultural Society has divided the state into three 
rather clearly marked divisions, and by an act of March 24, 1874, the legislature 
has recognized these divisions. The boundary between the northern and central 
divisions is the southern boundary of Rock Island, Henry, Bureau, La Salic, 
Grundy, and Kankakee counties. The boundary between the central and southern 
divisions is the southern boundary of Pike, Scott, Morgan, Sangamon, Christian, 
Shelby, Coles, and Edgar counties. Illinois State Horticultural Society, Trans- 
actions, 44: 17, 252-255. 


this respect, as might have been expected from the character 
both of the land and of the crops in that section. It was in 
the northern and central divisions, where the important cereal 
crops were concentrated, that the need for a heavy investment 
in field machinery was greatest. Only in the northwest section 
of the southern division, where wheat was being grown, was 
there any opportunity to use these labor-saving devices. Illinois 
inventors and manufacturers took a prominent part in the 
development of agricultural machinery, for the use of which 
the level prairies were peculiarly well adapted. 

No machine has been of greater importance on the level 
prairies of the west than the reaper, and while its first con- 
ception cannot be claimed as an Illinois invention, its produc- 
tion on a large scale dates from the establishment of the first 
McCormick factory in Chicago in 1847. I n spite of claims 
to priority by other inventors, it seems certain that the first 
practicable reaper was invented by Cyrus Hall McCormick 
in 1831 in Rockbridge county, Virginia. Here and in the 
neighboring town of Lexington he gave exhibitions of his 
machine, and in 1833 he advertised reapers for sale at fifty 
dollars apiece, 9 printing testimonials from four farmers who 
professed satisfaction with trials of the machine. 10 

McCormick, however, did not secure a patent on his 
invention until June 31, 1834, and in the meantime Obed 
Hussey, after a public trial of his mowing and reaping machine 
on July 2, 1833, near Carthage, Ohio, had obtained a patent 
for his invention on December 31, 1833. A long and bitter 
controversy between these two men as to their claims to pri- 
ority has never altered the facts that McCormick gave an 
earlier public trial of his invention and that Hussey was the 

9 Lexington Union, September 28, 1833. 

10 Quoted from the Lexington Union in the Farmers' Register, volume i, 
number 5. See also Mechanics' Magazine and Register of Inventions and 
Improvements, November, 1833, P- 260. 


first to patent his. 11 Since these early reapers were not wholly 
successful, McCormick laid aside, for a few years, his plans 
for their manufacture, but in 1839 introduced some improve- 
ments. In 1840 he sold two reapers, in 1842 seven, in 1843 
twenty-nine, and in 1844 fifty. Of these last one was sold in 
Illinois. It soon became evident that if the business was to 
attain large proportions it must be moved to the west, where 
alone could be developed a great demand for the reapers. 
Accordingly, in 1847, McCormick selected Chicago as the site 
of a new factory. 

Shortly after 1840, George Rugg of Ottawa, Illinois, 
improved on Hussey's cutting apparatus by serrating the edges 
of the sections; and the idea was applied also to the McCor- 
mick reaper. During the next few years other improvements 
in reaping machines were patented by McCormick, George 
Esterly, John H. Manny, and William N. Whiteley, all of 
whom were destined to play important roles in the later 
development of the reaper. 

Soon the reaping machine had been so perfected that it 
delivered the cut grain in condition suitable for binding. Since 
most reapers required two operators and six or eight men to 
follow the machine and bind the grain, a crew of from eight 
to ten men was required to cut and bind from ten to twelve 
acres of grain a day. Two young farmers of Illinois, the 
Marsh brothers, Charles W. and William W., patented in 
1858 the Marsh harvester, which had an elevating device to 
convey the cut grain to tables, where men could bind it on 
the machine. After the Civil War the improved Marsh har- 
vesters began to drive the combined reapers and mowers from 
the field. 

Finally an automatic binder was invented to take the place 

11 The claims of Obed Hussey are set forth in the following: Stabler, 
Overlooked Pages of Reaper History, 7 ff. ; Memorial of Robert McCormick. 


[From painting in the McCormick Agricultural Library, Chicago] 


of the men on the machine. Binders which used wire for 
holding the sheaf were patented after the war, but were 
unsatisfactory. In 1869 and 1870 George H. Spaulding of 
Rockford, Illinois, constructed a gram binding machine. In 
1878, John F. Appleby, of Palmyra, Wisconsin, who had made 
his first model twenty years earlier, succeeded in making his 
"twine binder" a commercial success. 12 It was now possible 
for one man to do as much as eight had previously accom- 
plished with the reaper. 

The development, during the nineteenth century, of the 
modern harvester from the primitive scythe passed through six 
epochs: "(i) That of the improved scythe and cradle; (2) 
that of the hand-rake reaper, adapted to deliver the cut grain 
in gavels by manual means; (3) that of the self-rake reaper, in 
which the same was accomplished automatically; (4) that of 
the Marsh harvester, on which the grain was bound manually 
by operators riding upon the machine; (5) that of the auto- 
matic binder; and (6) that of the machine of steel. The 
cradle saved one-half the labor before required, the reaper a 
half of the remaining labor; the modern twine binder saves 
nearly all." 13 

The settlement of the west presented new problems to 
makers of plows. The older moldboards made either of 
wood or of cast or wrought iron were all found to be unsatis- 
factory in the new soil, so different from the brittle soil of 
the east. Finally, after almost fifty years of experimentation, 
the solution of the difficulty was discovered in the steel plow 
which would scour in bad land and not wear out in sandy soil. 

It is said that "John Lane, who operated a little forest 
forge at about where now towers the Illinois Central station 

12 Mr. Appleby died on November 8, 1917, almost the last of the pioneer 
inventors in the perfection of the complete harvester. 

13 Official Retrospective Exhibition of the Development of Harvesting Ma- 
chinery, Made by Deering Harvester Company, 7. 


on Twelfth street, in Chicago, in 1833 fabricated the first steel 
plow the world had ever seen, using a worn-out steel cross-cut 
saw blade, from which he laboriously shaped share and mould- 
board." 14 He was followed by John Deere, who began the 
manufacture of plows at Grand Detour in 1837 and made use 
of specially manufactured plow steel; in 1847 he moved to 
Moline and established there the business which still bears his 
name. William Parlin in 1842 began plow manufacturing at 
Canton. In even the largest steel plow factories, however, 
most of the processes were carried on by hand. 15 It remained 
for John Lane, a son of the original maker of the steel plow, 
to revolutionize the manufacture of plows by the invention of 
soft center steel in 1868. This permitted an outer surface 
of finely tempered steel, which would scour well and yet not 
break because of the inner layer of softer metal. About this 
same year, too, large drop hammers and heavy cast-iron dies 
were introduced to shape the different parts. These changes 
permitted both a cheapening in cost and an improvement in 
character and durability. 

The introduction of the wheeled (sulky or riding) plow 
marked another great improvement. The first patent was 
granted in 1844; not until twenty years later, however, did 
a practical sulky plow come into general use. In 1864, F. S. 
Davenport patented the u Davenport." A decade later, in 
1875, Gilpin Moore received a patent for a sulky plow, after- 
wards manufactured by Deere and Company, and for years 
continued to make improvements. W. L. Cassady the follow- 
ing year also received his first patent ; he was the first to remove 
the landslide entirely and use a wheel in its place. In 1884, 
G. W. Hunt patented the first three-wheeled riding plow, which 

14 "The Tool Which Holds a World in Debt," Farm Implement News, 


15 Sobey, " Some Changes I Have Seen in Nearly Fifty Years," Farm Imple- 
ment Neivs, 34: 28. 


was brought out by the Moline Plow Company. 16 During the 
period 1890 to 1900 both the two-wheeled and three-wheeled 
plows were perfected. From the wheel plow it was now a 
comparatively simple step to the gang plow and other improved 
types of a later period. 

A minor factor and yet one of no mean importance in the 
development of the plow was the establishment of plowing 
matches. The plowing match seems to have made its appear- 
ance early in the year 1877, when the first one in Illinois of 
which there is a record was held at Wheatland, Bureau county. 
So successful was this experiment that annual matches have 
been held there ever since, and have also been introduced in 
other counties. The plowing matches were not limited in their 
beneficial effects to the mere stimulation of local rivalry, but 
became the occasion for testing the merits of different makes 
of plows and other agricultural machinery, resulting in marked 
improvements. Great advancement was recorded in the com- 
munities fortunate enough to have introduced these contests, 
not only in the cultivation and yield of the land, but also in 
the use of better farm machinery and in the general appearance 
of the farms, houses, and schools. 

Another notable step forward was taken with the intro- 
duction and improvement of the disk harrow. Although it was 
probably invented before 1870, the improvements which have 
made this implement practical have come since that date. 
It is now one of the most valuable and most generally used 
implements in American agriculture. Another important in- 
vention was the cultivator. The introduction of the surface 
blade cultivator made both possible and practicable the shallow 
cultivation of corn, probably the most valuable improvement 
made in corn production during this period. 

16 Ellis and Rumely, Power and the Plow, 154; Davidson and Chase, Farm 
Machinery and Farm Motors, 56; Farm Implement News, 34:30. 


The grain drill was improved by a device, patented in 1877 
by J. P. Fulghum, for varying the length of the cavities of 
the seed cylinder, thus permitting a variation in the amount 
of seed to be drilled. The edge-selection drop used on the 
recent corn planters was brought out by the Dooley brothers 
of Moline about 1892. Hay tedders and especially hay rakes 
were improved; spring-tooth rakes, bull-tooth or sweep rakes, 
and side-delivery rakes were introduced. The last named were 
made practical necessities by the introduction of hay loaders. 
These, together with hay carriers, forks, and slings, hay 
stackers, and hay presses or bailers, have enormously lightened 
one of the most wearisome tasks of the farm. The manure 
spreader dates back to the thirties, but many of the ideas of 
the modern spreader made their appearance in the patent of 
J. S. Kemp, granted in 1877. A spreader with a solid bottom 
appeared in 1884, and in 1890 one with an endless apron, with 
hinged slats, was introduced. 17 

Of peculiar importance in the prairie state was barbed 
wire, the invention of J. F. Glidden of Illinois. The cheap- 
ness and effectiveness of this fence material made it a great 
boon, particularly to the stock and dairying interests of the 

The motive power to run farm machinery was furnished 
during this period almost exclusively by draft animals, espe- 
cially horses; accordingly, the number of these advanced part 
passu with that of farm machines. With the increased supply 
of mechanical power and horses the same number of workers 
could care for a larger number of farms, as is shown by the 
fact that while the agricultural population increased 14.3 per 
cent between 1870 and 1880, the number of separate farms 
increased 26.2 per cent (from 202,803 to 255,741). From 
the first settlement of the state down to 1880 there went on 

17 Davidson and Chase, Farm Machinery and Farm Motors, 103, 120, 193-194. 


an uninterrupted process of converting the land area of the 
state into farms, and of increasing the percentage of improved 
land on the farm. During this period the agricultural popula- 
tion, as well as the number of farms, steadily increased. 
After 1880, however, these various factors remained almost 
stationary, and in some instances even decreased. The im- 
portant changes in Illinois agriculture after 1880, and espe- 
cially after 1890, have been in the greater yields and in the 
growing values both of the farms and of their products. The 
year 1880, therefore, seems to mark a turning point in the 
agricultural development of Illinois. 18 The singular decline 
in the number of farms (from 255,741 to 240,681) and in 
the total farm area (from 26,115,154 to 25,669,060 acres) 
between 1880 and 1890 may be attributed to the urban and 
westward migration of the agricultural population, to the com- 
petition of the newly developing grain growing states of the 
northwest, and to the consequent fall in the prices of agricul- 
tural products. 

The land surface of Illinois is approximately 35,867,520 
acres, of which six-sevenths had already been included in 
farms by 1880; the next thirty years saw an addition of only 
4,000,000 acres to the farm area. The proportion of improved 
land in farms rose steadily from about three-fourths in 1870 
to over four-fifths in 1890, indicating better utilization of the 
land for production. By 1 890 there was very little unimproved 
land in the northern and central divisions of the state, except 
in the counties between the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. In 
the southern division there was much unimproved land, since 
the Ozark ridge made a great deal of the land too rough for 
ordinary farming, and other lands were still heavily timbered. 

There was also in the state much wet and swampy land 
which needed to be drained or tiled before it could be culti- 

18 For table see appendix, p. 481. 


vated. A beginning had been made in the southern section, 
but there was still in the central division land too wet for 
cultivation. Altogether in the state about five per cent of the 
area, or 1,813,096 acres, came within this category; its value 
was placed at $12,869,286, and it was estimated that it would 
be worth $52,958,603 when drained. 

In the late seventies an important movement started for 
tile drainage. By 1880 there were 44,880, 760 feet of drain tile 
laid in Illinois, or a little less than 2 feet of drain tile to every 
acre of improved land. In 1886 the amount had increased 
to 14 to each acre, and in 1890 there wexe 20 feet to each acre. 
By 1895 there were 666,669,066 feet altogether, or 26 feet to 
each acre of improved land. Most of this work was carried on 
in the eastern part of the northern and central divisions, where 
the land is very level and lies at the headwaters of many 

The agricultural changes during this period were also 
reflected in the values of the different classes of farm property. 
The total value in Illinois farms increased from $883,871,705 
in 1870 (gold value) to $1,175,772,293 in 1880, and to 

Changes in the number and character of the agricultural 
population, in the farm area, and in the equipment of the 
farm are important, but even more significant is the use to 
which the land and the labor and capital applied to it have 
been put. The amount of farm products furnishes a test by 
which may be measured the efficiency of Illinois farmers. 
Judged by this standard, agriculture seems to have made little 
progress during the twenty-year period ending in 1894, for 
the value of farm products was almost the same at the end 
as at the beginning of the period. In the following table are 


19 A clearer picture of the changes involved may be seen from table showing 
age values per farm; see appendix, p. 481. 



shown the values of farm products for five-year periods, 
together with their distribution in the different divisions of 
the state and between the two principal groups of products: 



Average value 
of farm 

Distribution (per cent) 

Per cent of 
farm products 






l87<-70. . 



3 8.1 




2 7 .a 


i88?-8o. . 

1800-04.. . 

The steady decline which set in after 1884, and which 
brought the figures back to the former level in spite of an 
increase in actual quantities, points clearly to a fall in prices. 
This slump was due in part to a general contraction of the 
money supply, but in much larger measure to the increased 
amount of farm products being marketed from the newly 
opened northwest. That the eighties and nineties were a period 
of hard times for the farmers in Illinois is indicated by the 
fact that not until about 1900 do the reports of the Illinois 
state board of agriculture show that the farms of the state 
taken as a whole yielded a steady profit, one year with another, 
above the costs of production. The northern division of the 
state grew steadily in importance during this twenty-year 
period at the expense of both the other divisions. During 
the five years 1890-1894, over half of all the farm products 
(54.2 per cent) was produced there, as against a third for 
the central division (32.6 per cent) and about one-eighth 
for the southern division (13.2 per cent). 

Of the two large groups of farm products field crops 

20 Compiled from data given in the Statistical Reports of the Illinois State 
Board of Agriculture, 1875-1894. 


and animal products the field crops constituted about three- 
fourths of the total value for the state; in the southern divi- 
sion, where livestock farming was not so profitable, the pro- 
portion was even higher four-fifths. There was a tendency, 
however, for the field crops to become more highly concentrated 
in the northern and central divisions. 

The period 18751884 shows an increase in the value of 
the field crops as a whole, while the next ten years show a fall 
so marked that their value was less in 18901894 than it 
had been twenty years before. 21 Comparing the four main 
groups of field crops which may be differentiated cereal, 
hay and pasture, horticultural, and miscellaneous crops 
there was a decline in the relative importance of the cereal 
crops from 74 to 70 per cent, and a corresponding growth 
in that of the hay and pasture crops from 21 to 25 per cent. 
The horticultural and miscellaneous groups, with some slight 
fluctuation, maintained the same relative position throughout 
the period. The loss in the relative importance of the cereal 
crops was distributed fairly uniformly throughout the state, 
their place being taken in the northern and central divisions 
by the hay and pasture crops, and in the southern division by 
the horticultural crops. This last group, including Irish pota- 
toes in the production of which Madison county led sweet 
potatoes, peaches, and small berries, was very much more 
important in the southern part of the state than in any other 
section. Likewise, the miscellaneous crops, which included 
tobacco, cotton, and sorghum, throve best in the warmer cli- 
mate of that division. 

The cereal crops, comprising corn, wheat, oats, barley, 
rye, and buckwheat, at the beginning of this period ranked in 
the order just given. By 1879 rye had become more important 
than barley, and by 1889 the crop of oats was larger than <:hat 

21 For table giving the essential facts for the field crops see appendix, p. 482. 


of wheat. At the end of this period, therefore, the order of 
importance was: corn, oats, wheat, rye, barley, and buckwheat 
an order which has not since been changed. 22 

Corn maintained practically the same relative position in 
the state at large, though it declined somewhat in the northern 
division and gained in the southern. The wheat crop showed 
the greatest loss, but this was more than made good by the 
great gain shown by oats. The other three crops were of 
distinctly minor importance. These changes reflect in a general 
way what has happened in other states; for "Wheat, like 
beef, has been, in a sense, a frontier crop." 23 Since it stands 
transportation well and contains considerable value in a rela- 
tively small bulk, it is well suited to production in new 
communities where transportation facilities are poor, and 
where there is an abundance of cheap land in proportion to 
the supply of labor. As land became more expensive and 
labor more abundant in Illinois, wheat production tended to 
move on to the newer lands of the northwest. This movement 
was accelerated by the introduction of agricultural machinery, 
by the invention of new processes in the milling of flour, and by 
the extension of railroads and the opening up of vast areas of 
new wheat lands. 

On the other hand, the crops that took the place of wheat 
had characteristics which fitted them for production in a rapidly 
developing state. Corn and oats must be utilized on the spot 
in the feeding of horses, cattle, and swine, or in the distilleries, 
the production of breakfast food, or other manufactures. 

As it used to be said of the southern states before the 
Civil War that " Cotton is king," so might it with equal truth 
be said of Illinois during this period that " Corn is king," for 

22 For table showing the value and relative importance of these various 
crops see appendix, p. 482. 

23 Carver, Principles of Rural Economics, 113. 


the crop constituted about 60 per cent of the total value of the 
cereals. In its production Illinois led all other states in the 
union in 1890, being followed by Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and 
Nebraska. 24 

During the seventies there was a steady growth in the 
number of acres planted in corn, which reached the highest 
point in 1877 with 8,935,411 acres, an amount not equaled 
again until 1915. There was a corresponding increase in the 
yield, which reached its highest point in 1879 as a result of 
the bumper crop of that year, amounting to 305,913,377 
bushels a crop which has been exceeded only three times 
in the history of the state. By a combination of circumstances, 
moreover, the most important of which was short crops in 
Europe, the financial returns during these years were extremely 
large. During the eighties, however, prices fell and acreage 
was curtailed. The lowest point was reached in 1892, when 
only 5,188,432 acres were planted in corn, and when the total 
crop was cut down to 137,540,285 bushels the lowest figure 
with two exceptions since 1870. 

Climatic conditions contributed to the hazards of corn 
farming during the period. A severe drought in 1873 and 
1874 made these years especially disastrous, the average yield 
per acre being only 21 and 18 bushels per acre respectively. 25 
The next few years were fairly normal; but in 1881 the lack 
of rain caused a complete crop failure in the southern division, 
where only six bushels per acre were harvested. In the first 
seven years of the eighties there was only one year 1885 
in which some part of the state did not report crops below 
the average. The 1887 failure was the worst in the history 

24 For table showing some of the important facts in connection with changes 
that have occurred in this crop, see appendix, p. 483. 

25 From Clay county came the report, " the summer was very dry, causing 
almost a total failure of corn ; " Jefferson county reported, " we were nearly 
burnt up." Department of Agriculture of Illinois, Transactions, 1874, p. 81, 97. 


of the state with the single exception of that of 1874, and, 
like the earlier one, was due to drought. 26 The half decade 
1890-1894 witnessed continued failures of the corn crop in 
the southern division. Certainly the record of these years 
offers an adequate explanation of the steady loss of interest 
in corn growing on the part of the farmers in the southern 
division; the proportion of the corn crop which was grown 
in the southern division sank from 16.6 per cent in 1870-1874 
to 10.5 per cent in 1890-1894. 

That the farmers of Illinois were not securing the fullest 
returns possible from the land, even aside from adverse cli- 
matic conditions, is apparent from a comparison of the highest 
yields and the average yields. In 1879, f r example, of the 
four counties reporting an average yield of over 40 bushels 
per acre, Scott county had an average yield per acre of 57 
bushels, but the best yield reported from that county was 
90 bushels per acre; for Mercer county the two figures were 
respectively 50 and 100; for Warren, 45 and 100; and for 
De Kalb, 42 and IO5. 27 The conclusion is inevitable that a 
great many farmers were not making the fullest use of the 

A factor which affected the value and through that the quan- 
tity of what the Illinois farmers produced was the price received 
for their crops. The prices for corn fluctuated from the low 
level of 22 cents per bushel in 1878 to the high record during 
this period of 56 cents per bushel in 1874. The Illinois state 
board of agriculture estimates that there were in the period 
18701893 only ten years in which growers of corn received 
a profit over and above all their costs of production; that is 
to say, in three years out of five the farmers suffered a loss. 

28 The rainfall in the southern division for this year was 34.64 inches, as 

compared with a normal rainfall of 42.19 inches. Mosier, Climate of Illinois, 48. 

27 Department of Agriculture of Illinois, Transactions, 1879, P- 45^. 516-517. 


It must be remembered, however, that the farmers were making 
a living for themselves and their families and were gaining an 
increment in the value of the land which more than offset losses 
on the crop. 

A study of the distribution of corn production throughout 
the state during this period shows that the central division 
produced more than either of the other two, except for the 
two periods 1880-1884 and 1890-1894. The southern divi- 
sion never produced more than about one-sixth of the total 
crop. In 1869 the center of the corn belt had been Sangamon 
county, but by 1879 it had shifted to McLean county. By 
1894 Champaign county was the leading corn growing county 
in the state. The natural limits of the corn belt had been 
pretty well determined by the end of this period, and the 
tendency within this belt to concentrate upon corn was clearly 

As might have been expected from their prominence as 
producers of corn, Illinois farmers have made several contri- 
butions in the introduction of new varieties. Golden Eagle, 
one of the eight recognized varieties, was originated in 1871 
by H. B. Perry of Toulon. In 1880, a standard variety called 
White Superior was originated by P. R. Sperry of Monmouth, 
and in 1890 J. H. Beagley of Sibley originated the Silver Mine. 
In methods of production, too, experiments and improvements 
were constantly being made. Perhaps the greatest contribution 
during this period was the introduction of shallow cultivation 
by Professor George E. Morrow of the University of Illinois, 
who as head of the department of agriculture did much to 
promote scientific agriculture. 

In the production of wheat Illinois has suffered the same 
fate which has overtaken all the wheat growing states east 
of the Mississippi. During the first half of the nineteenth 
century the center of wheat production moved first from the 

/ " . ! 


f J _ 1 > fit * * ; 

[*; 0L JiMir* , B ^Z* 

UMFRrrR.* - 5 - H -? - ,^% 
^1^2 'H*S iii9*\\*JfvIvAlt 

^riT. ' v r -*i ;s s s * ::: *"* s *s 

7-7 5^ scmnru* ^=7 .^g*ttg K'S^llS'? 

L* Ai?Aira * *\* sL V^l *eifSViml?f?? ^t*tTtRt%Sf 

Distribution of 
Corn Crop 



New England states to western New York, and by 1850 was 
located near the center of Ohio. By 1860 the center of 
wheat production was in Indiana, eighteen miles northeast of 
Indianapolis. The census reports of both 1870 and 1880 
showed that the center of wheat production was in the state 
of Illinois, the first year 82 miles northeast of Springfield, and 
in the second year 69 miles northwest of the same city. This 
westward movement carried the center of production in 1890 
into Iowa, where it has since remained. 28 The full effects of 
this movement were not felt adversely in Illinois until about 
the middle of the eighties, when the competition of Iowa and 
Minnesota, both better adapted to wheat production than 
Illinois, 29 began to show itself. 

During the period from 1870 to 1881 there was a very 
steady increase in the acreage devoted to wheat in Illinois, 
the maximum being reached in the latter year with 3,642,589 
acres. Unfortunately, however, this year saw one of the most 
severe crop failures in the history of the state, the average 
yield being only slightly over 7 bushels per acre for the whole 
state. From this year there was a very steady fall both in 
the acreage and in the yield of wheat, due to a fall in prices 
reaching the lowest point in 1894, when the price of wheat 
on the farm was only 42 cents a bushel. This fall in price 
was brought about by the opening up of the new lands in 
Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Kansas, which produced enor- 
mous quantities of wheat and glutted the Chicago market. 
In more than half of the fifteen years ending in 1894 it was 
reported by the Illinois state board of agriculture that the 
Illinois farmer lost money on his production of wheat. The 
profit per acre on winter wheat fell from $7.44 in 1877-1879 

28 Statistical Atlas of the United States, 1914, plate 388. 

29 Rutter, Wheat-Growing in Canada, the United States, and the Argen- 
tine, 69. 


to 14 cents in 1890- i894. 30 Most of the winter wheat was 
raised in the central and southern divisions, especially in the 
eastern half of these two sections; and the spring wheat was 
confined for the most part to the eastern half of the northern 

While winter wheat held its own only moderately well, the 
production of spring wheat showed the most extraordinary 
fluctuation and decline. The census of 1870 reported a crop 
of 10,133,207 bushels for Illinois; by the end of the decade 
this had fallen to 2,687,049 bushels on a three-year average, 
and the next five-year average saw a still further shrinkage 
to 790,795 bushels. The reason for this extraordinary fall 
was that this crop came into direct competition with the spring 
wheat grown in the new northwest; whiter and cheaper flour 
could be produced in Minneapolis flour mills from the hard 
wheat of the northwest. From $2.54 in 1877-1879 the 
profits per acre on spring wheat fell steadily until in the period 
18901894 the unfortunate farmer who had continued the 
cultivation of spring wheat lost 1 6 cents on every acre planted. 31 

A comparison of the production of the two kinds of wheat 
shows that by 1890 over nine-tenths of all the wheat produced 
in Illinois was winter wheat. The northern section of the 
state did not produce as much, therefore, as did the other 
divisions, and after 1880 did not produce enough even for its 
own consumption. 

In striking contrast with the decline of wheat production 
stands the steady growth in the production of oats. From 1 860 
to 1900 almost without a break there was a steady increase 
in the acreage and yield of this crop. 32 The great increase from 

30 For table showing the essential facts concerning the production of winter 
wheat in Illinois see appendix, p. 483. 

31 For table see ibid., p. 484. 

32 For table giving important facts in connection with the oats crop between 
1870 and 1894 see ibid., p. 484. 


an average annual yield of 37,000,000 bushels in 1870-1874 
to 104,000,000 bushels in 18901894, must be attributed to 
the enlarged demand for food for horses, the number of 
which, especially in the cities, was increasing steadily. In oat 
production the northern, central, and southern divisions stood 
to each other as 5 13 : 1, the southeastern counties of the north- 
ern division and the northeastern counties of the central 
division being the center of the oat district. Illinois ranked 
first as an oat producing state in both 1870 and 1880, but 
was superseded in 1890 by Iowa. Oats, like corn, were an 
unprofitable crop during most of this period, due to the glut- 
ting of the market by the overproduction of the new lands in 
the northwest. But as they fed a considerable part of the crop 
to their stock, Illinois farmers continued and even expanded 
its production. 

The minor cereal crops, consisting of rye, barley, and 
buckwheat, are of relative insignificance in Illinois. The pro- 
duction of rye, four-fifths of which is produced in the northern 
division, reached its highest point in the period 18801884, 
after which it declined again. The production of barley showed 
a rapid fall during this period, accompanying and probably 
due to a decline in its profitableness. Ninety-five per cent of 
the barley in 1894 was produced in the northern division, most 
of this in the three counties of Stephenson, Ogle, and McHenry. 
Most of the crop was consumed by the breweries. Buckwheat 
was unimportant at the beginning of this period and steadily 
lost ground until in 18901894 the average annual crop was 
less than 50,000 bushels; most of it was grown in the Rock 
river valley. 33 

The second group in the category of field crops, hay and 
pasture, although only one-third as important as the cereals, 

33 For table giving the important facts concerning the production of rye, 
barley, and buckwheat from 1870-1894 see appendix, p. 485. 


was five times as important as the horticultural and fifteen 
times as important as the miscellaneous crops. Hay made 
up approximately three-fifths of the total. As might have 
been expected from the distribution of the dairying and cattle 
raising industries, the northern division far outranked either 
of the other two, producing from one-half to three-fifths of 
the total forage crop. The production of hay showed a very 
steady increase to the middle of the eighties, after which there 
was a falling off both in the number of acres harvested and in 
the amount produced, probably due to a steady fall during this 
period in the price of hay. 

Of the four important kinds of grasses reported as being 
grown in the state in 1879 timothy, prairie, clover, and 
Hungarian and millet seed timothy was by far the most 
popular, almost three-fourths (72.6 per cent) of the acreage 
devoted to hay being sown with timothy grass. About one- 
fifth ( 19.1 per cent) was devoted to prairie grass, 7.7 per cent 
to clover, and less than one per cent to Hungarian and millet 
seed. Timothy was the favorite in the central division, prairie 
grass in the northern division, and clover in the southern 

The acreage devoted to pastures followed the same course 
as did the production of hay, increasing steadily until the 
second half decade of the eighties, after which there set in a 
decline. As time went on, the growth of the cattle feeding 
industry tended to concentrate pasture acreage more and more 
in the northern division, though Morgan county in the central 
and Washington county in the southern division showed a great 
development. 34 

The third group of the field crops is the so-called horti- 
cultural crops, which comprise vegetables, orchard fruit, bush 

34 For table giving the important facts relating to forage crops see appendix, 
p. 485. 


fruits, and vineyard products. Of these the vegetables were 
the most important, constituting from one-half to almost three- 
fourths of the group. Orchard fruits made up between 
one-fifth and two-fifths of the total at different periods, while 
the other two classes were relatively unimportant, amounting 
together to only about five per cent of the total. The pre- 
eminence of the vegetables was greatest in the northern divi- 
sion, the orchard and bush fruits having a relatively larger 
importance in the more hospitable climate of the other sections 
of the state. 

The vegetables comprised Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, 
turnips, and other root crops. Of these, Irish potatoes made 
up almost nine-tenths in value throughout the entire period. 
Turnips and other root crops have shown a steady decline in 
relative importance, while sweet potatoes have grown some- 
what in favor. 35 

Throughout the three decades between 1860 and 1899 
Irish potatoes grew steadily in importance, reaching their 
climax in the last named year, with a record crop of 15,484,390 
bushels. Since then there has been an equally steady decline. 
That Illinois farms are not so well adapted to potato growing 
as are those of neighboring states is shown by the fact that 
between 1866 and 1889 the average yield per acre in Illinois 
was less than that in Ohio, Michigan, or Wisconsin. 30 The 
prices were very unstable during this period, fluctuating 
between a minimum of 25 cents a bushel in 1899 and a maxi- 
mum of $1.12 in 1873. 37 The crop was always more important 
in the northern division than in the two other sections. 

Sweet potatoes, the production of which was at the begin- 

85 For table giving the more important statistics concerning these crops see 
appendix, p. 485. 

56 Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture, 1909, p. 493. 

37 The average -yield for the state was only 40 bushels per acre, the smallest 
with two exceptions in the history of the state. 


ning of this period nearly equally divided between the central 
and southern divisions, came, as time went on, to be more exclu- 
sively a product of the southern section, where Union and the 
adjoining counties produced the greater part of the total supply. 
There was a steady increase during this period in the produc- 
tion of sweet potatoes, due in considerable measure to improved 
methods of propagation. 

The value of the minor root crops showed a marked 
increase during the seventies and the first half of the eighties, 
but after that showed an even greater decline. This was in 
part due to the fall in the general price level, but also to the 
unpopularity of turnips and beets and other similar root crops 
in the southern part of the state. Here droughts and heat 
had caused many failures during the seventies, so that the 
farmers in this section turned with relief to the production of 
corn. In the northern division, however, the growth of 
Chicago provided an excellent home market for onions and 
market garden produce, while the development of the dairy 
industry tended to increase the amount of turnips which were 
raised as feed for the cows. By the end of the period three- 
fourths of these crops were being produced in the northern 
division. An interesting development during this period was 
the growth of market gardening, especially in the vicinity of 
Chicago and of St. Louis. From about $750,000 in 1870 
the value of the market garden products increased until in 
1889 it was about $1,400,000. 

Orchard fruits, of which apples constituted nine-tenths, 
made up a much less important group of horticultural products, 
and one, moreover, of steadily declining consequence. Most 
of the apples, peaches, and pears were grown in the southern 
division of the state, as the climate in the northern part was 
too severe. 38 

38 For table showing the production of these three fruits see appendix, p. 486. 


The production of bush fruits such as strawberries, rasp- 
berries, blackberries, and similar small fruits, has never been 
important in Illinois, partly because of climatic conditions and 
partly because of the lack of an adequate labor supply for the 
necessary intensive culture. These crops also were concen- 
trated in the southern division of the state, especially in the 
vicinity of Union county. For a while" it seemed that a fruit 
canning industry might be developed. 39 In 1875 the Fruit 
Growers' Association of Southern Illinois was organized; 
and by 1877 the Illinois Central was running a regular fruit 
train to Chicago, the rate being 80 cents per hundred pounds 
from Cairo to Chicago. 40 

The fourth group of the field crops comprised a number 
of miscellaneous products such as tobacco, broom corn, flax, 
hemp, cotton, sorghum, maple sugar and maple sirup, clover 
and other grass seeds, peas, and beans. Of these tobacco is 
not only the most important but has had the most interesting 
history. 41 

During the Civil War the cutting off of the supply of 
southern tobacco forced the price to the highest point which 
it had ever reached and stimulated its production in the north- 
ern states. As southern Illinois was fairly well adapted to 
the growing of tobacco, the production of this crop increased 
rapidly in that section. In 1862 the acreage devoted to this 
product was 8,585, which yielded about 9,000,000 pounds, but 
in the next year 30,627 acres were planted in tobacco, the 
largest acreage in the history of the state. In spite of a poor 
crop the yield this year was 20,000,000 pounds. For the rest 
of this decade the acreage was over 20,000; it declined in the 
early seventies, however, then rallied and held its own for a 

39 Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture, 1873, p. 279-280. 

40 Chicago Tribune, January 7, 1875; Illinois State Register, April 21, 1877. 

41 See ""Report on Culture and Curing of Tobacco in the United States," in 
Report on the Productions of Agriculture as Returned at the Tenth Census. 


decade or more, only to fall again disastrously in the early 
nineties. 42 

Broom corn has always been distinctively an Illinois crop. 
As early as 1820 it was mentioned as having been "planted in 
rows on the sides of corn fields." Records show that a Mr. 
Beebe, a farmer near Platteville, planted twelve acres in 1856 
and obtained a good crop, and that Messrs. Johnson and 
Beauregard of Champaign county had a field of 400 acres 
in 1 86 1. 43 When statistics of this crop began to be gathered 
by the Illinois state board of agriculture, in 1877, tne acreage 
devoted to it already amounted to 14,566 with a total yield 
of 6,674,747 pounds. The center of broom corn culture was 
in Illinois, especially along the line of the Illinois Central 
railroad, 44 which transported the raw material for the impor- 
tant industry of broom making, in which Chicago held high 
rank. 45 From this time until the end of the eighties there 
was a fairly steady increase in acreage and production. Most 
of this product was raised in the central division, and was 
highly concentrated in Coles, Douglas, and Henry coun- 
ties. 46 

The textile crops have never been important; they showed 
a steady decline during this period, with the exception of a 
boom in the production of hemp, noted in the census report 
for 1890. Cotton became so unimportant that it was no longer 
reported by the census bureau. As flax fiber became an 
unprofitable crop during the seventies, the farmers turned to 
the production of flaxseed, which by 1880 was being produced 
in such large quantities as to give Illinois first rank among 

42 For table showing the growth in production and the distribution of the 
crop see appendix, p. 486. 

43 Department of Agriculture of Illinois, Transactions, 1875, p. 316; Gerhard, 
Illinois as It Is, 336; Champaign County Democrat, August 24, 1861. 

44 Broom-corn and Brooms, 12. 

45 Moses and Kirkland, History of Chicago, 1:411. 

46 For table showing production of broom corn see appendix, p. 486. 


the states in this field. By 1890, however, this also had been 
given up as an unprofitable crop. 

The same story of decline must be told of the sugar crops, 
although a temporary gain over the preceding decade in the 
cases of maple sirup and of sorghum sirup was reported by 
the census of 1880. The maple tree products were concen- 
trated for the most part in the eastern and northwestern 
sections of the central division, while the sorghum sirup was 
produced most extensively in the Wabash river valley of die 
southern division. 

One of the minor crops of Illinois which increased in 
importance during this decade was grass seeds. During the 
twenty years 1870-1890 there was more than a fivefold 
increase. At the beginning of the period timothy made up 
somewhat more than one-half, but by the end clover consti- 
tuted over two-thirds. The chief center of production by the 
end of the period was the region between the Mississippi, 
Illinois, and Rock rivers. 

Never very important, the legume crops, consisting of dry 
beans, cowpeas, and castor beans, have on the whole shown 
the same decline which has characterized the other minor crops. 
The production of the first two centered principally in Jasper 
and Cumberland counties, and of the third 99.5 per cent was 
produced in the southern division. 47 

47 For table giving the statistics of production of the miscellaneous crops see 
appendix, p. 487. 


THE second main group, the animal products, constituted 
about one-fourth of the total values yielded by the farm, 
but it was steadily growing in importance during the period 
1870 1890. The growth and relative importance of the five 
main classes are shown in the following table : 



(per cent) 

Percentage of animal products 





_ o 






u 2 



o > 










<J m 

O o. 











. , 









1885-89. . . . 









1890-94. . . 










It will be noticed that there was a steady decline in the 
relative value of animals sold, while dairy products more 
than doubled. Wool, never of great importance, declined 
heavily, while poultry and honey appeared only toward the 
end of the period. More than half of all of the animal prod- 
ucts were produced in the northern division, and this tendency 
to concentration became more marked as time went on. This 
was due to the growing predominance in that region of both the 
cattle feeding and the dairy industries. 

As a larger proportion of Illinois land was brought under 
cultivation the great blue-grass pastures were broken up and 
the number of livestock tended to decrease. On the other 
hand, the tendency toward a decline in the number of animals 



was counteracted by the development of the practice of buying 
"feeders" to be fattened on Illinois corn. There was a net 
gain in the value of livestock in the state from $118,205,358 
in 1870 to $180,431,662 in iSQO. 1 This represented an in- 
crease of 52.7 per cent, a rate of growth which was far below 
that for the preceding twenty years, 18501870, when the 
building of railroads had given an abnormal impetus to grain 
farming and cattle raising. 

One group of livestock, the draft animals, was given a 
position of new importance in agricultural economy by the 
introduction of machinery, for there was a greatly heightened 
demand for animals, particularly horses, to supply motive 
power. Illinois ranked highest in the union in the absolute 
number of horses for the twenty years ending in 1890; during 
these two decades there was a steady increase from 853,738 
to 1,335,289. In view of the use made of the animals it was 
natural that the distribution should show a strong concentration 
in the corn belt; almost half of the total number was in the 
northern division, less than a fifth was in the southern. 2 

With the increase in numbers and use came a stimulated 
interest in the breeding of horses. The importation of French 
horses seems to have begun in 1866, when Dr. A. G. Van 
Hoorebeke brought the Percheron stallion Lucifer 285 to 
Monmouth; by 1870 Illinois had taken the lead in the breed- 
ing of draft horses and held it through two decades. In 
1890 there were listed 488 owners of pure-bred horses, of 
whom 221 had Clydesdale, 152 Percheron, 100 Shire, and 15 
Belgian, 3 almost all in the northern and north central divisions, 

1 The growth of livestock during the period 1870-1890, on this basis of 
value, is shown in the appendix, p. 487. 

2 The most pertinent facts in this regard are presented in the appendix, 
p. 488. 

3 Sanders, A History of the Percheron Horse, 133, 154; American Clydesdale 
Stud Book, volume 5; National Register of French Draft Horses, volume 5, 6; 
American Shire Horse Stud Book, volume i, 2; National Register of Belgian 
Draft Horses, volume i. 


McLean county leading in the number of owners of all kinds 
except Belgians. 

The southern half of the state was interested chiefly in the 
other varieties of draft animals. There was an increase in 
the total number of mules and asses in the state from 85,075 
in 1870 to 123,278 in 1880, or a gain of 44.9 per cent; but 
in the following decade the number declined 12.5 per cent, 
falling to 107,875 in 1890. These animals were shifted more 
and more to the southern counties during the whole period, 
because of their ability to thrive in a hot climate and to stand 
the pestiferous flies bred in great swarms in the swampy low- 
lying districts of Egypt. But not even in the southern part of 
the state did these animals average as many as one to a 

Even more marked was the decline in the number of oxen 
and their relegation to a few counties in the extreme south- 
eastern part of the state. From 19,766 in 1870 the number 
fell to 3,346 ten years later, but increased by 1890 to 6,579, 
due principally to a very large increase in the southern counties. 
Their inefficiency has made oxen unavailable for use in connec- 
tion with expensive farm machinery. Seven counties, including 
Saline and the counties which immediately surround it, con- 
tained almost all the working oxen in the state in 1890; and 
these same counties were, with a few exceptions, the poorest 
in farm machinery. 

An even more marked concentration in the northern and 
central divisions is to be noted in the case of the second group 
of livestock, the meat and dairy animals. The number of milch 
cows showed a steady growth throughout the period, increasing 
from 640,321 in 1870 to 865,913 in 1880, and to 1,087,886 in 
1890, the last figure being surpassed only by Iowa and New 
York In 1 890 the average farmer in the northern division had 
over twice as many dairy cows as the average farmer in the cen- 


tral division and over three times as many as the average 
farmer in the southern division. 4 

An investigation of the popularity of the different breeds 
of dairy cattle in Illinois, made by the federal bureau of animal 
industry in i884, 5 showed that the shorthorns were far in the 
lead and were generally distributed throughout the state. Next 
in favor were the Jerseys rather remarkable, since during 
the seventies the fact that the first cases of contagious pleuro- 
pneumonia ever known west of the Alleghenies were in herds 
of pure-bred Jerseys had led to the belief that this breed was 
more subject than others to attacks of contagious and infectious 
diseases. By 1884, however, the prejudice against the Jerseys 
was passing away and they were again being sought to increase 
the butter-producing capacity of cows. 

Holstein-Friesian cattle were also in considerable demand 
during the eighties, the large yield of milk by cows of this 
breed making them particularly popular in the vicinity of large 
cities. Ayrshire cattle were at one time comparatively popular 
in Illinois, and pure-bred herds were to be found at several 
places. But they seem to have lost favor, for well-bred 
Ayrshires could be purchased in the early eighties for little 
more than the price of common milch cows. By 1890 they 
had been superseded in favor by Guernsey cattle; nineteen 
herds of this breed were to be found in the state, most of 
them in Cook and the neighboring counties. 

In 1890 there were altogether in the state 368 herds that 
were headed by at least one pure-bred animal. The Jerseys 
led with 234, the Holsteins coming next with 115 herds, while 
the Guernseys had only 19. The high quality of the dairy 
cows of Illinois was attested by the performance of the brown 
Swiss cow Brienz, owned by A. Bourquin of Nokomis, which 

* These facts are shown in the appendix, p. 488. 

8 Report of the United States Bureau of dnimal Industry, 1895, p. 366-368. 


in 1891 broke the existing public competition butter fat record 
by yielding 9.32 pounds of butter fat during the three days of 
the Chicago Dairy Show.' 

The development of the dairy industry was brought about 
by the growth of urban industrial centers in the state. 7 During 
the twenty years ending in 1874 there was almost a threefold 
increase in the value of dairy products sold by the fanners, 
from about $7,000,000 in 1877-1879 to an annual average 
of over $18,000,000 for the half decade 1890-1894, due 
almost entirely to the increasing demands of Chicago, Peoria, 
St. Louis, and other expanding cities. During the year 1869 
there were sold from Illinois farms 9,259,545 gallons of milk, 
an amount surpassed only in the more densely settled states 
of New York, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. Cook 
and Kane counties each sold over 2,000,000 gallons and 
together contributed over half of the state's total. Elgin was 
the center of the milk shipping industry, doing a business 
of about $500,000 annually. Shipments from this region 
increased from 757,112 gallons in 1866 to 1,235,653 gallons 
in 1867.8 

Comparatively little milk was shipped to Chicago in the 
early seventies from points distant more than fifty miles from 
that city. Fifty-three miles formed the extreme limit of regu- 
lar milk shipment on the Chicago and Northwestern railroad, 
while on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy the limit was 
seventy-three miles. Three-fourths of the Chicago milk supply 
came from the Rock river valley, where hundreds of farmers 
devoted themselves entirely to dairy farming, shipping direct 

6 Jersey Herd Book, volume 16-23, 2 ^> Holstein-Friesian Herd Book, volume 
8-9; Herd Register of the American Guernsey Cattle Club, volume 1-3; Hale, 
History of Agriculture by Dates, 63. 

7 The principal facts concerning the growth and distribution of the dairy 
industry as a whole are set forth in the appendix, p. 489. 

8 Illinois State Agricultural Society, Transactions, 1871, p. 163; Western 
Rural, volume 6. 


to Chicago or selling to the cheese factories. The transpor- 
tation charges were based upon a zone tariff system; those 
on the Chicago and Northwestern were 16 cents per eight- 
gallon can for distances up to twenty miles, 20 cents for 
twenty to forty miles, and 24 cents for more than forty miles. 
The rates on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy road were 
15 cents per eight-gallon can up to forty miles, 20 cents for 
forty to seventy-five miles, and 25 cents for seventy-five miles 
and over. 9 

The shipment of milk into Chicago received a special 
impetus in 1872 as a result of the removal of all cow stables 
to points outside the city limits, upon order of the Chicago 
board of health. The amount shipped over the Chicago and 
Northwestern railroad alone increased from 1871 to 1872 
by nearly a million gallons. In 1872 the city board of health 
reported daily shipments of 14,1 12 gallons. In addition, cows 
kept near the city supplied about 6,000 gallons. This made 
a total of 20,112 gallons daily, or a rate of 7,340,880 gallons 
per year. 10 As the demands of the city grew and as improved 
methods of refrigeration were introduced, the market natu- 
rally drew upon a larger and larger area for its supply, absorb- 
ing about nine-tenths of all the milk sold in Illinois. By 1890 
Kane, McHenry, and Du Page counties were the leading pro- 
ducers of milk, while Boone, De Kalb, Lake, and Cook made 
up a group of only slightly lower showing. 

St. Louis did not furnish so good a market for the southern 
division as did Chicago for the northern. This was due largely 
to the existence within that city, or in the immediate vicinity, 
of swill milk dairies, the owners of which were able to pur- 
chase spent grain from the breweries at two cents a bushel, and 
distillery slops at a proportionately low price. About 1870, 

9 Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture, 1872, p. 341. 

10 Ibid. 


however, milk shipments into St. Louis began from towns in 
Illinois; and in the following year the Ohio and Mississippi 
railway shipped 157,356 gallons into St. Louis from stations 
within a ninety-five-mile radius. The transportation charges 
averaged two cents per gallon. 11 

The prices received by the farmers of the state show, on 
the whole, a steady increase during this period. The highest 
prices appeared in the central division, where the lack of large 
cities caused the farmers to deliver their own milk, receiving 
a retail instead of a wholesale price. In the northern division 
the business was organized in the hands of city dealers who 
paid much lower prices to the farmers for their product. 12 
A curious fall in the price of milk in the southern division was 
probably due to the better organization of the city dealers in 
St. Louis as the demand for milk in that city became greater, 
and to the greater distance of the farmers in that section from 
their natural market. St. Clair, Randolph, and Washington 
counties showed the greatest development of the dairy industry 
in this section. 13 

Following closely upon the large scale organization of the 
milk industry was the transfer of butter making from the farm 
home to the factory. During the seventies and early part 
of the eighties most of the butter produced in the state was 
still churned on the farm in the old-fashioned wooden-dasher 
churn. Once butter making machinery had demonstrated its 
commercial possibilities, the homemade product steadily de- 

The industrial revolution in butter making began in this 
country about 1861, when the first creamery was established 

11 Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture, 324. 

12 The milk which was shipped into Chicago went to the city dealers, who, 
during the six winter months of 1871-1872, " paid farmers 4^5 cents per quart 
and retailed at 7 cents; during the summer of 1872 farmers received 3^4 cents, 
city retailers obtaining 6 cents." Ibid., 341. 

13 The development during this period is shown in the appendix, p. 489. 


in Orange county, New York. 14 The first one west of the 
Great Lakes was the Elgin Butter Factory, established in 1870 
by Dr. Joseph Tefft. By 1871 this factory was already making 
80,000 pounds of butter. The second creamery to be estab- 
lished was probably that owned by I. Boies, at Marengo, who 
soon operated a large number of factories. 

The introduction of the cream separator, about 1880, 
further hastened the process of commercialization. Previous 
to this, the whole milk had been taken to the creameries, but 
skimming stations, to which the m.ilk was brought and from 
which the cream was forwarded to the creameries, were now 
established. Later, each farmer had his own separator and 
skimmed the milk on the farm. 

Finally, the invention in 1890 by Professor Stephen M. 
Babcock of the University of Wisconsin, of the milk tester, by 
which the amount of butter fat in the milk could be determined, 
placed the dairy business upon a scientific basis. Before this, 
creameries had paid for cream by the inch, but now they 
paid for it on the basis of quality, and at once an impetus 
was given to the movement for improved breeds of dairy 
'cows. 15 

The phenomenal development of the production and sale 
of cream is indicated by the increase of 673 per cent for the 
half decade 18801884. In 1878 the amount of cream sold 
from the farms was 62,707 gallons, in 1879 it was 230,949, 
in 1880 it was 601,314, in 1881 it was 1,380,936, and in 1882 
it was 2,188,396. On the other hand, the amount of milk sold 
fell off from 96,659,845 gallons in 1879 to 38,986,861 in 
1880, and the amount of butter from 25,028,225 pounds 
in 1879 to 24,553,449 in 1880. 

14 Sanford, The Story of Agriculture in the United States, 273. 

15 For some of the changes wrought in the sale of butter, cream, and cheese 
on Illinois farms see table in the appendix, p. 490. 


The butter industry acts as a buffer in the dairy business. 
When, due to abundance of pasture because of increased rain- 
fall, too much milk is produced and the price falls, the surplus 
is made into butter. This product is admirably adapted to 
store up the most valuable elements in milk, for it contains the 
largest value in the smallest bulk of any dairy product, will 
keep longest, and will stand transportation best. On the other 
hand, when the price of milk is high, less butter is made and 
the supplies in storage are reduced. 

Of the four branches of the dairy industry, that of the 
production of cheese was the one which varied most and which 
finally became of least importance. The first cheese factory 
in Illinois was established in 1863 by J. H. Wanzer on his 
farm near Elgin, as a result of inability to market whole milk 
at remunerative prices. The real impetus to the production 
of cheese by the factory method, however, was given two years 
later when Gail Borden built in Elgin a factory which manu- 
factured 240,000 pounds of cheese the first year; this success 
encouraged others and in 1867, only two years later, there 
were seventeen factories in northern Illinois. The factories of 
McHenry county alone produced 600,000 pounds of cheese,' 
using 5,500,000 pounds of milk. By 1870 there were forty- 
six cheese factories in the state, and each year thereafter for 
a decade saw an increase in the number. Kane county in 1873 
had fifteen factories which produced 2,297,500 pounds 
of cheese. The largest of these establishments was Gould's, 
which used the milk from 1,300 cows and made 490,000 
pounds of cheese. By 1878 there were between sixty and 
seventy butter and cheese factories within fifty miles of 
Elgin. 16 

The home market for cheese was more than supplied by 
these factories, so that a movement began for the export of 

18 Illinois State Agricultural Society, Transactions.. 1873, p. 81; 1878, p. 269. 


the product to eastern markets. The very success of the indus- 
try, however, proved its undoing. Difficulties with the factories 
as to price led the farmers to remove some of the cream from 
the milk; the manufacturers next substituted buttermilk and 
tried to hasten unduly the curing of the cheese. Illinois cheese 
soon lost its good reputation, and its manufacture fell off 
rapidly. By 1890 the industry revived somewhat, as many 
factories were starting to make filled cheese. This business 
flourished until 1896, when a law which prohibited filled cheese 
gave it a fatal blow, and within a few months it declined so 
that Illinois sank almost to the bottom of the list of cheese 
producing states. 

A new demand for whole milk was created when, in 1865, 
Gail Borden selected Elgin as one of the points for the manu- 
facture of condensed milk. Since the industry can use only 
very pure milk, . it led to the introduction of more sanitary 
methods of production and marketing. 

No less interesting than the changes in the dairy business 
were the developments during this period in the cattle indus- 
try. In 1870 Illinois was surpassed only by Texas in the 
number of cattle raised chiefly for beef, but since that year other 
states had forged to the front; in 1890 Illinois was outranked 
by Texas, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri. 17 During the two 
decades 18701890 the number of "other cattle" that is, 
all neat cattle except milch cows, calves, and oxen almost 
doubled, increasing from 1,055,499 in 1870 to 1,968,654 in 
1890. Most of these cattle were to be found in the north- 
western part of the state, particularly between the Mississippi, 
the Rock, and the Illinois rivers. In the fifty years ending in 
1890 the beef cattle in the northern division had increased 
over ninefold, those in the central division had about trebled, 

17 For the important facts as to the increase and distribution of neat cattle 
see table in the appendix, p. 490. 


while those in the southern division were actually fewer by 
6,170 in 1890 than they were in 1840. This concentration was 
due chiefly to the development of Chicago as the central market. 

The improvement in the breeds of beef cattle in the state 
had begun as early as 1840 and had been given a decided 
impetus by the formation in 1857 of the Illinois Stock Import- 
ing Association. Among the pioneers in this field were J. C. 
Cox of Jacksonville, importer of shorthorn cattle, B. F. Harris 
of Champaign, an exponent of heavy cattle, and Emory Cobb 
of Kankakee, importer of high-grade cattle. By 1875 the 
number of thoroughbred cattle in the state was considerable; 
nine-tenths were shorthorns, the remainder consisting of 
Jerseys, Devons, Herefords, and Ayrshires. In 1884 Illinois 
led all the other states, excepting Kentucky and Ohio, in the 
quality of its beef cattle. 18 Thirty-five per cent of the animals in 
Illinois were "high grades," that is, cattle in which the blood 
of pure-bred animals had exercised a strong influence for 

The first, and for some years the only, representatives of 
pure-bred cattle in the state were shorthorns. By 1 870, Illinois 
breeders already had a considerable reputation and attracted 
buyers from all over the country. By 1884 shorthorns, or 
grades got by animals of this strain, made up two-thirds of 
all the cattle in the state. 19 John Wentworth, the famous 
politician and one-time editor of the Chicago Democrat, had on 
his " Summit Farm," near Chicago, about eighty thoroughbred 
animals; his herd was noted for the fact that it was headed 
by Fifteenth Duke of Airdrie, one of the greatest of the famous 
Bates bulls. By 1890 there were in the state 1,038 herds of 

18 Illinois State Agricultural Society, Transactions, 1861-1864, p. 372; 
'875, P- 321-324; Report of the United States Bureau of Animal Industry, 1885, 
p. 386. 

19 Chicago Tribune, August 10, 1871 ; Report of the United States Bureau of 
Animal Industry, 1885, p. 367. 


shorthorn cattle led by registered animals, over half of these 
being in the northern division. 20 

In the seventies, T. L. Miller's Highland Stock Farm in 
Will county became the center for the breeding of Herefords. 
Other prominent breeders were Thomas Clark of Beecher, 
Will county, and G. W. Henry, owner of Rossland Park Stock 
Farm, at Ashburn. There were about eighty herds of Here- 
ford cattle in the state in 1884 and one hundred and eighty-nine 
in 1890, most of them in Will county. 21 

Another popular breed was the Polled Aberdeen Angus, 
of which there were about thirty herds in 1884; this number 
had increased to 158 by 1890. The herd which Messrs. 
Anderson and Findley of Lake Forest had started in 1878 
had by 1885 grown to be the largest herd of that breed in 
the United States or Scotland. 22 

Other breeds of considerably less importance were Devons, 
Galloways, and Ayrshires. In the eighties two new breeds 
were introduced: J. C. Duncan of Normal imported some 
Normandy cattle from France, and John Dick of Quincy 
made an importation of Simmenthal cattle. 23 

Slightly over one-fourth of all the beef cattle in Illinois 
in 1890 were high-grade stock. 24 The largest proportion of 
each kind was to be found in the northern division, but the 
central division made the best showing, as just one third of 
all the cattle in that section were high grade. 

20 American Short-Horn Herd Book, volumes 31-33, 65. The quality of this 
breed was attested by the fact that Roan Boy, a shorthorn steer, exhibited by 
C. M. Cubbertson of Newman, was adjudged the champion of the American Fat 
Stock Show in 1883. Ten years later the shorthorn steer, Cup Bearer, exhibited 
by M. E. Jones, of Williamsville, was declared the champion beef animal at the 
Columbian exposition. Hale, History of Agriculture by Dates, 58, 65. 

21 Sanders, The Story of the Herefords, 348. Mr. Miller founded the 
American Hereford Herd Book in 1879; Prairie Farmer, November 14, 1885; 
American Hereford Record and Hereford Herd Book, volumes 8-10. 

22 Prairie Farmer, November 14, 1885. 

23 Hale, History of Agriculture by Dates, 60, 61. 

24 The quality of the neat cattle of Illinois may be judged from a table in 
the appendix, p. 491, showing the pure-blooded and other stock in 1890. 


In the development of beef production which has taken 
place in Illinois, two distinct historical stages may be noted; 
and the industry seems now to be entering upon a third stage. 25 
The first stage was that in which cattle were fed on corn as 
the most profitable method by which to bring the corn to 
market. The second stage was reached when the ranges were 
broken up; the object now became not so much to raise cattle 
as a means of marketing corn as to raise corn in order to make 
beef. The third stage is that of baby beef making. 

The first of these methods is well illustrated by the follow- 
ing comment: "Several droves of cattle have been brought 
into Morgan county, during the past week, from Missouri, 
for the purpose of putting its immense yield of corn in market- 
able condition, it being the policy of all farmers to send their 
staple to market in the form of beef." 26 It was estimated 
that one ton of pork could be made from about six tons of 
corn, one ton of beef from ten tons of corn, and one ton 
of butter from twenty-five tons of corn. Since many farmers 
at the beginning of this period had to haul their grain thirty 
or forty miles to reach a railroad, most of them preferred to 
"make their corn walk to market." 

Moreover, it was easy and profitable to raise stock. In 
the newer sections there was much open prairie land, covered 
with luxuriant grass, where cattle could be herded at a dollar 
a head from May to October; then they were turned into 
stalk fields, in which gleanings of. corn had been left, at a 
cost of ten cents an acre. During March and April, clover, 
timothy, or prairie hay could be fed to the cattle; these were 

25 Wallace's farmer, volume 38. 

28 Illinois State Journal, October i, 1860. By some, however, native cattle 
were preferred to those brought in from other states. Thus Mr. John F. 
Alexander of Springfield, who grazed 7,000 head of Texas cattle in 1869, 
asserted that this was a losing business and that he intended hereafter to 
feed and graze none but home-grown cattle. Illinois State Journal quoted in 
Chicago Tribune, February 28, 1870. 


the only expensive months. The total cost of growing stock 
under these conditions was about six dollars a head; the cattle 
were ready for market in from three to five years, at the end 
of which time they sold at about twenty-five dollars a head. 
Since the railroads, furthermore, discriminated in favor of 
the livestock business, there was considerable profit in this 
method of growing beef. 

Among the drovers in the early days may be mentioned 
Isaac Funk of Bloomington, one of the first to recognize the 
value of the prairie lands. Corn was kept before the cattle 
all the time in order to secure weight as rapidly as possible. 
The large animals were preferred to the small ones; until the 
late eighties or nineties little attention was given to the finish 
of steers which were sent to market. 

After the open prairie land in the state of Illinois was 
settled the feeders bought their cattle cheaply from the ranges 
on the plains west of the Mississippi river and fattened them 
at home on corn. Up to 1895 the number of beef cattle In 
Illinois increased at a rapid rate. 27 

As a swine breeding state Illinois has always ranked high. 
For four decades prior to 1870 importations of improved 
breeds had been made steadily, until Illinois had become the 
center of pure-blooded swine in the United States. In 1869 
an Illinois Swine Breeders' Association was formed with 
Thomas J. Crowder, of Springfield, as president. 28 

During the twenty-year period the number of hogs in the 
state doubled, increasing from 2,703,343 in 1870 to 5,924,818 
in 1890. The northern division almost trebled and the central 
doubled the average number per farm, while there was an 

27 For the changes which took place in the production of beef cattle during 
this period see table in the appendix, p. 491. 

28 Paxton Record, December 4, 1869. For the important facts as to the 
increase and distribution of swine during the period 1870-1880 see table in 
the appendix, p. 492. 


actual decline in the southern division. This concentration 
of hog growing in the corn belt had been going on since 1850, 
particularly in the region between the Mississippi, Illinois, and 
Rock rivers. 

Illinois was also the foremost state in the union in the 
excellence of the breeds. In 1880 nearly sixty per cent of 
all the breeders of pure-bred swine in the United States resided 
in this state. Within its borders were to be found the most 
perfect representatives of all the leading breeds. The four 
volumes of the American Berkshire Record issued prior to 
the close of 1880 give the pedigrees of 1,418 Berkshires bred 
in Illinois, and of 1,679 owned in the state; the corresponding 
Poland China records register 361 hogs bred in Illinois, and 
396 owned here. There were also good droves of Chester 
Whites and Essex. The breeding stock in whole counties or 
districts was composed largely of pure-bred animals of one 
or another of these strains. 

Chicago gained preeminence in pork packing in the late 
fifties; by 1861 it had passed Cincinnati and had become the 
center of the industry. In the thirty-five-year period ending 
in 1889 there was a steady increase in the number of hogs 
sold in Illinois; but the climax was reached in 1885-1889, 
and after that date the industry declined, since the price of hogs 
fell more rapidly than did the price of corn, so that it became 
less profitable to feed corn to hogs. The industry was fairly 
widely distributed throughout the state, though as time went 
on the northern division gained at the expense of the southern 
division. 29 

Sheep raising has always been a very fluctuating industry 
in Illinois. In 1840 the figure was a little less than 400,000; 
it increased to almost 900,000 ten years later, but fell off 

29 For the more important facts concerning the production of pork see table 
in the appendix, p. 492. 


again in 1860 to 769,135. As a result of the Civil War and 
the high price of wool, new interest began to be manifested 
in sheep raising, particularly in the raising of Merino sheep. 
The wool clip of 1865 was the largest ever produced in the 
state, amounting to nearly 12,000,000 pounds from a little 
less than 3,000,000 sheep. 

With the lessened demand after the war there was a great 
fall in the price of wool and of sheep. Merinos which in 
1862 or 1863 had been bought at fabulous prices were now 
sold for $i to $1.25 apiece. By 1870 the number of sheep 
had fallen to half what it had been five years before. This 
blow to woolgrowing diverted attention from the Merino to 
the mutton sheep, but the number of sheep declined through 
the seventies, until it reached the low point of 1,037,073 in 
1880. From 1880 to 1883 an enthusiasm developed in cen- 
tral Illinois for long-wooled rams, but it had cooled off by 
1884. The decline which then set in continued steadily 
until 1890; there were then only 922,631 sheep in Illinois. 
Wool was selling for less than it had for some years, and 
mutton was only $2.30 per hundred pounds gross, the lowest 
price recorded in the history of Illinois. 30 

The sheep industry was fairly well concentrated in the central 
division, though a temporary increase of sheep in the north- 
ern division in the late seventies put that division in the lead 
in 1880. Lake county had over 65,000 sheep in 1890, many 
times more than any other single county. 

The breeds of sheep changed radically in Illinois between 
1865 and 1890. In the former year fully three-fourths of 
all sheep in the state were Merinos or their crosses. When 
woolgrowing ceased to be profitable the English mutton breeds 
the Lincolnshires, the Cotswolds, the Southdowns, the 

30 For the important facts as to the sheep industry see table in the appendix, 
P- 492, 493- 


Shropshires, and the Leicesters were more largely intro- 
duced; and by 1890 the proportion of Merino sheep had 
sunk to 31.1 per cent, while the English breeds were 42.7 
per cent. The remaining 26.2 per cent were "common" 
sheep. The worst showing was made by the southern division, 
where nearly half of the sheep were scrub stock. 

The demand for a mutton sheep led not only to the intro- 
duction of new breeds but also to a modification of the Merinos 
from the Vermont type, weighing only 90 pounds, to a species 
developed in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio weighing 
1 60 to 210 pounds, good for mutton, artd yielding a fourteen- 
pound fleece. Unsuccessful experiments were made with the 
French Merino in northern Illinois, in order to secure a high 
grade of wool on a mutton carcass; but by 1890 little of this 
blood remained. 

The first mutton sheep introduced into Illinois was prob- 
ably a grade of Leicester, but by 1890 the Southdowns 
were the standard mutton sheep. The latter breed had been 
introduced into the state in 1844 by Jesse A. Pickrell. 
John Wentworth improved his Southdown breeds and popu- 
larized this strain in the state during the seventies and 

The Shropshires are a comparatively recent introduction 
into the state and have had their greatest development since 
1883. Their carcasses were heavier than those of the South- 
downs and their mutton but little inferior, while they yielded 
larger fleece. The Cotswold was long a favorite mutton sheep 
in Illinois, and the cross of the Cotswold on the Merino was 
at one time a general practice. Other breeds which were 
found in Illinois in 1890, but to a much less extent, were the 
Hampshire Downs, Lincolnshires, Oxford Downs, Horned 
Dorsets, and Cheviots. The Southdowns and Oxford Downs 
were largely centered around Sangamon county, while the 


Shropshires were represented most largely in Will, Vermilion, 
Champaign, and De Witt counties. 

The number of sheep sold in Illinois between 1875 an d 
1895, with the exception of the half decade 1880-1884, 
showed a steady decline, due, no doubt, to the high price of corn 
as compared with the price of mutton. In the eighties the 
practice of raising early lambs was successfully introduced. 
Farmers with blue-grass pasturage fattened western sheep for 
the fall market. The industry was fairly well scattered 
throughout the state, though the central division led the other 
two. 31 In spite of the decline in the number of sheep, more 
wool was clipped during the seventies, owing to the improve- 
ment in the Merino and the long-wooled mutton sheep. During 
the next decade, however, the emphasis given to mutton sheep 
caused a great shrinkage in the wool clip. 32 The industry was 
distributed over the state, the central division leading. 

Last on the list of the products of the farm are apiarian 
and poultry products. The statistics of eggs and poultry sold 
by no means indicate the importance of the hen to the Illinois 
farmer, for they take no account of the amount consumed on 
the farm. Of the eggs and poultry sold, about half were from 
farms in the northern division. The value of both these items 
increased from an average of $997,123 for the half decade 
1885-1889 to $1,052,639 for the half decade 1890-1894. 

The production of honey and beeswax increased almost 
threefold between 1870 and 1890, the former growing from 
I >547> 1 78 to 4,602,941 pounds, the largest figure recorded. 
There was a decided movement in the industry from the eastern 
half of the state to the northwestern section during this period, 
but it has never become important. 

81 Carman, Heath, and Minto, History and Present Condition of the Sheep 
Industry of the United States, 609. See table in the appendix, p. 493. 
32 For actual figures see ibid. 


THE financial problems which called for solution in Illinois 
during the period 1870 1878 were not essentially differ- 
ent from those which were occupying other states. National 
questions of funding and resumption were foremost at the 
beginning of the period. The proposed refunding act, by which 
six per cent bonds of the federal government, especially the 
five -twenties of 1862, were to be converted into five per cent 
bonds, called forth emphatic objections from Illinois. The 
members of the Chicago Clearing House Association, together 
with representatives of several banking institutions in other 
parts of the west, sent a memorial to congress protesting that 
the bill threatened the national bank note circulation, which was 
based upon the ownership of federal bonds. They asserted: 
" Even if the National Banks in the East would submit to the 
inequality, with other inequities forced upon them by this bill, 
that the West could not do it because they could not submit 
to so great a loss on the investment of their capital." 1 In 
general, the western bankers demanded a resumption of specie 
payments rather than a refunding of the national debt, 2 but in 
spite of their opposition a refunding act was passed July 14, 
1870, which converted the outstanding federal bonds at lower 
rates of interest. 

Although resumption of specie payments was not finally 
effected until 1879, there were demands for it in Illinois 
throughout this entire decade. Agitation was first directed 
against the fractional paper money authorized in 1863, which 

1 Chicago Tribune, March 26, 1870. 

2 Ibid., March 21, 1870. 



had been issued to a total amount of $20,2 15, 635. 3 These 
small notes were easily lost or destroyed and were generally 
dilapidated and filthy; and the retail merchants demanded 
their retirement and the issue of subsidiary silver coin. " If 
Congress would order that no more fractional currency be 
issued, except in exchange for torn bills, and that all received 
should be cancelled, we might resume specie payments, so far 
as retail business is concerned, immediately." 4 Such action 
was not taken by congress, however, until 1876. 

As early as 1870 an editorial in the Chicago Tribune stated 
that the west generally was in favor of specie resumption. 
"Whatever weakness may ever have existed at the West in 
favor of currency inflation and of depreciated paper is rapidly 
disappearing. From nearly all our Northwestern exchanges 
we meet with a growing demand for specie resumption." 5 
This analysis doubtless reflected the trend of republican 
opinion and the Tribune's own sentiment on the matter. 
The issue of inflation was presented very sharply on the occa- 
sion of President Grant's veto of the so-called inflation bill on 
April 22, 1874. A poll of the western press showed that 514 
newspapers approved, 408 disapproved, and in were non- 
committal; for Illinois the corresponding figures were: 129 
for, 117 against, and 9 noncommittal. 6 

More important than questions of national finance, how- 
ever, was the subject of banking. After the disastrous failure 
of the State Bank in 1848, Illinois, in common with a number 

8 Knox, United States Notes, 104. 

4 Chicago Tribune, March 5, 1870. 

5 Ibid., March 14, 1870. 

6 Chicago Tribune, May 13, 1874. An entire page ii given up to this poll. 
Among the papers which were opposed to inflation were the Rock Island Times 
and Argus, Alton Telegraph, Quincy Herald, Galena Industrial Press, Keiuanee 
Independent, Cairo Gazette, Jacksonville Journal, Illinois State Register, Illinois 
Staats-Zeitung, and Chicago Union. Among those which disapproved the veto 
were the Peoria Democrat, Champaign Gazette, Peoria Transcript, Illinois State 
Journal, Danville Commercial, Rock Island Union, Chicago Inter-Ocean. The 
Chicago Tribune was strongly opposed to inflation. 


of other states, had adopted the free banking or bond deposit 
system, 7 which came to an end, after a life of twenty years, 
as a result of Civil War vicissitudes. The vacuum created by 
the abolition of the free state banks of issue was meanwhile 
being filled by the incorporation of national banks within the 
state. This system was inaugurated in 1863 and within a year 
seven national banks were established 8 in Chicago, Aurora, 
Cairo, Danville, La Salle, Monmouth, and Rock Island. By 
1 865 the number was seventy-six and by 1 870 it was eighty-one. 
Their growth was steady but slow, due partly to the high 
minimum capital of $50,000, which was too large for the 
small towns and villages, and partly to political opposition. 9 
The desire of the framers of the act was to substitute national 
for state banks without deranging the business of the institu- 
tion or affecting essentially the volume of bank note circulation. 
Several states Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode 
Island, New Jersey, and Maine passed "enabling acts" to 
facilitate the transformation of state into national institu- 
tions. 10 But political opposition in Illinois prevented the 
passage of such an act, even though bills for this purpose were 
at various times introduced in both senate and house. 11 The 
following table shows the growth in the number and resources 
of the national banks in Illinois: 

7 White, Money and Banking, 340; see also Centennial History of Illinois, 


8 Bankers' Magazine, 18: 617. 

9 Davidson and Stuve, History of Illinois, 587. 

10 Bankers' Magazine, 19:865, 20:523. 

11 Opposition to national banks as such also found expression, especially on 
the part of those who favored the issue of paper money directly by the govern- 
ment. This, together with the repeal of the national bank act, was urged by a 
"convention of citizens of Illinois," held in Ottawa, Illinois, September 9, 1867. 
Chicago Tribune, September 10, 1867. Resolutions of similar purport were 
passed by the democratic convention in the thirteenth (Cairo) congressional dis- 
trict on August 12 and by the Springfield convention on September 14, 1870. 
Ibid., August 13, September 15, 1870. After the organization of the greenback 
party there were a great many indorsements of these principles by farmers' 
conventions, workingmen's meetings, greenback clubs, and similar groups. 













$ 186 

$ 3i? 

$ 275 

$ 5 





$7,40 5 

IO.7I 5 









187?. . 





















l80O. . 







Private banks have always conducted a large part of the 
banking business of the state, not only in the small towns and 
villages, but also in the largest cities. 12 It is estimated that 
in 1860 there were one hundred and twenty-three of these 
banks in the state, and the number probably did not vary much 
for several years. 13 

In 1867, the year which witnessed the elimination of the 
free banks, the legislature organized twenty-five banking 
institutions by special charter. The powers of these institu- 
tions varied greatly; some were commercial banks, while 
others had savings, or savings and trust, features. 14 In the 
same session the legislature provided for the incorporation 
of two loan and trust companies and seventy-two insurance 
companies. 15 Although banking was specifically prohibited in 
the charters of several of the insurance companies, they were 
permitted to borrow and loan money, and later some of them 
developed into banking institutions. 

During the following session ( 1 869 ) charters were granted 
by special act to sixty-seven banks, fourteen loan and trust 
companies, and fifty-six insurance companies. In none of the 

12 Moses and Kirkland, History of Chicago, i : 530; Knox, History of Banking 
in the United States, 728. 

18 Bankers' Magazine, 15: 54, 19: 133, 710. 

14 2 Laws of 1867, i : 56 ff. 

15 Ibid., 2:98 ff, 277 ff. 


charters granted were provisions made for reports by the 
corporations to any state officer, nor were there any general 
laws calling for such reports from any banking institutions 
save the few remaining free banks. Probably many of the 
charters of the insurance companies were not used for the 
purpose designated. 

One of the most important and most needed clauses 
adopted by the constitutional convention of 1870 deprived 
the legislature of the power to pass special legislation. It 
provided that "no corporation shall be created by special laws, 
or its charter extended, changed, or amended, except those 
for charitable, educational, penal or reformatory purposes, 
which are to be and remain under the patronage and control of 
the State, but the General Assembly shall provide, by general 
laws, for the organization of all corporations hereafter to be 
created." 16 

The committee on banks and currency made its report to 
the convention on April 29, 1870. It is plain that the com- 
mittee did not have in mind provisions which would facilitate 
the incorporation of state banks, but that it aimed simply 
to limit the power of the legislature in case it should wish to 
enact banking legislation. 17 It is further evident from the 
report of the committee and from the debates which followed, 
if they express at all the sentiment of the people, that there 
was little desire or enthusiasm for state banks. 

The report of the committee contained eight separate sec- 
tions, of which the first five were adopted with very little 
debate. 18 They provided (i) against any participation by the 
state in banking enterprises; (2) for the submission of bank- 
ing laws to the vote of the people; (3) for the individual 

16 Constitution of 1870, article H, section I. 

17 Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, 2:1553, 1688. 
"Ibid., 1553, '678. 


liability of stockholders in banks for the amount of shares 
held; (4) against the suspension of specie payments by banks 
created by the state; and (5) for the publication of quarterly 
reports by state chartered banks. 

The next two sections, providing for the taxation of the 
paid-up capital of any banking association and of the "capital 
actually used" by private bankers receiving deposits, raised 
a question that had been a live one for several years and 
excited animated debate. Bank shares were taxed in the 
hands of the owners, but bank capital was exempt. Many 
felt that under this system banks were not bearing their just 
share of taxation, and others that the method was unjust. The 
two sections were finally stricken out on the ground that these 
matters belonged properly to the committee on revenue. 

The last section, which was discussed at considerable length 
in committee of the whole, may best be given in full : 

" Section 8. If a general banking law shall be enacted, it 
shall provide for the registry and countersigning, by an officer 
of State, of all bills or paper credit, designed to circulate as 
money, and require security to the full amount thereof, to be 
deposited with the State Treasurer in United States or Illinois 
State stocks, to be rated at ten per cent, below their par value; 
and in case of a depreciation of said stocks to the amount of 
ten per cent, on the dollar below par, the bank or banks owning 
such stocks shall be required to make up said deficiency, by 
depositing additional stocks. And said law shall also provide 
for the recording of the names of all stockholders in such 
corporations, the amount of stock held by each, the time of 
any transfer, and to whom." From the debate it was apparent 
that in the minds of many the national banking system was 
not yet a permanent institution and that provision should be 
made in the constitution for state banks of issue. It was 
feared that national banks would soon be abolished because 


of the political opposition to them. " National Banks," stated 
one political faction, " are the great tree of monopoly that 
has brought forth much bitter fruit. Railroads and Manu- 
facturies are simple branches of it." It was also argued that 
as the national banking system would expire by the statute of 
limitations in fourteen years, and in any event when the national 
debt was paid off, it was desirable to provide a system that 
would take its place. Those opposed to the section argued 
that, as the state debt would soon be expunged and as the 
national debt was being paid off rapidly, the provision that 
state bank notes should be based on a bond deposit would be 
void. When the question was finally brought to a vote, the 
section was adopted; 19 and it was finally ratified by the vote 
of the people. 

Under the new constitution, practically no change was 
made in existing legislation on banks until the passage of the 
general banking act of 1887. For almost twenty years the 
banking business of the state was carried on by national, pri- 
vate, and the comparatively small number of specially char- 
tered state banks. The national banks increased at a healthful 
rate, chiefly at the expense of the chartered state banks, which 
decreased in number and played no important part in Illinois 
banking during this period. The private banks, however, 
apparently grew in number and influence. 

The orderly development of banking in the state was 
severely disturbed by the great fire in Chicago in 1871. The 
city's importance as the economic nerve center of an extensive 
region made it inevitable that its disaster should have wide 
ramifications; the destruction of approximately $187,000,000 
of capital 20 in a distributing point of such significance was 

19 Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, 2: 1678 ff. 

20 Moses and Kirkland, History of Chicago, i : 208. A very full account of 
the fire and all events connected with it is contained in the Chicago Tribune, 
October 9, 1872, the first anniversary. See also above, p. 29 ff. 


bound to be felt more or less directly by the whole coun- 

Fire insurance companies, of course, were particularly 
affected. Over $100,000,000 in risks were carried in the 
burned district by various companies, and claims when adjusted 
amounted to over $90,000,000 ; of this only about $38,000,000 
was paid at once. Several companies in the east were hard 
hit; a number compromised their claims, and a great many 
were forced into the hands of receivers who paid only part 
of the claims. 21 Of the Illinois companies involved, many 
had only a paper basis, having received their charters by the 
careless legislation of 1867 and i869, 22 and were as a result 
completely wiped out by the enormous claims which now arose ; 
those which were able to withstand the strain at all could find 
in their more careful reorganization and in their strengthened 
financial standing some compensation for the ordeal through 
which they had passed. 

The banks escaped more fortunately than might have been 
expected. There were in the city at the time eighteen national 
banks with a combined capital of $6,550,000 and twelve 
state and private banks with a combined capital of $6,950,000. 
All the bank buildings, with the exception of one which was 
rendered untenantable, were destroyed; and for a time it was 
feared that the whole credit machinery of the city would be 
crippled. But the safes were found in good condition, and 
the banks speedily found new quarters for their business. They 
suggested that they pay their creditors by installments, begin- 
ning with fifteen per cent; but this precaution was soon found 
to be unnecessary, for instead of balances being drawn out 

21 The policyholders of Chicago organized to protect their interests, and 
elected a committee consisting of W. F. Coolbaugh, Cyrus Bendy, C. B. Farwell, 
Marshall Field, C. M. Henderson, J. L. Thompson, J. F. Bonfield, John Crerar, 
and Francis Peabody. Chicago Tribune, November 18, 1871. 

22 The legislature in these two sessions chartered, under special acts, 128 
insurance companies of all kinds. 2 Laws of iSf>J, 1:98; Laics of 1869, 2:495. 


deposits were freely made. 23 The total loss on discounted 
paper resulting from the fire was only $600,000. By Octo- 
ber 17 most of the banks had unconditionally resumed busi- 

Although during the spring of 1871 there had been some 
complaint of slow collections in the country districts, owing to 
the low prices of all agricultural products except wheat and 
the consequent unwillingness of farmers to sell their products, 
the movement of the new crops had begun by the end of 
July, considerably earlier than usual. Consequently, the usual 
demand for currency for crop moving purposes was felt. 
New York exchange declined to 75 cents per $1,000 discount 
but even at that price could not be obtained in sufficient quan- 
tity, and some of the banks ordered currency shipped to them. 
By October, at the time of the fire, the money paid out to the 
farmers was already coming back to the banks ; and by Novem- 
ber, in spite of the temporary interruption, deposits had 
become so large that the banks were complaining of idle funds. 
In January, 1872, the condition of the money market was 
described as "plethoric." 24 

These funds, however, could not long be permitted to 
accumulate in banking institutions. Building operations began 
almost before the ashes of the fire had cooled and continued 
until interrupted by the panic of i873. 25 The building trades 
boomed, real estate rose enormously in value; and many banks, 
especially savings banks, made large and unwise loans upon 
speculative values. A branch of the Bank of Montreal was 
opened in Chicago in order to facilitate credit operations and 
to attract English capital, which, as had long been the case 
with eastern capital, saw now the chance to profit by the high 

23 Report of the Comptroller of the Currency, 1872, p. xxiv. 

24 Chicago Tribune, June 9, July 31, November n, 24, 1871, January 15, 1872. 

25 The activity in building is calling every dollar of available capital into 
use." Ibid., April i, 1872. 


interest rates prevailing in Chicago and the west generally and 
sought investment there. 26 

Although not enjoying a stimulus comparable to that felt 
by the building trades and a few cognate industries, most other 
activities recovered within a surprisingly short time. Com- 
merce and trade especially revived quickly, for the demand 
for necessaries on the part of a population of over one hun- 
dred thousand had to be met; and the grain and livestock 
trades were scarcely affected at all. 27 The most severe sufferers 
were the manufacturing industries, for the machinery destroyed 
in the fire could not be replaced at once, while loanable capital 
was needed in the work of rebuilding the burned structures. 
Nevertheless, reconstruction made steady progress. 

This promising industrial revival after the fire was nipped 
in the bud by the panic of 1873, which everywhere made 
retrenchment necessary. Not only in Illinois but throughout 
the United States and even in Europe every department of 
economic activity was affected in some degree by this financial 
crash, which came as the logical result of a long period 
of industrial expansion and inflated credit. The five years 
preceding the panic had seen remarkable expansion in railway 
building; the average annual amount of new building in the 
United States from 1860 to 1868 was 1,499 miles; in the next 
four years almost 25,000 miles were built. To this total the 
western states contributed over half, practically doubling their 

26 Colbert and Chamberlin, Chicago and the Great Conflagration, 330. 
Eight per cent was offered in 1871. Chicago Tribune, April 5, 1871. In the 
fall of 1872 there was a marked stringency; "even on call loans money is not 
to be had at less than 10 per cent, instead of 8 per cent and 6 per cent, as in 
times when funds are abundant." Ibid., September 7, 1872. A loan of $1,000,000 
for twenty years at six per cent, secured on some of the best business property of 
the city, was placed in London this year. 

27 Except in so far as an opportunity seems to have been afforded for 
manipulation by speculators. An oat corner was attempted but collapsed in June, 
and a similar fate overtook a wheat corner in August. Ibid., June 19-20, and 
August 23-29, 1872. In 1874 the legislature passed a law prohibiting dealing in 
futures, which went into effect July i. 


mileage between 1868 and 1872. The Chicago and North- 
western and the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul railroads 
were being extended with particular rapidity. In Illinois the 
growth of railway mileage between 1860 and 1868 had been 
only 650 miles; but beginning with 1869, when Illinois had 
a railway mileage of 4,031 miles, there was a rapid expansion, 
the mileage in 1872 reaching 6,361 miles. 28 

Clearly, the building of new railway facilities was pro- 
ceeding much more rapidly than the population required. 
The money to finance this construction, which was estimated 
at $1,755,000,000 for the five years ending with 1873, or 
$351,000,000 annually, had been raised by the sale of bonds 
abroad and in the domestic money market. In addition, bonds 
and stocks of states, cities, manufacturing corporations, and 
mining companies had been floated. Most of these were sold 
abroad; and when the foreign demand fell off, the bonds of 
railroads and other enterprises which were in process of con- 
struction were forced upon the home market until their nego- 
tiation became almost impossible. It was discovered later 
when the panic came that in many cases the institutions which 
were the first to go to the wall were heavily involved in 
financing western railroads. 29 

This great extension of railway facilities brought about 
important changes in agricultural, industrial, and commercial 
organization and production. Not only was a vast amount 
of capital sunk in improvements, many of which were far in 
advance of the real needs of the country and which brought 

28 Poor, Manual of Railroads, 1873-1874, , p. xxvii, xxix. 

29 Thus the New York Warehouse and Security Company, a grain and 
produce house, had financed the Missouri, Kansas and Texas railroad; Kenyon, 
Cox and Company had indorsed $1,500,000 of the paper of the Canada Southern 
railroad; Messrs. Jay Cooke and Company had made large advances to the 
Northern Pacific railroad; the Union Trust Company had loaned $1,750,000 to 
the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern railroad. Commercial and Financial 
Chronicle, 17 : part 2, p. 382. 


in but small returns on the capital invested, 30 but the opening 
of such large areas of fertile land and their consequent rapid 
settlement disturbed the price of grain and revolutionized the 
status of the farmers. The rapid development of railway 
construction, moreover, created an unprecedented demand for 
iron and steel and gave new activity to mining; the develop- 
ment of these basic industries led to overinvestment and was 
attended by land speculation on a large scale. There seemed 
to be no limit to the possibilities of successful expansion in the 
industrial world; profits were large, prices were inflated, 
optimism ran riot. 

The commercial situation, however, was not healthy. 
For years the United States had been borrowing abroad, 
first on account of the Civil War and later for the purpose 
of financing her railways and other industrial undertakings. 
It is estimated that the total foreign indebtedness incurred 
by the people of the United States between 1861 and 1868 
was $i,500,ooo,ooo. 31 With the proceeds from the sale of 
their bonds and other securities they had been buying large 
amounts of commodities from Europe, as is clearly shown in 
the large excess of imports during these years. By 1873 tne 
supply of bonds was exhausted, and it became necessary to 
pay for imports with a corresponding amount of exports, or 
with gold, or else to restrict importation. Like a spendthrift 
who appears to be flush as long as he can draw bills on the 
future, the people of the United States had been expanding 
their enterprises with borrowed capital and now were called 
upon to meet their bills. Moreover, this foreign indebtedness 
had brought with it an annual burden of interest, estimated in 
1868 at $80,000,000, while payment to foreign owned vessels 

30 The dividends on the capital stock of all railways in the western states 
were 2.83 per cent in 1872. Poor, Manual of Railroads, 1873-1874, p. Hi. 

31 Dewey, Financial History of the United States, 371. 



for freight, expenditures of American travelers abroad, and 
other items, brought the total annual payments up to about 
$130,000,000. To meet these demands it became necessary 
to export specie, thus seriously disturbing the domestic money 

The monetary situation, too, contributed its share to the 
panic. The circulating medium of the country consisted of 
United States notes (greenbacks) and national bank notes. 
After the Civil War the policy of retiring the former was 
begun, but was checked in 1868, when the outstanding issue 
was $356,000,000. In 1870 and again in 1871 the secretary 
of the treasury reissued some of these notes, thus adding to 
the currency of the country and giving an additional stimulus 
to speculation, though the notes were soon retired again. But 
the supply in actual circulation, that is, outside the treasury, 
was increased from $314,704,000 in the middle of 1869 to 
$346,168,000 in i872. 32 At the same time the issues of 
national banks were expanded from $291,800,000 in 1870 to 
$315,500,000 in 1871, and to $333,500,000 in 1872. 

In the expansion of bank credit the Illinois institutions 
showed a growth even greater than the nation as a whole. 
This is shown in the following brief table : 











$ 0,810 

1870. . 





1871. . 





1872. . 





1871. . 


A A 768 


I (.262 

From this table it is seen that deposits and circulation 
together increased 65 per cent in four years. Here was abun- 

32 Noyes, Forty Years of American Finance, 17. 


dant stimulation to industrial and commercial expansion, as 
well as to purely speculative enterprises. It is impossible to 
present similar statistics for the state and private banks in 
Illinois, for these were not collected prior to 1873. It is 
probable, however, that they contributed to the prevailing 
expansion by the extension of their loans and the corresponding 
growth of their deposits. 33 

Another way in which the prevailing banking practice 
contributed to bringing on the panic of 1873 was tne custom 
of concentrating the bank reserves in the reserve cities, espe- 
cially in New York. The country banks were required to 
hold a reserve of 15 per cent of their deposit liabilities but 
were permitted to deposit three-fifths of this with banks in 
the " redemption cities," as they were then called. In all four 
years between 1869 and 1872 they held far more than the 
legal requirement; but in 1872 of the $102,000,000 counted 
as their reserve $57,000,000, or considerably more than 
half, had been deposited with reserve city banks. Their 
power to withdraw money from the city banks was therefore 

There were two classes of reserve cities. In fifteen cities, 
banks might become agents of country banks; but the banks 
of these cities must keep a reserve of 25 per cent of their 
deposit liabilities. Half of this reserve, however, could be 
deposited with the banks of the central reserve cities. Until 
1887 New York City was the only one in this class, so that 
this system permitted a serious concentration of reserves in 
the banks of this one city. In 1872 the fifteen reserve city 
banks held reserves to the amount of $79,000,000, but 
$33,000,000 of this was deposited in New York City banks, 
giving these reserve city banks in their turn a large drawing 
power upon the New York banks. 

33 Report of the Comptroller of the Currency, 1887, 1:228. 


The New York City banks in 1872 held reserves of 
$65,000,000, or 29.1 per cent of their demand liabilities. 
While this was above the legal minimum, it cannot be con- 
sidered sufficient in view of their responsibilities as the final 
repositories of the bank reserves of the country. They held 
in this year $81,000,000 of bankers' balances; fifteen of the 
fifty New York banks held practically all of this, while seven 
of them held between 70 or 80 per cent of these deposits. 34 
Moreover, according to the very careful analysis of their 
condition given in the report of the national monetary commis- 
sion by Professor Sprague, it appears that the position of these 
few banks was by no means a strong one. " It is clear, then," 
he wrote, " that with this situation in New York an emergency 
would cause serious disturbance if it should lead to the with- 
drawal of any considerable amount of money by the outside 
banks, and there could not be the slightest doubt that this 
would be done or at least attempted." 35 

One of the reasons for the concentration of bankers' 
deposits in New York was the payment of interest, running 
as high as four per cent, on such deposits by some of the 
banks in that city, among which the seven mentioned above 
were numbered. This had at least two very undesirable conse- 
quences. It caused outside bankers to send money to New 
York in order to earn something on their deposits while still 
counting them as reserves ; and it forced the New York banks, 
in order to pay this interest, to keep their reserves unduly 
low and to loan their accumulated funds on call. 36 The only 

34 Sprague, History of Crises under the National Banking System, 15. 

**Ibid., 1 8. 

86 " The prevailing practice, not only of national banks, but of State banks 
and private bankers, of paying interest on deposits attracts currency from all 
parts of the country to the large cities, and especially to New York, the great 
financial centre. At seasons of the year when there is comparatively little use for 
currency elsewhere, immense balances accumulate in New York, where, not being 
required by the demands of legitimate and ordinary business, they are loaned on 


people who borrowed from the banks in this way were specu- 
lators on the stock exchange. There was thus established a 
close connection between the bank reserves of the country and 
stock exchange dealings. 

But the evils resulting from the payment of interest upon 
deposits were by no means confined to the New York banks, 
or even to those of the reserve cities. " It may be safely said 
that this custom, which prevails in almost every city and village 
of the union, has done more than any other to demoralize the 
business of banking. State banks, private bankers, and asso- 
ciations under the guise of savings banks, everywhere, offer 
rates of interest upon deposits which cannot safely be paid by 
those engaged in legitimate business." 37 

Every year the interior banks withdrew money from the 
reserve cities for the purpose of moving the crops. In 1873 
this movement began early in September and resulted in a 
withdrawal by interior banks of their deposits in New York 
City, which in turn resulted in a contraction of loans. In the 
third week of this month the whole house of cards fell in ruin. 
The New York banks were unable to stand up under the strain 
imposed upon them and many of them failed. The excitement 
and general distrust which followed the first suspensions caused 
a general and rapid calling in of loans; this in turn pre- 

call at a higher rate of interest than that paid to depositors and are used in 

" Every year, at the season when the demand sets in from the West and South 
for currency to be used in payment for and transportation of their agricultural 
products, there occurs a stringency in the money market arising from the calling 
in of such loans to meet this demand. 

" Until this year, though annually creating some embarrassment, this demand 
has been met without serious difficulty. . . . 

" This year there was a great demand for currency to pay for the heavy 
crops of a bountiful harvest, for which the European countries offered a ready 
market. The suspension of certain large banking houses, the first of which 
occurred on the i8th day of September, alarmed the people as to the safety of 
banks and banking institutions in general. Suddenly there began a rapid calling 
in of demand loans and a very general run on the banks for the withdrawal of 
deposits." Report of the Secretary of the Treasury, 1873, p. xi-xii, 92. 

37 Ibid., 95-96. 


cipitated the failure of other houses. There was a great fall 
in the prices of stocks, runs on some of the banks occurred, 
and a general feeling of distrust and panic grew up. On 
September 20 the New York Stock Exchange was closed, to 
remain so for ten days. 

Relief was brought to the financial community in two ways. 
The federal government purchased bonds to the amount of 
$12,000,000 and exchanged $17,000,000 of currency for 
certificates of deposit held by the banks. By January, 1874, 
the government had purchased $26,000,000 of bonds with 
legal-tender notes. This action, however, had little effect in 
staying the course of the panic, as it was "tardy, timid, and 
insufficient." 38 

More important in lessening the demands upon the banks 
for cash was the issue of clearing house certificates. These 
were issued by the New York banks to a total amount of 
$26,505,000, beginning with $10,000,000 on September 22 
and continuing until January 14, 1874, the date of their final 
cancellation. 39 By thus pooling their reserves the New York 
banks were enabled to devote their energies to meeting the 
demands of the interior banks. Liberal remittances were sent 
to Chicago and to other centers. But the drain was more 
than they could stand, and on September 24 a partial suspen- 
sion of specie payments was declared. This was followed by 
a premium on currency in terms of certified checks and clearing 
house certificates, amounting to about four per cent on Sep- 
tember 30. 40 Foreign exchange rates went up and a temporary 
blockade set in. 

The worst effects of this were felt in the grain and produce 
markets. In Chicago it was reported that "the shipping 

88 Kinley, The Independent Treasury of the United States and Its Relations 
to the Banks of the Country, 201. 

89 Conant, History of Modern Banks of Issue, 656. 
40 Chicago Tribune, September 24, 30, 1873. 


movement was partially paralyzed by the news from New 
York that sterling exchange was unnegotiable." 41 The move- 
ment of wheat and meat products to the Atlantic ports fell 
off, and in consequence the elevators and stock yards became 
crowded to their utmost capacity, and shipments from primary 
markets were necessarily refused by the railroads. The price 
of wheat fell sharply from $1.13 on September 19 to 90 
cents on September 24. The following week foreign exchange 
dealings were resumed, and shipments were renewed, bringing 
a rise in the price of wheat, which sold above $1.00 on Sep- 
tember 29. 

The suspension in New York was quickly followed by 
similar action in most of the secondary money centers. When 
the New York banks failed to respond to the demands of 
their correspondents, these in turn were not able to meet the 
demands of their correspondents. Exchange on New York, 
which would otherwise have commanded a slight premium, 
was at a discount and to a considerable extent unavailable. In 
Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, New Orleans, 
Cincinnati, and St. Louis the issue of clearing house loan 
certificates, and at the same time the use of certified checks, 
payable through the clearing house, were sanctioned as a 
measure of relief. 42 

The Chicago banks declined to resort to the issue of loan 
certificates, thereby drawing upon themselves considerable 
criticism. The situation was never so serious in this city as 
in the east, however, and the need of clearing house certificates 
was not so pressing. The banks were able to effect all clear- 
ances with currency; and at a meeting of the bankers in the 
Clearing House Association to consider the question of issuing 
clearing house certificates, a motion was adopted, by a decisive 

41 Chicago Tribune, September 20, 25, 1873. 

42 Sprague, History of Crises under the National Banking System, 15. 


vote of twelve to four, declaring that under the circum- 
stances it was " inexpedient to issue any Clearing-House cer- 
tificates." 43 

Whatever may have been the situation elsewhere, there is 
no doubt that the condition was improving daily in Chicago. 
In the first place, and most important in the money stringency 
which always accompanies a panic, a steady stream of cur- 
rency was flowing into the city. On Wednesday, September 24, 
receipts by express of about $500,000 were reported, and as 
much the following day. After this the daily inflow rose to 
$2,000,000 and then to $3,000,000, so that for the week ending 
Thursday, October 2, a total of $16,165,000 had been received 
through the express companies alone. " In addition to this," 
said an editorial in the Chicago Tribune, " there were several 
persons reached Chicago yesterday to purchase grain, espe- 
cially barley, at the reduced prices: each of these persons 
brought his currency with him. Brewers and distillers who 
can command the money are making the best of the market 
by cash purchases." 44 It was estimated that currency to the 
amount of $250,000 was brought into the city in this way on 
that single day. 

This large movement of currency into Chicago, it may 
be said, was a normal one and would have occurred in even 
larger measure if the panic had not interrupted it. The crops 
had already begun to move eastward and were being paid for 
in cash. The Chicago bankers therefore occupied a strategic 
position, as eastern buyers had to secure the grain and remit 
cash for it. Indeed, as one writer put it, " if we demand 
diamonds and rubies for what we have to sell, we shall get 

48 Chicago Tribune, September 26, 27, 28, 1873. The action of the meeting 
was commended by the Tribune: " not to adopt the loan certificate plan in vogue 
in New York, which is simply a system of requiring the creditor banks at the 
Clearing-House to take their balances in the bills receivable of the debtor banks 
at 4 per cent discount instead of taking them in greenbacks." 

44 Ibid., September 27, 1873. 


them." 45 The crops had been very large, and in consequence 
the demand for currency in the east had been heavy for several 
weeks prior to th-e panic. Indeed, the unusual abundance of the 
crops made the situation more difficult. 

The Chicago banks were able to weather the storm for 
several days, but on the morning of Friday, September 26, 
five national banks were forced to suspend. These were the 
Union, the Cook County, the Second, the Manufacturers, and 
the Bank of Commerce; and these were followed two days 
later by the Third National. The Union National and the 
Cook County National resumed business on Monday, Septem- 
ber 29; but the former was forced the following day to go 
into liquidation. The suspension of this bank gave a greater 
shock to confidence, not only in Chicago, but throughout the 
west, than any other incident connected with the panic. In 
one respect, however, the failure of this bank helped to relieve 
the drain for currency from Chicago, for it had held probably 
one-third of the country bank deposits in the city, and the 
country demand was now reduced by that much. 46 

Notwithstanding the strong position of the Illinois banks 
as a whole, the lack of currency brought about in the state a 
partial suspension of cash payments which was apparently 
only a little less general than in the east. On September 24 
the Clearing House Association in Chicago voted to recommend 
the suspension of currency payments on any large demands 
made upon the banks either from the country banks or over the 
counters. Similar action was reported from Bloomington, 
Peoria, and Danville, where it was decided to pay only small 
checks in currency, giving certified checks, if desired, for the 
balance. There was, however, great diversity of opinion as 
to what constituted a "small check;" some banks paid $25, 

45 Chicago Tribune, September 25, 1873. 

46 Ibid., September 27, October 2, 1873. 


some $1,000, and others 25 or 30 per cent of a depositor's 
account. 47 

A complicating factor was hoarding on the part of indi- 
viduals; this seems to have continued until about the middle 
of October, after which it was less appreciable. A far more 
serious cause of disturbance from the suspension of payments 
was the dislocation of the domestic exchanges. In making pay- 
ments at a distance local substitutes for money will not serve, 
and the failure of some banks to remit cash to other banks 
for drafts and checks sent to them soon brought business to a 
standstill. In Chicago the exchanges were completely blocked 
for a few days, and serious derangement continued for a longer 

"The effect of the financial panic on the transportation 
business has been very serious," said the New York Tribune, 
" railroad freight on all the principal lines from New York 
to the West has fallen off since the beginning of the panic 
from 25 to 50 per cent. . . . The eastern-bound freight, 
which consists mainly of grain, has not been so seriously 
affected as yet, but unless western buyers, who are compelled 
to pay greenbacks to the farmers for grain, are supplied by 
the banks with something besides certified checks, they say 
that the movement of produce eastward will soon cease." 

During the progress of the panic and afterwards the loans 
of the banks throughout the country were contracted, both on 
the part of the reserve city banks and of the country banks. 
The most severe contraction among city banks was in Chicago, 
where loans were reduced from $25,300,000 on September 12 
to $19,000,000 on October 13; they were at the latter figure 
on November i. By some writers this was attributed to the re- 

47 Chicago Tribune, September 25, 26, 27, 1873. When this action was taken 
the Chicago Times announced in flaming headlines that all the banks in Chicago 
had suspended, a statement which did much to increase the panic and induce a 
run on the banks by country banks and depositors. 



fusal of the Chicago banks to issue clearing house certifi- 
cates. 48 

Although complete data are lacking, it is possible to get 
a fairly clear picture of the situation in Illinois during this 
period. For the western states in general the following table 
shows the movement of the principal items : 






September 12 

$123,8 S 4.884 



October 13 


60,2 ^7, 3 3 6 

7S, S4.H62 

November i 

HI .C4Q.2O4 

6o,47 S. 600 

70. 7 7 2. 060 


Due from 
redeeming agents 



September 12 


$1-1 08 C Oil 


October 13 


1 6 ij.i 74.8 

217 680 

November i 

7.08 1. O7 

16.100 216 


It is evident that loans were contracted about 10 per 
cent between September 12 and November i; that deposits 
fell off about 24 per cent; and that while there was only a 
slight increase in the reserve, the ratio of reserve to liabilities 
rose considerably, so that the banks were in a relatively 
stronger position at the latter date than at the former. But 
this safety was secured in part by a curtailment of loans, and 
in even larger measure by recalling their balances from the 
reserve city banks, the amount due them being reduced from 
$18,000,000 on September 12 to $8,000,000 on November i. 

48 Report of the Comptroller of the Currency, 1873, p. 142. 

49 The following states are included: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, 
Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, and Nebraska. The date of September 12 
was that of the regular report of the national banks; special reports were called 
for on October 13, the day on which the New York city banks held the smallest 
amount of legal-tender notes during the crisis, and on November i, the day on 
which the banks resumed currency payments. Report of the Comptroller of the 
Currency, 1873, p. 94. 



It is impossible to present as complete data for Illinois 
banks alone, but the following tables show the amount and 
character of the reserves held at the specified dates by the 
national banks in the state and in Chicago: 



v. 3 




' 41 Wi 

rt-S <3 *> 





C - 


o u C 



(5 u ^ 




c " S? 

September 12. 








October 13. .. 








November i . . 











E M 






E ri 

o o v ij 

V p Y^"^ 

^ "^ 

Si "* 

o c c 


.2" tJ > 

<S 'tr"S 


v """S 


3 '2 Si 

'& o 

*J 2 -^ u 

p5 " 'i 


CH u~ 


O u n 

September 12. 








October 13. .. 








November i. . 








The significant point in both these tables is the fact that 
while the percentage of their liabilities held as a reserve was 
always well above the legal requirement, especially in the case 
of the country banks, yet the character of the major part of 
this reserve was such as to occasion trouble the moment the 
banks tried to bring it into their own hands. Almost 60 per 
cent of the reserves of the country banks on September 12 
consisted of balances due them, so that their actual reserves 
on hand, instead of being 24 per cent, were only 9.1 per cent 
of their liabilities. 

The per cent of reserve to liabilities held by the Chicago 

50 Report of the Comptroller of the Currency, 1873, p. 130. 
81 Ibid., 142. 


banks, 29.4, was the lowest, with three exceptions, reported 
at any quarterly period within the past six years, and even of 
this small percentage over three-fifths was in the form of sums 
due them from other banks. Their actual cash reserve on 
hand on September 12, a week before the beginning of the 
panic, was only 17.4 per cent instead of 25 per cent. As a 
result of this situation the Chicago banks were compelled to 
strengthen their reserves, first, by calling in their deposits 
from the New York banks (over $1,000,000 being secured 
in this way between September 12 and November i), and 
second, by contracting their loans, the principal effect of which 
was to reduce their liabilities in the form of deposits. 52 This 
meant the denial in many instances of needed accommodation 
to their customers. The practice of permitting the national 
banks to count as part of their legal reserve sums deposited 
in other banks, with the resulting concentration of reserves in 
New York City, here brought about its logical consequences. 

The effects of the panic did not cease with the banks, but 
reached all other lines of activity. Railway construction fell 
off rapidly. In Illinois the high water mark for fifteen years 
was reached in 1871 with 1,197 miles; this declined to 170 
in 1874, and after a temporary revival in 1875 ^ e ^ ^ again 
until in 1877 only 59 miles of new road were built the 
smallest amount in a decade. In sympathy with the cessation 
of railroad building the production of iron and steel declined. 
This greatly depressed prices; blast furnaces, rolling mills, 
machine shops, and foundries ceased work; and many men 
were thrown out of employment. The consumption of pig iron 

52 Report of the Comptroller of the Currency, 1873, p. 134-135. "The 
resumption of discounts has been, in one sense, very limited. A large portion of 
the paper which has fallen due during the last fortnight has been paid only in 
part. . . . This overdue or partly paid paper has been renewed or extended. 
There have been discounts in a few cases of entirely new paper, and at notes 
not exceeding ten per cent on short time, the collaterals being local securities of 
established values." Chicago Tribune, October 3, 1873. 


which is the best measure of the aggregate iron industry 
fell off from 2,500,000 tons in 1874 to 1,090,000 tons in 1876 
for the United States as a whole; for Illinois the correspond- 
ing figures were 37,946 in 1874 and 54,168 in 1876. The 
price of bar iron fell from $96 a ton in January, 1873, to $40 
in January, 1879, which is equivalent to a drop of one-half 
even after making allowance for the resumption of specie 
payments in the latter year. 

The agricultural interests of the state also suffered. It 
was estimated by the Illinois state board of agriculture 53 that 
the corn crop yielded a profit to the farmers of the state in 
only one of the seven years 18721878; this was in 1875, 
when there was a combination of large yield with good prices. 
The crop of 1874 was the smallest during this decade, and 
though prices were high the returns to the farmer were insuffi- 
cient. In other lines good crops were secured in 1874, 1875, 
and 1876; but this was partially neutralized, so far as the 
producers were concerned, by a considerable decline in prices. 
The prices for wheat to Illinois farmers during the years 1874, 
1875, and 1876 were the lowest since 1870. 

After the first stages of the crisis had run their course 
and liquidation had taken place, a long period of depression 
ensued. Large amounts of idle currency accumulated in the 
banks, prices were low, profits small, and few new enterprises 
were begun. Rigid economy was practiced by all, both from 
lack of means and by reason of timidity. The year 1876 began 
auspiciously, but the excitement of the election checked business 
transactions in the closing months. 54 The prices of corn and 
wheat remained fairly steady. The following year witnessed 
a considerable increase in the price of wheat, which, coupled 
with abundant harvests, added largely to the wealth of the 

53 Statistical Report of the Illinois State Board of Agriculture, 1916, p. 5. 

54 Bankers' Magazine, 28:394, 29:398; Financial Review, 1877, p. I, 
1878, p. i. 


farmers; the price of corn, however, still remained low and 
did not recover until 1879. The disastrous railroad strikes in 
July, 1877, and the agitation of the silver question by congress 
in the fall prevented the manufacturing, mercantile, and bank- 
ing businesses from expanding. 

In 1877 there occurred in Chicago the so-called "savings 
bank crash." It is estimated that in 1872 there were in Chi- 
cago eighteen savings banks with deposits of $i2,oi3,ooo; 55 
most of them were commercial banks, state or private, which 
carried on the savings business as a subordinate branch, 
exposing it, accordingly, to all the risks of ordinary banking. 
Some eight banks failed: the Merchants', Farmers', and 
Mechanics' Savings Bank, 56 the Fidelity Savings Bank, the 
Third National, the Central National, the German National, 
the German Savings Bank, Henry Greenebaum and Company, 
and the German-American Savings Bank. 57 

The cause of the failure of these savings banks can in part 
be traced back to the panic of 1873, as their deposits were 
invested largely in Chicago real estate, which shrank greatly 
in value during the succeeding years. Overloans and general 
mismanagement, however, were also responsible. The shock 
to public confidence as a result of these failures, involving as 
they did the savings of artisans, mechanics, and laborers, 58 
destroyed for many years the usefulness of savings institutions 
in Chicago. 

In consequence, the savings of the people were diverted 
into another type of savings institution, which became very 
popular in Illinois, namely, building and loan associations. The 

55 Moses and Kirkland, History of Chicago, i : 530. 

69 This bank made a particularly discreditable showing, having been looted 
by the president and cashier so that it could pay only ten per cent of the deposits 
to the depositors. 

57 Industrial Chicago, 4:180; Chicago Banker, 1:271; Chicago Tribune, 
September 14, 1877. 

88 Ibid., September 14, 1877. 


first association of this type in Chicago was incorporated in 
1869, but not until the passage in 1879 of the law governing 
them were any considerable number organized. 59 After 1883 
their growth was very rapid throughout the state. 

Reforms in the laws governing banking were demanded 
throughout this period. A bill was introduced in the legis- 
lature in 1874 providing for the organization of state banks 
on the same general lines as national banks, with the addition 
of a trust feature, but it met with the vigorous opposition of 
the presidents and other officials of the State Savings and the 
Fidelity banks of Chicago, who secured its defeat. 60 In his 
message of January, 1875, the governor urged the passage 
of a banking law; and the Bogue bill, introduced in the ensuing 
session of the legislature, called for quarterly statements from 
banks organized under state charter; but no action was taken, 
and the bank system of the state continued to be "one of 
almost complete irresponsibility." 61 

Postal savings banks were urged in order to provide safe 
depositories for the savings of the working people and, after 
the savings bank failures, a demand was made for a savings 
bank law; but for a decade no law was passed to provide for 
the organization of such institutions. In 1887, however, the 
general assembly passed a savings bank act, 62 the chief pro- 
visions of which may be summarized as follows : 

Any thirteen persons or more, citizens of the state, two- 
thirds of whom should reside in the county where the proposed 
society was to be located, could organize a savings bank. The 
trustees were to own unincumbered real estate worth in the 
aggregate at least $100,000, situated in the county where such 

89 Moses and Kirkland, History of Chicago, i: 531. 

flo Industrial Chicago, 4: 186. The failure of both these banks within three 
years made clear the reason for their desire to be free from supervision. 
81 Chicago Tribune, January n, 14, 1875. 
2 La<ws of 1887, p. 77 ff. 


society was to be established. No trustee could accept pay for 
his services or borrow from the bank. The deposits were to 
be invested only in the following securities: (i) stocks or 
bonds of the United States; (2) of the state of Illinois; (3) of 
any other state which had not within three years defaulted in 
the payment of principal or interest; (4) of any city, county, 
town, or village of Illinois; (5) of any city or county in the 
New England states or New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, 
Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, 
Wisconsin, or Minnesota; (6) in the stocks of any national 
bank or state bank or trust company chartered in Illinois; (7) 
in the mortgage bonds of any railroad company of approved 
credit located in any of the states aforesaid; (8) in bonds or 
notes and mortgages on unincumbered real estate located in 
any of the states aforesaid, worth at least twice the amount 
loaned thereon; (9) in real estate for the transaction of its 
own business or upon foreclosure of mortgages held by it. 

The aggregate amount received as deposit from any one 
person was limited to $3,000. Banking powers of discount 
were prohibited, and provision was made for annual reports 
and for biennial examination by the superintendent of banking. 

Two savings banks, the Decatur Mutual Savings Associa- 
tion and the Chicago Society for Savings, 63 were organized 
under this act in the next two years. But before the usefulness 
of the act could fairly be tested it was declared unconstitutional 
on the ground that it had not been submitted to a vote of the 
people, as required by the constitution. Since the act had 
prohibited these associations from exercising ordinary banking 
powers, the legislature had not considered this a banking act. 64 

63 Report of the Auditor of Public Accounts, 1888, p. xii. 

64 Reed et al. v. People ex rel., 125 Illinois, 592. Governor Oglesby con- 
sidered vetoing the bill because no provision was made for its submission to the 
people, but finally decided this was not necessary. Chicago Tribune, May 15, 
22, 1887. 


No provisions for the organization of savings banks have 
since that time been passed in Illinois, and few institutions 
which are devoted solely to that purpose exist in the state. 

Very little actual legislation affecting banking found a place 
on the statute books between the adoption of the constitution 
and the passage of the general bank act in 1887. By an act 
of 1875 foreign corporations were authorized to loan money 
in the state and to take real estate as security for such loans, 
but they were specifically prohibited from exercising banking 
powers and privileges. In 1879 greater protection to deposit- 
ors was provided by a law making the receiving of deposits 
by any bank officer, after the actual insolvency of the bank, an 
act of embezzlement; and the converting of a bank's funds to 
the private use of any bank officer, larceny. This was aimed 
against abuses which had characterized the bank failures in 
1877. At the same time savings banks were forbidden to 
become liable as guarantors. 65 

95 Laws of 1875, P- 65; 1879, p. 113 ff. 


THE year 1878 marked the end of the long depression 
which had followed the panic of 1873, an d ushered in a 
remarkable trade revival which was felt throughout the whole 
country, and not least in Illinois. Unusually large crops in 
1877 gave the first presage of returning prosperity; and the 
repetition of bountiful harvests in the next few years breathed 
new life into the whole structure of business, especially as a 
lighter crop than usual in Europe in 1879 an d following years 
created a strong demand for grain for export, and so main- 
tained prices on a high level. 1 Of the prosperity resulting 
from this remarkable combination of circumstances Illinois 
enjoyed her full share. 2 

The corn crop of 1879 was 305,913,377 bushels, a record 
which has but rarely been surpassed since; and the wheat 
crops of 1879, 1880, and 1882 were the three largest in 
the history of the state. 3 The total value of cereal crops 

1 The prices of corn and wheat at the end of 1878, when the European 
harvests were good, had fallen to the lowest point they had reached in the 
decade. Financial Review, 1879, p. 2. The price of corn to the Illinois farmer 
was twenty-two cents a bushel, while that of wheat was only eighty cents. 
Statistical Report of the Illinois State Board of Agriculture, August t, 1915, p. 4, 
December i, 1915, p. 5. 

2 " Mr. Chairman Wright, of the depression committee, frankly confesses to 
having seen and heard much that astonished him in Chicago, and to having been 
thoroughly impressed with the truth of the statements of the manufacturers and 
business men regarding the marked increase of general prosperity that has been 
visible in this city for more than a year past v He found things he did not expect 
to see, such as a community of men engaged in mammoth manufacturing and 
mercantile operations who paid cash for what they bought and required cash 
for what they made or sold, and who declared that there was an abundance of 
money with which to carry on their business;* and he failed to find there a city 
full of starving mechanics and workingmen unable to find employment." Chicago 
Tribune, August 2, 1879. 

3 The figures are: 1879, 45,417,661 bushels; 1880, 56,508,409 bushels; 1882, 
52,323,261 bushels. For the crop of 1881, see note 9. 



increased from $520,000,000 in the half decade 1870- 
1874 to $630,000,000 in the period of 1875-1879, and to 
$690,000,000 in the following five years. The effect of these 
large crops was to stimulate industrial, commercial, and finan- 
cial undertakings along all lines; a "boom" period was 
ushered in which continued until checked by the panic of 1884. 

Railroad earnings rose at once 4 and gave impetus to new 
building; the mileage in the state increased steadily from 
7,570 miles in 1879 to 8,909 in i884. 5 While in other parts 
of the country the large earnings led to stock watering by the 
declaration of stock dividends, 6 this seems not to have occurred 
to such a large extent in Illinois, as the capitalization of the 
railroads in the state for the two years 1879 ant ^ ^So remained 
the same $231,000,000. In the half decade 1879-1884, 
however, the mileage of the roads increased only 18 per cent 
while the capital stock increased 40 per cent, 7 which suggests 
that the gain in earning power was ultimately capitalized. 

It was but natural that speculation should be a concomitant 
of the new prosperity. One of the most disastrous ventures 
was the attempt by J. Keene and others to corner the Chicago 
wheat market in 1880. The corner finally broke with large 
loss to the people concerned; and the price of wheat declined 

4 The amount paid out in interest and dividends by the railways of Illinois 
was $17,053,730 in 1878 and $24,986,503 in 1879. Poor, Manual of Railroads, 
l %79< P- y ii> 1880, p. vii. 

5 The figures as to the growth of railroad mileage in Illinois do not ade- 
quately indicate the changes which were making Chicago the great distributing 
center of the west, for the greatest growth was taking place in those railroads 
which lay outside the state of Illinois, but were tributary to Chicago. The most 
prominent corporations which were largely increasing their mileage during this 
period were the Chicago and Northwestern, with a total mileage at the close of 
the year 1880 of about 2,800; the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul, with 
3,700; and the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy, with 2,800. These companies 
watered their stock largely during this period. Thus in 1880 the Chicago, Rock 
Island, and Pacific Company doubled its stock through a " scrip dividend " of 
one hundred per cent; the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy issued a twenty- 
eight per cent stock dividend. Noyes, Forty Years of American Finance, 64-65. 

6 Financial Review, 1881, p. i. 

7 Poor, Manual of Railroads, 1880-1885, passim. 


sharply, from $1.59 per bushel in January to $1.03 in Sep- 
tember. More successful was the effort of Armour and 
Company of Chicago to corner pork; after controlling the 
whole market supply of the country for some months, this 
ring closed out with a large profit in the autumn. 8 

The following year, 1881, speculation in breadstuffs was 
especially flagrant. Taking our short crops and the small 
stocks in Europe as a basis for their operations, the specu- 
lators in Chicago seized the markets in August and from then 
until November held control of them, crowding up the prices 
of wheat and corn to such a point that exports were seriously 
checked and stocks accumulated. In November and December 
the usual decline from such an artificial movement followed, 
resulting in loss to many who had been engaged in it. 9 

In spite of the excesses of speculators, however, the clos- 
ing years of the decade were years of really solid prosperity. 
The best evidence of this is afforded by that faithful indicator of 
commercial conditions, the record of business failures. 10 The 
year 1880 as the low water mark was in all respects regarded 
as a record-breaking era of prosperity. 11 

8 Financial Review, 1881, p. i, 2. 

9 The wheat crop in Illinois was a disastrous failure in 1881, averaging only 
seven and one-third bushels to the acre and yielding 22,374,163 bushels, as against 
56,508,409 bushels for 1880. This was the smallest harvest in twenty years. 
While the small yield was compensated for in a measure by higher prices $1.07 
per bushel in 1881 and 82 cents in 1880 the total value was only about half as 
much as for the preceding or for the following year. The corn crop in 1880 was 
fair, but in 1881 was a decided failure, only four years between that date and 
1915 showing a smaller yield. In 1879 the number of bushels produced was 
35>9 I 3>377; in 1880 it was 250,697,036; and in 1881 it was 174,491,706. The 
high prices obtained for the small crop of 1881, however, made the total value 
nearly equal to that of the year 1879. Statistical Report of the Illinois State 
Board of Agriculture, August i, 1915, p. 4, December i, 1915, p. 5; Financial 
Review, 1882, p. i. 

10 See appendix, p. 494. 

11 " Perhaps there has never been a more satisfactory or prosperous year in 
the career of any nation than the last yedr has been for the American people. 
The peculiar merit of this prosperity was its genuineness and substantiality; it 
was not wildly illusive as was the apparent prosperity of the years following the 
War and preceding the panic. . . . The influx of foreign labor has certainly 
exerted a salutary and important influence in discouraging strikes, lock-outs, and 


With the year 1882 came a slackening of speed in the 
business world, and the following year was one of steadily 
increasing depression in commercial and financial affairs, cul- 
minating in the panic of 1884. In Chicago, however, the large 
liabilities of 1883 made that year more serious than the year 
of the panic itself. Bank clearings, which are a fair index of 
business prosperity, in 1884 fell off ten per cent from the total 
of the previous twelve months. 12 A run of minor importance 
was made upon some of the Chicago banks, but it was without 
serious consequences. There were no national bank failures 
in Chicago and only two in the state, 13 due to a general shrink- 
age of values which occurred not only in Illinois, but through- 
out the country. 14 

The year 1885 showed a quick recovery from the tempo- 
rary depression, for business was sound at bottom. Except 
for the almost complete failure of the wheat crop, conditions 
in Illinois were healthy. 15 The upward movement continued 
during the next few years, though it was interrupted by the 
switchmen's strike in Chicago in 1886 and other labor troubles 
of that year, and in 1887 by the attempted corner in wheat 
carried on by Chicago and California cliques. 

These were hard years, however, for Illinois farmers, for 
the rapid settlement of the western lands was glutting the 

other labor disturbances which might have occurred if there had been a scarcity 
in the supply of labor. . . Railroad-building has received a remarkable 
impetus during the past year. . . . The growth of manufactures has kept 
pace with the extension of the railroads. Far more coal has been mined and iron 
and steel made than in any previous year. . . . We would be safe in saying 
that the amount of building has been 50 per cent greater than any year since the 
panic." Chicago Tribune, January i, 1881. 

12 Industrial Chicago, 4: 181. 

13 These were the First National of Monmouth and the Farmers' National of 
Bushnell. Report of the Comptroller of the Currency, 1914, 2: 114. 

14 Ibid., 1884, p. 40. 

15 The average yield per acre of wheat was only seven bushels in 1885, the 
smallest in the history of the state since 1860. The total yield was only 8,299,243, 
the smallest between 1860 and 1915 with one exception. Statistical Report of 
the Illinois State Board of Agriculture, August i, 1915, p. 4. 



markets with an enormous amount of grain. In 1889 the 
price of corn in Illinois was only 23 cents, the lowest point it 
had reached in ten years, the lowest in fact with one exception 
in twenty-five years. The price of wheat to the Illinois farmer, 
after the failure of the pool in 1887, fell to 65 cents a bushel, 
which was the lowest price since i86o 16 and was not reached 
again until 1893. It was in general a period of falling prices, 
which affected adversely industrial and commercial enterprises. 
The growth of mortgage indebtedness may sometimes be 
interpreted optimistically as an indication of hopefulness and 
energy which make it desirable to mortgage the future for 
the sake of immediate improvements which will yield a larger 
return. During this period, however, the increase in the mort- 
gage indebtedness of Illinois farmers must be regarded as a 
sign of depression and of a severe struggle against adverse 





u to 

1* 60 

*> 1> CD 

s s t? 

-^ be 
3 60 


g i 


B "Sa 

V V- 
O I- g 




3 rt O 

E o 

v t 

" ot! rt 



!s o 

< E 


fciS-a a 

<.S 2 










82.1 so 









1 47. 3 2O.O54 





As the table shows, the number of mortgages and the 
number of acres of farm land under mortgage increased 
steadily between 1870 and 1880. The decline in the value 
of the mortgage indebtedness was due to a decrease of 
$19,000,000 in the farm mortgages in Cook county,' resulting 
possibly from the transfer of this land to the category of 
town lots or city property. During the eighties the increase 
in all three of these items was especially rapid, and this must 

16 Chicago Tribune, June 15, 1887. 

17 Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of Illinois, 1888, part i. 


be attributed to the severe agricultural depression of this 
period, which resulted from the opening up of the northwest 
and the consequent fall in the price of grain. This view is 
borne out by the fact that a larger proportion of the mort- 
gages was for loans and a smaller percentage for deferred 
payments on the land. The only bright feature in the table 
is the decline in interest rates, but this may be interpreted in 
part as a sign of stagnant enterprise and idle money in the 

It will also be noted that the foreclosures of mortgages 
increased fifty per cent between 1880 and 1887. In the former 
year the number of farm mortgages foreclosed in Illinois was 
810, with a total valuation of $1,204,598; and in the latter 
year it was 1,223 with a value of $1,892, 535. 18 Most of the 
mortgages were executed in the northern and central divisions 
of the state. Only a small proportion was held by nonresidents 
of the state, most of whom lived in Connecticut, New York, 
and Wisconsin. 

The year 1891 witnessed a repetition, on a smaller scale, 
of the combination of circumstances which had made 1879 
such a fortunate one for the farmers the unusual combina- 
tion of an immense wheat crop in the United States coupled 
with a famine in Russia and partial crop failure in France, 
leading to very high prices. 19 The stimulus thus given to 
general manufacturing and mercantile business was felt 
throughout the year 1892 in improved conditions, and this 
year was singularly free from any great or unexpected dis- 
asters in the business or financial world. Unfortunately, 
however, the panic of the next year was to prove that this 
was merely the calm before a storm. 20 

18 Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of Illinois, 1890, p. 206. 

19 Financial Review, 1893, p. 3. 

20 The panic of 1893 is discussed in Centennial History of Illinois, 5: 394-420. 


To revert to the developments in banking, there is to be 
noted as the most important event the passage of the state 
bank act of 1887. This was the first general act on this subject 
which had been passed since the adoption of the constitution 
in 1870, and, with a few amendments, is the present state 
banking law. The more important provisions of this act are 
as follows: 21 Any association of persons desiring to organize 
a bank under the provisions of this act is to apply to the audi- 
tor for permission. If he is satisfied after a thorough exam- 
ination, he may give the association a certificate authorizing it 
to commence the business. Double liability of stockholders 
is provided for; reports are to be called for once every three 
months; and an annual examination of the bank is to be made 
by the auditor. Banks are forbidden to own real estate, except 
the banking premises. Not more than one-tenth of the paid-in 
capital may be loaned to any one individual or firm. The 
capital stock must be not less than $25,000 in towns of less 
than 5,000 inhabitants, and $50,000 in those of 10,000 inhab- 
itants. All corporations with banking powers existing by 
virtue of special charters were made subject to the provisions 
of the act. 22 

21 Laivs of 1887, p. 89 ff. 

22 Report of the Auditor of Public Accounts, 1890, i:xiii ff. ; Laws of 1887, 
p. 89 ff. The auditor ascertained that twenty-six banks of this sort were operating 
in the state, as follows: 

Name Location Capital 

Alton Savings Bank Alton $100,000 

Bank of Illinois Chicago 100,000 

Belleville Savings Bank Belleville 150,000 

Chicago Trust and Savings Bank Chicago 350,000 

Corn Exchange Bank of Chicago Chicago 1,000,000 

Dime Savings Bank Chicago 69,475 

Enterprise Savings Bank Cairo 50,000 

Home Savings Bank Chicago 5,000 

Illinois Trust and Savings Bank Chicago 1,000,000 

International Bank Chicago 486,000 

Northwestern Bond and Trust Company Chicago 100,000 

People's Bank of Rockford Rockford 125,000 

Pullman Loan and Savings Bank Pullman 100,000 

Springfield Marine Bank Springfield 85,500 


After the act had been submitted to a vote of the people 
and ratified, it was discovered that by error no provision had 
been made for the establishment of banks in cities of over 
10,000 inhabitants. 23 An amendment the next year, accord- 
ingly, provided that banks could be organized in cities of 
10,000 to 50,000 inhabitants with a minimum capital of 
$100,000, and in cities of over 50,000 inhabitants with a 
capital of at least $200,000. Another amendment provided 
that each director must hold in his own name at least ten 
one hundred dollar shares of stock of the bank in which he 
was director. 24 

An adequate state banking law had long been needed in the 
state, and much interest was manifested in the new system. 25 
The Chicago Economist commented on the situation as follows : 
"The law will have a great influence on the financial and 
commercial affairs of the State. . . . The National banks 
now have a great lead, and will hold their prestige for a long 
time yet unquestionably, but the very basis of their existence 
is threatened by the reduction in the National debt, and no 
new basis has yet been discovered. In this city many efforts 
to form new financial institutions have been put forth in the 

Name Location Capital 

The East St. Louis Bank East St. Louis 40,000 

The Elgin City Banking Company Elgin 60,000 

The Farmers' and Mechanics' Bank Galesburg 100,000 

The Hibernian Banking Association Chicago 111,000 

The Merchants' Loan and Trust Company Chicago 2,000,000 

The Moline Savings Bank Moline none 

The Montgomery County Loan and Trust Company. . Hillsboro 50,000 

The People's Bank of Bloomington Bloomington 100,000 

The Sangamon Loan and Trust Company Springfield 58,323 

The Union Trust Company Chicago 500,000 

The Workingmen's Banking Company East St. Louis 50,000 

Western Trust and Savings Bank Chicago 100,000 

Total $6,890,298 

28 Chicago Tribune, November 28, 1888. 

24 Laws of 1889, p. 58, 59. 

28 Report of the Auditor of Public Account], 1890, i:xix. 


past few years, but the great difficulty has been to secure the 
right sort of a charter. Nearly all the old bank charters 
have been rendered valueless by one cause or another, and 
capitalists naturally dislike to organize under the unlimited 
liability or partnership. Organizations can now be formed 
with only the same liabilities and under substantially the same 
conditions as those of Eastern cities. We shall accordingly 
have in this city new State banks, trust companies, mortgage 
loan companies, etc., and throughout the State local banks will 
spring up." 26 

During the first few years after the ratification of the bank 
act the state banks increased rapidly in number and in capital, 
loans, and deposits. By November, 1890, fifty-four permits 
for organization had been issued and twenty-four banks were 
operating. The loans and discounts totaled $48,025,615 and 
the combined capital of the banks was $10,2 12,5OO. 27 Two 
years later one hundred and ten permits had been issued, the 
loans and discounts had risen to $76,647,599, and the com- 
bined capital to $i7,5i2,5OO. 28 

In addition to the savings bank act and the general bank- 
ing act, already described, the legislature in 1887 passed a 
third act providing for the organization of trust companies. 
The following are the more important provisions of this law: 29 
Any corporation incorporated under the laws of the state for 
the purpose of accepting and executing trusts may be appointed 
assignee, or trustee and executor. The amount of money which 
any such corporation shall have on deposit at any time must 
not exceed ten times the amount of its paid-up capital and 
surplus, and its outstanding loans must not exceed that amount. 
Each company, before accepting any such appointment or 

26 Quoted in Bankers' Magazine, 43 : 870. 

27 Report of the Auditor of Public Accounts, 1890, p. xiv; 1892, p. xiv. 

28 Ibid., 1892, p. xiv. 

29 Laws of 1887, p. 144 ff. 


deposit, must deposit with the state auditor $200,000 in stocks 
of the United States or of Illinois or in approved mortgages 
on real estate. 30 Every company must procure from the 
auditor a certificate of authority before accepting any trust 
or deposit. Annual reports and examinations must be made, 
and more frequent reports may be called for. 31 

The finances of the state reflect in a general way the trend 
of the times in private business. Expenditures, which had 
been over $13,000,000 for the biennium ending in 1872 and 
almost $12,000,000 in 1874, declined to less than $9,000,000 
in 1876 and remained below the high figures of 1872 and 
1874 for twenty years thereafter. 32 It was, of course, not 
possible to make any considerable reduction in state expendi- 
tures, as most of the funds went to the support of public insti- 
tutions or for work which could not be curtailed without 
serious inconvenience or even suffering. Retrenchment and 
economy, however, were the order of the day; and in spite 
of the growth of population the expenditures were held down 
to practically a fixed amount, so that by 1892 the total dis- 
bursements of the state were still under $11,000,000 for the 
biennial period. Revenue remained constant; and after a rather 
serious deficit of $2,452,143 in 1871-1872, there was no 
year in which the discrepancy between receipts and expenditures 
resulted in either a large surplus or an embarrassing deficit. 
The small deficits of 1879-1880 and of 1885-1886 were 
easily taken care of the succeeding year; the deficit of 1891 
1892 marked the beginning of a series of lean years, but the 

80 In 1897 this section was amended so as to provide for a deposit with the 
auditor of securities worth $200,000 in cities of over 100,000; for those with less 
than 100,000 population the deposit need be only $50,000. Provision was also 
made for larger deposits in case the estates held exceeded ten times the amount 
thus deposited, and for subsequent reductions. Laws of 1897, p. 187. 

81 The Illinois Trust and Savings Bank of Chicago was the first company to 
qualify under this act. Report of the Auditor of Public Accounts, 1888, p. xii. 

32 Report of the Efficiency and Economy Committee, 1050. 




Administrative offices 

General assembly 


binding, and 



Pay and 












$ 49,600 























l8 77 -78... 
































































Educational institutions 

Charitable institutions 

Penal and correctional 

Militia and 






















$ 69,233 


$ 592,299 




$ 9J29 











































50,9 54 



































Internal im- 
and public 





$ 818,443 








$ 18,149 




' 111/ T 9 









1877-78. . 

24.2. 1 1 


$ 1, 660 




I87Q-8O. . 








C7 24.6 


12 84.7 



e C.37O 


4.8 I3O 

2.133 224, 

16 673 





J.IO 2l6 

2,132 084 

24. <t22 





2CQ 082 

2.IOQ. 144 

70. 7.1,1 




l880-OO. . 

7O 323 


2 C2J.8 


11, WO 

I I O,O6 ^ 

I8QI-Q2. . 

S4. Sl6 






Refund taxes 

Local bond 

Fish and game 

and exhibits 

State debt 



$162 on 






$T17.H C 


$13 2O7 O3O 


2 207 040 




A At til 

2 508 623 



8 083 831 

36 ?28 

2 2CC J.7O 



8 870 088 

4.8 66 < 

2 2l8 565 

$1 OQ7 


3 2O.O3 S 

8 <83.QOQ 

7 Q24 

2 3O3 <6o 

A. 3OO 

26s. 8<; 4. 

2O0.37 1 



2 Cl8 2O7 

7 026 




2 77O O7O 





2 824 888 


$ 1,771 


' IO.36o.236 


19 861 




i 038 

2 606 33A 


2CI O3I 


10 706 028 


made for the construction of buildings for the Illinois Indus- 
trial University; while an equal amount was assigned to 
the Southern Normal University: $160,000 in 1872-1873 
to erect new buildings, and $150,000 in 1885 1886 to replace 
the buildings which were destroyed by fire in 1885. The 
common schools, which had already become well organized 
before 1871, continued with practically no variation. 

Part of the increase in expenditures for charitable institu- 
tions was due to the taking over by the state of duties formerly 
performed by the local governments, but another large part 
was due to the fact that with the furnishing by the state of 
improved facilities for caring for the insane, the feeble-minded, 
the deaf and dumb, and the blind, many persons were sent to 
state institutions who formerly would have been cared for at 
home. Closely analogous are the expenditures for penal and 
correctional institutions. A number of new buildings were 
erected, and the state assumed a larger share of the care of 
those classes, which previously had been defrayed by the local 
governments. 33 As the labor of the convicts in the state peniten- 

35 The following are some of the more important items which caused the 
increase in expenditure for group vn: 

1871-1872: reform school, $30,000; a large part of the remainder went to 

meet indebtedness of the state penitentiary. 
1873-1874.: reform school, $57,500; conveying convicts to the penitentiary 

and reform school, $36,000; fugitives from justice, $10,000. 
1875-1876: about the same as 1873-1874. 
1877-1878: conveying convicts, $45,000; fugitives from justice, $32,000; 

largest item was payment of accumulated indebtedness of Northern 

Illinois penitentiary. 

1881-1882: Southern Illinois penitentiary, $230,000. 
1891-1892: asylum for insane criminals, $23,000. 

For group Vila some of the new or variable items were as follows: 

1871-1872: reform school, $70,000. 

1877-1878: Southern Illinois penitentiary, $143,000. 

1879-1880: Southern Illinois penitentiary, $200,000. 

1883-1884: reform school, family building, $30,000. 

1885-1886: reform school, kitchen, bakery, dining room, etc., $54,000. 

1887-1888: Southern penitentiary, cell house, $40,000. 

1889-1890: Southern penitentiary, cell house, $40,000. 

1891-1892: state reformatory, $40,000; asylum for insane criminals, $50,000. 


tiaries was managed under the contract system during this 
period, the expenses of maintenance were kept unusually low. 
The mounting expenditures for the care of the dependent, de- 
fective, and delinquent classes, taken together, marks the 
development of a greater sense of social responsibility for these 
groups on the part of the commonwealth; it evidences also a 
growth in numbers of these classes which is entirely nor- 
mal, being inevitable with the constant expansion of the pop- 

Expenditures for militia and military affairs partake both 
of the character of defense and of police duty. For the first 
three biennial periods, 18711876, the only expenditures made 
by the state which were chargeable to this group were those 
of the adjutant general and his department. After this the 
expenses of the Illinois national guard are included, although 
they were carried on the auditor's books under a special fund, 
called the "military fund," until 1884. The expenditures of 
the adjutant general and his department varied from $20,000 
to $50,000 during this whole period; the expenses of the 
national guard showed a normal growth due to larger 
enlistments in this body and also exhibited very great fluc- 
tuations in some years when troops were mobilized for strike 
duty, as the state had to bear the entire expense of their 
maintenance on such occasions, sometimes for considerable 

Expenditures for internal improvements and public works 
had all but ceased in Illinois with the completion of the Illinois 
and Michigan canal; and they remained insignificant until the 
state embarked in 1909 upon a program of improving the 
state roads. Practically the only outlays on this score, there- 
fore, were the sums occasioned by the cost of rebuilding the 
bridges across the Chicago river, which had been destroyed 
in the Chicago fire of 1871, and other extraordinary expendi- 


tures for the repair of the Illinois and Michigan canal and 
the improvement of the Illinois river. 36 

Somewhat more important at this time were the expendi- 
tures for the heterogeneous functions brought together in the 
above table under the title " industrial supervision and statis- 
tics." While the small expenditures under the head of public 
works show the disinclination of the people to have the state 
undertake the ownership and operation of public utilities, the 
growth of this other group of expenditures illustrates the need, 
which is felt in all modern states, of regulating and supervising 
more carefully the methods of private business, for the sake of 
protecting both workers and consumers and of preventing 
practices injurious to the welfare of the whole community. 

Following the adoption of the constitution of 1870, a rail- 
road and warehouse commission was established in 1871 with 
important powers of supervision and regulation of railroads 
and public warehouses. By the establishment of this com- 
mission Illinois was the leader in the movement for public 
regulation of railroads, and the litigation as to the constitu- 
tionality of this act resulted in an important judicial decision 
in the case of Munn v. Illinois upholding the power of the 
state to regulate business affected with a public interest. This 
commission remained in existence until superseded by the 
public utilities commission on January I, 1914. 

In 1877 state humane agents were appointed at Chicago, 
East St. Louis, and Peoria; beginning with a modest $2,400 

36 The following sums were expended for these purposes: 

1871-1872: Illinois and Michigan canal, $227,696; canal commission, $11,- 
ooo; bridges, etc., in Chicago, $1,823,391. 

1873-1874: Illinois river improvement, $154,221; practically all the remain- 
der for repairing damage done by Chicago fire. 

1875-1876: Illinois river improvement, $156,906. 

1877-1878: Illinois river improvement, $83,789; Illinois and Michigan canal, 


1879-1880: Illinois river improvement, $368. 
1891-1892: Illinois and Michigan canal, $20,000. 


a year their expenses slowly increased to about $10,000 a year. 
The commissioner of labor statistics dates from 1879 with 
an appropriation of $3,500 a year, which has grown to about 
$50,000. With 1 88 1 there began the expenditures for the 
state board of livestock commissioners and state veterinarian, 
which have swelled from $1,687 m tne fi rst year to over 
$200,000. Mine inspectors and examiners date from 1883 
and have added to the expenditures from $6,846 in the first 
year to about $100,000 today. 

A few other items, though not Involving large expendi- 
tures, serve to show the widening complexity of the state's 
activities. In 1880 was established the fish commission. In 
1877 the board of health was created to fill an obvious social 
need; while its scope was limited during this period, it never- 
theless succeeded in establishing itself firmly as a definite 
agency of the public service. Another new field was opened 
up in 1888 when the Lincoln homestead was purchased as an 
historical monument; and in 18911892 about $250,000 was 
appropriated to the World's Fair celebration. Ever since then 
there has been a regularly recognized group of expenses for 
monuments, exhibits, and celebrations of various kinds, the 
demand for which has grown with the passing years. 

To secure the revenue needed to meet its expenses the 
state was making use of an antiquated tax system, which was 
only partially modified during the ensuing decade. The con- 
stitution of 1870 made some changes in the article on revenue 37 
as it had stood in the constitution of 1848, but the necessary 
state revenue was to be obtained as before, principally by 
taxing the owners of property in proportion to the value of 
the property owned. According to the terms of the new consti- 
tution, (i) the capitation tax was omitted; (2) the list of 
objects which could be specially taxed by the legislature was 

37 Constitution of 1870, article ix, section 1-13. 


greatly increased by adding to the specified "pedlars, auc- 
tioneers, etc.," liquor dealers, insurance, telegraph and ex- 
press interests or business, venders of patents, and corpo- 
rations owning or using franchises or privileges; but it was 
provided that all such special taxes should be imposed by 
general law, uniform as to the class upon which it operated; 
(3) the exemption clause was made more specific and some- 
what longer; (4) general regulations were substituted for 
detailed provisions with regard to tax sales and redemptions; 
(5) limits were placed upon tax rates for county purposes 
and upon local indebtedness; (6) special assessments for local 
improvements were authorized. For forty-six years these 
provisions remained unchanged except for an amendment in 
1890 authorizing the city of Chicago to issue $5,000,000 in 
bonds on account of the World's Fair. 

In 1872 the general assembly revised the tax law to make 
it conform with the changes in the new constitution, and this 
law still forms the basis of the present system of state taxation. 
This act defined in greater detail the rules for listing and 
valuing property, increasing the number of items that must be 
scheduled under personal property; it provided for the review 
and equalization of original assessments by county boards; 
and it reorganized the state board of equalization, adding to 
its duties that of assessing railroad property and the capital 
stock of Illinois corporations. 

Under this system the general property tax still remained 
the backbone of state and local finance. Where the township 
system of organization existed, each township was to elect an 
assessor; where there were no townships the county was made 
the unit for assessment purposes. The local assessor was to 
assess all property at its fair cash value; real estate was to be 
listed and valued by the assessor, but in the case of personal 
property the owner himself was required to list it; if he failed 


to do so, then he was assessed according to the assessor's best 

During the next decade about ninety per cent of the state 
taxes were derived from the general property tax. 38 As long 
as Illinois remained an agricultural state and the forms of 
the wealth of her citizens were such as to make them easily 
ascertained and valued by the assessor, the general property 
tax was fairly well administered. But as new industries and 
forms of wealth developed and as corporate securities and other 
kinds of intangible personalty multiplied, it became increas- 
ingly difficult to ascertain all taxable property and to assess it 
fairly. 39 



true value 


assessed value 
made of 
true value 


$ 156,265,006 



X 86o 






48o,664,o | >8 










It appears from the above table that there was a great 
decline in the proportion of the true value that was assessed 
for taxation from 1850 to 1890. In the former year most 
of the wealth in the state consisted of real estate and farm 
implements and livestock, but by 1890 other forms which could 
easily be concealed had multiplied to such an extent that only 

38 See appendix, p. 500. 

39 That these facts were realized by the members of the legislature which 
passed the revenue act of 1872 is evident from the debates on this measure. The 
topics debated at greatest length were those of deduction of indebtedness and 
listing of credits. 


one-sixth of the true value was returned for taxation. 40 On 
the other hand, attention may be called to the census estimates 
of true value, showing that the wealth of the people of Illinois 
was rapidly growing during this period. 

An innovation was made in the tax law of 1872 which 
was designed to reach some of this growing wealth at the source 
by taxing the corporations which were producing it. The tangi- 
ble property of corporations could be fairly easily ascertained 
and assessed by local officials. But this by no means always 
measured their total taxability. Many of them had valuable 
franchises which every increase in population and wealth of 
the community made more valuable. Tangible property was 
not a sufficient index of earning power or of ability to pay 
taxes. The law of 1872 accordingly sought to ascertain and 
assess the value of the franchise as well. Tangible property 
continued to be assessed by the local officials as before; but 
the "corporate excess," that is, the value of the securities of 
corporations, less the value of their property assessed locally, 
was to be ascertained and taxed by the state board of equal- 
ization. 41 In 1875 "companies and associations organized 
for purely manufacturing purposes or for printing, or for 
publishing of newspapers, or for the improving and breeding 
of stock" were released from assessment by the state board, 
which meant in practice release from assessment on their cor- 
porate excess. But even in the case of those corporations 
which the law directed should be assessed, the work of assess- 
ment was so inefficiently performed that the true corporate 
excess was not reached. The corporations either failed to make 

40 The state board of equalization had passed the following formal resolution 
in 1870: "That it is the opinion of this board that the aggregate assessment of 
the property of the State for the year 1870 is not more than one-fifth of the true 
value of all the property in the State." Chicago Tribune, October 28, 1870. 

41 The state board of equalization, organized in 1867, consisted of the state 
auditor of public accounts and one member elected from each congressional dis- 
trict. It was, therefore, cumbersome and unwieldy. 


reports to the state board of equalization of the capital stock, 
funded debt, and assessed value of their tangible property, or 
they made defective or erroneous reports with a view to 
reducing their assessment. On the other hand, the state 
board, clothed with insufficient power, performed its work in 
a very inefficient manner. The decline both in number of 
corporations assessed and in valuation of their corporate 
excess is shown in the following table : 42 



Number of 

Net assessment of 
capital stock 
and franchise 

iS?-?. . 






1875. . 






i88<:. . 



1890 ... 


6, 016,000 

Though the decade 18801890 showed an improvement in 
the latter respect, no adequate assessment of corporations was 
secured until compelled by the courts a decade later. 43 

The assessment of railroad property, which had previously 
been made by local assessors, was now also divided between 
these and the state board of equalization, the former assessing 
the railroads upon their tangible property and the latter upon 
their corporate excess, except in the case of the Illinois Central 
railroad, which was exempted from ordinary taxes by virtue 
of its payment into the state treasury of a percentage of 
its gross receipts. The first effect of the introduction of this 
new scheme of assessment, under the law of 1872, was to 

42 Moore, Taxation of Corporations in Illinois other than Railroads, since 
1872, p. 93. 

43 See Centennial History of Illinois, 5 : 444-445. 


increase the valuation of railroad property in the state from 
$25,568,784, in 1872, to $133,520,633, in i873. 44 But here 
also a shrinkage soon appeared, which reduced the assessment 
to $40,461,865 in 1878; after this date the assessment moved 
slowly but steadily upward, reaching $75,310,524 in 1890. 
The corporate excess, however, which was found to be 
$64,611,071 in 1873, dwindled rapidly until in 1877 it dis- 
appeared entirely. For the next twenty years the railroads 
paid taxes only on the value of their physical plant. 

Taxes were received also during this period from banks 
and insurance companies under special modes of taxation; and 
department fees and some miscellaneous items added a few 
thousand dollars each year. For local purposes the general 
property tax was almost the only source of revenue, though 
local districts were permitted to impose a poll tax and the road 
tax was often paid in labor at the rate of $1.25 or $1.50 a day. 

44 Haig, A History of the General Property Tax in Illinois, 210. 


OWING to its strategic position between Lake Michigan 
on the north and the Ohio river on the south, below 
which the country is mountainous and broken, Illinois is prob- 
ably the most important railroad state in the union. All the 
trunk lines between east and west thread their way across this 
state, with the exception of a few southern roads, while prac- 
tically all the through lines from north to south in the central 
states have one of their termini at Chicago. Indeed Chicago 
is the terminus for all the more important lines stretching to 
the Atlantic, to the Pacific, to the Gulf of Mexico, and to the 
northwest, while the more southerly lines, north of the Ohio 
river, pass through East St. Louis, Illinois, which is opposite 
St. Louis, Missouri. Owing to the presence of these trunk 
lines and their branches, and the local coal roads, Illinois has 
long boasted of the greatest railway mileage of any state in the 
union. 1 

Down to 1869 only one year, 1856, had seen over 350 
miles of railroad constructed in a single year in Illinois. In 
that year the Illinois Central was completed and the maximum 
building record of the state 1,348 miles was attained. 
Beginning with 1868, however, an era of railroad construction 
set in, which continued until interrupted by the panic of i873. 2 
These years were marked by a notable activity in railroad 
building in all parts of the country, especially in the west. The 
construction in 1869, 1870, and 1871 for the United States as 

1 See appendix, p. 501. 

2 The new mileage constructed each year was as follows: 1868, 216; 1869, 
591; 1870, 666; 1871, 1197; 1872, 457; 1873, "8- 



a whole was 4,999, 6,145, and 7,379 miles respectively, each 
year setting a new record for the number of miles built. 

In addition to the general movement toward expansion 
there was in Illinois the special stimulus of the " tax grab " law 
of 1869, which permitted counties that chose to bond them- 
selves in aid of a new railroad to deduct from the increase in 
taxes, which would normally accrue through the rise in the 
value of the land, enough to pay the interest on these bonds. 
The prohibition in the constitution of 1870 of such local grants 
of credit in aid of railroads had the effect of hastening the 
promotion of new roads which would probably otherwise have 
be^n postponed or perhaps never built. Consequently many 
new schemes were started in 1869 and 1870 which were not 
concluded until a year or two later. 3 

The liberality of local governments in granting aid to 
almost any proposed road, under this "tax grab" law, was 
truly amazing. The local credit voted in aid of railroads in 
eighty-six counties, in the form of bonds and money, amounted 
to $16,088,027; returns from the other sixteen counties would 
certainly have brought the total for the state well up to 
$20,000, ooo. 4 The alacrity with which particular localities 
hastened to pay a heavy price for the advantages of a railroad 
is well shown in the case of the Ottawa, Oswego, and Fox River 
Valley railroad, a line of 57 miles stretching from Streator to 
Fox River Junction. Kendall, one of the smallest counties of 
the state, containing only nine townships, voted $131,000 in 
aid of its construction; Kane, La Salle, and Marshall counties 

3 In his report for 1870 the auditor stated that "two thousand miles of rail- 
roads have been built in this State since the adjournment of the last General 
Assembly, and are now in actual operation." Quoted in Chicago Tribune, Decem- 
ber 17, 1870. 

* These figures do not include the lands granted the Illinois Central by the 
state or lands granted various roads by individuals. Report of the Railroad and 
Warehouse Commission, 1873, p. 8. In 1877 it was estimated that the aggregate 
debts of towns, counties, cities, and districts in the state amounted to $40,000,000. 
Chicago Tribune, January u, 1877. 


contributed additional bonds for $323,000, making a total of 
$454,000, or nearly $8,000 a mile. 5 

When it is remembered that in addition many roads 
received grants of land from various private individuals, it is 
not surprising that there was called into existence a class of 
irresponsible promoters, who, without capital of their own, 
built lines as a speculation, selling stocks and bonds at whatever 
prices these would bring, often with no serious intention of 
operating the road but hoping to sell out at a profit. 6 For such 
roads, of course, there was no economic justification. 

In 1870 there were 4,708 miles of railroads in Illinois. 7 
The Illinois Central, with 707 miles inside the state, was the 
longest single line. This road formed an immense Y with 
its northeast terminus at Chicago, its northwest terminus at 
Galena, the junction at Centralia, and the base at Cairo. The 
Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy was second with 460 miles of 
lines, stretching across the state from Chicago to Burlington, 
Iowa, and occupying with its branches the northwest section of 
the state. Other important lines were the Chicago and Alton 
(243 miles) from Chicago to East St. Louis; the Chicago, 
Rock Island, and Pacific (193 miles) between Chicago and 
Rock Island; the Toledo, Peoria, and Warsaw (249 miles), 
now the Toledo, Peoria, and Western, which stretched from 
the Indiana state line at Iroquois county directly across the 
state through Peoria to Warsaw; the Toledo, Wabash, and 

6 Commercial and Financial Chronicle, 16: 693, quoting the Chicago Tribune, 
May u, 1873. See also the case of Quincy, Chicago Tribune, February 24, 1871. 

6 The Ottawa, Oswego, and Fox River Valley railroad may again be cited 
for illustration. In addition to the local aid received, it issued bonds of its own 
to the amount of $1,260,000, over $22,000 a mile; then upon completion it was 
leased in perpetuity to the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy, and the disillusioned 
county bondholders sought to release themselves from the obligations they had 
undertaken. Commercial and Financial Chronicle, 16:693, quoting the Chicago 
Tribune, May n, 1873. 

7 A table giving the length of the various roads and their cost was printed 
in the American Railroad Journal, 43:8. Subsequent construction can be traced 
in the Reports of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission. 


Western, which extended across the state from east to west 
about fifty miles south of the Peoria and the Western, passing 
through Springfield and Decatur. This last named road was 
the result of consolidations of numerous small lines and now 
forms part of the Wabash system. 

During the year 1870 some 666 miles of new rcrad were 
added to the railway net of Illinois, comprising the Rockford, 
Rock Island, and St. Louis (130 miles), from Sterling to 
Alton; the Gilman, Clinton, and Springfield; the St. Louis, 
Vandalia, and Terre Haute; the Ohio and Mississippi, from 
Vincennes to St. Louis; and the Indianapolis and St. Louis. 
The extension of the Belleville and Southern Illinois to Du 
Quoin gave a connection with the coal fields of the state. Most 
of these lines, it will be noticed, were east and west roads across 
the state. 

The year 1871 witnessed the largest construction, with one 
exception, of any year in the history of the state, namely 1,197 
miles; this was more than one-seventh of the new construction 
in the whole country. 8 A noticeable feature of the railway 
building now begun and carried through during the rest of the 
decade was the opening up of the southern part of the state. 
The Springfield and Illinois Southwestern 9 was completed to 
Shawneetown, thus providing a route from central Illinois, and 
also by means of various connections from the northern part 
of the state, to the southeastern counties, which until this time 
had been unprovided with railway facilities. Work was also 
begun on the Cairo and Vincennes, and on the Cairo and St. 
Louis, in the southwestern section of the state. The latter line 
was built as a narrow gauge road. 10 

8 Poor, Manual of Railroads, 1872. 

9 This road later became a part of the Baltimore and Ohio system. 

10 Cairo was hailed as the coming railroad center. See Du Quoin Tribune, 
quoted in American Railroad Journal, 55:483. An active controversy was car- 
ried on at this time as to the relative merits of the narrow gauge of three feet 
and the standard gauge of four feet eight and one-half inches. Several of the 


In other parts of the state also railway building was pro- 
gressing. The Chicago, Pekin, and Southwestern was being 
built from Chicago to Pekin in the interests of the Chicago, 
Burlington, and Quincy system. The Bloomington and Ohio 
railroad built about 70 miles during the year; the Decatur and 
State Line Company 129 miles; the Decatur, Sullivan, and 
Mattoon 40 miles. These and other short connecting lines, 
none of great importance, filled in the gaps between the larger 
systems already built ; most of them were later absorbed by the 
large companies and their names have been forgotten. 

There followed a period of pronounced reaction, only 457 
miles being built in 1872 and 228 in 1873. Largely responsible, 
of course, was the general depression caused by the panic of 
1873; partly responsible, too, was the prohibition by the new 
constitution of further local aid under the "tax grab" law of 
1 869, and the higher interest rates. But the fundamental reason 
was the fact that Illinois was no longer so keenly in need of new 
lines and was now unwilling to pay exorbitant prices for them. 
To show how well the state was provided with railroads, the 
railroad and warehouse commission published a table in 1872 
which showed that 73 per cent of all the land in the state lay 
within five miles of a railroad; 21.5 per cent between five and 
ten miles; 4 per cent between ten and fifteen miles; and only 1.5 
per cent was more than fifteen miles distant. The commission 
concluded that when to these facilities were added the advan- 
tages which were presented by the lake, navigable rivers, canals, 
and slackwater navigation of the state, and also those of the 
railroads in other states adjoining the border, it might fairly 

southern Illinois lines were constructed with the three-foot gauge, which was 
urged because it was cheaper and more economical to operate and hence could 
be extended into districts where the more expensive standard gauge lines would 
not pay. An Illinois narrow-gauge convention was held in 1875 to advance this 
movement and to advocate the construction of a narrow-gauge railroad to the 
seaboard. Railroad Gazette, 2:417; American Railroad Journal, 45:109; Rail- 
way Age, 4: 514. 


be presumed that no other state in the union possessed equal 
facilities for the transportation of persons and property, so 
uniformly distributed through its territory. 11 

It will be instructive to pause at this point and note the 
character of the railroads and equipment with which the state 
was now so well supplied. Early Illinois railroads, like those 
of many western states, were built across the level, open prairie 
and were constructed at the lowest possible cost, with little 
regard for their permanency. The demand for improved 
means of transportation was pressing and as much track as possi- 
ble was built with the limited capital available. The existing 
traffic, indeed, would scarcely have warranted anything better; 
but it was hoped that with the development of the country the 
increasing traffic would pay for improvements as the temporary 
equipment wore out. Already in 1870 this substitution of 
more permanent structure had been begun on some of the 
older lines. 

In its first annual report for 1871, the railroad and ware- 
house commission stated that the railroads of Illinois compared 
favorably with those of any other western state. They were 
in good repair on the whole, although the work of ballast- 
ing was proceeding slowly on account of the lack of suitable 
material in the state and the great expense of obtaining it 
from a distance. The bridges, stations, and other permanent 
structures were being gradually improved; and the passenger 
accommodations were especially good. Sleeping and dining 
cars were just being put into general use, the first having been 
introduced in i867. 12 

While Illinois railroads may have compared favorably with 
those in other states in many respects, they were always handi- 
capped in the construction of the roadbed, owing to the scarcity 

11 Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, 1872, p. 19-20, 168-169. 

12 Ibid., 1871, p. 8-9. 


of gravel or other suitable material for ballast. The early 
typical earth road has been described as follows: 

"A newly constructed road-bed, which depends solely upon 
the material found at each point along the line for ballast, and 
which is not more carefully drained than was formerly com- 
mon, frequently degenerates into the condition depicted by the 
expressive phrase 'mud road,' and this is practically what a 
number of American railroads formerly were, the mud some- 
times flying in all directions before the march of the locomotive 
as freely as it flies on a common dirt road after a heavy rain 
when a vehicle is driven over it at a rapid pace." 13 

The first step in the improvement of such a road was the 
use of earth ballast. When properly applied this material ren- 
dered the roadbed much more serviceable, and as it was more 
practicable than sand or gravel, its use had become very general 
in 1870. Even as late as 1890, about 40 per cent, or 4,044 
out of 10,213 miles, of the railroads in the state were still 
earth ballasted. At this latter date the other forms of ballast 
were: slag, 82 miles; cinders, 561 miles; stone, 892 miles; 
gravel and sand, 4,412 miles. 14 The use of earth ballast 
caused high maintenance charges, and also high operating 
expenses, as accidents and losses were more frequent. 

Practically all the rails of the Illinois railroads in 1870 
were of iron and constructed according to a T pattern. These 
were very unsatisfactory, and a substitute was eagerly sought 
both in England and in this country. The first steel rail was 
laid in this country in 1864, and a year later the first one in a 
central western state was reported to have been laid. The 
early steel rails were imported, the first one rolled in this 
country being produced by the Chicago Rolling Mill in May, 
1865, under the direction of W. F. Durfee, the engineer of 

18 Ringwalt, Development of Transportation Systems in the United States, 296. 
14 Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, 1890, p. 46. 


that company. 15 The works of the Joliet Iron and Steel Com- 
pany were established at Joliet in 1870, and in 1873 tne Y fi rst 
manufactured Bessemer steel. In 1 874, however, the company 
failed, and although it made a second attempt it again failed 
in 1879. The Vulcan Steel Company of St. Louis, which also 
undertook the business of making steel rails, met a similar fate 
in 1877. 

It is not possible to state how many miles of steel rails there 
were on Illinois railroads in 1870, but there could not have been 
many. In 1874 there were 1,398 miles of steel rails of about 
60 pounds weight per yard as against 11,229 miles of iron 
rails of an average weight of 40 to 60 pounds. 16 The follow- 
ing year it was reported that 518 additional miles of steel rails 
had been laid. 17 Most of these, as might be expected, were 
on the larger roads, as the Chicago and Alton ( 141 miles), the 
Illinois Central (105), Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy (95), 
and the Chicago and Northwestern (94). At first the high 
price of steel rails prevented an extension of their use, but 
after 1875 (in which year they sold for $120 currency per 
ton, or about $95 gold), prices fell steadily until in 1885 the 
low level of $28 per ton was reached. This permitted the 
replacement of iron by steel rails, and substitution went on 
so rapidly that by 1885 the railroad and warehouse com- 
mission could report that " since their last inspection nearly all 
the leading roads in the State have removed the old iron rails, 
and replaced them with steel rails." 18 

15 Ringwalt, Development of Transportation Systems in the United States, 
198, 200, 201; Johnson, American Railway Transportation, chapter 4; Report of 
the Pennsylvania State Railroad Commission, 1864, i866 : 

16 Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, 1874, p. 360. These 
are the miles of lines owned by Illinois roads. Not all the mileage was in 
Illinois. The figures, however, are valuable in showing the proportion of steel 
and iron rails on these roads. 

17 Ibid., 1875, p. 12. This report also stated that twenty-six per cent of the 
railroads of the state were laid with steel rails; but if the proportion of eleven 
per cent given the previous year was correct, this figure is much too high. 

18 Ibid., 1885, p. xiii. 


This movement toward a heavier track was caused by, and 
also made possible, the use of heavier locomotives and other 
rolling stock. Thus the average load of a freight train on the 
Chicago and Alton line grew from 124 tons in 1875 to 177 tons 
in 1880, and 184 tons in 1885. 19 

It was in the development of special types of passenger cars 
that Illinois made her contributions. Mr. George A. Pullman 
patented his new sleeping car in 1865, and two years later the 
Pullman Company was incorporated for the manufacture of 
these cars. They were followed soon afterwards by dining 
and parlor cars. The splendors of these new palaces on wheels 
were described by Mr. Charles G. Leland of Philadelphia as 
follows: "A remarkable subject of interest, which our party 
examined this morning, was the City of Chicago not the 
metropolis itself, but its reflection, as regards splendor and 
enterprise, in a sleeping car of that name, which runs on the 
Illinois Central. This car cost $20,000, and is said to be cheap 
at the price. Every comfort which can be placed in such a 
vehicle is to be found within its wooden walls. . . . Not 
less remarkable is the corresponding seat car for day passen- 
gers, which surpasses in splendor, and still more in comfort, 
any car which I have ever seen on an eastern road. There 
is yet another car, which cost thirty thousand dollars, which 
I did not see, but which was described as a miracle of its 
kind." 20 

The introduction of the vestibule seems to have followed 
the use of dining cars, although rather tardily. A vestibule 
car is said to have been designed as early as 1852, but they did 
not come into use until the end of the eighties, and their general 
introduction on the railroads of Illinois came even later than 

19 The average weight of freight engines increased from twenty-eight tons 
in 1869 to forty-two tons in 1880. Tenth Census of the United States, 4: 570-573. 
Ringwalt, Development of Transportation Systems in the United States, 319. 

20 Ibid., 209. 


that. 21 The need for this devi-ce had, however, been pointed 
out as early as 1871 by the railroad and warehouse commission 
in the following statement: "The recent adoption of dining 
cars for the accommodation of passengers, instead of stopping 
trains at eating stations, which has come into use on several of 
the important roads, involves the necessity of passengers pass- 
ing from car to car through the trains while they are running 
at full speed. The practice of passing through trains in that 
manner has always been regarded, and proven by serious 
loss of life, to be very dangerous; especially is this so 
where the old style coupling, draw-head and platform, are 

"The danger to life in this regard is considered by this 
Board to be quite enough to require legislative action, which 
shall oblige, at an early day, the use of platforms and couplings 
of some of the various forms now well known, by means of 
which these dangers may be materially diminished. 

"As the platforms of passenger cars are structures usually 
made independent of and attached to the body of the cars, the 
necessary changes can be readily accomplished at moderate 
expense, and the Board therefore recommend that after one 
year the use of any platform and coupling on passenger trains, 
except such as when coupled together are, and remain in near 
contact, should be prohibited by suitable penalties." 22 

The various improvements made in track and equipment 
tended on the whole to reduce the danger of accidents, relative 
to the increasing traffic. Laws began to be passed also, be- 
ginning in the seventies, for the prevention of accidents. An 
act of 1869 provided for flagmen at crossings and a few other 
precautionary measures, but the general law of i874 23 was 

21 Johnson, American Railway Transportation, 48. 

22 Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, 1871, p. 8-9. 

23 Laws of 1869, p. 312-315; Kurd's Revised Statutes, 1874, p. 807 ff. 


much more far-reaching. This required the right of way to be 
fenced in and cattle guards to be placed at crossings; it pre- 
scribed rules of procedure where two lines crossed; it left to 
the local government units the regulation of the speed of trains 
through the corporate limits, but imposed certain penalties for 
the violation of such ordinances; and it required all roads to 
equip passenger trains with automatic couplers. 

The work of coupling and uncoupling cars was the most 
dangerous task of railroad employees, being responsible for 
about 37 per cent of all accidents to them. 24 The automatic 
coupler replaced the old link and pin coupler very slowly, how- 
ever, and the power of the interstate commerce commission had 
to be employed before the change was made complete. The 
increase in railroad accidents during this period was very slight 
for passengers and did not keep pace with the increase in 
passenger traffic; those to employees showed a greater growth, 
especially of nonfatal injuries; but the largest number of 
fatal accidents was among persons other than passengers and 
employees, the largest percentage of whom were killed at 
crossings. The following table shows the number of accidents 
as reported annually by the railroad and warehouse commis- 
sion. It should be pointed out, however, that part of the 
apparent increase is doubtless due to the fact that in the earlier 
years not all the cases of accident were reported. 

The building of new railroads was almost entirely sus- 
pended for the rest of the decade after the panic of i873- 25 
This was apparently due less to the hostile railroad legislation 
than to the fact that the state was already well supplied with 
transportation facilities. 26 There was thus no inducement for 
the investment of new capital, particularly at a time when 

24 Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, 1882, p. xv. 

25 The miles of new lines built were as follows: 1872, 170; 1873, 228; 
1875, 350; 1876, 176; 1877, 59; 1878, 114; 1879, 130. 

28 Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, 1876, p. 21. 




JUNE 30 













1874. . 















I8 7 
I 7 6 







I 7 6 


2 3 6 












5 l8 


8 10 



i8?< . . 

!8 7 6 

1877. . 

1878. . 

1870. . 





1884. . 









1801. . 

a Eighty of these ninety-seven were killed in the Chatsworth disaster in 
August, 1887, and 140 of the 249 passengers injured were hurt in this accident. 

interest rates were high and it was difficult if not impossible 
to float new securities. The panic of 1873 an< ^ tne resulting 
depression had been caused by overinvestment in railroads and 
other forms of fixed capital, and the prevailing difficulties could 
be corrected only by permitting the country to grow up to the 
existing facilities. 

Not only was new building suspended, but the work of 
improvement was interrupted and for several years after 1873 
many of the roads were unable, because of the decline in earn- 
ings, even to keep their permanent structures and rolling stock 


in good repair. By 1878 the railroad and warehouse com- 
mission reported that certain railroads in the state were in a 
condition that made them dangerous highways of travel and 
freightage. Although under existing statutes the commission 
had no authority to compel the repair of a road if it was found 
defective, it began the policy of annual inspection of and 
report on the railroads in the state, hoping by publicity to 
secure such improvements as were necessary. 27 The policy 
seems to have been successful and the practice was maintained 

More important than the mere physical growth in mileage 
or improvement in equipment is the question as to how satis- 
factorily the railroads were actually serving the people of the 
state in carrying them and their freight. For an answer to 
this question it is necessary to turn to statistics of traffic and 
rates, but these are unfortunately both incomplete and inaccu- 
rate. 28 It is impossible to say how great the freight traffic was 
in 1870, but by 1872 the railroads in the state carried about 
12,000,000 tons. By 1875 ^e freight carried amounted to 
12,900,000 tons. This was made up of various products in 
about the following proportions: 29 grain, 23 per cent; flour, 
4.5 per cent; livestock, 9 per cent; coal, 16 per cent; manu- 
factures, including agricultural instruments, 5 per cent; and 
general merchandise, 20 per cent. This list leaves 22.5 per 
cent of the traffic unclassified. So far as they are available the 
data of railroad traffic in Illinois are given in the following 
table for five-year periods: 

27 Consult Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, 1878, p. xix. 

28 The railroad and warehouse commission complained that the returns made 
by the railroad companies were very imperfect; they were not only meager, but 
incorrect, due either to ignorance or carelessness in their preparation. The com- 
mission was continually urging that the reports be made more accurate. See ibid., 
1879, p. xxiii. 

29 Compiled from ibid., 1875. This report is so incomplete that the figures 
given can be considered only rough approximations. 








Tons carried 
one mile 


Passengers car- 
ried one mile 

l8?2. . 


i87<;. . 


334,"5> 2 34 




3,025,300,000 b 

499,000,000 b 
900,000,000 c 


180";. . 

a Estimated in Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, 1875, 
p. 13. 

b Estimated on basis of tons carried and miles in average haul. 

c To make the figures comparable the estimated traffic of elevated lines was 
subtracted from the figure given by the railroad and warehouse commission. 

To the shipper in Illinois the question of rates was almost 
more vital than that of railroad facilities, for of what avail 
were the latter unless he could afford to use them? In 1870 
the freight rates were, on the average, 2.43 cents per ton-mile. 
But this average, when rates were in such a confused condi- 
tion, probably in very few cases represented the amount actual- 
ly paid. Passenger rates were between 3.5 and 6 cents per mile, 
with an average of 4 cents. While these were about the same 
as were being charged in other states in the middle west, they 
were decidedly higher than similar rates for the United States 
as a whole, which were 1.889 cents per ton-mile for freight and 
2.392 cents per mile for passenger service. 30 That these rates 
were high, not only relatively in comparison with the rest of 
the country, but also absolutely in comparison with the cost of 
service, there is little reason to doubt. By 1880 the freight 
rates had been reduced to 1.32 cents per ton-mile and the 
passenger rates to 3.28 per mile. But whether they were high 
or not, the farmers and other shippers generally believed them 

30 Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, 1871; Dixon, State 
Railroad Control, 44; Newcomb, Changes in the Rates of Charge for Railway 
and other Transportation Services, 14. 


to be so. 31 In defense of the railways it may be said that the 
traffic in Illinois at this time was so light that rates had to be 
high if fixed charges were to be met. The rates for freight 
and passengers by five-year intervals are shown in the table : 




United States 



, (2) 


, (4) 

l87O. . 





I. OH 

l87<. . 



l80O. . 


l801. . 

But not merely were rates high; they were also discrimi- 
natory. The truth of the matter was that there were more 
railroads than the state really needed; it was simply impossible 
to expand the traffic to keep pace with the new roads, often 
promored by irresponsible adventurers and accordingly the 
existing traffic had to be divided among a larger number of 
rivals. Competition became most severe; 33 and owing to the 
peculiar nature of railroad service, which can be sol'd only in 

31 See report of the committee on transportation of Illinois State Grange, 
January 15, 1875, and address of Illinois State Farmers' Association to the 
railroad and warehouse commission quoted in Railroad Gazette, 7:46. 

32 Sources: column i, Reports of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission. 
Rates given for the years 1880 and 1885 are estimates made by the commission 
on the basis of the rates reported by the leading railways of the state. In the 
later years the rates were compiled by the writer from statistics given in the 
reports. Column 2, ibid. Column 3, Newcomb, Changes in the Rates of Charge 
for Railway and other Transportation Services. Column 4, Report on the Statis- 
tics of Railways in the United States. 

33 At Chicago and Peoria and all other important centers of trade, shippers 
not only had the option of transport to any one of several Atlantic seaports but 
they had also the option of two or more routes to the same port. " Report on the 
Internal Commerce of the United States," 1876, House Executive Documents, 44 
congress, i session, number 46, p. 69. 


connection with the line that renders it, this meant that each line 
attempted to steal its competitors' business by offering lower 
rates, secret rebates, and other favors. The loss caused by the 
lowering of the rates at competitive points was then made up 
at noncompeting points. Larger amounts were often charged 
for a short haul between two noncompeting points than for 
much longer hauls between competing points; and large or 
influential shippers were given concessions which were made up 
by additional charges on small shippers. 

The need for a more equitable adjustment was imperative, 
yet so strongly did the idea prevail that the only way to secure 
lower rates was to encourage free competition, that only 
after a severe struggle did the constitutional convention in 1870 
undertake to establish the right of the state to regulate the 
railroads. 34 The legislature of 1871 promptly carried out the 
provisions of the constitution by establishing a mandatory rail- 
road and warehouse commission to regulate and fix maximum 
rates. 35 Discrimination and extortion were made illegal, and 
the commission was empowered to enforce the law in such cases. 
But the railroads fought the laws and the commission appointed 
to regulate rates. 36 Cases were promptly brought before the 
courts to test the constitutionality of the act establishing the 
commission; 37 until these were decided little change was made 
in actual conditions. Even when its power to regulate was 
judicially determined, the Illinois commission adopted a very 
conservative policy in fixing its schedule of rates; 38 and the 

34 See above, p. 18 ff. 

35 A full analysis of the measure is given in American Railroad Journal, 
44 : 480. 

36 Commercial and Financial Chronicle, 15:794. 

37 Of these the most famous was that of Munn <v. Chicago, which was decided 
in 1876 and established the principle that the state had the power to regulate 
business affected with a public interest. 

38 The commission issued a circular giving their construction of the railroad 
law and outlining their plans, which is reprinted in American Railroad Journal, 
46 : 905. 


maxima were made high enough so that the railroads could still 
have considerable freedom in adjusting rates to meet com- 
petition. 39 It adopted a policy in most cases of acting as 
arbiter rather than as public prosecutor, as the law apparently 

After the validity of the " granger laws " had been estab- 
lished by the United States supreme court in 1877, the railroads 
gradually assumed a more conciliatory attitude and the com- 
plaints against them became fewer. These by no means 
altogether ceased, however, and in 1880 there were brought 
before the Illinois commission 47 formal complaints of which 
25 were for extortion (unreasonably high rates), 13 for unjust 
discrimination, and 9 for other offenses. All these cases were 
settled by the commission, and in those cases where the decision 
was against the railroads the latter acquiesced promptly in 
the decision of the commission. 40 Gradually the complaints 
against the roads for violation of the law became fewer; and 
by 1884 the number of cases which came before the commission 
had been reduced to three, all of which concerned the question 
of discrimination. For some years after this there were no 
cases of importance. 

One of the most cogent reasons for the lessened need of 
reduction of rates by the state was the fact that competition 
really did tend to lower rates as fast as the decreasing costs 
of operation would allow. This movement was particularly 
noticeable throughout the seventies. 41 The panic of 1873 
intensified it abnormally, for when in the general depression 
railway earnings fell off, many roads became bankrupt; and 
such roads, relieved of their fixed charges, entered into an 
especially ruthless rivalry for traffic. 

39 For illustrations see Railroad Gazette, 5:270, 373. 

40 Clark, State Railroad Commissions, and How They May Be Made Effec- 
tive, 37. 

41 Hadley, Railroad Transportation, 104. 


These periods of ruinous competition in the early seventies 
led the railroads involved to endeavor to escape by the forma- 
tion of " pooling " agreements. It was very difficult, however, 
to get all the roads into one pool or to enforce the agreements, 
and for that reason they were generally short lived. They 
also operated to tjie disadvantage of certain of the important 
commercial cities and to the advantage of others; and the 
luckless cities would then bring pressure to bear upon the pool, 
which usually resulted in its dissolution. 

The first regular organized pool in the United States was 
the Chicago-Omaha pool, which was formed in 1870 by three 
Illinois roads. These were the Chicago, Burlington, and 
Quincy, the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific, and the Chicago 
and Northwestern, then the only lines connecting the two cities 
named. They had only recently been completed and, finding 
their early rate wars and competition mutually destructive, they 
formed a pooling agreement. The traffic pooled was the 
passenger and freight business between Chicago and Omaha. 
As each road had about an equal amount of business, it was 
comparatively easy to apportion the traffic, and it was agreed 
that each road was to reserve practically half of its earnings 
for itself and to share the remainder equally with the other two 
roads. This percentage was maintained throughout the agita- 
tion of the granger period and conduced greatly to the stability 
of rates. In fact, Larrabee concluded that its success in main- 
taining rates was one of the chief causes leading to the granger 
movement. 4 -' This pool lasted for fourteen years without a 
break and was then, in 1884, merged into the Western Freight 

Another pool, which was more distinctly an Illinois affair, 
was entered into in 1875 by the Illinois Central, the Wabash, 

4 - Johnson, American Railway Transportation, 230; Report of the Industrial 
Commission, 19:333; Larrabee, The Railroad Question, 194. 


and the Chicago and Alton railroads on all competitive busi- 
ness. This was a money pool, and equalization was made and 
balances were settled each month. The work of equalization, 
which was performed by a board of arbitrators, was brought 
to a high degree of exactitude. A typical monthly report, for 
example, shows that out of a total business of $2,800,000 by 
the three Chicago-St. Louis lines, one fell $800 short of its 
allotted percentage, another only $400, and the third exceeded 
its share by $1,200. Rates were in general maintained ef- 
fectively and were kept stable by this organization ; but at times 
it broke down and severe rate wars occurred, especially for 
passenger traffic. For instance, in 1880 the Wabash cut its 
passenger rate from Chicago to St. Louis to $2.00, and the 
other roads reduced theirs to $3.oo. 43 

Another state association, concerning which, however, little 
is known, was the Illinois Railway Freight Association. From 
the scanty reports available it seems to have been composed of 
Illinois lines and to have concerned itself principally with intra- 
state business. It attempted to fix rates and appointed com- 
mittees to draw up complete freight tariffs. At a meeting in 
December, 1881, it was urged by the rate committee that the 
maximum rates permitted by the railroad and warehouse com- 
mission be adopted as the minimum rates of the association. 

In addition to these local pools there were agreements 
among the trunk lines concerning both eastbound and west- 
bound traffic. During the seventies the number of traffic 
associations, both freight and passenger, increased in number 
in all parts of the country until practically every road was a 
member of more than one organization. 44 These associations 
were on the whole very successful in steadying rates and dis- 
tributing competitive traffic so as to check interline warfare. 

43 Railway Age, 9 : 562. 

44 Johnson and Huebner, Railroad Traffic and Rates, 1:299. 


But the excessive competition, due to the building of railroads 
in excess of the economic needs of the time, led again and again 
to the breaking of these agreements and to rate wars. 

To the railroad men of the time cooperation seemed the 
only protection from ruin. In 1877 the delegates who had been 
appointed by the London shareholders of the Illinois Central 
railroad to investigate the causes of the steady decline of traffic 
upon that road concluded that much of the loss of traffic was 
due to the severe competition of small lines. The remedy they 
pointed out in these words : " The best prospect of maintain- 
ing remunerative rates, at present, lies in making agreements 
between the railroad companies for the maintenance of rates, 
and for division of earnings at competitive points. The 
absorption of the smaller lines into the systems of the larger 
companies is what must be looked to as the final settlement of 
the question of competition between the railroads." 45 

But both pooling and combination were strongly opposed 
by shippers and the public in general, who believed that 
unrestricted competition was the best cure for high rates and 
unfair practices. In Illinois the shippers were for the most 
part farmers, and as they controlled the legislature many bills 
were brought in by them to prohibit pools. 46 As the railroad 
and warehouse commission pointed out, however, it was inter- 
state and not intrastate pooling that constituted the really 
serious problem, and over this the state legislature had no 
control. The shippers were advised to await the action of the 
federal government, which was already being strongly urged 
to undertake legislation to regulate the railroads. 

In 1 88 1 a suit was brought against the Chicago and Alton, 
the Wiggins Ferry Company, the Madison County Ferry Com- 

45 Report of the delegates, American Railroad Journal, volume 50. The 
report is given in full, p. 779-781, 811-812. 

46 See Railway Age, 14: 177, for an illustration. 


pany, and the St. Louis Bridge and Tunnel Company to prevent 
a pooling agreement from going into effect, on the ground that 
it would destroy competition in the transportation of freight 
across the Mississippi river. 47 The court held that by the 
common law people could not lawfully be deprived of the 
benefits of competition by contracts between companies. The 
agreement was therefore held to be illegal. This seems to 
have been almost an isolated case in Illinois, however, and 
pooling went on practically unrestrained until the passage of 
the federal interstate commerce act in 1887. 

The actual rates differed frequently so widely from the 
published rates that it is not possible to say exactly what effect 
pooling had upon rates, but that it did not always raise them 
appears from various rate agreements in which considerable 
reductions below the previous tariffs were agreed upon. 48 The 
purpose of the pooling agreements was not so much the fixing 
of higher rates as the assurance that the published rates would 
be observed by all the roads. If secret rates and rebates were 
not given, it was quite possible that lower published rates could 
be established. The pool was therefore not concerned with 
raising rates, but with prevention of rate-cutting. The maxi- 
mum freight rates were determined by water competition and 
by the effort of the railroads to develop the greatest possible 
traffic consistent with reasonable rates. An inspection of 
freight rates in Illinois shows that these fell much more 
rapidly before 1887, the year in which pools were prohibited, 
than in subsequent years. 49 

In spite of the severe rate wars and competition, the rail- 

47 Reported in the Railroad Gazette, 14:62-63. 

48 Thus in 1875 the Illinois Central and the Chicago and Alton railroads 
agreed to the following reduction in passenger fares: Chicago to New Orleans, 
from $33.00 to $28.00; Chicago to Mobile, from $31.00 to $26.50; Chicago to 
Vicksburg, from $31.25 to $26.50. In the same year the four roads between 
Chicago and St. Paul agreed to a 25 per cent reduction of freight rates. 

49 For table see appendix, p. 502. 



roads of Illinois had by 1880 completely recovered from the 
demoralized conditions of the previous decade. The revival 
of business after 1878 gave an impetus both to freight traffic 
and to passenger travel. For the increase in the latter the 
reduction of fares on all Illinois railroads may have been partly 
responsible, 50 but the growth of freight traffic was due to 
bumper crops and improved industrial conditions. Earnings 
increased steadily, improvements were made in both road- 
bed and rolling stock, and the railroads of the state entered 
upon a new era of prosperity which continued until 1884. 

At the same time rates were much lower, the average in 
1885 being 2.2 cents per mile for passenger traffic and .96 cents 
per ton-mile for freight. 51 The following table shows the 
gross earnings of railroads operating in Illinois: 



Gross earnings 

Per cent of increase 
or decrease over 
previous year 


$176.073 .2 SO 

26.0 increase 


180 1 C2 078 

7 C " 


2I4..I4.6.QI S 

II. 5 " 


2IO 228 068 

1.8 decrease 


TOO 127 11A. 

5.2 " 

The panic of 1884 affected railway construction as well as 
earnings and in 1885 there was an actual decrease in mileage 
in the state. 53 The years 1884 and 1885 were marked by a 

60 Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, 1880, p. 20. 

51 Ibid., 1885. 

52 These figures are for the entire lines of the roads reporting to the railroad 
and warehouse commission and not for that part of the business done only within 
the borders of Illinois, as these latter were not published until 1884. The Illinois 
business alone yielded a gross return in 1884 of $56,447,139, and in 1885 of 
$56,960,964, which shows a slight gain instead of the loss, indicated in the above 
table for these years. 

53 Railroad construction in Illinois for the period 1880-1893 was as follows: 
1880, 273 miles; 1881, 409; 1882, 416; 1883, 192; 1884, 40; 1885, -4 (loss); 
1886, 371; 1887, 326; 1888, 106; 1889, 122; 1890, 384; 1891, 10; 1892, 123; 
1893, 63. 


large production of corn and other foodstuffs in Illinois with 
resulting low prices. At the prevailing freight rates it scarcely 
paid the farmers to ship their produce to market, and they 
accordingly requested the railroad and warehouse commission 
to order a general reduction of rates. This the latter refused 
to do. 54 

The years 1886 and 1887 witnessed the beginning of 
another period of railroad expansion, especially in the newer 
country west of the Missouri river, but Illinois railroads did 
not share in this prosperity. Less freight was hauled in 1886 
than in the previous year and, while there was an improvement 
in the amount of business in 1887, rates were still so demoral- 
ized by the severe competition of western lines that earnings 
remained low. Fifteen companies operating in Illinois had 
passed into the hands of receivers during the panic of i884, 55 
and twelve of these were still under the control of the courts in 
1886. Two years later most of these had been sold under 
foreclosure or otherwise reorganized. These were the weaker 
roads. The financial and physical condition of the stronger 
systems was, on the other hand, improving; thus the Illinois 
Central was able in 1886 to sell a large block of 3^2 per cent 
bonds on the London market at par, 56 although a decade before 
it had been forced to pay 6 per cent interest. The earnings of 
Illinois railroads began to show an increase in 1888, which 
continued very steadily until interrupted again by the panic of 

54 Railway Age, 14:179; Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commis- 
sion, 1885, p. xiii. 

55 Ibid., p. vii. 

56 Railway Age, 15:353- A quotation from the London Economist refers to 
this transaction as " an unparalleled feat in the history of American railways." 

57 The gross earnings of Illinois railroads for business carried on vithin the 
state were as follows from 1884 to 1893 (year ending June 30) : 1884, $56,447,000; 
1885, $56,960,000; 1886, $55,677,000; 1887, $56,860,000; 1888, $61,333,000; 1889, 
$63,170,000; 1890, $65,471,000; 1891, 73,499,000; 1892, $81,793,000; 1893, 
$85,823,000. Compiled from Reports of the Railroad and Warehouse Com- 


Traffic, both passenger and freight, showed a steady 
growth during this period. The amount of freight carried 
in Illinois increased from 35.5 million tons in 1885 to 48.3 
million in 1890, and to 61.7 million in 1893. The decade 
ending in 1885 had seen the freight traffic in the state just 
doubled, and the eight years following almost equaled this 
record. Along with its growth in tonnage, an interesting 
change was manifesting itself in the character of the freight, 
which reflected the industrial changes taking place in the state 
during this period. Manufactures and coal began to take the 
place of the products of agriculture as the most important 
class of freight. Thus in 1875 tne products of agriculture, 
animals, and lumber made up exactly half of all the freight 
carried (49.8 per cent), while coal and other minerals, mer- 
chandise, and manufactures made up the other half (50.2 
per cent). But by 1890 the percentage of the two groups was 
35.8 and 64.2 respectively. This change in character, of course, 
reflects the growing industrialization of the state and the 
urban concentration. 

During the decade ending in 1893 tne improvement of 
the physical equipment of the railroads went on at a rapid 
rate. Steel rails superseded iron on all the principal roads 
of the state, better bridges were built, heavier and more capa- 
cious rolling stock was provided, safety appliances were intro- 
duced, Pintsch and other improved lighting systems replaced 
the oil lamps in passenger coaches, passenger trains were pro- 
vided with steam-heating systems, and many other improve- 
ments were adopted in order to guard the lives of passengers 
and employees and to care in a more efficient manner for the 
ever-increasing volume of freight and passenger traffic. The 
use of greater care in guarding against accidents and in the 
preservation of life and property was especially noteworthy. 58 

68 See Reports of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, 1882-1892. 


Illinois still led all the states in the union in the total rail- 
road mileage constructed and in operation in 1893. There 
were in this year 10,315 miles, or over 18.04 miles of railroad 
per 100 square miles of territory and over 36 miles of road per 
10,000 inhabitants. Most of the people of the state lived 
within easy access of railroad facilities, 85 per cent of all the 
land being within 5 miles of a railroad in actual operation, 
11.5 per cent between 5 and 10 miles, 2.5 per cent between 10 
and 15 miles, and only i per cent farther distant than 15 miles, 
although none more than 20 miles away. The many railroads 
in other states near the boundary lines are not included in this 
estimate. 59 

59 Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, 1893, p. 31. 


AS THE state acquired adequate facilities for transporta- 
tion by way of the railroads, it naturally came to make 
less use of the slower and less easily controlled waterways. 
The streams which had borne the traffic of the pioneer had 
served their day; the enlarged commerce of the industrial 
commonwealth could not well accommodate itself to their inter- 
mittent and slow navigation. Especially were the more ex- 
pensive commodities, which could stand higher freight rates 
and which required certainty of delivery within a reasonable 
time, transferred from the rivers to the more reliable rail- 

. By 1870 the competition of railways had begun to make 
inroads upon the important St. Louis traffic, most of which 
had its origin in Illinois. " The great system of Railroads now 
rapidly spreading out from our City in every direction," said 
the secretary of the St. Louis Merchants' Exchange, "has had 
the effect to contract the limits of the freightage by water and 
we now find an excess of tonnage in nearly every trade. In 
years gone by, when not only the freight but the passenger 
travel went by water,- our fine and commodious packets found 
a remunerative trade. But in this fast age, everybody takes 
the quickest route, and our steamers have to look almost 
entirely to their freight list for their profits." 1 

A few years later an Illinois authprity commented in even 
more discouraged tones upon the decline in water transpor- 
tation: 2 "Every one familiar with the business knows that 

1 Report of the Trade and Commerce of St. Louis, 1871, p. 17-18. 

2 Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, 1875, p. 21. 



the railroads have almost driven the steamboats out of trade. 
Instance the Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers, 
where only a few years since fleets of fine boats were sailing, 
doing a prosperous business; now occasional boats make a 
precarious livelihood. . . . Even in Chicago, so favorably 
situated for water transportation, the relative amount done by 
rail is yearly increasing." 

The river commerce of Illinois is difficult to determine 
because of the paucity of statistics, but investigations conducted 
by the federal government on the internal commerce of the 
country in 1869 and again in 1886 make it possible to trace 
the changes which occurred between these dates. A study 
of the traffic on the Ohio river shows that at all ports where 
there was railroad competition the river trade had been reduced 
during this period to between one-half and one-third of its 
former volume, while at other ports where there was no rail- 
road competition there was a marked increase in the river 
traffic. 3 This was probably true of other river towns. 

Cairo was the most important commercial city on any of 
the Illinois rivers, situated as it was at the junction of the 
Mississippi and Ohio rivers, but the commerce of this city 
fell off from $20,000,000 in 1869 to a lit^ 6 over $7,729,000 
in 1886; of the latter amount about half was wholesale and 
retail merchandise. The number and gross tonnage of the 
vessels engaged in the river trade also declined, though not 
in the same proportion. The number of steamboats and barges 
arriving at Cairo in 1872 was 4,105 with a gross tonnage of 
1,486,717; in 1886 there were 2,868 boats of 1,1 19,364 tons. 4 
In the Tatter year the city was still served by eleven packet 
lines plying on the Ohio, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Cumber- 
land rivers, but as a result of increasing diversion of traffic 

8 Report on Internal Commerce of the United States, 1887, appendix, 514-515. 
*Ibid., 91, SH-SiS- 


to the railroads there was each year less commerce to divide 
among them, and the number of lines and vessels was steadily 

The most important single branch of the river trade was 
the traffic in grain, which was drawn from all over the state 
and shipped farther south. But with the building of rail- 
road connections from Cairo into southern territory the boat 
lines lost the business. The railroads made a rate low enough 
to get the traffic, allowed the bulk grain to be stopped in transit 
for sacking without extra charge, and put in switch connections 
at the large plantations. Against these and other advantages 
the steamboats could not long compete. 5 

St. Louis was the most important center of the Mississippi 
river trade and was served in 1870 by four packet lines with 
over twenty vessels operating between this city and Illinois 
ports. These lines were able to operate only about ten months 
in the year, being ordinarily forced to suspend operations in 
the winter on account of ice. 6 Interesting light is thrown on 
the character of the vessels engaged in this trade by noting 
that while the number of steam vessels registered in Illinois 
river ports increased from 61 in 1872 to 72 in 1895, their 
average tonnage declined from 211 to 115 tons for the same 
years. As reduced freightage demanded less capacity the size 
of the vessels was reduced, for smaller vessels were better 
adapted to the shallow and variable waters of the Illinois 

Far more important than the water traffic of these rivers 
for the Illinois shipper was their influence upon railway freight 
rates. In 1876 it was stated by a federal authority that " the 
Mississippi River is still and will always continue to be the 

5 Report of the Commissioner of Corporations on Transportation by Water, 
part 2, p. 304-305. 

6 Report of the Trade and Commerce of St. Louis, 1870, p. 10, 31, 38-41; 
1871, p. 17. 


most important avenue of commerce between the West and 
the South, not only with respect to the commerce actually car- 
ried upon it, but in the influence which it will ever exert toward 
regulating rates on competing rail-lines, especially for the 
transportation of the heavier commodities comprising the 
lower classes of freight and embracing agricultural products, 
lumber, minerals, &c." 7 

The Illinois river was regarded by shippers during the 
seventies as very influential in preventing unreasonably high 
railway rates, and there was much agitation at that time for 
the improvement of this waterway. " The people of this State, 
generally," said the canal commissioners in 1870, "have a 
very deep interest in making the Illinois River navigable for 
boats drawing five or six feet of water, from LaSalle to the 
Mississippi River, at all seasons when not shut in by ice, or 
when the canal from Chicago to LaSalle is open, which is about 
eight and one-half months in the year, and not only this State 
but many of the Western and Southwestern States, as it con- 
nects Lake Michigan and the great chain of lakes with the 
Mississippi and its tributaries, on which is from 10,000 to 
12,000 miles of river navigation." 8 

The demands for improvement of the waterways led in 
1872 to the building, by the state of Illinois, of a lock at 
Henry on the Illinois river. This lock was at the time of its 
construction the largest one on the continent. Its installation 
caused a revival in the river commerce; and the following 
year there developed between several Illinois river points and 
Peoria a large grain trade, which was important enough to 
induce two Peoria elevators to erect the necessary machinery 
for unloading grain from river boats quickly and cheaply. 9 

7 Report on Internal Commerce of the United States, 1876, p. 38. 

8 Report of the Canal Commissioners of Illinois, 1870, p. 36-37. 
Report of the Trade and Commerce of Peoria, 1873, p. 9. 


The building of the lock helped to reduce freight rates, 
not merely by water but also by rail, and also benefited the 
producers of grain and other commodities. After this improve- 
ment the cost of freight between Chicago and St. Louis and 
intermediate points was only three-fifths of the cost by rail; 
and as a result of the river competition freight rates generally 
were held down and the benefits were distributed throughout 
a large section of the state. 10 

A further improvement in the upper part of the Illinois 
river was made by the construction in 1876 of a second lock 
at Copperas creek. On the section of ninety miles between 
Copperas creek and La Salle, where the Illinois and Michigan 
canal connects with the river, the state collected tolls just as 
it did on the canal. The principal freight carried through the 
river was grain, a considerable amount of sorghum from 
various Illinois points to St. Louis, and merchandise from 
Chicago and Peoria. The St. Louis boats ran to Chicago; in 
1886 there were nine steamers engaged in this trade. 11 The 
number of boats fell off steadily, however, and no new ones 
were built because of the keen railway competition. 

The federal government was now induced to undertake 
the further improvement of the Illinois river from Copperas 
creek to its mouth at Grafton on the Mississippi river, and for 
many years improvements were carried on jointly by the state 
of Illinois and the United States government. A lock and 
dam were completed at La Grange, 79 miles from the mouth 
of the river, in 1890; and four years later a second one was 
opened at Kampsville, 48 miles farther south. The building 
of these improvements gave promise of satisfactory navigation 
on the Illinois river at all times, as it was believed that a stage 

10 Report of the Canal Commissioners of Illinois, 1872, p. 56; 1874, p. n; 
Chicago Tribune, March 13, 1871. 

11 Report of the Trade and Commerce of St. Louis, 1882, p. 57; 1886, p. 55. 



of water would be permanently secured sufficient for all pur- 
poses of navigation and affording at least as deep a channel 
as existed in the Mississippi river between Grafton and Alton. 12 
After the completion of the locks and dams built by the 
federal government there was an increase in the number of 
steamers plying between St. Louis and Illinois river ports, 
from nine in 1886 to fourteen in i899. 13 Many of these 
steamers, however, were not cargo carriers but were used 
merely to tow barges. An idea of the general trend of the 
river commerce may be secured from a study of the receipts 
from and shipments to Illinois river points at St. Louis. In 
the following table these figures are given for five-year 
intervals : 



Receipts at 
St. Louis 

Shipments from 
St. Louis 

1871. . 







1 60, ? 5 ? 

e ,176 




l8qi . . 



3806. . 



The great decline shown in the receipts at St. Louis of 
produce from Illinois river points is traceable to the falling off 
of the movement of flour and grain by water. In the case of 
flour and wheat this might easily be at least partly explained by 
the shifting of the center of wheat production to the northwest 
and to the consequent decline of Peoria as a wheat and flour 
milling center. But the decrease in the shipments of corn and 

12 Report of the Trade and Commerce of St. Louis, 1890, p. 79-80. 

13 Ibid., 1899, p. 132-134. 


oats the latter of which almost ceased can be accounted 
for only by the fact that most of this traffic had been diverted 
to the railroads. The same thing was true of shipments of 
livestock and meats down the river, due to the decline of Peoria 
as a meat packing center and to the use of refrigerator cars, 
which gave the railway practically the whole trade. So, too, 
shipments of salt, coal, hay, lumber, butter, cheese, and other 
products, which amounted in the aggregate to a considerable 
tonnage in 1870, had all but ceased twenty years later. 

The Illinois and Michigan canal, stretching from a point 
on the Chicago river about five miles from its mouth to La 
Salle, where it connects with the Illinois river, forms a part 
of the through waterway from Chicago to the Gulf of Mexico, 
of which the Illinois river is another link. This canal had 
been in the hands of trustees since 1845, when money had to 
be borrowed from private sources to complete it, but had been 
so successfully managed that by 1871 the debt was entirely 
paid and the canal trust was dissolved. The question as to 
the state's attitude toward the canal when it should again 
come under state control had already arisen during the debates 
of the constitutional convention over the section dealing with 
the state debt. Those opposed to the canal wished a provision 
incorporated in the constitution forever prohibiting the state 
from incurring debts for the construction of internal improve- 
ments. But the friends of the canal, who wished not only to 
see the canal kept up but also to have further improvements 
made on the Illinois river, vigorously opposed this proposal, 
and finally won their point, at least to the extent of permitting 
a state indebtedness of $25O,ooo. 14 

The canal was turned over to the state on August 17, 1871, 
with all debts paid and a balance of $92,100 to its credit. 

14 Chicago Tribune, January 28, 31, 1870, July i, 1871; Constitution of 1870, 
article IV, section 18. See also above, p. 10 ff. 


Efforts now began to be made to have the state enlarge the 
canal in the hope of expanding its traffic and thus increasing 
the amount of revenue from tolls. The Joliet Iron and Steel 
Company, operating a large steel plant at Joliet, in a letter to 
the canal commissioners in 1872, declared that it would ship 
ore to the amount of 134,000 tons a year via the Illinois 
river and the Illinois and Michigan canal from the iron mines 
of Missouri, if satisfactory navigation could be maintained 
throughout the year. 15 The canal commissioners urged canal 
improvements, but usually they were on the defensive, and 
their reports were filled with excuses and explanations of the 
declining revenues. 

The amount of freight transported over the canal remained 
fairly steady during this period, but since the total amount car- 
ried within the state was rapidly increasing this meant that the 
canal's share was growing smaller while that of the railroads 
was increasing. In 1873 an( ^ I ^74 there were transported by 
canal to Chicago 12,425,705 bushels of corn and wheat, while 
in the same years the Chicago and Rock Island railroad alone 
carried to Chicago 16,279,634 bushels. The contest between 
the canal and the railroads was a spirited one, but after 1882 
both the absolute and relative tonnage of the canal fell off. So 
unpromising, indeed, was the outlook that in 1882 the people 
of the state voted by a large majority to cede the canal to the 
federal government as a part of a lakes-to-the-gulf water- 
way. 16 

The movement of freight and the financial condition of the 
canal from 1870 to 1893 are shown by five-year intervals in 
the following table : 17 

15 Chicago Tribune, September 12, 1871; Report of the Canal Commissioners 
of Illinois, 1872, p. 65. 

16 Report of the Trade and Commerce of Chicago, 1873, p. 72, 74; 1874, p. 72, 
74; Report of the Trade and Commerce of Peoria, 1882, p. 17. 

17 " Preliminary Report of the Inland Waterway Commission," Senate Docu- 
ments, volume 17, number 325, p. 250-251. 










or deficit 

1870. . 



c8< Q7C 


$140. 63 C 


1875 a. . 




74_ ci i 


32, >7O 








i88<. . 


3 QQO 

827. ?S^ 

86. 10? 

66 800 

IQ.CQ'I ^ 

1800. . 



7 4.2, 302 


ee 1 12 

20,013 b 

1801. . 




SO. S22 

7 S.7O2 

20,820 b 

a After 1872 the table includes clearances from the locks at Henry and Copperas creek 
on the Illinois river. 

b Signifies a deficit. 

Grain was the most important commodity passing through 
the canal. In 1892 the articles transported consisted of 
2,333,957 bushels of grain, 359,680 cubic yards of stone, 
9,710,695 feet of lumber, and 1,683 tons f merchandise. 18 
Under the last named were included hardware, dry goods, cut- 
lery, groceries, and similar bulky or heavy commodities. The 
reduction in tolls, which was imperative if the canal was to 
retain any of the traffic, caused a steady fall in the receipts from 
the canal; and although the expenditures upon the canal were 
pared down to the very minimum it was impossible to prevent a 
deficit. Every year since 1879 has witnessed a deficit in the 
operating expenses of the canal, no allowance being made in 
these figures for interest on the investment. 

In spite of declining traffic and repeated deficits, the canal 
was still a sufficiently effective competitor to keep down railroad 
rates. In 1876 the canal rate on corn from La Salle to Chi- 
cago, 99 miles, was 3.25 cents a bushel; the railroad rate was 
4.5 cents. From Henry to Chicago, 128 miles, the water rate 
was 4 cents per bushel, while the railroad charged 4.5 cents. 
But from Tiskilwa, which did not have the advantage of water 

18 " Preliminary Report of the Inland Waterway Commission," Senate Docu- 
ments, volume 17, number 325, p. 251. 


competition to Chicago, 123 miles, the railroad rate was 6.83 
cents, although most of the way the grain from this place and 
from Henry moved over the same tracks and frequently on the 
same trains. The effect of the canal competition was also seen 
in the railroad rates from Peoria to Chicago, 160 miles; in the 
summer the rate was 3 cents a bushel, but 4.5 cents in the 
winter when the canal was not in operation. 19 The effective 
and the possible competition of the canal route and its effect in 
keeping down railroad rates was probably the most potent 
influence in inducing the people to continue in operation an 
artificial waterway which on the surface was losing money for 
the state. 

The agitation for improved and cheaper transportation 
facilities, which took the form of granger legislation, of rate 
regulation, of the creation in Illinois of the railroad and ware- 
house commission, and of other efforts to secure cheaper rates 
directly from the railroads, next found expression also in 
efforts to improve the waterways and thus reduce the cost of 
transportation. The low prices obtained by the farmers for 
their grain and the high railway freight rates which made it 
almost impossible to market their products at a profit caused 
many shippers to look to artificial or improved waterways as 
the best solution of their problem. This movement led to the 
building, by the state, of two locks on the Illinois river in 1872 
and 1876 which greatly improved the navigability of the upper 
section of the river. But this improvement did not help the 
Illinois farmers and other shippers on the upper Mississippi; 
they desired a shorter and more direct route between their 
section of the state and Lake Michigan. Thus began an agita- 
tion for a second canal which finally culminated in the con- 
struction of the Hennepin canal. Although it was not com- 
pleted until 1907, the discussion of this project in the earlier 

19 Putnam, The Illinois and Michigan Canal, 121. 


period throws considerable light upon the character and 
extent of the forces that were agitating for cheaper transpor- 

The proportions of this movement may be judged from the 
fact that nine hundred delegates attended a canal convention 
held in 1874 at Rock Island, Illinois. This convention passed 
resolutions declaring that the time had come for the United 
States government to assume control over interstate commerce; 
that congress had too long neglected the petitions for direct 
water communication between the Mississippi and the Great 
Lakes; and that the construction of a canal from Hennepin on 
the Illinois river to Rock Island would help to solve the trans- 
portation problem of the farmers on the upper Mississippi. 
The convention also favored the improvement of the Illinois 
and Mississippi rivers, and urged the state of Illinois to cede 
the Illinois and Michigan canal to the federal government as 
a link in a through waterway from Lake Michigan to the 
Mississippi. 20 

A memorial was drawn up and sent to congress by a com- 
mittee appointed for the purpose. In this were set forth the 
advantages of cheap transportation from the northwest to the 
east, the need of an all-water route in order to compete with 
the railroads, the enormous volume of freight traffic between 
the Mississippi and Lake Michigan, the savings that would 
accrue to the shippers, and similar arguments. But this memo- 
rial seems to have made little impression upon congress. The 
following year another canal convention was held at Rock 
Island; and this time they appointed delegates to go to Wash- 
ington to lobby for the building of the Hennepin canal, but 
this enterprise, too, was without success. 21 

The next canal convention seems to have been held in 1879 

20 Chicago Tribune, March 25, 1874. 

21 Ibid., January 15, 1875. 


at Ottawa, when 600 farmer delegates met to urge a deep 
waterway from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi. Petitions 
were circulated which were to be forwarded to congress. 
When, less than a month later, the rivers and harbors bill was 
passed, great discontent was expressed because the Illinois con- 
gressmen were unable to get more than $40,000 for the Illinois 
canal improvement, while Wisconsin men got $100,000 for a 
useless project, the improvement of the Fox river. 22 

Several further meetings were held in 1881, but the most 
important step forward was taken in 1884 when the national 
board of trade at a meeting in Washington, D. C., indorsed 
the following resolution presented by the Chicago Board of 
Trade: "Resolved, That the enlargement of the Illinois & 
Michigan Canal and the construction of the Hennepin Canal, 
connecting the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, as by survey 
recently made by the Secretary of War, are necessary to control 
and materially reduce the cost of transportation from the fields 
of production to the great lakes, and that the cheapest possible 
transport from the interior to the seaboard is indispensable to 
the retention of foreign markets for our cereals." 23 

A few days later the advocates of the Hennepin canal were 
given a special hearing before the congressional committee on 
railways and canals. They presented arguments to show the 
saving in cost of transportation that would be effected by the 
construction of the canal; they pointed out the absolute neces- 
sity of having foreign markets to take off surplus cereals 
and argued that the canal would aid in marketing this agricul- 
tural produce by reducing the transportation rates both directly 
and indirectly by their restraining effect upon railway freight 
charges. The house committee was convinced and voted 8 to 
2 to report favorably a bill appropriating $1,000,000 to begin 

a * Chicago Tribune, January 17, February 12, 1879. 
zz lbid., January 25, 1884. 


work on the Hennepin canal; 24 but the project failed to receive 
the sanction of congress. 

Agitation, however, continued in spite of the objections that 
now began to be made: some thought it would be better to 
secure the improvement of the Illinois river before urging 
the construction of a new canal. They pointed out that the 
lockage involved in the project was enormous, that the pro- 
posed ditch was too small, that it was not planned to construct 
it by the most feasible route, and that the time for such a canal 
had not yet arrived. 25 A waterways convention of 595 dele- 
gates held at Peoria in 1887, however, indorsed both plans 
that for the improvement of the Illinois river and that for the 
construction of the Hennepin canal. Finally the federal 
government decided to undertake the Hennepin project, but 
even after the decision was made construction proceeded very 
slowly, and not until 1907 was the canal finally completed. 

Plans for through water routes to the seaboard and even 
to Europe were not confined to the rivers and canals alone, but 
looked also to the lakes. There were many projects looking 
to the development of a direct water route from Chicago to 
Europe without the necessity of transhipping the freight. A 
considerable trade existed at that time in grain, which went by 
lake boat from Chicago to Montreal and was there loaded on 
ocean steamers. Chicago shippers urged that the locks on the 
Welland canal, which were too small to permit the passage 
through them of ocean-going ships and even of the larger lake 
vessels, be enlarged; they also desired to have the free naviga- 
tion of the St. Lawrence assured them by the terms of the treaty 
of Washington of i87i. 26 

The swelling volume of the lake trade, however, was itself 

24 Chicago Tribune, February i, 7, 1884, January 30, 1885 ; Report of the 
Trade and Commerce of Peoria, 1881, p. 17. 

25 Chicago Tribune, February 26, 1885, December n, 1886. 
z *Ibid., December 13, 1870, April 20, 25, May 16, 20, 1871. 


making this dream of through commerce unrealizable, for with 
its increase there went on a steady growth in the size of the 
lake vessels. Although the Welland canal was twice enlarged, 
there were on the lakes in 1884 no less than 255 vessels which 
drew too much water to pass through it.- 7 One result of the 
situation was a decline in the traffic on this canal and its diversion 
to the Erie canal. But the gain by the latter was not so great as 
the loss of the former. The canal system as a whole was losing 
steadily to the railroads. Even before 1870 the railroads had 
begun to compete vigorously for the eastbound traffic from 
Chicago, especially for grain; but the success of the railways in 
diverting this trade to themselves differed among the various 

In the case of flour the balance turned in favor of rail 
shipments as against those by lake as early as 1866. Between 
1872 and 1885 the railroads enjoyed their most pronounced 
ascendancy, in some years carrying more than ten times as much 
as the water route. During the next ten years there was a 
great increase in the total shipments, and the share of the 
railroads fell to slightly over half by 1894. In the contest for 
the wheat and corn trade the railroads were less successful. 
From 1870 to 1894 between a third and a quarter of each of 
these grains was shipped east from Chicago by rail, the 
remainder, which moreover was a steadily increasing amount, 
going by water. On the other hand, in the movement of oats 
from Chicago the railroads have since 1873 maintained a 
supremacy over the lake vessels, exactly reversing the propor- 
tions for wheat and corn. 

Of the total grain and flour movement from Chicago during 
the period 18601864 lake shipments were approximately ten 
times as great as those by rail. The next twenty years saw 
the latter equal and finally exceed the former. The average 

27 Chicago Tribune, October 3, 1884. 


annual lake shipments increased from 41 to 63 million bushels 
between 1860-1864 and 1880-1884, while the all-rail move- 
ment grew from 4 to over 64 million bushels. But the next 
decade saw the situation reversed again, the lake route taking 
about 64 per cent of all in the period 1890-1894. At this 
date the total eastbound shipments by lake were 97 million 
bushels and those by rail were 80 million. 28 

Though the slackening interest in waterways within the 
state is readily enough explained by the expansion of the rail- 
roads, it is not so easy to understand why the highways con- 
necting the farms with shipping points both on railroads and 
rivers should have gone so long neglected. In spite of the 
denser settlement and the increased ease of communication 
with other parts of the country, within the state Illinoisians 
were moving about on roads that were still those of a frontier 
state ; although by 1870 more miles had been constructed, their 
condition was hardly better than it had been twenty-five years 

Practically all the roads in the country districts throughout 
the state were of earth and, although for a part of each year 
most of them were almost impassable, the farmers and other 
persons who used them manifested little interest in their im- 
provement. The road legislation was antiquated and obstruct- 
ive, little change having been made in the road law passed in 
1841. Administration was highly decentralized and only by 
much effort were conditions gradually improved. 

After the adoption of the constitution of 1870 it was real- 
ized that the existing road laws were inadequate and unsatis- 
factory, and in 1871 the first step toward their improvement 
was taken by the appointment of a standing committee of the 
house on roads, highways, and bridges. A similar committee 

28 Report of the Commissioner of Corporations on Transportation by Water, 
part 2, p. 168. 


existed in the senate. In 1872 a new road law was passed, 
which provided for the division of all counties into districts, in 
each of which three highway commissioners were to be elected 
who were to have the care and superintendence of all road 
affairs. 29 An attempt to have incorporated a provision pro- 
viding for the maintenance of the roads by contract with the 
lowest responsible bidder failed, because the farmers wished to 
work out their road taxes at leisure. 

This law, it was declared, caused great confusion, so the 
following year it was repealed, and two new laws were passed 
in its place one for counties under township organization and 
the other for those under county organization, which for the 
most part were those in the southern part of the state. These 
latter counties cared little for local road officials, so in them 
road administration was placed in the hands of a county board 
which appointed district supervisors. But in counties under 
township organization, offices to fill were apparently regarded 
as more desirable than efficient road administration; and not 
only were the three elective commissioners in each district 
retained, but in addition three overseers of highways elected 
for one year were provided for; these latter officials, having 
charge of actual construction and repair of roads and bridges, 
were abolished in 1877, restored in 1879, and abolished again 
in i883. 30 

An opposing tendency was manifesting itself in the desire 
to reduce the expenses of road administration to as low a point 
as possible. Accordingly, while the number of officials was 
multiplied their pay was reduced; the per diem pay of the local 
highway commissioners was cut from $2.00 in 1872 to $1.50 
in 1873 and to $1.25 in i879- 31 This struggle between two 

29 House Journal, 1871, p. 68, 93 ; Laws of 1871-1872, p. 679 

80 Laws of 1873, p. 169; Laws of 1877, P- lg 2; Laws of 1083, p. 138. 

81 Laws of 1873, p. 184; Laws of 1879, p. 269. 


opposing tendencies explains also the alternate inclusion and 
exclusion of the elective highway overseers in the laws of the 

The forces operative in bringing about changes in the road 
laws in the seventies were on the whole political rather than 
economic. The farmers, who made most use of the public 
highways, manifested little interest in wagon road improve- 
ment. The Illinois State Farmers' Association, which held 
annual conventions beginning in 1873, nac ^ not a word to say 
on this subject. The same thing was true of the Illinois State 
Grange, which was organized in 1872. During the depression 
from 1873 to 1878, with the prevailing low prices for agricul- 
tural products, the farmers were more interested in securing 
lower rates from the railroads so as to market their crops at 
less cost, than in voting additional taxes to improve the roads 
between their farms and the railroad stations. The former 
was cheaper and seemed to them of greater importance and 
more economical. 

Toward the end of the decade, however, agitation began 
among the more progressive elements for a betterment of the 
bad condition of the country roads in Illinois. For road build- 
ing in the prairie states the engineers were agreed in urging 
proper grading and drainage. Thorough compacting of the 
road surface by means of a steam roller was also recom- 
mended. 32 In order to encourage the introduction of road ma- 
chinery and to arouse interest in its use, the state board of 
agriculture in 1874 offered a gold medal for the best road build- 
ing machine on display at the state fair that year. In 1875 they 
offered a cash prize of $100 for the best half mile of earth road 
built in the state during that year. In the period 1877-1880 still 
another plan was tried, of offering a cash prize of $100 to the 
Illinois township which built the greatest mileage of earth roads 

82 Engineering News, 3: 36; 4: 101, 300, 306; 5: 193, 310; 6: 219, 228, 235, 243. 


during that year. And finally between 1879 and 1882 cash 
premiums and medals were offered for the best road-building 
machine and scraper on display at the state fair. By 1883 the 
displays of such machines had grown so numerous that the 
premiums were discontinued. 

Under the stimulus thus given, numerous road making con- 
tests were held and considerable impetus was given to road 
improvement. The contest held in 1875 will serve as an 
illustration. A prize of $100 was offered for the best half 
mile of road constructed, and in making the award there were 
to be taken into consideration the kind of soil, the devices 
adopted in construction, the time in which the work was done, 
and the cost of construction. At the trial at Roberts' Station 
in Ford county four competitors appeared on the ground, but 
as it was impossible to find available halfmile stretches of road, 
owing to the wet weather, the distance was reduced to 80 rods 
for each competitor, and the time of completion was limited to 
a day and a half. The prize was awarded to W. J. Edwards 
of Chicago, who constructed the 80 rods with a Wauchope 
grader and ditcher in 9 hours and 20 minutes at a cost of 
$8.40 or iQ l /2 cents per rod. But his machine complete cost 
$675, and the committee felt that so expensive and heavy a 
machine might not be readily available for all localities, so 
they also commended a lighter machine called the Chicago 
scraper and ditcher, which cost only $15 and which made a 
good showing in the contest. 83 

The increasing public sentiment in favor of improved roads 
found expression in 1879 m tne governor's message to the 
general assembly, when Shelby M. Cullom mentioned the bad 
condition of the roads and the need for improvement. He had 
no constructive program, but said he thought there could be 
" some plan devised by legislation to encourage their permanent 

33 Department of Agriculture of Illinois, Transactions, 1875, p. 72-74. 


improvement." 34 This last phrase may be interpreted as thq 
first official indorsement of "hard roads" in Illinois. Four 
years later Governor Cullom referred again to the bad roads 
and expressed his belief that the legislature would act in 
response to a "strongly expressed public sentiment" in favor 
of improvements. 35 As usual the agitation for road reform 
took the form of a demand for changes in legislation, but there 
were some so bold as to declare that the only way to get 
improved roads was to place competent men in charge of road 
work and to collect all road taxes in cash instead of labor. 

The road question was considered so important that the 
senate in 1883 directed the'secretary of state to gather informa- 
tion as to actual expenditures in the counties during the previous 
year. He reported expenditures for road purposes amounting 
to $2,492,940, but this sum was undoubtedly an underestimate, 
as it was less than the amount of taxes collected for roads and 
bridges during that year. Two new road laws were passed 
during this session. 36 One which affected counties under town- 
ship organization abandoned the elective overseers in each 
township, provided for additional taxes for roads, authorized 
road officials to build permanent roads where possible, and 
provided for tile drainage of roads. The other law applied to 
all counties in the state and provided for a special levy, by vote 
of the people, in any township or county for the construction of 
"hard roads." 

This " hard roads law " was hailed as a great revolution in 
road affairs in Illinois. It was the first legislation providing 
for hard roads at public expense, although toll roads of a 
permanent type had existed in the state for a number of years. 
The application of tile drainage in road building was also an 

84 Reports General Assembly, 1879, 2:14. 

88 Ibid., 1883, i: lo-xi. 

86 Senate Journal, 1883, p. 216, 237, 510-511; Laius of 1883, p. 132 ff. 


innovation, although for several years engineers had been 
recommending proper grading and thorough drainage as the 
best means of improving prairie roads. 37 Tile drainage was 
just coming into prominence in agricultural operations, and the 
legislators, hitherto suspicious of manufacturers of draintile, 
at length consented to apply the same principles to road con- 
struction. Some of the railroads in the state offered to haul 
material for building hard roads at the actual cost of service. 
The growing interest in the subject of improved roads is 
evidenced by the action of various societies and meetings. One 
of the important organizations in the agitation for better roads 
and in the campaign of education necessary to arouse the public 
was the Illinois Society of Engineers and Surveyors, organized 
in 1886. This society stood for the application of scientific 
engineering methods to road construction and maintenance, and 
its influence was a factor of no mean importance in the move- 
ment for road betterment. The state board of agriculture was 
another body which advocated the improvement of roads; it 
commended heartily the hard roads provisions of the law of 
1883 and urged the people of the state to take advantage of 
them. 38 In May, 1886, the board called together a three- 
day meeting of the local highway commissioners. Over 400 
farmers assembled on this occasion to discuss the road situation 
in Illinois, thus making it one of the most notable gatherings 
yet held for such a purpose. It was generally recognized that 
road improvement was one of the greatest problems before the 
people of the state, but there was considerable difference of 
opinion as to what was necessary to secure the desired improve- 
ment. The convention finally adopted resolutions favoring 
proper grading and thorough drainage. 

37 See papers read before the annual meetings of the Illinois Tile Makers' 
Association. Department of Agriculture of Illinois, Transactions, 1881, p. 483- 
485 ; 1882, p. 502-504. 

3s lbid., 1883, p. 364. 


A so-called "permanent road" convention, also under the 
auspices of the state board of agriculture, was held the follow- 
ing year at Springfield. This body urged cooperation of its 
officers and the appointment by the legislature of a commit- 
tee of the state board for this purpose. A law was passed during 
the ensuing session of the legislature providing for the division 
of counties not under township organization into road districts 
with three elective highway commissioners in each district. 39 
This law may be said to have unified the system of road admin- 
istration, since after this time there is very little difference in 
this respect between the two different types of counties in 
the state. It was unfortunate, however, that the model of 
decentralized administration should have been taken as the one 
to which the state system was made to conform. 

The movement for good roads was not confined merely to 
agitation or even to legislation. Experiments were being made 
toward the end of the eighties in the construction of gravel 
roads. A number of towns along the Sangamon river Say- 
brook, Gibson, Lexington, Towanda, and Money Creek had 
built gravel roads at an expense of about $900 a mile, which 
was $391 in excess of ordinary dirt roads. Such a method 
was feasible, however, only in those sections where gravel was 
easily obtained. A few localities voted the issue of bonds for 
the construction of hard roads, and in at least one instance 
funds were raised for this purpose by private subscription. 40 
In 1890 a bill was introduced into congress by Senator Cullom 
appropriating $50,000 for the construction of a macadam road 
from Springfield to Camp Butler, but the grant was not made. 

By this time, however, economic and social forces began to 
supplant the political forces and to give new impetus to the 

39 Department of Agriculture ef Illinois, Transactions, 1887, p. u; Laws of 
1887, p. 269 ff. 

40 Engineering News, 19: 487; 20: 267; 23: 236, 501. At Highland, C. Kock 
raised $600 in a few days. 


movement for improved roads. Definite demands began 
to be made by various state organizations which repre- 
sented the more enlightened elements of the rural and village 
population. Such were the Illinois Farmers' Institute, the 
Illinois State Grange, the Illinois State Dairymen's Association, 
the Illinois State Horticultural Society, and the Illinois Society 
of Engineers and Surveyors. The last named body was par- 
ticularly active in urging the appointment of a commission to 
study the matter, the adoption of a constitutional amend- 
ment to permit bond issues for road improvement, and other 
reforms. The dairymen resolved in 1891 that "it is the duty 
of all interested in the industry of farming to encourage the 
immediate building of permanent stone and gravel roads, and 
to discourage the expenditure of any money in the customary 
method of plowing roads." 41 In 1890 the State Grange 
adopted resolutions favoring the appropriation of money by 
the state and counties for the construction of hard roads con- 
necting county seats and other important towns; by 1892 this 
organization was demanding federal as well as state aid for 
local roads and also the use of convict labor in public highway 

It is clear that the more progressive elements in rural 
Illinois were in favor of road improvement and of greater 
centralization in road administration. In 1891 a bill was 
introduced into the house providing for the establishment of a 
nonpartisan state board of highway commissioners; but the 
committee on roads and bridges reported the bill adversely, 42 
and the political forces against it proved too strong. The 
appointment of such a commission had to wait another decade. 

The construction of highway bridges had progressed as 
little as had that of roads. In both respects Illinois lagged 

41 Report of the Illinois State Dairymen's Association, 1891, p. 461. 

42 House Journal, 1891, p. 656, 1006-10x57. 


behind neighboring states. Bridges were poorly built and in 
many cases actually dangerous; yet nothing was done to better 
conditions. As early as 1872 provision had been made by law 
for county aid in building substantial and expensive bridges, 
but few townships availed themselves of this aid and cheap 
structures continued to be built. Several bridge accidents in 
the decade from 1 880 to 1 890 called attention to the inadequacy 
and even danger of the ordinary wooden highway bridge, but 
practically nothing was done to remedy the situation. 

The two decades and a half ending in 1893 constituted 
what may be called the " awakening period" in the history of 
roads in Illinois. There was much talk and little achievement. 
It was a period of education and agitation. Yet by the end of 
it the economic and social forces which were to " pull Illinois 
out of the mud" were beginning to operate, although many 
more years were to pass and other forces were to develop and 
unite with these before the final steps were taken in the effective 
movement for highway improvement. 


THE majority of the people of Illinois in 1870 were 
engaged in farming, and most of them in highly special- 
ized forms of agriculture. The city workers, on the other 
hand, were developing a great diversity of industries, many of 
which were built up on the basis of the raw materials furnished 
by the farms. A large and growing interchange of commodi- 
ties had, therefore, developed between the rural and urban 
sections of the state, and between both of these and more 
distant markets in the east and south. No longer could a 
single producer or group of producers supply all their own 
wants, but each was forced to trade with the others. In the 
early seventies the chief commercial interests of Chicago 
and in that city were centered the commercial interests of the 
whole state were grain, flour, livestock, provisions, lumber, 
wool and hides, seeds, and coal. 1 Of these the most important 
was grain. 

Before 1870 most of the surplus grain of Illinois had gone 
to eastern markets, being shipped from Chicago via the Great 
Lakes and the Erie canal or the St. Lawrence river. Corn, 
pork, and other agricultural products also found a market in 
the south. It had been the custom to place grain shipped to 
Chicago from Illinois farms, or from points farther west, in 
warehouses in that city, from which it was sold to grain dealers. 
This necessitated immense warehousing capacity and the 
whole business of storing, buying, and shipping grain was of 

1 Report of the Trade and Commerce of Chicago, 1871, p. 9-13 ; 1872, p. 10-14. 



great importance. About this time, however, various events 
occurred which threatened the prosperity of this trade and the 
preeminence of Chicago as its principal center in the United 

Illinois had long been losing ground as a wheat producing 
state. The center of production of winter wheat was steadily 
moving to the southwest, while that of spring wheat was being 
pushed even more rapidly to the northwest. As a result of 
the large immigration into these states, Dakota, Nebraska, and 
Kansas expanded their wheat producing area from 3,600,000 
acres in 1879 to 5,050,000 in 1884. New markets sprang up 
at Omaha, St. Paul, and Kansas City to care for the grain 
traffic from these new sources of supply, and to that extent 
interrupted the flow of grain to Chicago just as thirty-five years 
before Chicago had diverted the trade intended for Cincinnati 
and other points farther east. 2 

Already in the early seventies Chicago had lost its position 
as an important market for winter wheat, although efforts con- 
tinued to be made to regain this trade. Peoria, the other 
primary grain market in Illinois, had by the early eighties 
ceased to place any emphasis upon its wheat receipts, making 
no effort to attract more wheat to its market than was needed to 
supply the local demand. 3 The spring wheat trade still 
remained important, although Duluth rapidly gained upon and 
finally outdistanced Chicago as the chief center of this trade. 
In 1 88 1 there were shipped from Chicago seventeen million 
bushels as against three and one-half million from Duluth; but 
a few years later, in the five year period 18861890, the ship- 
ments from Chicago' had fallen while those from Duluth had 
increased to almost an equal amount. In the next five-year 

2 Railroad Gazette, 17:38. 

3 Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, 1878, p. xxii; Report 
of the Trade and Commerce of Peoria, 1884, p. 13. 



period Duluth passed Chicago and has ever since held first 
place as the center of the spring wheat trade. 4 

Other cities also were competing with Chicago for the grain 
trade. The opening of the jetties at the mouth of the Missis- 
sippi river in 1869 greatly improved the facilities of that route, 
reducing the cost of shipping grain from St. Louis to Liverpool 
from fifty to thirty-two cents a bushel. St. Louis immediately 
made a strong effort to divert the export grain trade from 
Chicago to the river route via New Orleans. 5 The St. Louis 
Grain Association was said to have been organized for that 
express purpose. Grain shipments increased rapidly, but after 
a few years fell off again, declining even below their former 
proportions. The reason for this was the increasing railroad 
competition which was beginning to divert the grain traffic from 
both the water routes. Especially instrumental in effecting 
this change was the fact that the water routes were closed 
during the winter months. 

It had been the practice during the earlier period to let the 
grain accumulate in warehouses until navigation opened in the 
spring, but about 1871 the railroads began to carry the grain 
to the east during the winter, and these winter shipments 

4 The following table gives the exact figures. Those for Duluth are for 
grain received, but for practical purposes this may be treated as equal to the 
amount shipped east. The statistics for Chicago are from Reports of the Trade 
and Commerce of Chicago, and those for Duluth are from Reports of the Ne<w 
York Produce Exchange. 



Shipped from 

Received at 


1 6 729 ooo 

9 089 ooo 






An -1 17 OOO 

5 Western Agriculturist, November, 1877, p. 8; Cairo Evening Bulletin, 
April i, 1869, p. i ; Tyson, History of East St. Louis, 50. 


increased until in a few years the movement of grain eastward 
was continuous throughout the year. With this change Cairo 
entered the field and attracted, during low water and the winter 
season, much of the grain that was seeking a market farther 
south. By 1874 Cairo had become so important as a grain 
center that the Board of Trade of that city adopted a system 
of grain inspection and appointed one of the assistant state 
inspectors to organize and take charge of the work. But the 
movement of the grain producing area to the northwest pre- 
vented the grain trade of Cairo from assuming large propor- 
tions. For this trade Chicago, because of its position, had 
undisputed supremacy over other Illinois cities. Milwaukee 
and Toledo also attracted some of the trade of the Mississippi 
valley; the latter for a time attained some importance as a 
grain depot, principally as a result of the real or supposed 
extortions of the warehouse system of Chicago. 6 

Of all the factors which threatened to divert the grain 
trade from Chicago at this time the warehouse system was the 
most irritating and called forth the most discussion. It was 
charged that there was a combination between the railroads 
and the warehouses by which the grain traffic of Chicago was 
completely monopolized. The combination exacted a ware- 
house storage charge of two cents for twenty days on every 
bushel of grain entering the city whether or not it was ever 
actually in a warehouse. The only exception to this rule was 
in the case of wheat brought in bags to Chicago, but as most of 
the wheat was now handled in bulk, the exception had no 
practical significance. In order to compel country shippers to 
consign all grain shipped to Chicago to the "ring" elevators 
an additional charge of eight to ten cents per bushel was made 

8 Department of Agriculture of Illinois, Transactions, 1871, p. 99; Report 
of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, 1874, p. 33 ; Chicago Tribune, 
August 18, 1871, April 30, 1874. 


by the railroads on all grain shipped to independent elevators 
which were not members of the combination. 7 

This storage charge not merely diverted the grain traffic 
from Chicago, but, it was urged, it also prevented the growth 
of flour milling in the city, since wheat made into flour at Peoria 
and other points escaped the tax of two cents a bushel and hence 
enjoyed an advantage in this respect over Chicago. In order 
to protect the grain producers and shippers the Chicago Board 
of Trade demanded the registration of all receipts issued for 
grain placed in storage and the cancellation of such receipts as 
soon as the grain in storage was removed. But the warehouse- 
men refused to agree to such a system. 

It seems hardly open to doubt that the high storage charges 
had an adverse effect upon the Chicago grain trade. In 1870 
it was estimated that the charge for storage for one year was 
thirty-three and one-third per cent of the selling price in the 
case of wheat and nearly seventy-four per cent in the case of 
oats. The Illinois farmer was practically forced by such a 
system to sell his grain as soon as it reached the market, which 
was just at the time when prices were lowest. The system of 
grading at Chicago was also the subject of considerable com- 
plaint, and much of the corn from southern Illinois began to be 
shipped direct to Toledo, where it could be sold on its merits 
and avoid the grading system prevalent at Chicago. 8 

During the progress of the controversy numerous petitions 
were forwarded to the constitutional convention asking that 
some provision be incorporated in the state constitution to 
protect the people against warehouse frauds. It was objected, 
however, that such a clause would be in the nature of legislation 
rather than a statement of fundamental principle such as alone 
belonged in the constitution. After the adoption of the con- 

7 This was effected by a new freight tariff. Chicago Tribune, July 

8 Ibid., January 28, February 16, 19, March 3, 17, 1870. 

4, 1871. 


stitution the demand for appropriate legislation was renewed 
before the legislature, and in spite of the opposition of the 
Board of Trade, of the warehousemen, and of the railroads, 
three separate laws were passed in 1871 for the protection of 
the grain trade : a law providing that a license be taken out for 
each warehouse; an act to govern the transportation of grain 
by railroads; and an act to establish a board of railroad and 
warehouse commissioners. 9 

The warehousemen refused to take out licenses as directed 
and contested the authority of the new railroad and warehouse 
commission, which was appointed and organized for business 
in July, 1871. From 1872 on there were suits continuously 
pending in the courts to compel the railroads and the ware- 
housemen to comply with the law, but by the end of the decade 
the constitutionality of the act and the authority of the com- 
mission had been fully established. There were constant 
disputes, however, as to the character of the work done by the 
commission. The Board of Trade declared that the adminis- 
tration of the commission was unsatisfactory, and some of the 
largest shippers protested that the state grain inspection was 
unfair. On the other hand, the commission claimed that the 
system of state grain inspection was rapidly growing in favor, 
and that eastern cities were following the example of Chicago 
in this respect. As a result of the work of the commission the 
worst abuses were gradually eliminated, and in 1877 by an 
agreement between the elevator men and the railroads the 
elevator storage charge was reduced from two cents a bushel 
for twenty days to one and one-fourth cents for ten days, and 
the trimming charge from one dollar to fifty cents per car, while 
the railroad companies abolished their charges for switching. 10 

9 Chicago Tribune, April 18, 1871. 

10 Ibid., October 16, November 12, December 7, 1872, January 6, 1874, 
August 8, 1876, February 16, 1877; Report of the Railroad and Warehouse 
Commission, 1873, p. 35; 1874, p. 33. 


The bad repute of the Chicago warehouse system was en- 
hanced if anything by the "corners" which occurred in that 
market in 1871 and 1872. A wheat corner was attempted in 
1871, but it finally collapsed. In the following year two cor- 
ners were organized one in wheat and the other in oats. 
These speculative operations aroused a great deal of feeling 
against the grain trade manipulations carried on in Chicago. 11 

Another factor which worked against the grain trade of 
Chicago, temporarily at least, was the inadequacy of storage 
facilities. The fire of 1871 destroyed a great many elevators 
and warehouses, and during the next few years the business 
was hampered by the lack of facilities for handling it. In 1 87 2 
some of the railroads were compelled to refuse to accept grain 
from the shippers because of lack of room in which to store it. 
This particular difficulty was gradually remedied, however, and 
when a few years later the railroad and warehouse commission 
endeavored to ascertain the storage capacity of all the ware- 
houses in Illinois a great expansion was disclosed. The Chi- 
cago elevators had a storage capacity of 26,000,000 bushels, 
while those in other cities had over 31,000,000 bushels; the 
largest warehouses outside of Chicago were at East St. Louis 
(700,000 bushels) and Peoria (300,000 bushels). 

After 1870 the railroads played an increasingly important 
role in the commercial and industrial development of Illinois. 
They were able, therefore, to affect this development for good 
or ill by their rate policy. It was charged in 1871 that all 
railroads except the Michigan Central were discriminating 
against Chicago and in favor of Kansas City with regard to 
the shipment of packing house products. " For nearly two 
years," said the Chicago Times, " Kansas City has taken the 

11 Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, 1872, p. 35; 1879, 
p. xxvi-xxvii; Chicago Tribune, August 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, September 20, 1872, 
January 16, 1884. During September and October, 1884, there was a gigantic 
corner in corn on the Chicago market. Ibid., September 23, 27, October i, 1884. 


lead of Chicago in beef packing. Kansas City packs three 
times the number of cattle as Chicago. The reason is that 
packed beef is transported from Kansas to New York through 
Chicago at 70 cents per 100 pounds. The roads east of Chi- 
cago receive 42 cents of this amount, while Chicago packers are 
charged 65 cents for the product packed from here." 12 It 
seems from these rates that the Chicago packers had an advan- 
tage of five cents a hundred pounds in the cost of shipment to 
the New York market, but they were not satisfied with this 
and protested to the railroads. These complaints were 
repeated from time to time. Similar charges were made of 
discrimination against the Chicago grain dealers, as the grain 
was carried directly to the east without stopping at Chicago as 
formerly or even passing through that city. By 1879 a con- 
siderable quantity of grain was being shipped eastward by rail 
from points to the west of Chicago via the Joliet cut-off, 
thus avoiding the grain inspection and switching charges at 
Chicago. 13 

That the railroad discriminations were not aimed at Chi- 
cago, but lay rather in the very nature of rate fixing at that 
time, is seen from the fact that other towns complained equally 
of discriminations against them and in favor of Chicago. 
Thus Peoria claimed that the apparent object of the rate dis- 
criminations by the railroads was to force all traffic to go by 
way of Chicago. It was, moreover, asserted that during the 
months when water navigation was closed the rates from 
Peoria to eastern points were so high that the shipment of 
grain from that city was almost prohibited. The growing 
industries of Peoria were, however, beginning to absorb the 
grain shipped to that city and to leave less for export. About 

12 Chicago Times, December 8, 1871. 

18 Report of the Trade and Commerce of Chicago, 1875, p. 19; 1888, p. xlvi; 
Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, 1879, p. xxxii. 


1885 corn began to be substituted for rye in the production of 
distilled liquors, owing to improvements in machinery for pre- 
paring grain for distillation; and as a result the demand for 
corn increased while that for rye fell off. 14 On the whole, 
railway rates were not arbitrarily fixed, but were subject to the 
competition of other carriers and of competing markets and 
regions of production. 

An effort to stabilize rates and divide the field was made 
by the railroads in 1878. By an agreement made in that year 
the railroads were to charge a relatively low rate on agricul- 
tural products and a relatively high rate on manufactured 
products going to eastern or southern markets, while just the 
reverse would be done in the case of goods moving to the west. 
By this arrangement it was designed to stimulate the movement 
of agricultural products to the east and south and of manufac- 
tured goods to the west, a movement which at that time was 
perfectly normal and did not prejudice the interests of the state, 
as there was little manufacturing in Illinois. But with the 
growth of manufacturing industries these discriminating rates 
began to prove irksome. 

As the manufacturers or wholesale dealers of Chicago 
reached out into southeastern markets they found themselves 
at a serious disadvantage in competition with dealers from New 
York and other eastern cities because of the operation of the 
agreement of i878. 15 By 1890 goods were being shipped 
from Chicago as far east as Pittsburg, west to the Pacific coast, 
and to a lesser extent into southern territory. The shippers 
of Chicago protested against this system in vain. -Unable to 
secure a readjustment of rates directly from the railroads, they 
united with shippers of Cincinnati, who had a similar grievance, 

14 Report of the Trade and Commerce of Peoria, 1878, p. 13; 1879, p. 13; 
1885, p. 10, 14. 

15 The extent of this disadvantage and the nature of the discrimination may 
be illustrated by the following table of rates to two important southern points in 


and made complaint before the interstate commerce commis- 
sion. In 1894 the commission decided in their favor and 
ordered a reduction of rates on the lines south of the Ohio on 
goods from Chicago and Cincinnati. The order of the com- 
mission was set aside, however, by the supreme court in the 
famous maximum rate case ; 16 and not until 1905 were the rates 
to the south on Chicago manufactures reduced below those 
on manufactures coming from the east. 

In spite of all these disadvantages and difficulties the trade 
and commerce of Chicago were expanding at a rapid rate. 
Indeed, some of the evils may be regarded merely as growing 
pains incidental to the readjustments which were taking place 
in a rapidly developing state. By 1880 the more important 
railroad connections between Chicago and the west and north- 
west had been made and Chicago was drawing the grain trade 
from an area of about 350,000 square miles of the most pro- 
ductive agricultural district of the world. This section was, 
moreover, being developed with marvelous rapidity and was 

cents per hundred pounds. The numbered classes are manufactured goods and 
in general high-grade traffic. The lettered classes include agricultural products. 





2 3 



6 A 





F G 

New York. . 
Chicago .... 




85 70 

99 82 



40 36 
42 42 






55 72 
58 48 







2 3 



6 A 





F G 

New York. . 
Chicago .... 

... . 876 



98 86 
126 106 



49 36 
58 40 






78 68 
68 63 

From opinion of the interstate commerce commission in Freight Bureau of the 
Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce <v. Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas 
Pacific Railway Company and others, Interstate Commerce Reports, 6: 195 (204, 

18 Ibid., 6:195 (200-201); Interstate Commerce Commission v. Cincinnati, 
New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railway Company, 167 United States, 479 



connected with the Chicago market by a railroad mileage of 
over 15,000. These facts were sufficient to guarantee a bril- 
liant future for the city in spite of the decline of the winter 
wheat traffic. Receipts of grain increased from 98,935,413 
bushels in 1873 to 164,924,732 bushels in 1883, 17 or a gain of 
sixty-six and two-thirds per cent. 

About 1885 another change was inaugurated by the rail- 
roads, which threatened to divert some of the traffic from 
Chicago. The shipper was now permitted to leave his grain 
in the cars and sell it on the track. In case it was sold he paid 
the local rate to Chicago; and if not sold he could reconsign it 
to the east at the through rate, which was two cents lower per 
bushel than the sum of the local rates. That this was an 
advantage to the producer and shipper and an economical 
method seems clear, but it is equally clear that it did not work 
to the advantage of Chicago. It was, of course, a blow to the 
warehouse and elevator interests, and there was a strong tend- 
ency toward eliminating the terminal warehouse. But if 
the investment in expensive terminal facilities was rendered 
unnecessary by the system of selling on the tracks, there was no 
reason why other cities could not be grain markets. As the 
railroads granted the same concessions to other cities, there 
was thus a further diversion of the grain traffic from Chicago. 

The Chicago roads had apparently not been perturbed by 
the sacrifice of the city terminal interests, but when the grain 
began to move to other centers their own position was threat- 
ened. To combat this diversion of the trade from Chicago 
two policies were open. They could lower rates to and through 
Chicago sufficiently to allow that city to compete on an equality 
with points nearer the sources of supply, or they could improve 
the system of marketing grain. They chose the latter plan, 

17 Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, 1880, p. 519; Report 
of the Trade and Commerce of Chicago, 1911, p. 18. 


and allied themselves with certain warehouse owners who had 
sufficient capital to buy up all the grain along their lines and 
ship it to Chicago. The railroads then gave to these dealers 
the use of their terminal facilities and local elevators on espe- 
cially favorable terms. In other words, the roads were 
practically subsidizing dealers to get grain for their lines and 
for the Chicago market. As a result of the concentration of 
the business, however, the marketing expenses were consider- 
ably reduced, most of the saving in this respect going to the 
producer. 18 This is illustrated in the following table showing 
the savings effected in the case of wheat: 

1884 1897 

Average Chicago cash price (cents per bushel) 82.7 81.2 

Average farm price (cents per bushel) 64.5 76.3 

Cost of concentration at Chicago 18.2 4.9 

There was some protest against this system by the inde- 
pendent grain dealers who were being gradually forced out of 
business, but the fear of an oppressive monopoly was dismissed 
as groundless by the industrial commission after the plan had 
been in operation a number of years. 19 

The importance of Chicago as a packing center is discussed 
in another place, 20 but the influence of this industry upon the 
commercial development of the city calls for notice at this point. 
Illinois was the leading state in the slaughtering and meat 
packing industry, Chicago alone producing more than the state 
ranking second. Between 1870 and 1890 there was a steady 
growth in the receipts of cattle, hogs, and sheep, most of which 
were slaughtered and packed, although an increasing number 
were of course reserved for local consumption. The shipments 
of beef in packages, of barreled pork, and of cured meats did 

18 Newcomb, Changes in the Rates of Charge for Railway and other Trans- 
portation Services, table 70. 

19 Report of the Industrial Commission, 6:9, 50, 76. 

20 See p. 394 ff. 


not show a corresponding growth, 21 as the introduction in the 
early seventies of refrigerator cars stimulated the shipment of 
fresh meat instead of the prepared products. 

Other products closely connected with the packing industry, 
for which Chicago has long been a distributing center, were 
lard, wool, and hides. There was a steady increase between 
1870 and 1890 in the shipments of lard (from 43,292,000 
pounds to 471,910,000) and of hides (from 27,246,000 pounds 
to 199,084,000), but in the case of wool the maximum ship- 
ments (of 51,904,000 pounds) were made in 1885. Salt was 
received in large quantities at Chicago for use in the packing 
house plants, and a considerable amount passed through the 
city for use elsewhere. 

Other of the bulky raw commodities for which Chicago 
was an important distributing point were the lumber and 
shingles of the northern pine forests. In the early seventies 
this traffic was conducted for the most part by water, and 
large quantities of lumber were sent down the lakes and via 
the Illinois and Michigan canal and the Illinois river to south- 
ern markets. But as the forests were cut back from the water's 
edge, railroads began to penetrate the upper peninsula of 
Michigan, and other roads were built between the Wisconsin 
and Minnesota forests and Iowa, Kansas, and other western 
points. New sources of supply, new markets, and new routes 
of transportation all helped to divert the traffic from Chicago. 
Moreover, the lumber manufacturers in Michigan and other 
nearby states began to assort lumber at their own mills for 
the retail market, thus saving the cost of yardage and middle- 
men's profits at Chicago. And finally the pine forests of the 
south began to supply the southern markets to which most of 
the Chicago shipments of lumber had been directed. After 
about 1880 the lumber trade of Chicago began to fall off and 

21 See tables in appendix, p. 503. 


became increasingly local in character; the great building 
activity within the city has of course caused the receipts of 
lumber to increase, though in the case of shingles even the 
local demand has declined since i885. 22 This is doubtless due 
to the development of fireproof construction. 

The importance of Chicago as a general distributing center 
for other products was, however, becoming manifest during 
this period. By 1870 the movement of merchandise to the 
south had reached large proportions, and a considerable part 
of this passed through Illinois. During the winter of 1869- 
1870 it was stated that sufficient tonnage could not be obtained 
on the Mississippi river to move forward the accumulated 
freight which the two railroads running southward from 
Chicago carried to the river ports. Flour, oats, hay, bulk 
meats, agricultural implements, and merchandise were the 
articles which entered most largely into this trade, many of 
which were supplied by Illinois manufacturers. 23 

This general business received a rude interruption at the 
time of the fire of 1871 and again following the panic of 1873, 
but by 1876 the amount of merchandise received, produced, 
handled, and sold at Chicago had immensely increased. During 
the years after the panic the wholesale and jobbing trade of 
Chicago showed a remarkable expansion. Many of the interior 
merchants, who a few years before had made the bulk of their 
purchases in the east, began now to buy practically all their 
goods in Chicago. Agencies of the larger manufacturing 
establishments in eastern cities were located in Chicago, and 
the number of wholesale and jobbing houses in the city grew 
rapidly. At the same time the older established houses more 

22 Chicago Tribune, March 9, 1871 ; Report of the Trade and Commerce of 
Chicago, 1886, p. xxxiv; Industrial Chicago, 4:315-318. For table of receipts 
and shipments of lumber and shingles at Chicago showing the gradual decline 
of that city as a distributing point for these articles see appendix, p. 503. 

23 Chicago Tribune, March n, 1870. 


than doubled their business in five or six years after the fire 
in i87i. 24 

Chicago enjoyed certain advantages over its eastern com- 
petitors as a distributing and jobbing center, which enabled 
it to forge ahead rapidly at this time. The prosperous agri- 
cultural population of the Mississippi valley furnished an 
unrivaled market for staple commodities, and the location of 
Chicago in the very heart of this district gave it an initial 
advantage. Chicago merchants were better posted as to the 
responsibility and tastes of their customers than were eastern 
merchants. They could therefore sell on a narrower margin 
of profit, as they had the very pick of the customers. As they 
usually sold goods on shorter time than most eastern mer- 
chants, moreover, they were able to give better terms in other 
respects. It was stated that goods of nearly all descriptions 
could be bought at wholesale in Chicago at prices as low as 
those in New York or any other eastern market with freight 
charges added, and in many cases as low without any allow- 
ance for freight, and that the stocks in Chicago were as fresh, 
as large, and as desirable as those to be found elsewhere. By 
1876 the wholesale trade of Chicago, exclusive of the products 
of western agriculture, amounted to not less than $350,000,000 
annually. 25 

One of the potent agencies enabling Chicago to stem the 
tide of eastern competition in the wholesale business, and to 
make such notable progress in such a short time, was the 
system of employing commercial travelers. Up to the time 
of the Civil War the "drummer" had been regarded as a 

24 Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, 1872, p. 32; Chicago 
Tribune, January i, 1877; Report on Internal Commerce of the United States, 
1876, appendix, 90. For instance, in 1876 the important dry goods house of 
A. T. Stewart and Company established a wholesale branch in Chicago. A 
decade later the number of branch firms or agencies in Chicago was noteworthy. 
American Artisan and Patent Record, February 27, 1886, p. 10. 

25 Report on Internal Commerce of the United States, 1876, appendix, p. 82. 


sort of privateer in trade, but with the development of the 
railroad and telegraph facilities during the following decade 
he had won a position of importance and responsibility. By 
1875 the soliciting of orders and selling by sample in the 
hands of agents of business houses had become an established 
method of intercourse between buyer and seller. The advan- 
tages and economies of this mode of commercial intercourse 
were quickly recognized by Illinois merchants, who began to 
sell almost every conceivable article of merchandise, and to buy 
raw materials, through this new agency. 26 

One interesting development of Chicago commerce during 
this period was the direct importation of goods from Europe 
and the Orient. It had been urged that foreign trade was 
restricted by having to pass through New York and that if 
Chicago were made a port of entry a large direct trade with 
Europe would result. In 1872, accordingly, Chicago was made 
a port of entry, but there was little diversion of trade from 
New York to the direct route via the St. Lawrence river and 
the Great Lakes. The value of imported goods upon which 
duty was paid at Chicago increased from $6,955,234 in 1880 
to $15,406,786 in i890. 27 

Besides the trade with Europe, the early seventies saw 
the growth of a direct trade between Chicago and the Orient. 
Tea and other oriental goods began to be shipped from China 
and Japan across the Pacific ocean and by the transcontinental 
railroads, which were just being built, to Chicago. The first 
cargo of tea thus received at that city arrived in 1870. In 
two months of the following year 25,000 chests of 60 pounds 
each came direct by rail to Chicago, and about 50,000 chests 
passed through the city on the way to New York and other 

26 Report on Internal Commerce of the United States, 1876, appendix p. 66-67. 

27 Report of the Trade and Commerce of Chicago, 1880, p. 60; 1890, p. 116- 


eastern points. Illinois merchants were led by these facts to 
believe that Chicago was destined to become the central dis- 
tributing point in the west for teas and oriental goods, as well 
as for many native products. 28 

It is difficult to determine exactly the extent of the terri- 
tory covered by Illinois wholesale houses and jobbers, as some 
branches of trade, like boots and shoes, extended farther than 
others. The supplies of the western territory, as far west as 
Utah, seem to have been drawn largely from Chicago prior 
to 1880. Nevada was competitive ground for eastern mer- 
chants and those of the Pacific coast. This western trade was 
largest in mining machinery and supplies, boots and shoes, and 
dry goods. The Chicago trade in boots and shoes, which 
were of coarse and medium qualities and thus well adapted to 
the western and southern demand, was probably more extended 
than that of any other commodity, reaching to Nevada on the 
west, to Tennessee and Georgia on the south, and to Penn- 
sylvania on the east. Dry goods and drugs went nearly as far, 
but in less volume. 29 

The panic of 1884 caused a depression in the wholesale 
as well as in all other business in Chicago ; but by the end of 
the following year a revival began which continued unabated 
through the next few years. The boot and shoe industry was 
by 1888 one of the largest in the city and was represented by 
over eighty leading manufacturers and jobbers, giving employ- 
ment to nearly 7,000 operatives. Still, it was claimed by 
enterprising merchants that "the boot and shoe trade of 
Chicago is in its infancy." 30 The dry goods trade stood at 
the head of the wholesale business, showing sales which 
increased from $55,300,000 in 1879 to $83,570,000 in 1888. 

28 Chicago Tribune, March 24, 1870, May 12, 1871, December 15, 1874. 

29 Report on Internal Commerce of the United States, 1879, p. 48-49. 

30 Report of the Trade and Commerce of Chicago, 1888, p. xv; Chicago 
Tribune, January i, 1886. 


Allied with this was the wholesale millinery business, whose 
sales in the last named year amounted to $6,500,000. Some- 
what larger and more extensive was the manufacture and 
trade in men's and boys' clothing. Chicago claimed the largest 
manufacturing house of this kind in the world, and altogether 
nearly a hundred factories and jobbing houses with a capital 
of $14,000,000. The sales of Chicago clothing extended 
eastward into Michigan and Ohio, and throughout the 
southwest, west, and northwest. Other commodities for 
which Chicago was an important distributing as well as 
producing center, were paper, the sales of which in 1888 
were $33,900,000; manufactured iron, comprising bar iron, 
plate steel, nails, carriage goods, and the like, with sales 
of $11,500,000; and agricultural implements with local pro- 
duction of $12,000,000 and a trade many times as large. 31 

Although Chicago overshadowed all other Illinois cities 
in the wholesale and jobbing business, Peoria had developed 
a considerable trade along similar lines by the early seventies. 
In 1875 the local Board of Trade claimed that "the whole- 
sale and jobbing interests keep pace with the facilities offered, 
and Peoria is now one of the best markets in the west in which 
to procure the supplies needed for the interior towns, and will 
compare favorably with the larger markets in the extent and 
variety as well as prices of its merchandise of all kinds." 32 
This prosperity suffered from the panic of 1873 and again 
from that of 1884, but it recovered quickly in each instance, 
so that by the end of the period Peoria held second position in 
the state as a trading center. 

31 Report of the Trade and Commerce of Chicago, 1888, p. xiv, xv, xvii. 
82 Report of the Trade and Commerce of Peoria, 1875, p. 12. 


\ LTHOUGH Illinois in 1870 was still primarily an 
JL\. agricultural state, in the very wealth of its agricultural 
products lay the basis of an expanding and enduring industrial 
development. Able to draw upon the great wheat and corn 
belts, the manufacturers of Illinois have utilized their products 
in building up a variety of great industries; upon these chiefly 
rests Illinois' industrial prosperity. But these primary indus- 
tries have been well complemented by others; although the 
state is singularly lacking in metallic resources, its clays were 
early utilized in the manufacture of brick, and its abundant 
supply of coal has been made to furnish sufficiently high caloric 
to smelt and work the iron shipped in from neighboring states. 
Before this period the manufactures of Illinois had been 
relatively insignificant, the state ranking fifteenth in the union 
in this respect in 1850. The decade 18601870 was one of 
great expansion, the value of the products showing almost a 
fourfold increase, so that by 1870 the state ranked sixth. In 
this decade a new era in manufacturing may be said to have 
begun. With the barriers of distance almost eliminated by 
improved railroad transportation and by the telegraph and 
improved postal facilities, the sphere of competition widened. 
With the repeated inventions of new processes of manufacture, 
with the growth of population and the enlargement of the 
market, the factory system supplanted the old neighborhood 
and hand methods of production, and manufacturing was car- 
ried on upon an ever-enlarging scale. The changes in the 
industrial system, the growth of corporations, and the differen- 
tiation of capital and labor were even more far-reaching. 



Each of the next two decades saw the value of the manu- 
factured products double, passing that of agricultural prod- 
ucts in 1880 and far outdistancing it ten years later. By 
1890 Illinois was the most important manufacturing state 
west of the Alleghenies and of all the states in the union 
was surpassed only by New York and Pennsylvania. The 
value of Illinois' manufactured products in this year exceeded 
that of the products of agriculture, mining, and fisheries com- 
bined. 1 

The beginning of modern industrialism which occurred in 
Illinois in 18601870 was to a certain extent simply a reflec- 
tion of what was taking place all over the country at this time. 
The Civil War had created a suddenly increased demand for 
certain commodities such as food, clothing, arms, and the like. 
The rise in prices occasioned by the overissue of legal-tender 
paper money acted as a stimulus to the production of goods 
for future sale ; as long as prices were rising it was difficult for 
a manufacturing enterprise to fail unless grossly mismanaged. 
And finally the imposition of heavy war tariffs on practically 
all imported manufactured goods gave a great advantage to 
domestic producers in the United States by reserving for them 
the home market. Illinois felt the force of all these factors; 
but it was affected even more directly by the development of 
the west. The growth in population, the increasing produc- 
tion of grain and cattle, the building of railroads, the con- 
struction of cities and various city improvements, and the 
general betterment of the material conditions of the people 
were creating a vast home market for manufacturers and at 
the same time were increasing the purchasing power of the 
people. It is noticeable that while the most important manu- 
facturing industries of Illinois were based upon the state's 

1 For table showing comparative growth of manufactures, agriculture, and 
mining see appendix, p. 504. 


possession of unrivaled sources of raw materials, especially 
grain and livestock, there were also many others which grew 
in response to local needs, the products of which were too 
bulky or too heavy to stand transportation from the industrial 
centers of the east. 

The substantial progress made by Illinois manufacturers 
during these years is the more impressive when it is remem- 
bered that it was on the whole a period of falling prices, 
tending to depress industrial enterprise. Even in the years of 
recovery from the panics of 1873, 1884, and 1893 complaints 
were? frequently heard that times were dull and profits low, 
and some large plants were shut down. 2 

A more detailed study of the leading industries of the 
state in 1870 reveals the close relation which existed between 
manufactures and the extractive industries, that is, the utiliza- 
tion of natural resources. There were in this year thirty-four 
industries with an annual output of over $i,ooo,ooo, 3 of which 
seven turned out over $5,000,000 a year each, or almost half 
(47 per cent) of the aggregate value of products. These 
seven leading industries were, in the order of their importance, 
flour and grist mills, meat packing, agricultural implements, 
clothing, distilled liquors, planed lumber, and carriages and 
wagons all except one closely connected with the extractive 
industries. The manufactures of flour and of whisky were 
based upon the plentiful supplies of wheat and corn; meat 
packing upon livestock and corn as fodder; agricultural imple- 
ments, carriages and wagons, and planed lumber upon the 
large supplies of wood from the neighboring states of Michigan 
and Wisconsin and upon the great market in Illinois for agri- 
cultural supplies. Clothing alone of these industries may be 

2 Sec Western Manufacturer, 10:237, 12:226; Report of the Trade and Com- 
merce of Chicago, 1882, p. xiv; American Artisan and Patent Record, January 19, 
1889, p. 235; June 22, 1889, p. 12. 

3 For table see appendix, p. 504. 


called a product of the factory system rather than of a plentiful 
and cheap supply of raw materials. 

If, however, the sixteen manufacturing industries which 
produced more than $2,000,000 but less than $5,000,000 in 
1870 be taken, this characteristic is less marked and a larger 
proportion of them are found to be "pure" manufactures, 
that is, industries in which the process of manufacture adds 
largely to the value of the raw material which is worked up. 
These were, in the order of their importance : sawed lumber, 
malt liquors, iron castings, forged and rolled iron, chewing 
and smoking tobacco, furniture, machinery (not specified), 
woolen goods, saddlery and harness, cooperage, sashes, doors, 
and blinds, boots ,and shoes, tin, copper, and sheet-iron 
ware, machinery for railroad repairing, curried leather, and 
tanned leather. In general, however, they were industries 
which involved the working up of large masses of raw materials 
by means of machinery or relatively simple processes, rather 
than those which called for numerous hands or laborious work- 
manship. 4 Their presence in Illinois may in most cases be 
explained by the existence of special facilities or of a local 
market for the product. 

It is evident that Illinois owed what advance it had se- 
cured in manufacturing prior to 1870 to the preparation of 
food, drink, and clothing the great staple commodities 
needed by a growing agricultural community which demanded 
the satisfaction of its primary necessities in ever-increasing 
degree, but which as yet had little to spare for the luxuries 
and superfluities. Most of the manufactures went to satisfy 
a local demand; and, in addition to those produced at home, 
vast quantities were imported into the state from Europe and 
the east. As yet little was produced for sale in distant markets 

4 Department of Agriculture of Illinois, Transactions, 1869-1870, 
p. 200. 


except in the case of a few specialties as, for instance, agricul- 
tural implements, packed meats, and the like. Indeed, in 1870 
Illinois had by no means passed out of the system of neigh- 
borhood and hand industry, as is witnessed by the fact that 
" home manufactures " were still returned in the agricultural 
schedules as constituting part of the products of the farm 

By 1870, then, the foundations had been well 'laid for 
an industrial commonwealth, but, after all, little more than 
the foundations can be recorded. The next twenty years were 
to witness the full development of the characteristic features 
of modern industrial organization and an expansion of enter- 
prise that brought the state to third rank in the union in 

There is probably no single change which so sharply 
differentiates the modern factory system from the old hand 
methods as the use of nonhuman power. Only when machines 
were invented which could be driven by nonhuman power 
animal power, water, and finally steam was the human race 
emancipated. How great an addition to its productive capacity 
a community secures by the use of steam or water power may 
be realized when it is remembered that one "horse power" is 
equivalent to that of twenty-one men. Judged by this standard, 
Illinois in 1870 had not yet developed the factory system of 
manufactures. Although ranking fourth in population, sixth 
in value of products and number of establishments, the state 
occupied seventh place in the use of power, surpassed by 
Pennsylvania (363,918 horse-power), New York (334,363), 
Massachusetts (184,356), Ohio (174,323), Michigan (105,- 
851), and Indiana ( 100,369) . In that year Illinois developed 
only 86,044 horse-power, of which 85 per cent was steam power 
and the remaining 15 per cent was water power. It is evident 
that the immense wealth of coal and the vast amount of 


natural water power of the streams of Illinois had as yet 
scarcely been drawn upon to furnish the motive power for 
the manufacturing industries of the state. 

During the next twenty years a tremendous change took 
place. New labor-saving machines were constantly being 
invented, improvements made on the old ones, and new ways 
were devised of securing the power to drive them. 5 The 
same amount of human labor could now produce many times 
as large an output, and the larger quantities found ready sale 
in the widened market created by the expansion of the rail- 
roads. The old limited hand labor methods were rapidly 
forced to the wall; unless manufacturers had the capital to 
invest in new devices, they were doomed to speedy extinction 
in the struggle for survival. It became less easy to set up new 
establishments and increasingly easy for factories equipped 
with machinery to enlarge their scale of operations. Thus 
the outstanding characteristic of the period was the immense 
increase in the capital invested and the output as compared 
with the number of establishments in other words, the 
growth of large scale factory production with its numerous 

In 1870, the number of establishments had reached 12,597, 
almost four times what it had been two decades before; the 
increase during the next decade was slight, less than two thou- 
sand, in spite of a decided increase in all the other factors 
involved capital, labor, and output. By 1890 it had reached 
only 20, 48 2. 6 Clearly a great many establishments were 
forced entirely out of the running in the first years of readjust- 
ment; obviously, too, those which remained were producing 
on a larger scale than before. The following table con- 

5 Western Manufacturer, 10:29. Over a thousand patents were issued to 
residents of Illinois in 1881, probably a fairly typical number. 

6 For table see appendix, p. 505. 



veniently shows the change which took place in the average 
establishment : 







Number of establishments 





Average hands per establishment 





Average capital per establishment. . . . 


$ 7,491 

$ 9,668 


Average output per establishment. . . . 





In contrast with the very moderate increase in the number 
of establishments during the twenty years is the consistent 
and rapid increase in the amount of capital invested, from 
something over $94,000,000 in 1870 to over $500,000,000 
in 1890. Naturally, certain industries required or attracted 
a larger share of this capital than did others. The heaviest 
investment was in the manufacture of agricultural implements, 
gas, grease and tallow, iron, distilled liquors, machinery for 
railroad repairing, meat packing, and woolen goods; but a 
number of other industries such as cooperage, gunsmithing, 
and the like were carried on upon a small scale and with only 
a very light investment of capital. 

The number of wage earners engaged in manufacturing 
and mechanical industries grew from 1 1,559 m 1850 to 82,979 
in 1870 and 312,198 in 1890, a rate of increase several times 
as rapid as that of the population. The percentage of the 
total population engaged in manufactures exhibited a corre- 
sponding increase for these same years from 1.4 to 3.3 and 
to 7.3. 

More striking than the growth in the total number of wage 
earners, however, was the change in the composition of this 
group. Down to 1870 there were almost no women employed 
in manufactures in Illinois, their number being only 493 


in 1850 and falling to 479 in 1860; by 1870, however, 
the number of women had increased to 6,717. The change 
in the character of the labor force was initiated by the with- 
drawal from industrial pursuits of a large proportion of the 
male population for military service during the Civil War 
and the consequent necessity of filling men's places with women 
and children. But such a shift would not have been possible 
upon such a scale if the previous decade had not witnessed 
the introduction of machinery and labor-saving devices which 
made feasible the utilization of the labor of physically less 
capable workers a characteristic feature of the factory 

The principal industries in which the women found employ- 
ment were clothing and textile industries and to a lesser degree 
bookbinding, millinery, printing and publishing, tobacco manu- 
facturing, and watchmaking, all calling for deftness and deli- 
cacy of touch. Children under the age of sixteen years were 
enumerated for the first time in the census of 1870, when it 
was ascertained that 3,217 were employed in manufacturing 
establishments. This number had almost trebled by 1880, 
but in the following decade it was greatly reduced as a result 
of child labor legislation. Most of these children found em- 
ployment in the same occupations which engaged the women, 
though in addition the brick, confectionery, furniture, iron, 
and lumber interests employed a good many boys. 

The total amount paid in wages to the factory workers in 
Illinois showed a steady growth during this period, which was, 
moreover, more rapid than the increase in numbers, so that 
the average per capita wages also showed an improvement. 
The average yearly wage, which had been only $279 in 1850, 
was $375 in 1870 and $509 in 1890. While these figures are 
not high, they represent about the average remuneration which 
workers at that time were receiving in the United States. 


Since the manufacturing industries of Illinois were based 
upon the utilization of valuable raw materials and did not 
carry the process of working over these materials through 
many subsequent stages, the value of material bulks large in 
the value of manufactured products. In 1850 it constituted 
54 per cent of the final value of the finished goods, in 1870 
it made up 62 per cent, and 58 per cent in 1890. At each 
decennial investigation it was shown that it made up more 
than half of the value of the finished product. The latter 
showed a wonderful growth, increasing from $16,534,272 in 
1850 to $908,640,280 in 1890. More significant, however, 
of the development of the factory system than the increase of 
the gross value of the manufactured products is that of their 
net value after deducting the value of the raw materials incor- 
porated in them; this increased from $7,574,945 in 1850 to 
$78,020,595 in 1870, and $379,621,191 in i89O. 7 

Typical of American industry during this period was the 
development of economical methods of extracting, handling, 
transporting, manufacturing, and marketing the natural re- 
sources of the country. In the Lake Superior region there 
were being opened up the iron ranges, from which an excellent 
quality of iron ore could be transported cheaply and easily to 
Chicago. To handle this, improved devices and boats were 
developed. The manufacture of steel rails, which began in 
this country in 1867 and rapidly supplanted iron rails in rail- 
road construction, permitted the carrying of heavier loads, 
while the use of steel in the construction of locomotives and 
cars led to a great increase in the size and capacity of the 
average train. These improvements permitted the carriage 
of coal, grain, and similar commodities in large quantities and 

7 For table showing the rank of manufacturing industries in Illinois for each 
of the three census periods 1870, 1880, 1890, the net value of whose production in 
1890 was over $1,000,000, see appendix, p. 506. 


facilitated their utilization as the basis of manufacturing 
industries which should deal with materials in the mass. 

The iron and steel industry in Illinois dates from about 
the sixties. Although Pennsylvania has always been the leader 
in this industry, competing enterprises were able to develop in 
Illinois because they were nearer the growing western market 
and had a slight advantage with regard to the raw material. 
At first Hardin county gave promise of an abundant supply 
of iron ore, and companies were organized to exploit the 
mines, but these works were soon abandoned. 8 The Iron 
mountain district of Missouri was next drawn upon, but since 
the eighties the chief sources of supplies for Illinois furnaces 
have been the Lake Superior iron ranges. Coal was obtained 
from Pennsylvania, Indiana, and southern Illinois. 9 The 
total production of iron and steel within the state showed a 
tremendous expansion from 25,761 tons in 1870 to 417,967 
tons in 1880, and to 1,657,325 tons in 1890. Illinois ranked 
fourth among the iron and steel producing states in 1880, 
having made a great stride since 1 870, when it ranked fifteenth ; 
by 1890 it had attained third place. 

The iron industry at Chicago, the present center, dates 
from 1857, when Captain E. B. Ward of Detroit built the 
Chicago Rolling Mill on the right bank of the Chicago river, 
"just outside of the city." It was built to reroll iron rails 
and formed the nucleus of the North Chicago Rolling Mill 
Company. This company was incorporated in 1869, and at 
that time it was reputed to have manufactured about one-third 
of all the iron and steel produced in the country. The first 
furnace in this district dates from 1868, in which year two 
were built by the Chicago Iron Company. In the following 

8 Department of Agriculture of Illinois, Transactions, 1871, p. 156; the 
furnace at Elizabethtown is said to have been established in 1839. Swank, The 
American Iron Trade in 1876, p. 146. 

9 Department of Agriculture of Illinois, Transactions, 1871, p. 89-93. 


year two more were built by the North Chicago Rolling Mill 
Company. At Joliet, thirty-seven miles southwest of Chicago, 
the Joliet Iron and Steel Company, established in 1871, had 
built two furnaces by 1873. In addition to these, two others 
near St. Louis and three in the coal region about Grand Tower 
were reported in i876. 10 There were thus eleven large fur- 
naces using bituminous coal and coke as fuel. In the same 
year there were in the state nine rolling mills, chiefly for 
rerolling railroad iron. Of the total output of rails in the 
United States in 1875, Illinois produced almost a quarter 
(23.75 per cent), ranking second to Pennsylvania. In the 
production of pig iron, however, Illinois ranked seventh. 

Chicago claims the distinction of having the first Bessemer 
steel made in this country; it was rolled by the proprietor of 
the North Chicago Rolling Mill in 1864. The Union works 
were put in operation in 1863 as an iron rail mill, but later a 
Bessemer steel plant was added. The South Chicago works 
were opened for the production of Bessemer steel in 1882. 
The Joliet works, established as an iron mill in 1870, added 
a steel rail mill in 1873. These four Illinois mills together 
with one in Milwaukee were consolidated in 1889 when a 
holding company was organized under the name of the Illinois 
Steel Company. In 1890 the total output of all the mills of 
this company was 680,274 tons, and the number of employees 
was about ten thousand. It operated also seventeen coke blast 
furnaces. 11 

In addition to those owned by the Illinois Steel Company, 
there were in the state at this time only two other blast fur- 
naces, one of which was operated by the Calumet Iron and 
Steel Company, and the other by the Iroquois Furnace Com- 

10 Western Manufacturer, 2: 19; Swank, The American Iron Trade in 1876, 
p. 146 ; Report on the Manufactures of the United States at the Tenth Census, 
2: 106. 

11 Chicago Journal of Commerce, August 15, 1883; Flinn, Chicago, 308. 


pany, both of Chicago. Of steel plants there were, however, 
in addition to the four consolidated mills of the Illinois Steel 
Company, thirteen others in Chicago and vicinity. It was 
estimated that in 1890 the Chicago steel mills turned out over 
one-third of the entire steel rail production of the country. 12 
At the same time the local consumption of pig iron, aside from 
that converted into steel, amounted to about 400,000 tons. 

But the iron and steel products of the state were not limited 
to pig iron and steel rails and structural shapes. There were in 
1890 over one hundred foundries in Chicago alone and many 
more in other towns which produced car wheels, machine cast- 
ings, car castings, stoves, architectural iron, plumbers' supplies, 
hardware, and numerous other articles. Illinois establishments 
also manufactured on a large scale such products as cut nails, 
horse nails, wire nails, bridge building parts, wire, tin plate, 
locomotives, and steel ships. None of the last named were 
manufactured in the state prior to the formation of the Chicago 
Shipbuilding Company in 1890. 

The iron and steel industry was the basis of many other 
industries, and its expansion was indicative of the general 
industrial development of the state. To handle and work up 
large masses of raw materials into staple goods on a large 
scale, special machinery and labor-saving devices were neces- 
sary, and to provide these had ever been one of the leading 
features of Illinois manufactures. By the end of this period 
foundry and machine shop products and iron and steel stood 
third and fifth respectively in the list of Illinois industries. 13 
They were providing the technological apparatus for carrying 
on other branches of industry. This period witnessed, too, 
the application on a large scale of the principle of interchange- 

12 Cope, The Iron and Steel Interests of Chicago, 7. 

13 For table showing the rank of manufacturing industries in Illinois the 
gross value of whose production in 1890 exceeded $5,000,000, see appendix, 
p. 507. 


Cook county $92,000,000 


able parts. This system was revolutionizing the manufacture 
not only of machinery itself, but also of ammunition, locomo- 
tives and railroad machinery, watches, clocks, and agricultural 
implements, in the production of all of which except the first 
Illinois took a leading place. Illinois shared the benefit of 
these improvements with other industrial states, but none was 
more profoundly affected by them. 

As plentiful and cheap supplies of coal are an essential 
condition to the development of the iron and steel industries, 
the capacity of Illinois to meet this demand may be noted at 
this point. Before the advent of railroads the coal supplies 
for southern Illinois came from the east by way of the Ohio 
river and for the northern part of the state by lake to Chicago. 
The coal deposits of Illinois, situated for the most part in the 
southern counties, were then entirely unworked, or were 
worked only for local consumption as fuel in homes. Even 
after the development of railroads much coal continued to be 
shipped into the state from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. 
But gradually the more important coal fields in Illinois were 
opened and railroads were built to market their product. The 
opening of the iron mines of Missouri led to a demand from 
St. Louis for large quantities of coal for manufacturing pur- 
poses, and hence gave an impetus to coal mining in southern 
Illinois. Railroads were pushed across the state to Belleville 
and other important mining centers, and by 1888 over one 
hundred important bituminous coal mines in Illinois at dis- 
tances ranging from eight to eighty miles from East St. Louis 
were furnishing that city and St. Louis with their supplies of 
soft coal. 14 

Chicago, too, began to draw its supplies of coal in increas- 
ing measure from domestic sources. With the development 

14 Report of the Trade and Commerce of St. Louis, 1888, p. 25. For discus- 
sion of mineral products see chapter 18. 


of wheat shipments from the upper Superior districts the 
vessels began to carry coal from Pennsylvania and other east- 
ern places on their return journeys to those districts. Accord- 
ingly, the shipments of eastern coal to Chicago by water fell 
off, just as the mines in southern Illinois were opened up and 
began to supply in heightening degree the expanding needs 
of Chicago manufacturers. This has been especially true since 
about 1880. Peoria and other industrial cities of Illinois owe 
a large part of their growth as manufacturing centers to their 
proximity to cheap fuel. Practically no part of the state is 
out of reach of coal mines from which fuel for domestic and 
industrial purposes can be derived. 15 

The typical and leading industries of Illinois, however, 
were based rather upon the products of the corn belt than of 
iron and coal mines. Slaughtering and meat packing and dis- 
tilled liquors, the first and second on the list of manufactures, 
as well as malt liquors, which rank lower down, owe their 
preeminence to the state's ability to produce corn and other 
grains cheaply. Agricultural implements were in special 
demand on the rich level prairies of Illinois, where they found 
one of their best markets. But of all these industries the one 
most closely identified in the popular mind with the industrial 
development of Illinois was the slaughtering and meat packing 

Before the consolidation of the Chicago stockyards in 
1865, meat packing was in its infancy. The cattle and hogs 
had to be packed in the winter .season and the product kept 
until the spring when navigation was resumed. Naturally, few 
could engage in an industry involving so many risks. But when 
railroad transportation began to supersede lake traffic and 
the livestock trade was consolidated, the meat packing in- 
dustry in Chicago began to thrive. Various other influences 

15 For table showing growth of coal trade see appendix, p. 508. 


assisted the development of the industry. Chief of these was 
the refrigeration process of preserving meat, begun in the six- 
ties; this rendered summer packing possible, 16 though for 
many years only the large packers undertook all-the-year 
packing. In 1867 the first experiment made in shipping fresh 
meat in refrigerator cars proved successful. 17 This method 
of caring for meat, together with the development of minute 
utilization of by-products, revolutionized the meat packing 

The export trade of cattle and packed meats began in the 
sixties, but the shipments were greatly increased when the 
process of refrigeration and refrigerating cars made the trans- 
portation of fresh meats feasible. In 1867 the foreign exports 
of dressed hogs constituted about 25 per cent of the aggregate 
weight of hogs slaughtered in the west that season, while in 
1873 * ne exported product represented 60 per cent of the 
total. The first fresh beef shipment to Europe was made in 
1875, when 36,000 pounds were exported. Since the improve- 
ment in the processes of curing and canning meat in the seven- 
ties the exportation of provisions has continued to increase, 18 
except during the eighties, when a boycott on American packed 
meats was practically declared by the French and German 
governments. In 1883 and again in 1887 these countries 
refused to import American salted pork on the ground that it 
was unwholesome. 19 

16 Cleaver, History of Chicago from 1833 to l8cj2, p. 107; Department of Agri- 
culture of Illinois, Transactions, 1871, p. 98. Libby, McNeill, and Libby first 
demonstrated the practicability of curing beef in summer. Centennial History of 
Chicago, 157. 

17 In 1867 a car from Illinois arrived in New York laden with beef, mutton, 
poultry, etc., slaughtered ten days before and in good condition. American 
Artisan and Patent Record, July 29, 1868, p. 33. 

18 Railway and Engineering Review, July 7, 1877, p. 5; Report of the Trade 
and Commerce of Chicago, 1883, p. 18. In 1874 the export trade fell off somewhat 
because of an advance of twenty per cent in the price of hogs. Annual Report of 
the Packing of the W est, 1876, p. 23, 24. 

19 Report of the Trade and Commerce of Chicago, 1883, p. 13 ; 1887, p. xxviii. 


The effect of the utilization of more and more of the 
by-products was not only to insure the permanent success of 
the industry in Chicago, the chief manufacturing city of the 
west, but to accelerate the concentration of the industry in a 
few hands. The inevitable tendency toward combination 
asserted itself early in the history of the industry in Chicago. 
The first association of packers was formed in 1865 for the 
purpose of guarding their interests; the weeding out of the 
small packers began a few decades later. A consolidation of 
packing houses was attempted in 1890, when Fowler Brothers, 
Limited, an English corporation, was organized to acquire the 
business of one firm in Liverpool, two in New York, and the 
Anglo-American Refrigerator Car Company of Indiana and 
the Anglo-American Provision Company of Chicago. 20 This 
was followed in 1892 by the organization of the International 
Packing and Provision Company, Limited, incorporated in 
London, which acquired several packing and commission con- 
cerns of Chicago : the International Packing Company, T. E. 
Wells Company, Allerton Packing Company, John Cudahy, 
J. C. Hately, Hately Brothers, and Jones and Stiles. This 
consolidation was unsuccessful and the company sold its 
property and interests to the Consolidated Packing Company. 

Flour and grist mill products, which headed the lists of 
both gross and net products in 1870, sank lower by degrees 
as the center of wheat production gradually passed farther 
west and the great flour mills were established in the spring 
wheat section of Minnesota. Flour milling had been one of the 
earliest industries to develop in Illinois. As proximity to raw 
material is an essential factor in this industry, it had flourished 
as long as Illinois was an important wheat producing state. 
In 1871 the Illinois mills were reported to have had a grinding 
capacity of 100,000,000 bushels of wheat annually. But with 

20 Chicago Tribune, January i, 1865; Investor's Manual, May, 1902, p. 70. 


the shifting of spring wheat production to the northwest, flour 
production in this state gradually declined. In spite of the 
excellent situation of Chicago as a market for flour, the number 
of mills in the city decreased from fifteen in 1869 to eleven in 
1870. When six of these were destroyed in the fire of the 
following year they were not rebuilt. The local mills have 
not been able since that date to supply the local demand. 21 
Before 1870 Peoria had also been an important flour milling 
center, but here too the industry declined. In the southern 
part of the state, where winter wheat still held its own, some 
seven or eight mills which were owned and operated by St. 
Louis millers maintained themselves and even increased their 
output from 653,820 barrels in 1882 to 1,457,103 barrels 
in 1892. But as a whole the industry was distinctly a 
declining one. 

Other industries which showed declines were: between 
1870 and 1880, carpentering (12 per cent), carriages and 
wagons (17 per cent), and planed lumber (33 per cent); 
between 1880 and 1890, electrical machinery and apparatus, 
and grease and tallow (48 per cent). This last was more 
than offset by the growth of the manufacture of soap and 
candles, in which forms the grease and tallow, by-products of 
the packing industry, now reached the market. The decline 
in the lumber industry was more significant, for it denoted an 
exhaustion of forest resources. Probably the decline in car- 
pentering and in carriages and wagons was due to the same cause. 

The clothing industry, which in 1890 held fourth rank 
according to the net value of the product, and sixth according 
to the gross value, may be regarded as more typical of the 

21 Department of Agriculture of Illinois, Transactions, 1871, p. 98; annual 
review of the trade and commerce of Chicago in Chicago Tribune, 1869, p. 101, 
1870, p. 23. The amount of flour milled in Chicago has been as follows by five 
year intervals: 1870, 443,967 barrels; 1875, 249,653 barrels; 1880, 196,041 barrels; 
1885, 575,165 barrels; 1890, 430,609 barrels. 

"Report of the Trade and Commerce of St. Louis, 1882, p. 78; 1892, p. 162. 


development of pure manufactures. In Illinois down to 1860 
the manufacture of men's clothing, as well as of that for 
women and children, had been mainly a household industry. 
But with the introduction of the sewing machine it was trans- 
ferred to the shops and the factories. An impetus was given 
the industry during the Civil War by the great demand for 
army clothing, a demand which was reflected also in the 
increase of sheep raising and the manufacture of woolen 
goods (amounting to $2,700,000 in 1870). With the large 
influx of Russian Jews into this country, beginning in the seven- 
ties, the sweating system, unfortunately still characteristic of 
this industry, was introduced. Indeed, the factory system of 
making clothing may be said to have been based upon a large 
supply of cheap and ignorant labor. Of this labor supply 
Illinois was already obtaining her share, many of the immi- 
grants settling in Chicago. By 1880 the number of natives 
of Russia and Poland in the state was 8,238 and in 1890 it 
was 37,285. In the latter year the total value of the products 
of the men's clothing industry amounted to $35,500,000, to 
which may be added $6,400,000 of women's factory-made 
clothing. Chicago boasted already of having the largest fac- 
tory for the manufacture of men's ready-made clothing in the 
United States, which meant in the world. 

Other industries in which Illinois took high rank among 
the other states of the union were newspaper printing and 
publishing, and brickmaking. Two states only, New York 
and Pennsylvania, had a larger circulation of newspapers 
than Illinois, which in 1890 boasted a combined circulation 
of 7,891,219. In the manufacture of brick and tile Illinois 
held fourth place with a total value of products for 1890 of 
$6,399,492. Lacking metallic resources, the manufacturers 
of Illinois early began to transform the clay deposits into 
bricks, tiles, and cements, which with steel are the basis of 


modern building construction. Another rapidly growing indus- 
try was the factory production of butter, cheese, and condensed 
milk. In 1870 about 71 per cent of the cheese was produced 
by factories, but all the butter (except 4,348 pounds) was as 
yet made on the farms. By 1880 over 95 per cent of the 
cheese and one-third of the butter was factory made, a pro- 
portion which still prevailed in 1890. By this time the 
manufacture of condensed milk had been added to the other 
two, the value of the products of the three amounting in 1890 
to $8,004,991. 

In tracing the progress of manufactures in Illinois two 
very interesting movements which deserve somewhat fuller 
treatment disclose themselves. These are, first, the localization 
of manufactures in certain sections of the state and second, 
the growing concentration of certain industries in larger 

In 1870 the manufacturing industries of the state were 
widely distributed. Flour milling, which was the leading 
industry, was the principal manufacture in seventy-four coun- 
ties, and was scattered impartially throughout the state from 
Lake county in the northeast to Alexander in the southwest 
corner. Sawed lumber was the leading industry in eight scat- 
tered counties, mostly in the south; agricultural implements 
in five northern counties ; distilled liquors in five corn producing 
counties of the northern section. Meat packing (pork) led 
in Cook and Marshall; carriages and wagons in De Witt and 
Edwards; pig lead in Jo Daviess; saddlery and harness in 
Ford; freight and passenger cars in Kane; railroad repairing 
machinery in Marion; woolen goods in Schuyler; and furniture 
in Stephenson. If flour and grist mill products be excluded 
from this list as being extractive rather than pure manufac- 
tures, all but two of the counties involved would be situated in 
the northern half of the state. 


In 1860 there were only 10 counties Jo Daviess, Winne- 
bago, Cook, Rock Island, Peoria, Fulton, Hancock, Adams, 
Morgan, and St. Clair which had over 100 manufacturing 
establishments, and n which turned out over $1,000,000 of 
products in that year. By 1870 manufactures had been widely 
introduced throughout the state, and the number of counties 
with over 100 establishments had grown to 40, a figure which 
remained constant for 1880. This latter year probably saw 
the most widespread distribution of manufactures which had 
yet existed, for while the number of establishments remained 
constant, the number of counties in which over $1,000,000 
was produced was greater in 1880 (33) than in 1870 (26). 
In 1890 the markedly industrial counties were Cook, Will, 
Peoria, St. Clair, Madison, Winnebago, Kane, La Salk, Rock 
Island, Adams, and Sangamon. 

This localization of industry in the northern and central 
counties, principally those with large cities, was made possible 
chiefly by the improvement of transportation facilities. Fac- 
tories started up at points where there were especial advan- 
tages for shipping; and in turn the more factories there were 
in a certain town, the more profitable it became for trans- 
portation concerns to provide additional facilities. Moreover, 
since in any case the market for each single establishment was 
no longer confined to its immediate locality, competition was 
not particularly affected by the grouping in the same city of a 
number of establishments making the same kind of product. 

Chicago, of course, offers the most striking illustration of 
this tendency of manufactures to group themselves at points 
having good shipping facilities. The real industrial develop- 
ment of this city began after the panic of 1873; in the next 
five years its 690 factories increased to 2,000, and by 1890 
they numbered over 3,ooo. 23 Not only were various indus- 

23 Report of the Trade and Commerce of Chicago, 1873, p. 9. 


tries centralized in the city, but within the city itself particular 
localities came to be given over to special manufactures. Thus 
the tanneries and distilleries began to cluster around the north 
branch of the river, and stonecutting near the south branch. 
The south division of the city also contained the stockyards, 
the railroad warehouses, and the shipbuilding establishments. 24 

As the number of new establishments increased, moreover, 
so that there was little room left in the city for manufacturing 
plants, new groups were formed in the suburbs or outskirts. 
One of the first and most significant of these was the district 
south of the city, where, after the fire of 1871, the heavy iron 
and woodworking industries grouped themselves. Here were 
located the Chicago Stove Works, the Wells and French 
Bridge and Car Works, the Columbian Iron Works, Barnum 
and Richardson's Car Wheel Works, Swan and Clark's Fur- 
niture Factory, F. E. Candee and Company's Car Works, and 
other establishments. An important accession came in 1872, 
when the McCormick works were removed to the community. 

High rental and the need of space and easier transportation 
facilities soon impelled other industries to establish themselves 
quite beyond the limits of the city; as a result there have grown 
up such manufacturing towns as Chicago Heights, Pullman, 
Steger, Hegewisch, Cicero, Maywood, Waukegan, Grand 
Crossing, and Hammond, Indiana. 

Within Chicago and its environs, then, was concentrated a 
high proportion of all the manufactures of the state. In par- 
ticular the meat packing industry was definitely centralized in 
the city; the wagon and carriage industry, too, was largely local- 
ized here, it being reported in 1879 that nine-tenths of all the 
wagons and carriages in the United States were manufactured 
in Chicago or within a radius of 250 miles. In the latter part 

24 Chicago Times, October 9, 1872; Chamberlin, Chicago and Its Suburbs, 


of the period under survey the iron and steel industries came 
strongly to the fore; the rolling mills alone turned out a 
product valued at $24,000,000, 25 while the iron foundries, 
machine, engine and boiler shops, car wheel and stove works 
became increasingly important and increasingly concentrated in 
the Chicago district Everything considered, it is not sur- 
prising to find that in 1870 Chicago produced about 44 per 
cent of all the manufactures of the state and that in 1880 
this proportion rose to 60 per cent, and to 72 per cent in 1890. 

As the new methods of manufacture tended more and 
more to remove the old-time limits of production, competition 
between firms in the same line rapidly became sharper. Each 
establishment in its effort to maintain for its product a market 
wide enough to allow large scale production, with its con- 
sequent economies, would go to almost any length in order to 
drive rivals from the field. So disastrously did this system of 
cutthroat competition defeat its own ends that manufacturers 
soon began to seek to limit production by concerted action 
rather than by warfare. 

The form of organization first resorted to in order to 
eliminate competition was the pool. Some of the important 
industries in which conditions led to the adoption of this device 
were nail making, pig iron, steel, iron pipe, stoves, wooden 
ware, chairs, sashes, doors, blinds, plows, and wagons, starch, 
linseed oil, lumber, screens, copper, glass, and brewing. 26 
Most of the associations in which Illinois industries were repre- 
sented comprised western manufacturers only, as the Western 
Pig Iron Association, the Western Wagon Makers' Association, 
and the Chicago and Milwaukee Breweries Association. 27 So 

25 Western Manufacturer, 7:56; Report of the Trade and Commerce of 
Chicago, 1888, p. xiii. 

26 This list has been gathered from the Western Manufacturer, Chicago 
Journal of Commerce, and American Artisan and Patent Record. 

27 Western Manufacturer, 8 : 54; 12: 114. 


ineffective were these loose associations, however, in controlling 
prices or production that combination into one concern was 
next resorted to. 

This development was decidedly marked in the case of 
slaughtering and meat packing, the making of agricultural im- 
plements, cooperage, leather, distilled and malt liquors, and 
soap. While the total number of manufacturing establishments 
in the state was rapidly increasing, in every one of the industries 
just enumerated the number actually declined between 1 870 and 
1890, although the size of the remaining plants grew enor- 
mously and the total output was enlarged. There was thus a 
marked movement toward combination and consolidation of 
hitherto competing businesses in these lines, in all of which 
large scale production could be very effectively practiced. 

The course of development in the manufacture of agricul- 
tural implements was particularly significant. The land of 
Illinois is so level, so fertile and well watered, that the state 
early attracted this branch of manufactures. In 1850 Illinois 
had ranked fourth among the states in the manufacture of 
agricultural implements, based on the number of operatives 
employed ; by 1 870 it ranked third, and by 1 890 it had achieved 
first place. In 1870 the industry was more widely distributed 
than at any other decennial date, being carried on in thirty-two 
counties; but fifty per cent of the output was produced in the 
three counties of Cook, Rock Island, and Winnebago. The 
largest plants were situated in Chicago, among them being the 
Furst and Bradley Manufacturing Company, which employed 
about 600 men and produced plows, hayrakes, cultivators, 
harrows, cotton planters, and other farm implements; another 
was the William Deering and Company's harvesting machine 
works, established in 1870, employing about 4,000 men and 
producing mowers, reapers, rice harvesting machines, and the 
like, its specialties being the Marsh harvester and the Whit- 


tington wire binder. 28 The McCormick works were removed 
to Chicago in 1872, where they gave employment to about 
800 men. 

Outside of Chicago the more important pioneer enterprises 
were the John Deere and Company Plow Works; 29 the 
Moline Plow Company, founded in i865; 30 the Barnard and 
Lease Manufacturing Company, whose farm machine works 
were established in Moline in i86o; 31 the Keystone Manufac- 
turing Company, incorporated in 1870 at Sterling and Rock 
Falls to manufacture farm implements; 32 B. D. Buford and 
Company, whose plow works at Rock Island were established 
in 1855 and were purchased by the Rock Island Plow Company 
in 1884; the Rock Island Plow Company, founded in 1841 ; 33 
and the Sandwich Manufacturing Company. 34 

Other factories of considerable importance producing farm 
implements in the eighties were the following : the United States 
Wind Engine Company, Batavia ; the Brown Corn Planter 
Works at Galesburg; the Harrison Manufacturing Company 
of Belleville; Brewster, Dodge, and Hase, Peru; the Pekin 
Plow Company; the Weir Plow Company, Monmouth; 35 
N. C. Thompson, Rockford; the Ellwood Manufacturing 
Company, Sycamore; King, Hamilton, and Company, and 
Briggs and Enoch of Rockford; Pierreport and Tuttle, Bush- 

28 Cope, The Iron and Steel Interests of Chicago. 

29 Originally located at Grand Detour, where it was founded in 1837, it was 
removed to Moline in 1847. By 1878 the number of employes was 600. Western 
Manufacturer, 7:11; Western Agriculturist, January, 1877, p. 8-9. See biograph- 
ical notice of John Deere on the occasion of his death on May 17, 1880, in 
Chicago Tribune, May 18, 1880. 

30 In 1877 they employed about 400 men. Western Agriculturist, February, 
1877, P- 9- 

31 In 1877 they employed from fifty to sixty men. Ibid., January, 1877, P- 9- 

32 The number of employees in 1880 was about 200. Western Manufac- 
turer, 9: 13. 

33 Ibid., 7 : 934 ; 8:8; 12 : 232. 

34 In 1883 they employed about 200 men. Chicago Journal of Commerce, 
October 31, 1883; Western Manufacturer, 8: 181. 

85 Removed to Peoria in 1898 and incorporated as the Kingman Plow 


nell; the Peru City Plow Company; 36 the Vandiver Corn 
Planter Company, Quincy ; Hapgood Plow Company, Alton; 37 
the Knowlton Manufacturing Company of Rockford; and the 
Avery Planter Company, Galesburg. 38 

Plows, harrows, cultivators, reapers, and corn planters 
were the chief implements produced. Plow manufacture does 
not require a large factory organization, and consequently this 
branch of the industry was not so concentrated as was the 
manufacture of mowers, reapers, and harvesters, which are 
most economically produced on a large scale. The town of 
Moline, nevertheless, was already a center for the production 
of steel plows. In 1870 there were made in Illinois almost 
two-thirds (63 per cent) of all the corn planters in the United 
States and one-fifth (20 per cent) of all the plows. An inter- 
esting change was taking place during this period in the kind 
of agricultural implements manufactured. In 1870 one har- 
row was produced to every 125 plows, and in 1880 one to 
every 7 plows; in 1870 one cultivator was made to every 5 
plows, and in 1880 one to every 2 plows. This indicates 
clearly that much of the labor formerly performed in the 
preparation of the land for crops by plowing was now done 
by harrows and cultivators and similar implements, at a great 
saving in labor and cost. 

As time went on the number of separate establishments 
engaged in the implement business in the state was rapidly 
reduced through competition and combination from 294 in 
1870 to 100 in 1890. The size of the average establishment, 

36 In 1886 they employed from seventy to one hundred men. Western Manu- 
facturer, 14: 106. 

37 Established in 1873. They employed from 175 to 200 men in 1880. 
Ibid., 8: 139. 

38 Ibid., 14: 138. The Avery Manufacturing Company removed to Peoria in 
1883 and employed from 800 to 1,200 at that time. Two other manufacturers of 
farm implements in Peoria established more recently are the R. Herschel Manu- 
facturing Company and the Acme Harvesting Machine Company. Cf. Rice, 
Peoria, City and County, i : 464. 



on the other hand, showed a truly remarkable growth. 39 In 
1890 Illinois ranked first among the states of the union in the 
production of agricultural implements, turning out almost one- 
third of the total product of the United States. Almost half 
of the Illinois output ($24,609,660) was manufactured in 
Chicago ($11,883,976) ; and there, with the exception of the 
wholesale trade, it was confined to three large establishments 
manufacturing harvesters, binders, plows, mowers, cultivators, 
rakes, and similar implements and giving employment to about 
4,000 men. 40 Peoria came second with a product of $5 19,61 1 
in 1890. Her factories devoted themselves principally to the 
production of wagons, plows, binder twine, harvesters, and 
threshing machinery. 

In the case of distilled spirits there was an even greater 
localization and concentration of the industry, as it was carried 
on in only fifteen counties in 1870, of which two Cook and 
Peoria turned out 60 per cent of the total amount produced 
in the state. The reduction in the number of establishments 
between 1860 and 1870 from 52 to 45, and in the number of 
counties where the industry was carried from 29 to 15, was 
undoubtedly due to the effect of the excise duties imposed by the 
federal government during and after the Civil War. Prior to 
these acts the business of distillation was entirely free from 
excise taxation, and instead of being localized at a few centers 

89 The following table shows the increase in size of the average establish- 
ment manufacturing agricultural implements in Illinois: 








Average number employees 




Average capital 

$l8,2O I 



Average product 

$3O.2O { 

$6l.7 <7 


40 Report on Manufacturing Industries in the United States at the Eleventh 
Census, part i, p. 119; part 2, p. 649. 


was prosecuted everywhere. An appreciable portion of the 
disposable surplus of corn found its way to the local still, as 
the business was simple and did not call for a large investment 
of capital. The product was used not only as a stimulant, but 
also served in large measure as the raw material of many 
manufactures. The price was exceedingly low, falling in 
August, 1 86 1, to thirteen cents a gallon in the Cincinnati 

The imposition of the excise duties, which were increased 
from time to time and which fluctuated greatly, had the effect at 
first of depressing the distilling industry. 41 As soon as an 
advance in the tax became probable, however, the business of 
distilling was renewed very actively in order to take advantage 
of the enhanced prices. When the period of speculation was 
over, in 1868, there was a surplus capacity for manufacture in 
the country, and it was impossible for some of the distillers to 
continue in business. At the same time the increase in price of 
alcohol led to its disuse in the arts, where its place was taken 
for some purposes by petroleum, for others by animal and 
vegetable oils. These causes tended to keep the distilling 
business in a comparatively depressed condition during the 
latter part of the sixties. " Even as early as 1 870 or 1871 the 
distillers felt themselves compelled to enter into an agreement 
to limit their distilleries to two-fifths production; and all north 
of the Ohio, with two or three exceptions, made such an agree- 
ment." This did not have any decisive effect, however, and 
gradually the less profitable establishments went out of busi- 
ness, while the development of an export trade absorbed the 
surplus production of the others. Between 1878 and 1882 

41 The rates per gallon were as follows: 1863, 20 cents; 1864, 60 cents; 1865, 
$1.50; 1866, $2.00; 1868, 50 cents; 1872, 70 cents; 1875, 90 cents; 1894, $1.10 
Not until the act of 1894 did the new tax apply to whisky already in bond; hence 
there would be every effort made under the earlier acts, down to 1868, and 
again from that date to 1875 to increase production just before a change. 


especially, on account of poor crops in Europe, a heavy export 
demand sprang up. This led in turn to the running of the 
existing distilleries at full capacity and even to the building of 
some new ones. "After 1880, good crops in Europe, poor 
crops at home, with some changes in the tariff laws of leading 
European countries, especially discriminating duties against the 
United States, cut off this demand, and left the distilleries of 
this country with a capacity sufficient to produce four times 
what the home market needed." 42 

In order to limit production and maintain prices a pool was 
formed in November, 1881. This was maintained, with fre- 
quent suspensions and reorganizations, until 1887. I n tnat 
year a "trust" was organized, modeled upon that of the 
successful standard oil trust, under the name of the " Distillers' 
and Cattle-Feeders' Trust." Nearly all the distilleries in the 
former pool, to the number of more than eighty, became 
members of the trust. 43 In order to limit the output to the 
demands of the market and to maintain prices, most of these 
distilleries were gradually closed, until in 1889 twelve distill- 
eries alone were producing all the distilled spirits placed upon 
the market by the trust. Of these, six were located at Peoria, 
which was stated to have at least a 10 per cent advantage over 
a distillery located at Chicago, and nearly 20 per cent over one 
located at St. Paul. 44 The effect of the organization of the 
trust upon the industry in Illinois is seen in the sudden drop in 
the number of establishments, in the decade 18801890, from 

42 Jenks, " The Development of the Whiskey Trust," Political Science Quar- 
terly, 4: 296 (299, 300). For an interesting account of the industrial and financial 
effects of the excise tax on distilled spirits see Wells, Practical Economics, 

43 Report of the Trade and Commerce of Peoria, 1883, p. 15 ; 1884, p. 16; 1885, 
p. 15; Jenks, "The Development of the Whiskey Trust," Political Science Quar- 
terly, 4:296 (308). The feeding of cattle on the slop from the distilleries is an 
important adjunct to the distilling business. 

4 * Jenks, "The Development of the Whiskey Trust," Political Science 
Quarterly, 4:296 (312). 



36 to 7, with a very great increase in size and capital, and 
especially in output. 45 Illinois was the leading producer of 
distilled liquors in the United States, turning out nearly one- 
quarter of the world's supply. As just stated, six of these 
distilleries were located at Peoria; 46 the other one was that 
of Shufeldt and Company of Chicago, an independent concern 
and the most formidable rival of the trust. 

There is no doubt that the formation of the whisky trust 
resulted in certain economic gains. Only the most favorably 
situated establishments were maintained, and these were run 
at full capacity instead of at 25 to 50 per cent, as was the case 
beforehand; the expenses of management were thus lessened. 
At the same time the price was maintained fairly steadily at a 
point somewhat above production. Probably few other indus- 
tries furnish such a striking object lesson in the economies of 
industrial combination and of concentration of manufacture. 

In contrast with the industries just described there were 
some manufactures which, so far from showing any tendency 
toward concentration, tended to spread out over a wider 
area and to distribute themselves more generally in small 
establishments; in some cases indeed the average individual 
plant grew steadily smaller. This characteristic is to be 
noted in the case of brass and bronze products, bread and other 
bakery products, flour and grist mill products, leather goods, 

45 The following table shows the number and average size of establishments 
producing distilled liquors in Illinois between 1870 and 1890: 





Number of establishments 




Average number employees 




Average capital 

$f, 6,000 



Average product 

$17?, 3OO 



46 The number of barrels of spirits and liquors shipped from Perria was 
as follows: 1872, 105,959; *%77> 127.580; 1882, 217,884; 1887, 216,201; 1892, 
303,268. Report of the Trade and Commerce of Peoria. 


patent medicines and druggists' compounds, and tobacco 
industries which in general did not call for the investment of 
large amounts of capital and in which the processes were rela- 
tively simple, not offering great economies to be derived from 
large scale production. 

In no industry has the tendency to scatter been more pro- 
nounced than in the case of tobacco manufactures. Here the 
number of establishments grew very steadily (from 274 in 
1870 to 730 in 1890), and these were widely distributed over 
the whole state. There was a decline, on the other hand, in 
the average number of employees per establishment (from 10 
to 7), the average capital invested (from $7,170 to $5,686), 
and the average output (from $15,765 to $12,287) , during the 
period 18701890. This was an industry which necessitated 
only a comparatively small investment of capital, as hand 
methods still largely prevailed, and in it, too, there was no 
great economy effected by concentrating the industry in a single 
large plant. 


ILLINOIS' splendid gifts of fertile soils and clement 
weather so overshadow her other natural resources that 
it comes as a surprise to many to read that more than five per 
cent of the nation's total mineral production has been con- 
tributed in recent years by this state, and that only two other 
states in the union can boast of more. 

For abundant mineral resources one is usually inclined to 
look to mountainous places difficult of access rather than to 
richly productive farm lands like those of Illinois with their 
flat prairies and thick soils deeply burying all signs of solid 
rock. But, fourth in production of petroleum and clay prod- 
ucts, third in brick and tile as well as in coal production, sur- 
passed only by Pennsylvania in the manufacture of Portland 
cement, and leader in the fluorspar, sand and gravel, and 
tripoli industries, Illinois presents excellent proof that agricul- 
tural wealth and mineral poverty do not necessarily go hand in 

Though agriculture is and doubtless always will be the 
dominant feature of the economy of Illinois, the mineral indus- 
tries of the state are gradually gaining in relative importance. 
Excluding coke, pig iron, and some other values that cannot 
honestly be credited to Illinois because the raw materials do not 
originate within its borders, the total value of mineral pro- 
duction in 1917 was somewhat more than one-third as great 
as agricultural production, whereas in 1905 the ratio was only 
as one is to four. 1 The actual increase from 68 to 238 million 
dollars during the same period is indeed striking, but even 

1 For table see appendix, p. 510. 


4 I2 


more impressive is a list of minerals and their production 
in Illinois in the hundredth year of its existence as a state 
as compiled by the United States and state geological surveys. 



Asphalt short tons 

Cement, Portland barrels 

Clay products 

Clay, raw short tons 

Coal , " 

Coke " " 

Fluorspar " " 

Iron, pig " " 

Lead " 

Lime " 

Mineral paints, lead and zinc pigments 

Mineral waters gallons 

Natural gas 1,000 cubic feet 

Natural-gas gasoline gallons 

Peat . 

Petroleum barrels 


Pyrite short tons 

Sand and gravel " " 

Quartz (silica) " " 

Silver fine ounces 


Sulphuric acid 

Tripoli short tons 

Zinc : " 



4,37 8 .233 

















; 1,317,855 
6,090,158 a 

632,383 b 

9 r , 094, 541 * 

9,465,176 e 







3,902,831 d 



Total value. $238,186,690 

a Exclusive of natural cement, value of which is included under " miscel- 

b Value not included in total value. 

c Value included under "miscellaneous." 

d From zinc smelting. 

e Only that part of this total not duplicated elsewhere is included in the total 
for the state. 

Of these products probably but one, coal, could have been 
among the mineral resources that the explorers and earliest 
settlers desired and sought for. The glamour of gold and 


silver doubtless still occupied a place in the background of the 
explorer's mind a heritage from the days of the Span- 
iards and tales of pieces of copper found lying on the sur- 
face by the Indians long inspired the hope of metal mines; a 
real but all-inadequate recognition of the value of iron and 
coal kept newcomers on the lookout for such deposits; and 
salt as an immediate necessity was early developed. But be- 
yond coal, salt, and the metals, the desires of the early visitors 
did not go, and little did they realize the importance to be 
achieved by the very one of these looked upon with least favor. 
Before the sixties coal production increased almost imper- 
ceptibly and other industries lagged equally or even more. But 
with the passing of the third quarter of the century the variety 
and value of developed resources began to give promise of 
their present magnitude. 

A legitimate question is very naturally an inquiry as to the 
reasons for the slowness with which Illinois responded to the 
opportunities that lay hidden in her soils and rocks. The ad- 
venturous early visitors to the region may not have been will- 
ing to stay their restless feet for minerals less alluring than 
gold and silver, but with the arrival of the first home-makers, 
unafraid of toil and willing to win a livelihood slowly, lack of 
development cannot be laid to the unromantic character of the 
minerals of Illinois. 

The early failure to utilize state mineral resources was due 
rather to certain geologic conditions and to lack of transporta- 
tion. The transportation question is so intimately entangled 
with the history of the development of the coal industry that the 
idea can be more profitably discussed later ; at this point a glance 
at the illustration opposite page 422 will suffice to corroborate 
the assertion that development of mineral industries was forced 
to wait for development of adequate transportation. 

Certain geologic aspects reacted directly on mineral devel- 


opment in Illinois. In the broad central portion of the state 
the thick layers of drift deposited by glaciers of the Pleistocene 
epoch effectively concealed bed rock and the mineral resources 
contained therein; and even in the unglaciated and driftless 
counties in the extreme northwest and south and in the border 
counties where major streams had in many places cut through 
the drift to rock, recognition and utilization were delayed by 
the almost universal cover of swamp vegetation and forests 
over the alluvial plains and the bordering areas of the Missis- 
sippi, the Kaskaskia, and the Illinois valleys. Further, the 
early settlers long kept to forested areas, influenced as much 
by fear of the prairies and ignorance of their possibilities as 
by need of transportation and of wood for fuel and construc- 
tion, these being afforded them only near streams. 

Even if glacial drift had not lain thick over the central 
part of Illinois, and even if forests and adequate transporta- 
tion had attracted settlers at once to the heart of the state, 
mineral development would nevertheless have progressed 
from the borders inward just as it did. For it happens that it 
is only in the counties lying near the boundaries of the state 
that the spoonlike structure of the rock layers brings to the 
surface the pre-Pennsylvanian beds, with their thick fine lime- 
stones, and the better coal and clay beds of the Pennsylvanian 
period, leaving similar beds in the broad central area gener- 
ally deeply buried by younger shales of little value. 

It was during the third quarter of the nineteenth century 
that the most substantial progress was made in overcoming 
hindrances due to lack of transportation and restricted mineral 
distribution and the description of mineral development here 
given is focused on this period to illustrate the point. The 
order adopted for presentation of the ensuing brief historical 
sketches of individual mineral industries follows, as closely as 
the dates are known, the order of their appearance in the state. 


The earliest mineral utilized must have been water, but 
like soil, this resource is so universally needed, used, and dis- 
tributed that it is not a commodity except under unusual con- 
ditions, and therefore, in its most important aspect, is not an 
industry. It is true that statistics are given for a nominal 
water industry, but these figures give no conception of the true 
amount and value of water taken from the rocks and soils. 2 
Compare them, for example, with the estimate made by Lev- 
erett in 1896, when population was smaller than it is now, that 
"the total supply from this source [shallow wells] is about 
840,000 barrels for household consumption and 700,000 bar- 
rels for stock, or about 1,500,000 barrels per day. About one- 
half the population of the State is thus supplied with water for 
cooking and drinking, the other half being supplied mainly 
from Lake Michigan and from the streams, deep wells fur- 
nishing the supply for but a small part of the population." 3 

It is a significant fact that even in the area which is domi- 
nated by the lake, deep (or artesian) wells are sources of 
water for industrial purposes. It would seem that the original 
cost of drilling a two-thousand-foot well with its smallest diam- 
eter from six to twenty inches, and the continual expense of 
upkeep and pumping would eliminate wells as a source of sup- 
ply in a district where water is as abundant as it is in the region 
of Lake Michigan. And yet in Chicago during the summer of 
1914 there were in active service 125 wells over 1,000 feet 
deep, with a pumpage of over 30,100,000 gallons per 24 
hours; and within a circle of a half-mile radius in the stockyards 
district 26 wells delivered 13,450,200 gallons, or 44.3 per cent 
of the total daily deep-well pumpage in the city. 4 

2 For table see appendix, p. 516, columns 49 and 50. 

3 Leverett, " The Water Resources of Illinois," in United States Geological 
Survey, Seventeenth Annual Report, 1896, part 2, p. 769. 

4 From an unpublished paper on the artesian water supply of northeastern 
Illinois J written by Carl B. Anderson for the Illinois State Geological Survey. 


Industries in other parts of the state are forced to depend 
upon deep wells for water supplies, but such statistics as these 
for the Chicago district where an alternative source is at hand 
demonstrate clearly the real importance and value of deep 
underground water supplies. Deep-well sources are destined 
to become of ever-increasing importance, especially outside the 
lake cities, as a direct consequence of the increasing danger 
of the pollution of shallow sources that accompanies the growth 
of population. 

After water, the next resource used by human beings prior 
to 1818 was salt. Its production, once the sole industry of 
Illinois, had far-reaching effects on the early settlement of the 
Mississippi valley, but long before 1870 the Saline river brines 
had so demonstrated their incapacity to compete with West 
Virginia and Ohio brines that the salt industry was practically, 
and a few years later, actually, a closed chapter in the mineral 
history of the state. 

The lead and zinc industry, too, had its beginnings before 
1818; but, though small amounts of lead and zinc still come 
from northern Illinois and, as a by-product of the fluorspar 
mining operations, from southern Illinois, this industry of 
romantic history is of very small importance at present. 

The stone industry, based on another mineral resource 
used prior to 1818, has persisted to the present, the 1917 pro- 
duction exceeding three million dollars in value. Large though 
this figure is, the increase in the past quarter of a century is 
surprisingly small when compared with that of other min- 
erals. 5 The reasons are probably that Portland cement and 
clay products, such as brick and terra cotta, have been largely 
substituted for stone in construction work; and that the Bed- 
ford limestone quarries of Indiana, opened during the nine- 
ties and very favorably situated with reference to the 

For table see appendix, p. 516, column 43. 


Illinois market, supply a product far superior to Illinois 

Since 1890 clay products have doubled their values, while 
cements have increased fifteen times over, and as much of this 
production has been substituted for stone in structural work, 
it is not surprising that Illinois' rank in production of building 
stone is now only fourteenth, although for many years prior to 
1896 the state ranked first in the country for marketed pro- 
duction of that class of stone. 

The general absence of surface limestone over the broad 
central portion of the state, due to the spoonlike structure of 
the bed rock layers that carries the limestone beds hundreds of 
feet below the surface in the middle of the state, and the almost 
unbroken continuity of the drift curtain there, mean that the 
state must continue to look to border counties for structural 
limestone and for road metal. The latter is of increasingly 
vital importance to the prairie population since the advent and 
rapid increase in the use of automobiles has forced the construc- 
tion of good roads. 

Though the monetary value and the distribution of the 
limestone industry have changed but little, the use of the product 
has changed remarkably. Whereas in 1890 approximately 
half of the total production was building stone, in 1917 almost 
the same proportion was sold for concrete and more than half 
as much again for road making and as railroad ballast. Fur- 
thermore, in production of building stone Illinois has fallen in 
rank from first to last place, and in value from more than a 
million dollars to about ten thousand, or one per cent of its 
former value, during a period when in every other use of 
limestone there has been a marked increase. 

An immediate corollary to production of limestone for 
building must have been the development of the lime industry, 
for wherever stone or bricks are used in construction work, 


limestone must be burned into lime for mortar. And as a 
second corollary to the stone industry, another ingredient of 
mortar, namely sand and gravel, demands mention among 
mineral resources utilized in 1818. The first lime was made 
at Alton and that city and the surrounding district held suprem- 
acy in the lime industry for many years, owing to the excellence 
of the product, the concentration of the earliest population in 
the general region, the cheap river transportation, and the early 
abundance of fuel wood and later of coal. 6 

By the seventies, however, it was recognized that the Mis- 
sissippi lime business was losing its supremacy, the reasons being 
that the center of population and therefore the principal market 
was shifting northeast to the Chicago area. 7 The production 
continued to be large, of course, for the St. Louis demand 
persisted ; but its unchallenged leadership was no more until the 
period of abnormally rapid growth in the northeastern counties 
of the state was over, when the Mississippi district was re- 
instated as leader. Statistics for the years after 1893, which 
are the earliest complete ones available, reveal steady produc- 
tion with no great increases during the quarter century. 8 In 
the union Illinois ranks low, fifteenth in 1917 and as low as 
twenty-second in 1907. 

In sand and gravel production, the second chronological 
corollary to limestone production, it surpasses all other states. 
In the sand and gravel lenses, pockets, and strata of its thick 
drift sheets, and in the St. Peter sandstone that outcrops in 
La Salle county, Illinois has perhaps its bulkiest mineral re- 
source and one of no mean value, the marketed production 
for 1917 being valued at more than $2,580,000. It is widely 
distributed, being produced for sale in over one-third of the 

6 Geological Survey of Illinois, i : 324. 

7 Ibid., 325. 

8 For table see appendix, p. 516, columns 47 and 48. 


counties, and doubtless it is taken out for local use in at least as 
many more counties. 

The varieties of sand are so many that discussion of indi- 
vidual kinds is precluded; the subject must be inadequately 
dismissed with the statement that the industry is likely to con- 
tinue to grow in importance with the increase in the variety of 
its uses and as the result of discovery of new kinds of sand in 
Illinois' well-nigh inexhaustible supply. 

The story of coal, the last of the pre-i8i8 resources, re- 
veals as in a mirror the correlative development along other 
lines, and therefore deserves far more detailed consideration 
than is possible in this chapter, especially as it is the most valu- 
able mineral product in the state. In 1917, Illinois' 86,199,387 
tons, valued at $162,281,822, were produced from 810 mines. 
Of these, 324 shipped ninety-eight per cent of all the coal away 
from the vicinity of the producing mines while 486 more mined 
two per cent of the total production for local use. In 1917 
these many mines were places of employment for 80,893 men, 
each of whom was responsible, on an average, for bringing to 
the surface almost 1,000 tons of coal during the year. In 1913, 
the last year unaffected by the European war, Illinois had to 
its credit five per cent of the world's coal production and was 
surpassed by but three countries in the world, one of them the 
United States. 

The history of the growth of the coal industry to such 
impressive magnitude is divisible into two great periods, rail- 
road and ante-railroad. So marked is the transition from one 
to the other that from the curve for statistics of production 
could be read the date of beginning of railroad development 
even though the curve for railroad mileage had been omitted. 9 

Transportation of a bulky commodity like coal over any 
great distance was well-nigh impossible except by water until 

9 See illustration opposite p. 422. 


railroads came to solve the problem, and shipping mines and 
their markets were confined during all the period to the vicinity 
of streams. The first macadamized road in the state, almost 
fourteen miles long, was built between Belleville and St. Louis, 
probably directly in response to the needs of transportation in 
the coal industry; and the first railroad, built in 1837 by 
Governor Reynolds between St. Louis and a coal mine on the 
Mississippi bluff, was avowedly a direct response to the de- 
velopment of coal resources. 10 

The whole face of the situation changed with the develop- 
ment of railroads. The date 1850 is but an approximation of 
the time of beginning of the railroad era, for the first railroad 
was built in 1837, thirteen years previous, and it was not until 
1854 that the coal mining and railroad industries became inter- 
dependent and the railroad era was unquestionably begun. 
"Until 1854, coal was hauled by wood-burning locomotives 
and the greatest impetus given to expansion of the coal indus- 
try after the construction of railroads was the purchase by 
the Galena and Chicago railroad in that year of five locomo- 
tives ' guaranteed to burn bituminous coal mined in Illinois.' " 1X 
The success of this departure was largely responsible for the 
immediate and marked expansion of coal production in direct 
response to the increase in railroad mileage, though it is true 
that even with wood-burning locomotives the figures for coal 
production doubtless would have mounted with astonishing 

All through the third quarter of the nineteenth century the 
railroads were masters of the coal and railroad situation, for 
main-track mileage was increasing at a higher rate than was 
coal production. It was essentially a case of development of 
mines where railroads were built during the pre-i893 years, 

10 Andros, Coal Mining in Illinois, 28. 
"lb\d., 35 ff. 


but after that time, as the graph clearly shows, coal production 
became dominant; the rate of increase of main-track mileage 
decreased from year to year, while that of coal tonnage in- 
creased by leaps and bounds. 

An additional basic factor in the great increase in coal 
production in the latter half of the railroad period was the 
impetus given to steel production by the establishment in 1870 
of the Bessemer process of steel manufacture. Though the 
chemical quality of Illinois coal does not permit its use as blast 
furnace fuel, the iron and steel industry has played a leading 
part in the huge increase of coal production in the past twenty- 
five years, for coal enters into almost every phase of manu- 
facture and industry that depends for existence on steel, which 
means that the coal industry is interdependent with practically 
all industry and grows in proportion to the growth of aggregate 
manufactures and the conditioning steel industry. 

The great increase of population, the enormous growth of 
manufactures, the improvements in transportation facilities, 
the increase in wealth, and the rise in the people's standard of 
living, the magnitude of which is oftentimes not appreciated, 
are all so dependent upon the iron and steel industry that the 
abundance of iron is commonly taken as a measure of national 
wealth. But, as J. Russell Smith says : " Coal is the twin of iron 
in the production of the new world commerce, because this com- 
merce is carried in vehicles made chiefly of iron, driven by 
power derived from coal. Coal also furnishes heat for the 
reduction of iron, and power for driving the machinery em- 
ployed in its manufacture." 12 And so the abundance of coal 
must be regarded as a second measure of the wealth of a 
people, coordinate with iron. Indeed, though the two are 
interdependent in the present scheme of industrial economy 
and therefore are of equal importance, coal is perhaps even 

12 Smith, Commerce and Industry, 139. 


better entitled to be the final measure of wealth in any area : 
witness the manufacture of Lake Superior iron ores in distant 
eastern coal field centers like Pittsburg, and the smelting of 
Missouri lead and zinc in cities of the Illinois coal fields. 

The iron and coal industries of today have many points 
of similarity: both are developed only where manufacturing 
is well advanced, both require good transportation facilities, 
and both are fundamental to good transportation. Both re- 
quire many laborers and large markets such as only concen- 
trated population can give, and both may be regarded as 
industrial barometers. As true for coal as for iron is Smith's 
statement that "it very distinctly is not a frontier industry." 13 
Thus there is to be read from the rising curve of coal produc- 
tion 14 not only the rise of coal mining itself but, more impor- 
tant, the advance of Illinois from the frontier stage of fifty 
years ago to its present high rank in modern industrial civili- 

As there has been little change in the number of coal pro- 
ducing counties for thirty-five years or more, it seems safe to 
assume that all potentially important producers are now de- 
veloped. But the further natural conclusion that the counties 
have maintained a corresponding constancy of rank in coal 
production is belied by the facts. 

Five counties St. Clair, Sangamon, Madison, Macoupin, 
and Vermilion appear among the ten leading counties every 
year since 1880, their continued prominence resulting from 
great abundance and a sufficiently good quality to enable them 
to hold their positions year after year. Comparing the years 
1880 and 1917, the other five are in no instance identical, La 
Salle, Will, Fulton, Peoria, and Rock Island counties com- 
pleting the list of ten for 1880, and Franklin, Williamson, 

13 Smith, Commerce and Industry, 146. 

14 See illustration on opposite page. 





a - 



Saline, Montgomery, and Christian counties completing that 
for 1917. Those of the 1880 list are all Illinois or Mississippi 
river counties and owe their early start and prominence as 
much to their location, which is favorable to transportation, 
as to the abundance or good quality of their coal. Conversely, 
the fact that none of the five new counties of the 1917 list is on 
an important river shows the modern release of coal production 
from the early restrictions imposed upon it by lack of railroads 
into the interior; it also gives evidence of the new scientific 
methods of search, such as efficient methods of test drilling, 
mine planning, and managing under the supervision of geolo- 
gists and engineers as contrasted with the early practice of 
drifting into a valley bluff wherever an outcrop presented itself. 
The rise of Franklin and Williamson counties to first and 
second place, respectively, in 1917, from no production at all 
in 1900 for the former and ninth place for the latter, is a par- 
ticularly good example of the effect of modern methods in an 
old industry. 

Another sign of increasing efficiency is seen in the decrease 
of the total number of mines during the past decade. 15 The 
number of mines fell from a maximum of 1,018 mines of all 
types in 1906 to 8 10 in 1917, while at the same time the total 
production doubled. Both local and shipping mines have de- 
creased in number and increased in tonnage, the greater in- 
crease for the latter class probably depending upon the fact 
that the shipping mines are also the larger mines worked by 
the better organized and capitalized companies. 16 

Comparisons drawn on the basis of the relation between 
number of men and production are less simple. For the period 
from 1893 to I 9 I 7 more rapid relative increase in efficiency 
is indicated for local mines than for shipping mines by these 

15 For table see appendix, p. 512, column 4. 

16 For table see ibid., columns i, 2, 3, 5, 6. 


data, but the per capita production for the former is actually 
still far below that for the latter and throughout the period 
shows the efficiency of shipping mines to be actually greater. 17 
The fact remains, however, that the gap between shipping and 
local mines in this regard is slowly narrowing. 

One factor in producing such a result may be the organi- 
zation and expansion of local mines as municipal enterprises 
or of private enterprises simulating these in scope. Another 
factor is that the hindrance imposed by competition upon effi- 
cient operation is felt more by shipping mines than by local 
mines. 18 

The idea that competition must force efficiency is so gen- 
erally accepted, so almost axiomatic, that the failure of the 
principle in this instance requires an explanation. The remark- 
able development of coal carrying railroads and the low ton- 
mile rates made for long hauls have permitted the more cheaply 
produced eastern coals to move into Illinois and set prices that 
are too low to permit efficient development. The ease of 
opening new mines causes scores of them to spring up with 
every period of unusual prosperity, and with the slack spring 
and summer seasons or with the return of normal or subnormal 
prosperity the effort of each of the many operators to keep 
his own mine going even at a slight loss results in excessive 
and unfair competition. Proper organization or consolidation 
could of course partly remedy such difficulties, but to a certain 
extent they are unavoidable, as Illinois coal stocks very poorly 
and therefore labor rates must be high to cover the consequent 
period of summer idleness even though mines be reduced to 
a number conducive to efficiency. All these conditions have 
led to a steady decline in the margin of profit, a feature that 

17 For table see appendix, p. 512, columns i, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10. 

18 Rice, " Mining Wastes and Mining Costs in Illinois," in Illinois State 
Geological Survey, Bulletin 14, p. 212 ff. 


is injurious to the interests of both producer and consumer 
when it is carried too far. 19 

In spite of the hindrance of excessive competition, there 
are numerous examples of increasing efficiency in the coal indus- 
try of Illinois. Since 1900 there has been a notable increase 
in the number of mines using machines, and in the number of 
machines in use in each mine. This has resulted in a fourfold 
increase in tonnage for mines so equipped as compared with 
a twofold increase for all other mines during the past seventeen 
years. 20 

Again, in protection of miners against injury and loss of 
life the coal mining industry shows improvement. The actual 
increase in nonfatal accidents and in the number of lives lost is 
not great, and in the number of tons of coal produced to each 
life lost a measure of the progress may be seen; 21 for, whereas 
in 1883 only 90,000 tons of coal were taken out for each life 
lost, 381,000 tons, or more than four times as much coal was 
mined in 1917 for each man lost. 

Nominally closely related to the coal industry, but actually 
in this case utterly distinct, is the coke industry. The decline 
of Illinois in coke production from eighth place among the 
states in 1880, and perhaps from an even higher rank in earlier 
years, to twenty-third place in 1904 and 1905, and its rise to 
fourth place in the following decade, implied by the fall and 
rise of production totals for the period, is entirely different 
from the history of production of other Illinois mineral prod- 
ucts. 22 In the years of the earlier, lesser maximum of pro- 
duction, after timber in sufficient abundance for charcoal was 
practically exhausted, the iron furnaces of the state were com- 
pelled to use coke produced locally, regardless of what the 

19 Andros, Coal Mining in Illinois, figure 67, p. 221. 

20 For table see appendix, p. 513, columns 22, 23. 

21 For table see ibid., columns 18-21. 

For table see ibid., p. 515, columns 34, 35. 


quality of coke from Illinois coals chanced to be. Better coke 
was to be had in the east, but the high cost of transportation 
in the days of few railroads outweighed the advantage of east- 
ern over Illinois coke, and iron smelters were content to estab- 
lish themselves in the midwest centers of population near the 
supplies of raw material for their coke. And so for many 
years the coke industry thrived on Illinois coal, quantities of 
fuel for blast furnaces being manufactured at Carterville, St. 
Johns, Brussels, Equality, Brookside, and Streator. Espe- 
cially was the industry important in the Big Muddy valley, 
favorably situated south and east of St. Louis, for in the Big 
Muddy coal field was found some of the very best coal for 
coking purposes in the state. With the marvelous cheapening 
of transportation that marked the decades following 1890, 
New river and Pennsylvania cokes moved at so reasonable a 
cost into the markets fed by the Illinois product that consumers 
found it economy to use the superior eastern article in place 
of the inferior product from the impure Illinois coals. By 
1893 attempts to make metallurgical coke from Illinois coal 
were abandoned and the little that was made was chiefly for 
use in the manufacture of water gas and for domestic use as 
crushed coke. The coke manufacturers were not even per- 
mitted to enjoy that small market undisputed, and the decline 
continued into the early years of the new century. The pro- 
digious increase after 1904 was heralded by the completion 
at South Chicago in 1905 of a bank of 120 Semet-Solvay by- 
product ovens using coal drawn from the field of Fayette 
county, West Virginia. 23 

Prior to 1900 the concentration of enormous coke pro- 
duction in the beehive coke oven fields of Pennsylvania and 
West Virginia rendered impossible the absorption of more than 
a small fraction of the gas and other potentially valuable 

23 United States Geological Survey, Mineral Resources of 1905, p. 740. 


materials evolved in coke manufacture, and the enormous re- 
mainder was not readily transportable to outside areas. A 
solution for the difficulty was found in the transfer of the raw 
material from the good coke-coal fields to such places for manu- 
facture as Chicago, where great quantities of coke were de- 
manded by near-by steel mills and where the by-products, 
particularly the gas, might find a market that would more than 
pay coal transportation costs. 

With the importation into Illinois of the state's new coke 
industry in 1905, then, the ends of conservation were served 
by stopping one of the great criminal wastes of the nation's 
natural resources involved in the use of the beehive coke 
oven and at the same time Illinois gained a great industrial 

Another early industry, more normal in its development 
and therefore having a history more nearly analogous to that 
of coal mining than has the coke industry, is that of clay mining 
and the manufacture of clay products. During the period when 
coal production increased fourfold clay products increased fully 
threefold, and in both subdivisions of the industry pottery, 
and brick and tile there was an approximately commensurate 
relative increase. The two are not of equal importance by 
any means, however, brick and tile manufactures having far 
outranked pottery for many years. The reverse was true in 
the early days, for neither the great bulk of the state's clay 
resources nor the need for brick for construction and tile for 
drainage was discovered while the population was still confined 
to the wooded areas along major stream lines. With expan- 
sion into the prairies, however, the brick and tile phase of the 
industry promptly achieved preeminence. 

The brick and tile industry is itself subdivided into so many 
small and diverse branches that for brevity's sake it is necessary 
to restrict discussion to common brick and draintile, the former 


representative of the brick and the latter of the tile industry, 
and each of leading importance in its class. 24 

With its sixty-seven per cent of the state's total production 
of common brick in 1917, Cook county leads all others by a 
great margin, in consequence of its density of urban population 
and its plentiful supply of glacial clay. Kankakee county also 
ranks high in production of common brick but it ranks still 
higher in draintile manufacture, producing almost a fourth of 
the state's output. The rapid reclamation of the extensive 
marshes and swamps of Kankakee county serves to insure its 
leadership, for it involves the use of enormous quantities of 
tile. The factors that induce such large production in these 
two counties are at work elsewhere in the state, though in less 
degree. They are mainly geographic and geologic, and that 
they are widespread is shown by the fact that in 1917 fifty 
counties reported production of draintile and fifty-five reported 
production of common brick. 

In the case of common brick a considerable demand 
throughout most of the state is occasioned by the lack of good 
building stone in the northern part and by the lack of stone in 
sufficient quantities, even where locally of suitable quality, in 
most other parts of the state. In the case of draintile the almost 
state wide demand is explained by the fact that although the 
sheet of glacial drift with which Illinois is gifted is especially 
abundant and rich, its surface contains so many depressions 
that swamps and marshes large and small abound, and natural 
drainage is generally inadequate. Even the southernmost coun- 
ties and some of those of the western tier, where effects of 
glaciation play an inconspicuous part, have their drainage prob- 
lems because of the broad flood plains of the Mississippi, the 
Ohio, and the Wabash. Singularly enough, the universal de- 
mand in the state for common brick and draintile is matched 

24 For table see appendix, p. 514, columns 27-31. 


by an almost universal supply of raw material suitable for their 
manufacture. The relation is particularly noteworthy in the 
case of draintile : glaciation is responsible for poor drainage 
conditions, but at the same time glacial deposits afford inex- 
haustible quantities of clay for draintile with which to remedy 
the defect. 

More significant even than the gradual increase in pro- 
duction, amounting to at least twofold in the years since 1893, 
is the almost unbroken decrease in the number of manufacturers 
of clay products from a maximum of 697 in 1 894 to a minimum 
of 216 in 1917. This progressive change is one of the clearest 
examples of the tendency toward concentration and centrali- 
zation which is typical of many phases of the state's mineral 
industry. What with raw materials, coal for kilns, easy trans- 
portation from without the state for certain raw materials 
necessary for more refined products, and a market to absorb 
an enormous quantity of all varieties of clay products, it is not 
to be wondered at that in total value of clay products Illinois 
is surpassed only by Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. 

Another mineral industry supplying structural material and 
developed during the first fifty years of the past century, is the 
production of cement, both natural and Portland. The manu- 
facture of natural cement is of necessity restricted to places 
where the raw materials are to be had near the surface. It 
was Illinois' fortune to have an abundant source of natural 
cement materials at Utica on the Illinois river. No more 
favorable position than this vicinity could well be imagined 
for such a resource: in the ante-railroad days the Illinois river 
furnished a ready line of transportation to the markets west 
and south where most of the population lay; later, with the 
building of the Illinois and Michigan canal, in the construction 
of which natural cement from Utica played an extensive part, 
an easy way was opened to the markets in growing Chicago 


as well as at points east by way of the lakes ; still later, the great 
markets of the prairies were opened when railroad lines focused 
themselves on the La Salle-Utica area, attracted by glass-sand 
quarries, cement plants, and abundant supplies of coal, the last 
constituting still another factor in making the Utica area 
almost ideal for natural cement manufacture. Indeed, when 
Portland cement plants arose to contest victoriously the right 
of natural cement to supremacy, they were established early 
in this very area and the two have continued to exist side by 
side in La Salle county. 

The natural cement industry in Illinois was one of wide 
extent in the past, shipments going far from the state in the 
days when cements were more difficult to obtain than they are 
now; but especially in the upbuilding of the large cities of 
Illinois natural cement played an important part. 

In spite of the excellence of the Utica product, the stand- 
ardization possible in the artificial cement, combines with 
the far wider availability of the necessary raw materials 
to make the Portland cement industry supreme. The beginning 
of Portland cement production in the state was a slow, tedious 
process, compared with its successful growth in later years. 
Construction engineers were naturally slow to take up with a 
new substitute for the old, tried, natural cement, but when once 
it was proved satisfactory, the rapidity of increase in produc- 
tion was phenomenal. 25 As the manufacture is centralized in 
five large plants, it is relatively easy to gauge production and 
to prevent flooding of markets with excess stock in striking 
contrast with the coal industry, for example. 

The close of the first half of the century in 1868 saw the 
birth of no industries other than those that have been dis- 
cussed. By that time the foundations had been laid for three 
industries of great importance water, clay products, and 

25 For table see appendix, p. 515, columns 37, 38. 


coal; and by that time the salt and the indigenous iron indus- 
tries, 26 which, though once thriving, were not on sufficiently 
sound foundations to persist in the face of later development 
in other states, were fast dying out. In short, the law of the 
survival of the fittest operated in the first fifty years: those 
industries that were based on Illinois' possession of abundant 
resources unexcelled in nearby areas lived; those that were not 
so favored died. All through that period lack of adequate 
transportation hampered development so markedly that the 
growth in the next fifty years when the state was suddenly 
freed from this restraint is fairly startling. 

Of the three mineral resources petroleum, natural gas, 
and fluorspar developed during the third quarter of the 
century, fluorspar easily has precedence. Until 1896 the only 
production of this mineral in the United States was from the 
deposits of Hardin county, which are known the world over 
as among the greatest yet discovered. In 1896 mines were 
opened in the adjacent Kentucky district, and a decided slump 
in Illinois production followed for five years. A strong revival 
of production began about 1902 and tonnage has increased, 
with considerable fluctuation, from that time to the present. 27 

Fluorspar is used mainly in supplying the American market 
with spar for foundry work and steel making and its pro- 
duction consequently increases or decreases as the steel industry 
thrives or declines. Only a very small fraction that con- 
taining less than one per cent silica can be used in the 
enameling, chemical, and glass trades. A still smaller fraction 
of the material is sufficiently flawless and in pieces of adequate 
size for use in optical work. 

The commercial importance of the Illinois fluorspar district 
is bound to grow with the expansion of steel manufacture, for 

26 Geological Survey of Illinois, i : 365. 

27 for table see appendix, p. 516, columns 44, 45. 


not only are the deposits of this state unexcelled, but they are 
nearer great steel manufacturing centers than are the small 
mines of Colorado, New Mexico, and New Hampshire. 

Omitting details of discovery in the dozen or so scattered 
fields, the history of oil and gas production in Illinois may be 
made extremely brief; for every field in every state the story 
is the same in outline a rapid rise in production almost imme- 
diately upon discovery followed by a slower but sure decline 
to exhaustion not many years later. Unless new large fields for 
both oil and gas are discovered, which scarcely seems probable, 
the decline begun in 1910 and which has been but temporarily 
interrupted, is likely to continue unbroken. 28 For the time be- 
ing, however, the oil and gas industry in Illinois is of major 
importance, as statistics for 1917 show. Of natural gas the 
state produced almost four and one-half billion cubic feet, 
valued at almost $500,000, while of petroleum it produced 
more than fifteen and three-fourths million barrels, valued at 
more than $31,000,000. Indisputable testimony to the excel- 
lence of Illinois oil is the fact that for some years its value has 
kept it one notch higher in the scale of states based on total 
value of production than it is on the basis of quantity pro- 

The enormous risk of capital involved in oil and gas pros- 
pecting and the great cost of pipe lines and refining plants 
make it clear that the petroleum industry does not belong to 
a frontier civilization, and helps to show why even slight de- 
velopment was delayed till 1882 and maximum productiveness 
until 1904, near the close of the hundred years succeeding the 
admission of Illinois to statehood. Remembering that fluor- 
spar, too, had to wait for extensive development until the 
frontier stage was well past, the contention made that the 
mineral resources developed after 1868 would be of that nature 

28 For table see appendix, p. 514, columns 32, 33. 


seems to have been borne out by the group of industries dating 
their rise within the third quarter of the century. 

The fourth and last group, belonging to the 18931918 
period, support this contention with even greater clearness. 
Silica (tripoli), mineral paints, pyrite, sulphuric acid, asphalt, 
and natural-gas gasoline are the six industries of the group. 
Three of them, mineral paints, sulphuric acid, and asphalt, 
though rightly termed mineral industries, can more properly 
be considered under the head of manufactures so far as Illi- 
nois is concerned. A paragraph in regard to each, however, 
will not be out of place. 

In 1917 mineral pigments were made in Illinois directly 
from the ores at Collinsville, Chicago, Argo, and East St. 
Louis, the total value being $9,465,176. 

The sulphuric acid produced in Illinois is a by-product of 
zinc smelting at La Salle, Peru, Collinsville, and Danville, in 
which process the waste gases, sulphur dioxide and sulphur 
trioxide, are converted into acid. A product which as waste 
would be extremely harmful is thus turned to good account, 
amounting in 1917 to $3, 902, 83 1. 29 

In Illinois asphalt is derived from crude petroleum in 
refineries. The entire product 1 10,756 tons in 1917, worth 
$1,317,855 is marketed for road oil and for flux. 30 

Of the other three industries, all are independent, not by- 
products in processes of manufacture involved in other mineral 
industries. Illinois tripoli has been used for some time as a 
paint, wood filler, metal polish, in soaps, cleansers, glass manu- 
facture, and for facing foundry molds. The annual production 
fluctuates considerably, the $30,000 value for 1917 being un- 
usually low. 

Next oldest is the pyrite industry, dating from 1907, so 

29 For table see appendix, p. 511. 

30 For table see ibid. 


far as statistics show. Especially in Vermilion county, where 
production was almost one hundred per cent of the state's total, 
is the industry developed, since the pyrite can be easily saved 
incidental to coal milling, as it occurs in the coal of this district 
in distinct lenses and bands instead of being finely disseminated 
throughout the coal as it is in most parts of the state. That 
24,596 tons worth $89,998 were mined in 1917 shows the 
possibilities of an industry that is merely incidental. Pyrite 
is used in the manufacture of sulphuric acid, a product of great 
importance at all times. 

The youngest mineral industry that has attained real indus- 
trial importance in the state is the production of gasoline from 
natural gas. Production figures have mounted so rapidly 
in 1917 almost five million gallons valued at $866,000 that 
certainly the experimental stage must be safely passed. The 
recovery of gasoline from gas promises to become a flourishing 
business, for large quantities of gas now wasted may be turned 
to profit by the process. 

It is readily recognized that the nine mineral industries 
which have originated in Illinois during the fifty years since 
1868 differ greatly in their essential character from those 
industries originated in the earlier half of the century. Every 
one of them is an industry requiring at least one of the follow- 
ing factors for its development: large population to afford 
market, adequate transportation facilities, an advanced stage 
in the manufacturing industry, or abundant capital for estab- 
lishment and upkeep. Clearly none of them could be a frontier 
industry. The contrast presented by the earlier group in com- 
parison with the later is, then, a strong one : on the one hand, 
the older industries, though now no longer of frontier char- 
acter, were developed under frontier conditions and persisted 
through the frontier period, proving their adaptability to such 
conditions; and, on the other hand, the younger industries were 


not adapted to and could not have been established in pioneer 
times. The older industries were, very logically, the develop- 
ment of mineral resources necessary to the simplest forms of 
living in a frontier country, having to do with fuel and struc- 
tural materials; the younger industries involved the develop- 
ment of resources necessary only to a higher civilization and 
possible only after frontier conditions had disappeared. 

A final word in regard to the response of Illinois to de- 
mands placed on mineral resources of many kinds by the war 
may be pertinent. The remarkable increase in production 
along many lines in 1916 and 1917, and especially in 1917, 
offers general evidence. 31 The end of the production curve 
for coal 32 presents a picture of what happened in those years 
not only in coal but in aggregate mineral industry as well, but 
a few specific instances will show this in greater detail. 

Even before the United States entered the war two Illinois 
industries, fluorspar and clay, were directly affected by the 
stoppage of German trading. Before the war the whole supply 
of clear, colorless, flawless pieces for optical instruments for 
scientific work passed through the hands of German optical 
dealers, and its stoppage promised to be a serious matter. At 
once, however, Illinois producers and the country's optical 
manufacturers were informed of the need and of the source of 
supply in Hardin county, and the danger was averted. 

The cutting off of certain German refractory clays directed 
attention to deposits in southwestern Illinois, among other 
places, and geologists and ceramic engineers soon found that 
one variety of Union county clay was even superior to that 
formerly sought in Germany. And so another gap was stopped. 

Almost immediately upon our entrance into the war the 
small fleet of ships plying between Spain and the United States 

31 For table see appendix, pp. 511-516. 
82 See illustration opposite p. 422. 


and bringing back quantities of pyrite from the rich Spanish 
deposits were arbitrarily transferred to service more essential 
to the winning of the war. Since pyrite is a source of sulphuric 
acid, which is not only vital to industry in general but to manu- 
facture of explosives in particular, at first glance the action of 
the government seems a strange step. But the administration, 
knowing well that adequate supplies existed undeveloped in this 
country, rightly surmised that producers would rise to meet the 
need. Furthermore, zinc smelting was revived in connection 
with war manufacture and the sulphuric acid by-product of this 
process was bound to increase in quantity. In both phases of 
the increase Illinois had a part, for the zinc smelters of the 
state increased their production, and coal operators took ad- 
vantage of the opportunity to save pyrite, hitherto considered 
only as a waste; thus they increased their earnings while min- 
ing a cleaner, better coal and supplying a raw material with- 
out whose manufactured product our part of the war could 
not have been carried on. 

Another effort to conserve was the attempt to substitute 
Illinois, Indiana, and western Kentucky low-sulphur coals 
wholly or in part for coal and coke from the east, hitherto 
used exclusively in the important coal and water gas industry. 
Curtailment of the eastern supply by order of the United States 
fuel and railroad administrations was directly responsible for 
the attempt, but it is probable that experiments and investi- 
gations begun with the aid of gas engineers and geologists will 
continue, with the eventual result of a permanent decrease in 
the dependence of Illinois on the east, and a great saving of 
energy in transportation of coal and coke from Pennsylvania 
and West Virginia. 

The most phenomenal increase in production was that of 
coal, and the work of Illinois miners deserved the high praise 
granted it by the fuel administration, for it frequently hap- 


pened that when other states were behind in their apportion- 
ments, Illinois had enough and to spare. There is no need 
to mention the far-reaching effect adequate fuel production has 
on power to increase manufactures that they may stand the 
strain of excessive war time production. A fitting climax, 
indeed, to the first century of mineral production in Illinois, 
is found in the realization that the mineral industries of the 
state did not fail to play their full part in successful prosecution 
of the war. 


THE good times which had prevailed in industry during the 
period since the Civil War were abruptly ended by the 
panic of 1873. Immediately the demand for goods began to 
fall off, factories were closed down, men were thrown out of 
work, and all the familiar incidents of a financial and industrial 
crisis were set in motion. Within a week after the crash came, 
the first effects on the workingmen were reported by the news- 
papers. The Chicago and Northwestern railroad not only 
was unable to pay its shopmen their August wages, but 
. announced a seven per cent reduction in wages, whereupon the 
men quit work. In other cases the men were discharged and 
the establishments closed. By November the number of 
unemployed in Chicago alone was estimated between ten and 
fifteen thousand. Two months later the Relief and Aid 
Society made a canvass of the manufacturing establishments in 
the city to ascertain the extent of unemployment. From the 
data furnished by ninety-eight firms, which gave the number 
usually employed and those then at work, it concluded that 
thirty-seven per cent of the workingmen were without work. 1 
These figures did not include the building trades, usually the 
first to feel the effects of a period of depression, and con- 
sequently did not fully measure the distress. Moreover it 
must be remembered that many families had as yet scarcely 
recovered from the losses of the fire of 1871, which had swept 
the workingmen's district and rendered many homeless. 

This situation was quickly utilized by the radical elements 

1 Chicago Times, October 2, 1873; Real Estate and Building Journal, Novem- 
ber 15, 1873; Chicago Tribune, February 17, 1874. 



for purposes of agitation. Foremost in this work was Der 
Sozial-Politische Arbeiterverein, a German organization which 
had been formed in 1 868 by some Chicago followers of Lassalle 
under the name of Der Allgemeine Deutsche Arbeiterverein, 
but which in 1871 had changed its name and adopted as its 
creed the communist manifesto of 1848. This organization 
called a mass meeting for Sunday evening, December 21, at 
Vorwaert's Turner Hall on West Twelfth street. Between five 
and seven thousand people representing "workingmen of all 
nationalities and trades" filled the hall to overflowing. The 
meeting was addressed in English, German, French, Swedish, 
and Polish, all the orators urging city aid for the unemployed. 
Resolutions were adopted demanding work or assistance and 
the use of the city's credit if the funds on hand were insufficient. 
A committee was appointed to present these demands to the 
common council at its session the following day, and another 
one was authorized to draw up plans for the immediate organ- 
ization of the " workingmen's party." 2 

On the following day a crowd of ten thousand workingmen 
accompanied the resolutions committee to the city hall. Der 
Sozial-Politische Arbeiterverein marched in a body and for 
the first time in the history of Chicago raised aloft the red flag 
of socialism. The workingmen were assured by the common 
council that a joint committee would meet the next day to 
consider the matter, but when it met they were told the city had 
no money. They were advised to take up the matter with the 
Relief and Aid Society, which might be induced to turn over 
part of its funds to the city for temporary relief work. But 
this society, when appealed to, declared that such a step would 
be both inexpedient and unlawful. 3 Despairing of relief from 
organized channels, the workingmen now decided that they 

2 Chicago Tribune, December 22, 25, 1873. 
8 Ibid., December 23, 24, 27, 1873. 


must go to the ballot box and elect men of their own stamp in 
order to get laws according to their needs. 

From this time on the work of organizing an independent 
political party went on rapidly; and on January 12, 1874, a 
committee on " platform and plan of organization " submitted 
a program. The name of the proposed organization was to 
be the " workingmen's party of the state of Illinois." The 
platform, after declaring that all men " have an equal right to 
the necessaries of life," demanded the prevention of monopoly, 
the public ownership of all means of transportation and com- 
munication, state management of savings banks and fire insur- 
ance, the deposit of public moneys in state banks, abolition of 
contract system on public works, weekly payment of wages, 
abolition of prison labor except on state works, compulsory 
education of children from seven to fourteen years of age, 
abolition of child labor under fourteen years in factories, aboli- 
tion of the fee system, recall of officials, and the organization 
of workingmen's associations. 4 Somewhat later a provision 
was added declaring for the abolition of all indirect taxes and 
the introduction of a progressive income and property tax. 5 

Outside of the initial statement, there was nothing alarm- 
ingly radical in these demands. The platform was undoubtedly 
drawn with the necessary reserve in order to win the coopera- 
tion of the farmers who, under the name of the independent 
reform party of Illinois, were making similar demands. In 
the newly established party organ, however, a clear statement 
of the ultimate goal of the organization was given as the 
socialist state, which was to be achieved by the formation of 
workingmen's associations with state credit in accordance with 
the scheme of Lassalle, the German socialist. 6 

*Ibid., January 12, 1874; Vorbote, February 14, 1874. 

5 Ibid., September 19, 1874. 

6 The Vorbote was founded and appeared on February 14, 1874, as a weekly 


At first the progress of the party was rapid. By March 
there were fifteen German sections, three Bohemian, three 
Polish, and one American. In the spring elections it ran a 
candidate for collector on the north side, who received 975 
votes against 4,410 cast for his opponent, a fusion candidate. 
In the fall elections, however, when the workingmen's party 
put a full ticket in the field, their vote showed a great falling 
off. Then, too, an attempt which had been made to cooperate 
with the independent reform party of the farmers at their con- 
vention at Springfield in June had failed completely, for the 
interests of the two groups were too diverse for such a move- 
ment to be successful. 7 

Faith in political action consequently began to decline, and 
in the following March the party voted not to nominate candi- 
dates. Soon afterwards it abjured the milder socialism of 
Lassalle and became a revolutionary Marxian group. A new 
platform was accordingly adopted, which, in addition to 
indorsing most pf the demands of the former program and 
adding some new ones as purely palliative reforms, also laid 
down the more radical principles of direct legislation, popular 
administration of justice, common ownership of all means of 
production and communication, state organization and regula- 
tion of the productive processes according to the needs of the 
people, cultivation of the soil according to scientific methods, 
and universal and equal state education. 

The adoption of this revolutionary program, however, 
made the party so much like the North American Federation 
of the International Workingmen's Association that the union 
of the two groups became inevitable; and they finally united 
under the name of the workingmen's party of the United 

7 Vorbote, February 28, April n, June 6, 13, 20, July 18, November 28, 1874; 
Chicago Tribune, April n, 1874. A section consisted of at least twenty-five 


States. 8 Soon afterward the Illinois party declared itself dis- 
solved; its sections became sections of the new organization 
and the Vorbote became the latter's property and official organ. 

New life seems to have been injected into the local party as 
a result of the national fusion. The Chicago section of the 
workingmen's party of the United States reported a member- 
ship of seven hundred and fifty members; two new women's 
groups were added and two more newspapers were started, one 
Scandinavian and the other German. The continued depression, 
moreover, was a potent incentive for movements to better the 
economic condition of the working class. Wages fell steadily 
between 1873 an d ^77; according to the reports made to 
congress average wages declined eight per cent during this 
period, and in many instances the decrease was more than fifty 
per cent. Thus shoemakers suffered a fifteen per cent reduction 
in 1874, a similar cut in 1875, and another in 1877. Silver- 
smiths earned twenty-five dollars a week in 1872 and ten dollars 
in 1879; coopers received twenty-five cents a barrel in 1873 
and ten cents in 1879; typesetters saw their pay fall from 
fifty-five cents per thousand ems in 1876 to thirty-six cents in 
1879; and the coal heavers suffered a reduction from twenty 
cents a ton in 1873 to eight cents in i878. 9 

In 1877 the labor unrest, which was general throughout the 
country, blazed out into open opposition. The immediate 
occasion was a ten per cent reduction in wages on the leading 
railroad systems after several reductions had already been 
made. On July 23 the switchmen on the Michigan Central 

*Vorbote, March 26, 1875, July 29, 1876. 

9 House Report of Special Committee on Labor, March, 1879, ibid., Decem- 
ber ii, 1875, August 17, 1878, March 15, 1879; ibid., October 14, November 25, 
1876, March 3, 17, 1877; "Report on Wholesale Prices, Wages, and Transporta- 
tion," Senate Documents, 52 congress, 2 session, report 1394, p. i. The new Ger- 
man paper was first known as the Chicagoer Sozialist, later as the Illinois Volks- 
zeitung, and finally as the Arbeiter-Zeitung. Except for a brief interruption in 
1886 it has had a continuous existence since. 


quit. The next day, under the leadership of the socialists and 
radical trade-unionists, they persuaded the trainmen on other 
lines to strike, then marched to the manufacturing centers of 
the city and shut down lumberyards, brickyards, foundries, 
shoe factories, and stockyards. Open conflict with the police 
followed during the next two days in which some nineteen 
persons were killed and possibly a hundred wounded. 10 

The failure of this movement led the workingmen again to 
seek relief at the polls, and in November the socialists cast 
approximately 7,000 votes. Soon afterwards the name of the 
party was changed to the socialist labor party. A new official 
paper, The Socialist, was established in Chicago as the organ 
of the English section of the party. Moreover, in the spring 
of 1878 the socialists cast about 8,000 votes and elected two 
aldermen to the common council and in the fall elections 
four members of the general assembly. In 1879 they cast 
11,576 votes for their candidate for mayor and elected three 
aldermen. 11 

Chicago was now the undisputed center of the socialist 
movement in the country. The local section contained 870 
members in good standing. It published four socialist papers : 
the Chicagoer Arbeiter-Zeitung and the Forbote in German, 
the Socialist in English, and the Nye Tid, the only Scandinavian 
socialist paper in the country. The return of industrial pros- 
perity in 1879, however, put an end to the success of the party 
at the polls. At the fall election of that year the socialist vote 
fell to 4,800, and only one candidate was elected. 12 

Moreover, forces were at work which were to cause a 
split in the party. Disagreements arose first over a military 

10 Chicago Tribune, July 22, 25, 27, 28, 1877; Pinkerton, Strikers, Communists, 
Tramps and Detectives, 404. 

11 Ibid., November 8, 1877 ; Vorbote, November 10, 1877, January 19, April 13, 
September 21, November 9, 1878, April 5, 1879. 

12 Ibid., November 8, 1879; Commons, History of Labour in the United States, 


organization called the Lehr- und Wehrverein, which the Ger- 
man socialists had established for the purpose of drilling and 
arming the workingmen for the coming social revolution, but 
to which the American socialists were opposed. More funda- 
mental, however, was the antagonism between the political 
opportunism of the American faction and the class-conscious 
socialism of the German group. The question of supporting 
the candidates of other parties, to which the Germans were 
opposed, first presented itself in 1879; in the following year 
the quarrel broke out again over the question of uniting with 
the greenback labor party and finally resulted in a complete 
breach. The Germans reorganized as a more distinctly trade- 
union party, while the Americans united with some green- 
backers to launch the Chicago Labor Union, an organization 
chiefly for purposes of discussion. 13 

The greenback movement was never important in Chicago, 
as it was primarily a farmers' movement. The first attempt 
at cooperation between the farmers and the workingmen was 
made, as has been mentioned, in 1 874 at the Springfield meeting 
of the independent reform party, a farmers' organization 
which a year later extended " a cordial invitation to all indus- 
trial organizations and individuals to join in every effort to 
throw off the burden imposed on the industrial classes by the 
encroachment of aggregate capital in the hands of monopo- 
lies." 14 In 1876 at Decatur it showed its interest in the 
workers by declaring for " measures providing for the health 
and safety of those employed in mining, manufacturing, and 
building pursuits." 15 

In 1875 announcements of meetings of persons "in favor 

lz Vorbote, May 29, 1875, June 22, 1878; Arbeiter-Zeitung, July 6, 10, Octo- 
ber 4, 28, December 28, 1880, January 4, 1881; Chicago Tribune, December 27, 
1880, January 3, 1881. 

14 Illinois State Register, January 22, 1875. 

15 Chicago Tribune, February 17, 1876. 


of a greenback currency" began to appear in the Chicago 
papers. In March of the following year a Central Club an- 
nounced that the independent greenback party would " enter in 
the field in the forth-coming municipal contest with a full city 
ticket composed of candidates possessed of strict integrity, 
unquestionable honesty, and acknowledged ability;" but this 
plan failed to mature. A short time later, however, the Work- 
ingmen's League of Illinois, subsequently changed to the Chi- 
cago Labor League, was launched. It was to be composed of 
delegates " from trade, labor, and ward organizations," and 
its object was to bring the various working elements " into close 
communion with each other;" to disseminate information 
among them ; to protect them from discriminating and unjust 
legislation; "to ascertain and make known the views of candi- 
dates for office on questions of interest to its members; to 
cement brotherly feeling among those laboring for wages and 
their employers; and to scrutinize and discuss all matters af- 
fecting the conditions of the laborer." 10 This league, which 
owed its existence chiefly to A. C. Cameron of the Working- 
men's Advocate, was to be used to bring together the working- 
men in behalf of the greenback cause. At one time the organi- 
zation was said to have numbered in its membership forty-two 
labor organizations, which, however, appear to have done little 
to further the greenback cause; for Peter Cooper, the green- 
back candidate for United States president, received but 276 
votes in Cook county in the fall of that year. 17 

It was not until the workingmen felt the full effects of the 
depression which culminated in the railroad riots of iSyy 18 
that they turned to greenbackism. On August 23 the Labor 
League held an open-air meeting, repudiated the democratic 

16 Workingmen' $ Advocate, April 22, 1876; Pomeroy's Democrat, November 
ii, 1876; Chicago Tribune, April 15, 1877. 

17 See above, chapter 5. 

18 See above, chapter 6. 


and republican parties, and voted to form a separate party. 
It adopted a platform calling for the repeal of the resumption 
act of January 14, 1875, remonetization and free coinage of 
the silver dollar, the perpetuation of treasury notes as legal- 
tender, and several other reforms and improvements which 
were circulating at the time. The platform also contained a 
number of labor planks: an eight-hour day, arbitration of 
industrial disputes, abolition of contract convict labor, pro- 
hibition of child labor for those under twelve years of age, the 
enactment of a law compelling employers to pay the wages 
earned in a certain month not later than the fifteenth of the 
succeeding month, and the establishment of state and national 
bureaus of labor. Some time later the league changed its name 
to the " workingmen's industrial party of the United States." 19 

This party soon became a source of encouragement to other 
labor groups to form parties of their own. The socialists were 
already in the field. After the Chicago Labor League had 
become the workingmen's industrial party, the independent 
greenback party, together with disgruntled democrats who had 
subscribed to greenbackism, made an abortive attempt to 
organize the independent party of Cook county, based on the 
" cooperation of all classes of citizens, irrespective of past party 
ties and affiliations." A. C. Cameron and William McNally, 
a democratic politician, were leaders in this coup. Meanwhile 
another set of workingmen organized the National Working- 
men's Organization of Illinois, which was to be nonpartisan. 
Its purpose was not to put a ticket in the field, but " to bind the 
workingmen together for the support of the best men who 
should be nominated by either of the two great parties." Later 
on it appeared that republican politicians were welcome guests 
at its meetings. 

There were now bidding for the labor vote five different 

19 See above, p. 124 ff. 


elements: the disgruntled democrats who had subscribed to 
greenbackism; the greenbackers proper, who were the intellec- 
tuals of the movement, counting among their number J. A. 
Noonan, editor of the Telegraph, " Doctor" Taylor, "Judge" 
Layton, " Colonel " Ricaby, " Professor " Corcoran, and " Pro- 
fessor" Jackson; the industrials who were the workingmen; 
the nonpartisan workingmen with a republican bias; and finally 
the socialists. 

Each of these parties now tried to win over the others. 
The democrats made an offer to the industrials which fairly 
staggered them. Out of thirteen county officers to be elected 
they offered them the nomination of seven mostly, however, 
to the minor offices. At first the industrials rejected the offer; 
but it was so tempting that when they met in convention they 
more than carried out the democratic designs; with some ex- 
ceptions, they nominated a democratic ticket. As the election 
approached, the other labor groups turned one by one to sup- 
port the democrats. 20 

A small group of industrials, together with a small grcup 
of greenbackers, bolted the democratic alliance and, for the 
next few years, agitated labor greenbackism under the name 
"industrial-greenback party." In some instances, with the aid 
of the democrats, they elected some of their candidates. Their 
highest independent vote was cast in the fall of 1878, when 
5,479 votes were polled for their candidate for sheriff. 

With the return of prosperity the political organizations of 
the workers for the redress of their grievances lost strength 
and finally disintegrated. As employment became more gen- 
eral interest shifted from legislation to more practical problems 
of hours and wages and conditions of work. Trade-unionism 
took the place of political organization and dominated the 
labor movement during the next few years. The long period 

20 Chicago Tribune, August 24, September 12, 20, October 14, 19, 26, 31, 1877. 


of depression which followed the panic of 1873 with its attend- 
ant lack of work or irregular employment, low wages, and 
unsatisfactory conditions, came to an end about 1879 an ^ in 
its place followed an era of prosperity and expansion which 
continued with little change until 1893 except for a brief inter- 
ruption from the panic of 1884. The resumption of specie 
payments in 1879 removed the specter of greenbackism, while 
the silver purchase act of 1878 was generally regarded at the 
time as a help to business by making money easier. 

So marked was the change in general business conditions 
that even the official organ of the labor movement in Chicago 
noticed it. "The transactions of the clearing house," said the 
Arbeiter-Zeitung in August, 1880, "have grown weekly since 
January I. . . . The sale in groceries has grown well 
nigh 35 per cent over the preceding six months. . . . The 
drug trade has added about 20 per cent. . . . For hides 
Chicago has become the chief American market. In the course 
of the last six months 40 or 50 per cent more hides were 
received and shipped here than ever before in the same period. 
The sale of iron has become so rapid, that it appears absolutely 
impossible to keep a big supply of it on hand. And as in these 
branches so has business grown in practically all others." 21 
With this improvement in conditions of employment the work- 
ingmen now became more interested in the maintenance and 
further improvement of these conditions. They abandoned 
politics, which sought only legislative reforms, for trade- 
unionism which stood for the practical betterment of the wage 
scale, for shorter hours, and similar demands. 

Already in 1877 the workingmen began to organize along 
trade-union lines and in December of that year brought into 
existence the progenitor of the Chicago Federation of Labor. 
The delegates who met for this purpose represented unions, 

21 Arleiter-Zeitung, August 19, 1880. 


mostly German, of the upholsterers, cigar makers, printers, 
stonecutters, silver gilders, coopers, molders, tailors, black- 
smiths and machinists, carpenters, furniture workers, cabinet- 
makers, painters, brickmakers, shoemakers, and stair builders. 
There were present also some " amalgamated workingmen " 
"the Chicago alias of the secret organization which seeks to 
control the labor movement throughout the country." This 
description seems to indicate that these men were members of 
a local of the Knights of Labor, which was then a secret organ- 
ization. The question at once arose as to the admission of 
secret organizations and was decided in the negative under the 
influence of the trade-unionists. It was voted to organize a 
trade council consisting of trade-unions only. Albert A. Par- 
sons was elected president of the new body. 22 

The aims of the Trades Council, according to a circular 
published somewhat later bearing the title " Principles and 
Platform of the Council of Trade and Labor Unions of Chi- 
cago and Vicinity," were : the organization of labor unions of 
all branches of trade and labor; the local, national, and inter- 
national amalgamation of all labor unions; repeal of all con- 
spiracy laws; reduction of the hours of labor; higher wages; 
factory, mine, and workshop inspection; abolition of contract 
convict labor and the truck system; responsibility of employers 
for accidents caused by neglected machinery; prohibition of 
child labor; the establishment of labor bureaus; and labor 
propaganda by means of labor press, labor lectures, and the 
employment of organizers. 

Although the secret societies had been kept out of the 
Trades Council in 1877, the question came up again two years 
later and this time their supporters were strong enough to 
secure the admission of three such organizations. These were 
the Sons of Vulcan, the Washington Benevolent Society, and 

22 Chicago Tribune, December 2, 16, 1877. 


the Sons of Freedom. The machinists' and blacksmiths', the 
furniture workers', and the engineers' unions protested. These 
societies were secret, their membership was unknown, and they 
leaned to democratic politics. The council refused to revoke 
its action, however, and the result was a split. The furniture 
workers withdrew their delegates and were followed by several 
other unions. Some fifteen dissatisfied unions finally met and 
voted to organize a trade and labor council " made up only of 
delegates from trade unions." By this move the trade-union- 
ists won their point. A few months later the old council made 
a bid for union and consented to eject all secret organizations 
and to proceed on a strictly trade-union basis. 23 The name 
Trade and Labor Assembly was adopted for the united body, a 
name which was retained until the nineties brought another 
upheaval, when the present name of the Chicago Federation of 
Labor was adopted. 

The same forces that brought into being a central labor 
body also favored the organization of local unions. The 
council in 1879 named organization committees for the north, 
west, and south sides of the city to found new labor unions ; and 
shortly afterwards the establishment of unions among the wood 
polishers, the machine woodworkers, the painters, and the 
glaziers was reported. The various carpenters' locals held a 
mass meeting to organize a single carpenters' union, and a 
similar move was made in the boot and shoe industry by some 
of the members of the lodges No. 7 and No. 39 of the old 
order of St. Crispin. 24 This movement is well illustrated by 
a calendar of trade-unions published by the Arbeiter-Zeitung 
during these years. In the first list of September 4, 1879, 
twelve unions were listed; forty-five on April i, 1880, fifty on 

28 Morgan manuscripts; Arbeiter-Zeitung, December 12, 16, 19, 26, 1879, 
January 16, May 7, 1880. 

z *Ibid., October 10, November 3, 10, December i, 22, 1879. 


April i, 1 88 1, and twenty-nine on March 16, 1882. These 
figures may not be exact, but they indicate the rise and fall of 
trade-unionism for this period. 

The first general demand made by these organizations was 
for a reduction of hours for a day's work from ten to eight. 
Early in 1879 the St. Louis Trade Assembly adopted resolu- 
tions "that all Trade and Labor organizations unite in one 
body, and on July 4, 1879 proclaim to the world that eight 
hours shall be a normal day's work." The Chicago Trades 
Council indorsed the proposition and held mass meetings to 
bring it before the public. When the Fourth of July arrived 
it held a three days' demonstration in its favor at which 
speeches were made by Ira Steward, the Nestor of the eight- 
hour movement, and others. 25 

Ira Steward's vision of an eight-hour day as bringing more 
leisure, increased wants, higher wages, reduced profits, and the 
emancipation of labor may have influenced some of the eight- 
hour advocates; but the more practical consideration, that 
shorter hours would create more jobs, undoubtedly moved most 
of them. Only seldom did the labor papers and labor orators 
mention the former virtues of an eight-hour day, but they 
continually harped on the latter. The Chicago Trades Council 
in indorsing the reduction of hours stated that such a reduction 
was " well calculated to create a demand for labor by placing a 
limit upon the supply of labor." 26 The socialists supported 
the eight-hour day " as a check upon the exploiting-power of 
capital" and "as a bridge to the system of regulating labor 
by law." 27 

An Eight-Hour League was organized to promote the idea 
of an eight-hour day, while the Furniture Workers' Trade 

25 Vorbote, April 12, May 4, 1879. 

28 Chicago Tribune, May 19, 1879; Arbeiter-Zeitung, July 5, 1879. 

27 Vorbote, September 13, 1879. 


Union of North America took the first step to make it practical. 
The Chicago union demanded it of their employers, and on 
July 5 nine factories employing 765 men announced an eight- 
hour day and three others employing 230 men declared that 
they had no objection to it. By the next day the number of 
factories that granted the reduced hours had risen to forty. 
But now a reaction set in. The Brunswick and Balke firm 
locked out its men until they agreed to a ten-hour basis. A week 
later some thirty-five manufacturers met and resolved that 
"the interests of the manufacturers as well as the workingmen 
will be most secure as long as the ten-hour working day remains 
in force." As a result of this opposition the movement for a 
shorter working day failed. 28 

After the failure of the eight-hour movement the working- 
men next turned their attention to raising their wages. Of the 
strikes that occurred during the four years from 1879 to J 882 
three-fourths were for higher wages. The most important of 
these were the following: in 1879 the cigar makers struck over 
a new wage scale, and the packing house employees for higher 
wages and then for the closed shop; in 1880 the chair makers 
demanded a fifteen per cent increase in wages, and the brick- 
makers a revised bill of prices considerably beyond existing 
rates; in 1881 the boiler makers struck for a ten per cent 
increase, the street car conductors and drivers for a twenty per 
cent increase, the molders for a twenty-five per cent increase, 
and the switchmen for the same; in 1882 the iron and steel 
workers demanded a ten per cent increase and the brick laborers 
struck to maintain wages at the existing rates. 29 

The latter strike is an indication of declining prosperity in 
this year. It was the first slump since 1879 an d it again drew 

28 Arbeiter-Zeitung, July 8, 10, 18, 19, 1879. 

19 Reports of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of Illinois, See alse Report of 
the Commissioner of Labor, 1887, p. 100 ff. 


the workingmen into politics. The Trades Assembly in this 
year decided to run its own legislative candidates; and the 
elements that a few years earlier had participated in the 
greenback movement now, with some others, organized the 
antimonopoly party. In September was held a meeting which 
the Chicago Tribune described as a "motley gathering 
composed of relics of all the third, fourth, and fifth parties 
which have bubbled up at election times during the last ten 
years." There were present socialists, land and labor agi- 
tators, trade-unionists, Knights of Labor, and " a quantity of 
Greenbackers." The platform adopted was broad enough to 
include all these elements. It called for public ownership by 
the government of "the resources of life," national control of 
railroads and telegraphs, governmental issue of all money 
" whether of paper, silver, or gold," abolition of " all monopoly 
of land by individuals or corporations and its ultimate absorp- 
tion by the State for the benefit of the whole people," purchase 
by the government of all inventions worthy of adoption and 
their gift to the people, and the submission of constitutional 
amendments on prohibition and woman suffrage to the vote of 
the people. Candidates for county offices, state senate, and 
congress were nominated, and the legislative candidates of the 
Trades Assembly indorsed. In the November elections both 
tickets went down to defeat, the antimonopoly candidate for 
sheriff receiving only 364 votes; the legislative candidates of 
the Trades Assembly made a better showing, but the most 
successful of these received only half as many votes as the 
winner. 30 This movement was only a sporadic one and had 
neither a permanent basis nor a lasting result. 

When, after this temporary lapse into politics, labor again 
began to concern itself with working conditions, it did so under 
the leadership of a new organization the Knights of Labor. 

30 Chicago Tribune, September n, 26, 1882; Arbeiter-Zeitung, July 5, 1879. 


This organization had appeared earlier, but it now took the 
dominating position in the field. 

The spirit of trade-unionism was not so strong among the 
American workingmen as it was among the foreign born. 
For the most part the former were unskilled or, if skilled, 
shifted their trades rather easily, while the latter were trained 
mechanics with a highly developed trade feeling. This fact is 
well illustrated by the racial composition of the trade-unions in 
Illinois in 1886. According to the bureau of labor 31 only 21 
per cent of the members were Americans, while 33 per cent 
were Germans, 19 per cent were Irish, 10 per cent English, 
Scotch, and Welsh together, 12 per cent Scandinavians, and the 
remaining 5 per cent Poles, Bohemians, and Italians. It is 
clear that the United States was drawing its supply of skilled 
labor mainly from abroad, owing in large measure to the 
breakdown of the apprenticeship system in this country. A 
new form of organization was therefore developed in the 
United States, peculiar to this country and growing out of the 
conditions of the times, the principle of which was the amalga- 
mation of all workers in one organization. The interests of 
all workingmen were held to be identical, and the ideal was to 
have an organization that would embrace them all. To accom- 
plish this aim the Noble Order of the Knights of Labor was 

This body was organized by U. S. Stephens among the 
garment cutters of Philadelphia in 1869 as a secret society, and 
from there spread to other parts of the country. It is not 
known just when the order obtained a foothold in Illinois, but 
by the summer of 1877 the local assemblies were numerous 
enough to organize a district assembly. " D. A. 13," wrote 
Powderly, long the head of the national organization, "was 
organized August I, 1877, at Springfield, 111., with assemblies 

81 Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of Illinois, 1886, p. 227. 


Nos. 271, of Springfield; 346, of Hollis; 360, of Kingston 
Mines; 415, of Limestone; and an assembly from Peoria." 32 
It is noteworthy that Chicago does not appear on the list. 
The only Knight of Labor in Chicago at this time was Richard 
Griffith, a shoemaker and at one time officer in the Knights of 
St. Crispin. Under his leadership Local Assembly 400 was 
organized on August 19, 1877. ^ n l * s membership it included 
many men who later rose to prominence in labor and politics. 
There were Thomas Kavanaugh of the workingmen's indus- 
trial party of the United States; George Rogers, who later 
held the presidency of the Chicago Trade and Labor Assembly 
for several years; Philipp Van Patten of the socialist labor 
party; Miles Kehoe, at one time city clerk; and George A. 
Shilling and Albert R. Parsons, the latter a participant in the 
Haymarket riot. Besides these, hundreds of others "sojourned " 
here until they split off and formed separate locals. Thus 
Local Assemblies 522, 525, 800, 828, 852, 976, 1,307, and 
1,483 had their origin in Local Assembly 400. The following 
year more locals were organized and District Assembly 24, a 
delegate body of locals, was established. 33 

Nothing in the structure of these locals or the district 
assembly was peculiar to Illinois or Chicago. It was prescribed 
by the national body or general assembly, the local organiza- 
tions having the power to make by-laws only. Any ten persons, 
three-fourths of whom were wage earners, could form a local. 
Liquor dealers, lawyers, doctors, and bankers were specifically 
barred from membership; later professional gamblers and 
stockbrokers were added to the list of undesirables, but the 
admission of doctors was made optional with each local. 34 

32 Powderly, Thirty Years of Labor, 1859-1889, p. 221-222. 

33 Knights of Labor, December 23, 1886, January 29, 1887; Arbeiter-Zeitung, 
February 16, 1887. 

34 Constitution for local assemblies adopted at Reading, Pennsylvania, Janu- 
ary 1-4, 1878; ibid., revised in 1881. 


The purposes of the organization, as set forth in the preamble, 
were " to bring within the folds of organization every depart- 
ment of productive industry" and "to secure to the workers 
the full enjoyment of the wealth they create, sufficient leisure 
in which to develop their intellectual, moral, and social facul- 
ties." To secure these objects they demanded the referendum; 
the establishment of bureaus of labor statistics; cooperative 
associations, productive and distributive; the reservation of 
public lands for actual settlers; health and safety legislation 
for those engaged in mining, manufacturing, or the building 
trades; the abrogation of unequal laws; weekly payment of 
wages; a mechanics' lien law; abolition of the contract system 
on public works; substitution of arbitration for strikes; pro- 
hibition of the employment of children under fourteen years 
of age; abolition of contract prison labor; equal pay for 
equal work for both sexes; an eight-hour day; and "a 
purely national circulating medium, based upon the faith 
and resources of the nation, and issued directly for the 
people, which money shall be legal tender in payment of 
all debts, public or private." 35 

The early years of the order in Chicago gave no hint of 
its future prominence in that city. Its growth was slow so 
long as it remained a secret order, but after the veil of secrecy 
was removed in 1881, it entered boldly upon the work of 
organization. Myles McPadden of Pennsylvania, general 
organizer, came to Chicago and, with the assistance of at 
least eight local commissioned organizers, in a short time 
established fourteen local assemblies. Some of these were 
among the less skilled workers, such as sewing women, dry 
goods clerks, candy makers, butchers and packing house men, 
brickmakers, quarrymen; others included the more skilled 

35 Constitution of the general assembly, district assembly, and local as- 
semblies, adopted at Reading, Pennsylvania, January 1-4, 1878. 


workers such as the bricklayers, iron molders, tin and sheet 
iron workers, machinists, blacksmiths, assortment workers and 
solderers, pattern makers, and bakers. In 1882 District 
Assembly No. 24 opened headquarters and a labor bureau, 
and the Progressive Age, the official organ of the Trade 
and Labor Assembly, became also the official organ of the 
Knights. 36 The order was now definitely established in 
Chicago, but during the next three years of depression it grew 
slowly. District Assembly No. 57 was organized to cover 
the towns of Lake, Cummings, Pullman, and a part of Chicago, 
but as this drew from the same territory as did No. 24, there 
was no real gain. Assembly No. 24 had 1,464 members on 
October I, 1879; 1,518 in 1880; 766 in 1881; and 1,192 
in 1882; the combined membership of the two assemblies was 
1,715 in 1883; 1,607 ' m 1884; and 1,906 in 1885. 

In 1886 there occurred a most startling and rapid growth 
of the order. District Assembly No. 24, which in July, 1885, 
had 13 locals with a membership of 551, had 88 locals a year 
later with 14,019 members; while District Assembly No. 57 
grew less rapidly from 6 locals with 1,355 members to 43 
locals with 7,734 members. Two months later they claimed 
164 locals in Chicago with "at least 45,000 members." The 
Knights of Labor was established as a monthly paper in Feb- 
ruary, 1886, and in May it was converted into a weekly. In 
June the management of this paper bought out The Chicago 
Daily Sun and devoted it also " to the interests of the laboring 
people." 37 Nor was the growth confined to Chicago alone. 
In the state of Illinois as a whole there were 214 local assem- 
blies in July, 1886, with 34,974 members. Reckoned accord- 

38 Progressive Age, March 4, April 22, July i, 1882. 

87 Proceedings of the General Assembly, Richmond, Virginia, October 4-20, 
1886, p. 326; Knights of Labor, June 12, September n, 1886. This estimate is 
considerably higher than the figures given below for the state as a whole, taken 
from the Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of Illinois, 1886. 


ing to country of birth the membership was 45 per cent 
American, 16 per cent German, 13 per cent Irish, 10 per 
cent British, and 5 per cent Scandinavian. Distributed accord- 
ing to occupations they fell into the following groups: day 
laborers, 7,498; coal miners, 3,557; garment workers, 1,987; 
packing house men, 1,780; brickmakers, 1,394; machinists, 
1,222; iron molders, 1,203; shoemakers, 934; coopers, 930; 
painters and paper hangers, 816; box factory men, 506; roll- 
ing mill laborers, 404; watch factory workers, 394; the 
remainder belonged to more than one hundred different occu- 
pations. Evidently the less skilled and those lacking in 
bargaining strength flocked to the Knights as their deliverers. 38 
The causes of the extraordinary growth of this order are 
to be found in the general economic and industrial movements 
of this period. The late seventies and early eighties were 
years of marvelous industrial expansion. The rapid extension 
of railways widened the market and brought new areas into 
touch with each other, machinery was introduced on an unprece- 
dented scale into manufacturing industries, the tide of immi- 
gration swelled to heights beyond any previous level, and the 
volume of our agricultural, manufacturing, and mining prod- 
ucts made new records. But this prosperity was interrupted 
by the panic of 1884, and a period of depression set in, marked 
by unemployment and reduction of wages. It was found, 
moreover, that the very factors mentioned above exposed the 
workers to new forces of competition and tended to create 
large classes of unskilled and semiskilled labor with inferior 
bargaining power. At the same time the disappearance of 
the frontier about 1880 and the exhaustion of the best lands 
in the public domain closed to the surplus labor of the cities 
this outlet, which in all previous periods of depression had 
afforded a safety valve and had helped to keep up wages. 

38 Commons, History of Labour in the United States, 2:382. 


THE power secured by the laborers through organization 
soon made itself manifest in an increased and successful 
use of the strike. As a means of redressing grievances it 
proved a far more effective weapon than political agitation 
and encouraged in the workers generally a strong belief in a 
policy of direct action. 

Strike statistics have been gathered by the United States 
commissioner of labor since 1881, and during the period from 
this year to 1886 they showed a fairly steady increase in Illinois 
except for a falling off after the panic of I884. 1 But the year 
1886 saw almost as many strikes as any three preceding years, 
the number having grown from 271 in 1881 to 1,060 in 1886. 
In the first four years of this period most of the strikes were 
for an increase of wages, but in -1885 the largest number of 
strikes was recorded against a reduction of wages. Many 
of these were among the unskilled, as, for instance, a strike 
at Lemont and Joliet in 1885 of 2,000 quarrymen, a polyglot 
mass of Swedes, Bohemians, Poles, Norwegians, and Welsh- 
men. In the six years ending with 1886 the stone quarrymen 
to the number of over 9,000 took part in strikes throughout 
Illinois. The workers who formed the center of the indus- 
trial disturbances were the unskilled packing house employees 
and those engaged in allied occupations (with 36,744 persons 
involved), the irregularly employed and poorly paid miners 
(30,489), the turbulent workers in metals and metallic goods 
(24,611), those employed in the unstable building trades 

1 A few important data for Illinois are summarized in a table in the appendix, 
p. 508. 



(18,852), and those engaged in lumbering (12,011). Such 
elements turned to the Knights of Labor as the champions of 
the mass of workers, a role which the skilled trade-unionists 
had never essayed. The Knights had, moreover, won great 
prestige by their success in the strikes of 1885 on the two Gould 
railways, the Union Pacific and the Wabash. In general, 
throughout the state the great majority of the strikes had been 
successful between 1881 and 1885, and such a spirit of con- 
fidence in their newly found power had been engendered among 
the rank and file that they were inclined to use that power in a 
reckless and even ruthless fashion. 2 

The year 1886 accordingly saw a widespread use of this 
weapon. For the first time in the history of Illinois the number 
of strikes within the year rose to over a thousand, of which 
almost exactly half (501) succeeded in securing a reduction 
of hours. A national movement was inaugurated this year 
for a shorter working day, and in accordance with this pro- 
gram strikes were started in Chicago and other Illinois cities 
on May i. It was estimated that 80,000 persons took part in 
the strike at Chicago, which was the center of the movement. 
In addition, some 35,000 Chicago packing house employees, 
about 5,000 workers in the building trades, and 2,000 ma- 
chinists secured shorter hours from their employers without a 
strike. 3 

At the very beginning of the struggle, however, there 
occurred a catastrophe in Chicago which at once made its suc- 
cess impossible, alienated public sympathy, and set back the 
eight-hour movement a decade. This was the explosion of 
the Haymarket bomb. For this the anarchists were held 
responsible. But to understand this event and their part in it, 

2 Commons, History of Labour in the United States, 2:367; Report of the 
Commissioner of Labor, 1887, p. 738-740. See table in preceding note. 
8 Bradstreet's, volume 13, part i, 290, 394. 


it is necessary to trace somewhat more carefully the anarchist 
movement in Chicago. 

The International Working People's Association had been 
organized in London in July, 1881, by European anarchists; 
and in the fall of the same year an attempt was made to unite 
the revolutionary elements in the United States. A convention 
was held at Chicago on October 21, at which delegates were 
present from fourteen cities. A national information bureau 
was authorized to be established at Chicago, but this was not 
organized until 1883. In this year it was decided to hold 
another national convention in order to unify the movement; 
this was held in Pittsburg in October. The delegates from 
Chicago, Albert R. Parsons, August Spies, George Meng, and 
Balthasar Rau, represented the trade-union wing of the revo- 
lutionary movement in the country, while Johann Most, the 
New York delegate, represented the anarchists, most of whom 
were centered in the east. The name International Working 
People's Association was adopted, 4 and a manifesto To the 
Workingmen of America was framed along approved anarch- 
istic lines. It drew a passionate picture of the miserable 
condition of the workers under capitalism and condemned the 
state, the church, and even the school to destruction as barriers 
to reform. "The political institutions of our time," it said, 
" are but the means in the hands of the propertied classes to 
support the predatory rights of your exploiters; any reform 
in your behalf would curtail these privileges. To this they 
cannot give their consent, for it would be committing suicide I 
We know therefore that the ruling classes will not volun- 
tarily renounce their privileges and will make no concessions. 
Under all these circumstances there remains but one recourse 

The Pittsburg manifesto has been accepted by anarchists 

4 Arbeiter-Zeitung, February 26, August 7, October 22, 1883. 


in this country as one of the clearest statements of their aims, 
so that it is worth while to repeat their demands. These were 
put with exemplary brevity. 5 " What we would achieve is, 
therefore, plainly and simply: 

"First: Destruction of existing class rule, by all means, 
i.e., by energetic, relentless, revolutionary and international 

"Second: Establishment of a free society based upon 
cooperative organization of production. 

"Third: Free exchange of equivalent products by and 
between the productive organizations without commerce and 

" Fourth : Organization of education on a secular, scien- 
tific, and equal basis for both sexes. 

" Fifth : Equal rights for all without distinction of sex 
or race. 

"Sixth: Regulation of all public affairs by free contracts 
between the autonomous (independent) communes and asso- 
ciations, resting on a federalistic basis." 

The indorsement of this program definitely committed the 
Chicago workers to anarchism, and the city became the center 
of the Black International, as it was called. 6 The particular 
brand of anarchism professed by them was that developed by 
Michael Bakounine, according to which society was to consist 
of independent, autonomous groups of free workers. Both 
in method and in spirit the Chicago anarchists were 
Bakouninites. They were vituperative, relentless, fanatical. 
Their arch enemy was the state, and force, their hope. From 
the Chicago information bureau there soon radiated a lively 

5 Alarm, October 4, 1884. 

8 It was given this name to distinguish it from the " Red International," or 
International Workingmen's Association, a secret organization composed chiefly 
of native Americans established in San Francisco in 1881. 


agitation, which bore fruit in the immediate vicinity. Clubs 
sprang up in the different parts of the city and in the suburbs, 
numbering fourteen by February. In addition to the Arbeher- 
Zeitung, Forbote, and Fackel, which were already preaching 
anarchist doctrines, two new papers were established The 
Alarm in October, 1884, and The Anarchist in January, 1886. 
Of these The Alarm was the only one published in English, 
the rest being German. Besides these there was a wholesale 
distribution of books, pamphlets, and circulars; in the ten 
months ending November I, 1885, the information bureau 
reported that it had distributed 387,527 such items through- 
out the United States. 7 When to these methods of propaganda 
are added the weekly open-air meetings held in Grant Park 
during the summer months and the numerous club meetings 
for discussion, some notion is gained of the forces that were 
capitalizing the discontent of the workingmen and of the intel- 
lectual and emotional environment in which they were working 
out their problems. 

The gospel of the new movement was force. The military 
Lehr- und Wehrverein, which had been organized in 1875, 
was maintained as the armed contingent of the organization. 
In the American group there was organized the International 
Rifles. Articles on the use of dynamite began to appear in 
anarchist papers. In these doctrines the Internationalists found 
strong allies in some of the radical trade-unionists. A point 
of contact between the two was found in the organization of 
a radical city central union. Prior to 1884 the influence of the 
revolutionary movement in Chicago upon the trade-unions had 
been slight. The Amalgamated Trades and Labor Assembly, 
in which most of the unions were centralized, was a conserva- 
tive organization, as was also the Knights of Labor, with which 

7 Arbe iter-Zeitung, March 3, 1884; Alarm, November 28, 1885; Chicago 
Tribune, July 24, 1886. 


it was on the friendliest terms. Some of the radical elements 
were dissatisfied with this state of affairs; and in May, 1884, 
the Progressive Cigar Makers Union No. 15, itself a split 
from a more conservative parent organization, issued a call 
to the trade-unions in the city to establish a central labor union 
with a progressive policy. A meeting was held at which dele- 
gates were present from the unions of the cigar makers, made 
up chiefly of Jews, Bohemians, and Germans, and the German 
typographers, metal workers, cabinetmakers, and carpenters. 
The Central Labor Union was organized, and a radical decla- 
ration of principles was later adopted. 8 

The Central Labor Union was from the beginning essen- 
tially anarchistic. It drew its membership from the foreign 
elements of the city, who were under the influence of the Inter- 
national Working People's Association, and was on very 
friendly terms with the International itself. Germans, Bohe- 
mians, and Jews organized the Central Labor Union, and 
later there were added the Bohemian hodcarriers, lumberyard 
men, and carpenters, German bakers, brewers, and butchers, 
and an association of Young Polish Workers. About a year 
after it was organized the Central Labor Union claimed some 
12,000 members, as compared with 15,000 of the Trades 
Assembly. In the spring of 1886, after the tremendous expan- 
sion of all labor organizations, the membership of the former 
was given as 20,000 and that of the latter as 28,000. 

The local trade-unions belonging to the Central Labor 
Union espoused without reservation the doctrine of force. 
For some cigar makers the Progressive Union was not radical 
enough, so in the spring of 1885 they organized the Revolu- 
tionary Cigar Makers Association. These bodies sent dele- 

8 Arbeiter-Zeitung, May 24, June 6, October 23, 1884; Alarm, October 
17, 1885; Chicago Tribune, July 25, 1886. 

9 Vorbote, May 20, 1885, March 17, April 28, August 12, 1886; Knights of 
Labor, August 7, 1886, January 8, 1887. 


gates to the Black International and devoted their dues entirely 
to the work of "Agitation, Organization, and Rebellion." 10 
The metalworkers were the most truculent; and in April, 1885, 
they carried out a successful experiment in violence at the 
McCormick harvester plant. The occasion was a strike for 
the restoration of their former wages, which had been cut 15 
per cent in January. This was one in a long series of wage 
reductions extending back to 1868. In that year the machinists 
received 50 cents a beam and made ten beams a day. The first 
cut was 10 cents a beam. To meet this the men sped up their 
production and turned out eleven beams a day. A further cut 
of 4 cents was made, and the men again sped up, but again met 
with cuts until in 1884 they were receiving 25 cents a beam and 
making fourteen beams a day. That the increased productivity 
of the workers was due in large measure to the introduction of 
improved processes and labor-saving machinery was ignored by 
the agitators. In the fall the price was further reduced to 17 
cents, and in January, 1885, 15 per cent of that was taken off, 
with a promise to restore this last cut on March i. When the 
company failed to keep its promise the men struck, about 1,500 
skilled and unskilled going out. The company hired strike 
breakers and trouble began. After several clashes between the 
strikers and the strike breakers and Pinkerton detectives, in 
which the men were victors and claimed to have captured a 
number of rifles and revolvers, the company offered to com- 
promise. The men, however, insisted on complete restoration 
and the company finally yielded. 11 

Force had apparently vindicated itself. At a jollification 
meeting of the Metal Workers Union No. 2 one speaker 
declared that the members should use the recently won 15 per 
cent raise in wages and buy a good weapon with it. Shortly 

10 Vorbote, May 27, June 24, August 19, 1885. 

11 Ibid., April n, 15, 1885; Alarm, April 18, 1885. 


afterwards the Armed Section of the Metal Workers Union 
of Chicago was formed to secure weapons and learn to handle 
them and so "prepare for the ever more approaching conflict 
between labor and capital." Some of the carpenters also 
favored arming, declaring that "'the arms question' is the 
weightiest of the 'eight hour movement.'" 12 

This was the situation when trouble began again at the 
McCormick plant. After its defeat the previous year the com- 
pany had proceeded to discharge various objectionable charac- 
ters and had also made cuts in the wages of others. The 
men, now thoroughly organized, demanded the restoration of 
wages to the scale of the previous year and the reemployment 
of the discharged union men. 13 The first point the company 
conceded but refused to consider the second. On February 16, 
1886, it declared a general lockout. 

Thus began the long struggle which ended in the Hay- 
market tragedy. 14 The loss of its leaders and the arousing of 
antagonistic public opinion was too powerful a blow for the 
Black International to survive; after this event it practically 
collapsed. The workingmen who had supported it deserted 
the movement, and it shrank to a mere handful of intellectuals. 15 

After the Haymarket tragedy two movements may be 
traced in the history of labor in Illinois one a return to 
politics and the other the disintegration of the Knights of 
Labor and the organization of labor along trade lines. Of 
these the political movement may be noticed first. Several 
factors combined to direct the efforts of the workingmen into 
political channels. The year 1886 had seen the eight-hour 
strike and the Chicago building trades strike end in failure; 

12 Vorbote, April 22, June 24, 1885; testimony of Gustave Lehmann in 
anarchist trial in Thomas J. Morgan files. 
18 Vorbote, February 24, 1886. 

14 For narrative of this event, see above, p. 168 ff. 
18 Arbeiter-Zeitung, November n, 12, 1887. 


after the explosion of the bomb the employers became better 
organized and more determined in their opposition to the 
unions; antilabor legislation was enacted by the legislatures 
and many union members were convicted by the courts of 
boycotts, conspiracy, intimidation, and rioting; and in the 
mind of the public, little distinction was made between the 
anarchists and Knights of Labor or trade-unions. There was 
a general shifting of emphasis by labor throughout the 
country from strikes and other industrial disturbances to 
political action, and nowhere was this more marked than in 
Illinois. Thus the number of strikes in the state fell from 
112 in 1887 affecting 1,569 establishments to 60 strikes in 689 
establishments in 1888, and to 43 strikes in 165 establishments 
in 1889. But while the political movement turned to the single 
tax in New York and to greenbackism in the middle west, 
in Chicago it remained pure labor politics. The labor party 
brought into existence at this time was the most successful that 
had appeared in the city. 

Already in the heat of the anarchist trial a call had been 
issued for a conference of delegates " for the purpose of dis- 
cussing the situation and taking such independent political 
action as our joint wisdom may dictate." On August 2 1 some 
251 delegates representing 47 trade and labor organiza- 
tions, 41 Knights of Labor assemblies, and an organization 
called the People's Party Club met and organized for inde- 
pendent political action. This body took the name of united 
labor party and confined the membership to delegates from 
trade-unions and Knights of Labor assemblies. It thus became 
truly a labor party. Hardly was it organized, however, before 
a split occurred between the radical elements the anarchists, 
socialists, single taxers, and other reformers who insisted 
upon independent political action, and the less radical repub- 
lican and democratic workingmen who wanted to bargain with 


the old parties. The latter nominated a mixed ticket under 
the name Cook county labor party. 10 The radical group, which 
had retained the original name, nominated an independent state 
and county ticket made up, with but few exceptions, of working- 
men. At the polls this party scored a victory; it cast 24,845 
votes, elected seven members to the state assembly and one to 
the senate, five judges out of six whom it indorsed, and fell 
short of electing a congressman by only 64 votes. Moreover, 
it defeated the democratic party and helped turn the country 
over to the republicans. 

The united labor party now organized anew so as to keep 
itself free from old line politicians and to insure its management 
by members of trade and labor unions and Knights of Labor 
assemblies only. Thus closely guarded from intrusion by 
other political parties, the united labor party went into the 
spring campaign with a municipal labor ticket. This was 
regarded as the most important contest of the year by an inde- 
pendent labor party, and the attention of the whole country 
was directed to it. Four papers championed its cause the 
Knights of Labor, the Chicago Labor Enquirer, The Star, and 
the Arbeiter-Zeitung. Its platform called for municipal owner- 
ship of public utilities, equal assessment of property for taxa- 
tion purposes, redistricting the city on the basis of population, 
the election of the city council on the minority plan, abolition 
of the contract system on public works, better school accom- 
modations, and the extension of public property in the hands 
of the public. The two old parties, however, uniting on 
city candidates and in some instances on others, made the 
issue "the red flag versus the American flag," and violently 
denounced labor candidates as anarchists. As a result the 
labor party went down to defeat, receiving about 23,500 votes 

16 Proceedings, August 21, 1886, Thomas J. Morgan files; Chicago Tribune, 
October 5, 1886. 


out of 75,000 and electing only one alderman in the fifth 
ward. 17 

This election marked the climax in the life of the party. 
Its subsequent history is largely a record of its disintegration. 
One of the chief factors contributing to its decline was the 
dissension which split it into two opposing factions. One group 
which appropriated the original name by securing a state 
charter, but which was popularly known as the "free lunch" 
party, bargained with the democrats and indorsed their candi- 
dates in the fall election of 1887. The other faction openly 
advocated socialism; it remained independent, but polled only 
7,000 votes. After the fall election it changed its name to the 
radical labor party. 18 

The spring elections of 1888 were even more disappointing 
to those who thought labor reform was to be secured by polit- 
ical action. The split between the socialists and the conserva- 
tives continued. The former ran their own radical labor 
party ticket but secured only 3,600 votes. It is clear from 
the light vote that the party did not receive the support of 
even the socialists. The conservatives, under the name of the 
united labor party, fused with the democrats where feasible, 
but where it ran its own candidates it did no better than the 
socialists. In the presidential election in the fall of 1888 a 
further split among the labor forces occurred. A new party 
appeared on the scene in the form of a national union labor 
party, organized in February, 1887, at Cincinnati, and made 
up largely of the old greenbackers. At first it did not attract 
the workingmen of Chicago, and an attempt to combine the 
united labor party and the union labor parties failed. But as 
the presidential election drew on the former withdrew from 
the campaign, and the latter nominated its own candidates for 

17 Knights of Labor, March 5, April 9, 1887. 

18 Arbeiter-Zeltung, January 30, 1888. 


national, state, and county offices. The largest vote obtained 
in Chicago was 2,183 f r president of the county board. 

This marks practically the end of the independent political 
movement of organized labor. Most of the conservatives voted 
the democratic ticket, while the socialists returned to their own 
organization, campaigning under the name of the socialist 
labor party in the spring election of 1889. Their candidate 
for mayor received, however, but 167 votes. The reform 
element made one final effort to rally labor to the support of 
an independent ticket under the name of the joint labor party, 
but with the failure of this attempt the political movement 
may be said to have ended. The socialists, however, made 
one more effort in the spring of 1891, and issued a call for 
delegates to a central nominating committee. Some of the 
organizations that responded were the furniture workers, 
cigar makers, tanners, metal workers, butchers, bakers, sash, 
door, and blind makers, the Turner Society, and the Central 
Labor Union. Thomas J. Morgan was nominated as the 
mayoralty candidate but received only 2,300 votes. 19 It was 
evident that labor had lost faith in purely political action. 

The second significant event in the labor world, which 
may be dated from 1886, is the disintegration of the Order 
of the Knights of Labor. Many factors contributed to this 
end. The anarchist trial discredited the whole labor move- 
ment, and although T. V. Powderly endeavored to make clear 
the disapproval of violence by the Knights by discountenancing 
any resolutions of sympathy with the condemned men, 20 the 
Knights suffered along with the trade-unions in popular esteem. 

More important in reducing the organization in Chicago 

19 Knights of Labor, March 16, 23, 1889; Arbeiter-Zeitung, March 23, April 
4, 1889, December 4, 1890, April 13, 1891. 

20 Powderly, Thirty Years of Labor, 1859-1889, 544-545; Proceedings of 
the General Assembly, Richmond, Virginia, 1886, p. 228; ibid., Minneapolis, 
1887, p. 1723-1724. 


was the conduct of the packing house strike and lockout in 1 886. 
Some 35,000 men obtained an eight-hour day without a strike 
in May. But shortly thereafter, upon the initiative of Armour 
and Company, the packers formed an employers' association 
and in October notified the men that beginning with the eleventh 
of the month they would return to the ten-hour day. The men 
yielded, but in November a strike broke out over the eight- 
hour day. The packers not only refused to give up the ten- 
hour day, but declared that in the future they would employ 
no Knights of Labor. The Knights thereupon declared a 
boycott upon the Armour products. The men seemed to be 
winning the struggle, for on November 10 the employers had 
rescinded their decision not to employ Knights, when on 
November 15, Powderly sent a telegram ordering the men 
back to work. Moreover, the message was an open telegram 
instead of a cipher one, so that its contents were known to 
the packers even before it reached the assembly. The men 
returned to work, disgruntled over what they regarded as 
Powderly's "treacherous act," feeling that he had wrested a 
victory from them which was already within their grasp. 21 

In other trades employers' associations, which had as their 
main purpose the defeat of the Knights, were formed. Lock- 
outs began to be more generally employed and the use of the 
"blacklist" and the " iron-clad agreement," according to which 
the men were forced to agree not to belong to any labor 
organization, was introduced in this policy of repression. As 
they grew more powerful the employers refused even to arbi- 
trate disputes. Thus out of 76 attempts at arbitration investi- 
gated by the Illinois bureau of labor, 38 offers were rejected 
6 by the workers and 32 by the employers. Other causes for 
the decline of the Knights were the failure of the insurance 
schemes, the failures of cooperation, the recession of the inde- 

21 John Swinlon's Paper, November 14, 1886. 


pendent political movement in which the Knights participated, 
and, finally and most important of all, the clash with the 
trade-unions. 22 

It has already been pointed out that the Knights were 
composed largely of the unskilled and the trade-unions of the 
skilled workers. Between the aims of these two groups there 
was a fundamental antagonism. "The skilled men stood for 
the right to use their advantage of skill and efficient organi- 
zation in order to wrest the maximum amount of concessions 
for themselves. The Knights of Labor endeavored to annex 
the skilled men in order that the advantage from their excep- 
tional fighting strength might lift up the unskilled and semi- 
skilled." 23 The Knights endeavored to absorb the existing 
trade-unions in order to make them subservient to the interests 
which they represented. This antagonism of interests led to 
bitter conflicts between the two orders. 

The struggle between the trade separatism of the unions 
and the labor solidarity of the Knights found expression in 
Chicago in a struggle within the latter order itself. The local 
assemblies of the Knights, which were organized along trade 
lines, began to demand that members in the trade belonging 
to mixed assemblies leave these and join their respective trade 
assemblies. A committee appointed in District Assembly 
No. 24 to investigate this proposal reported in favor of it. 
But as this would involve a complete reorganization of the 
district assembly, it was voted to compromise by putting the 
trade members belonging to mixed assemblies under the same 
rules concerning initiation fees, dues, and assessments as 
applied to trade assemblies. That this suggestion did not solve 
the matter is indicated by the fact that several months later 
it was reported that the mixed assemblies were waning, owing 

22 Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of Illinois, 1886, pp. 419, 457-463. 

23 Commons, History of Labour in the United States, 2:396. 


to the insistence of the trade assemblies that their fellow crafts- 
men come into their organizations. 24 

Another struggle, which had originally begun in New York 
in 1886, broke out in Chicago in 1888 between the Inter- 
national Cigar Makers Union and the cigar makers of the 
Knights of Labor. Powderly ordered a Knights of Labor 
cooperative cigar factory to cease using the blue label of the 
International and to use instead the Knights of Labor label. 
But when the Illinois State Federation of Labor met a few 
weeks later it indorsed the blue label and declared the Knights 
of Labor label a fraud. The Chicago Trades and Labor Assem- 
bly expressed a like opinion. Thereupon, District Assemblies 
Nos. 24 and 57 of the Knights ordered all local assemblies to 
withdraw from the other two organizations. A number of 
them did so, but a large number instead reorganized into 
trade-unions and continued in the Trades and Labor Assembly. 
Some of the mixed locals even gave up their charters and 
reorganized as federal labor unions in order that they might 
remain in the Trades and Labor Assembly. All these strug- 
gles, internal and external, reduced the Knights of Labor 
in Chicago to a mere shadow of their former strength. Where 
there had been 25,000 Knights in District Assembly No. 24 in 
1886, there were about 3,500 in 1887, and about 500 in 1 889. 25 

The Trades and Labor Assembly had been almost swamped 
by the rise of the Knights of Labor and had opened its member- 
ship to the latter. When the latter disintegrated after 1886, 
the former did also. As the membership of the two bodies 
was much the same, their fortunes were closely linked. It was 
not until about 1888, when the local assemblies were ordered 
to withdraw, that the Trade Assembly began to lead an inde- 

z * Arbeiter-Zeitung, August 6, 1887. 

25 Knights of Labor, November 20, 1886, August 10, 1889; Arbeiter-Zeitung, 
January 10, 1888. 


pendent existence. After this, and especially after the end of 
the independent labor political movement the following year, 
the Trade Assembly began to grow. By 1890 a large number 
of trades, including the molders, car makers, machinists, gar- 
ment workers, woodworkers, brewers, telegraphers, freight 
* handlers, and women workers, had revived their old organi- 
zations or brought new ones into existence. By February, 
1891, no fewer than thirty labor organizations were reported 
to have been founded. The membership grew from about 
15,000 in 1889 to about 50,000 in i893. 26 

To the various associations of organized labor already 
described there was added during the early nineties the Trades 
Council. This grew out of the increasing separation of occu- 
pations, so that as industry developed a trade was divided 
into numerous lesser branches or new ones were added to those 
already existing. While these trades were independent, they 
were nevertheless closely related, and a controversy in one 
disturbed all the allied trades. It seemed desirable, there- 
fore, to bring together in a single group these allied trades, so 
that they could settle in their own organization their jurisdic- 
tional disputes and also present a united front against the 
employers. As early as 1882 Joseph Gruenhut, tenement house 
and factory inspector in Chicago, had urged through the col- 
umns of the Progressive Age the organization of allied trades, 
and a mass meeting of workers adopted a plan to organize the 
transportation services, the. building, the garment, printing, 
teaching, jewelry and ornamental, food and provision trades, 
and even the clerks " from cash boy up to bookkeeper." This 
plan came to nothing, however, probably because of the rise 
of the Knights of Labor, which proposed the amalgamation of 

26 Knights of Labor, September 4, 1889; Arbeiter-Zeitung, February 6, 1893; 
Rights of Labor, February 28, 1891. This paper had formerly been the Knights 
of Labor, but the editor, George E. Detwiler, fell out with Powderly and changed 
the name in 1890. 


all labor in a single association. An appeal issued by the 
Carpenters' and Joiners' Benevolent Association of Illinois 
about the same time " to the workers in the building trades 
of the city for the formation of a federation of those crafts" 
also proved barren. 27 Five years later the question was again 
agitated in the building trades, and this time the Amalgamated 
Council of the Building Trades was organized. Its life was 
short, however, and it was not until 1891 that a permanent 
organization of this sort was established. From this time on 
the Council of Allied Trades has held an important position in 
the organization of union labor in Chicago. 

The most important of the councils as well as the first in 
point of time was that formed in the building trades. In 1886 
the workers in this field had secured the eight-hour day, but 
not an equivalent increase in wages. The reduction of two 
hours in time was therefore tantamount to a reduction of one- 
fifth in wages. In the spring of 1887 some of the trades sought 
to increase their rates. Thus the carpenters wanted 35 cents 
an hour instead of 30 cents, the plaster hodcarriers 30 
cents instead of 25, the brick and mortar hodcarriers 25 cents 
instead of 22, the painters 35 instead of 27^, and the lathers 
324 an d 4 cents a yard in place of 2^ cents. The carpenters 
were the most numerous and the most insistent in their demands 
and were the first to strike. But their stoppage of work 
involved a number of allied trades which had made no demands 
of their own and rendered common action necessary. The 
result was the formation of the Amalgamated Council of 
Building Trades. 

This body began with thirteen unions and declared its 
object to be the centralization " of the united efforts and 
experience of the various societies engaged in the erection and 
alteration of buildings" in order to prevent that which was 

21 Progressive Age, January 7, 28, 1882. 


injurious and to secure that which was advantageous. The con- 
stitution described in detail the method of action. The 
council was to be made up of three delegates " from all the 
societies in the building trades." Any organization was allowed 
to demand higher wages and shorter hours on its own respon- 
sibility, but if its demand involved the other members of the 
council it had first to secure the latter's sanction by a two-thirds 
vote of the societies present at any meeting. It was the special 
duty of the council to impress " scabs " into the trade-unions 
to which they naturally belonged, and for that purpose it could 
by a two-thirds vote call off any and all trades employed on a 
job of an offending employer. While a two-thirds vote was 
necessary to involve the council in the case just cited, a mere 
"demand of a union" obliged it to call a general strike to 
secure the reinstatement of a striker who was discharged for 
having participated in a strike. The council was to meet 
weekly and to carry out its orders through committees and 
walking delegates. 28 

The carpenters' strike lasted about two weeks and resulted 
in a doubtful victory due to the yielding of the smaller employ- 
ers. About 3,000 hodcarriers were still on a strike for higher 
wages, when the United Order of American Bricklayers and 
Stone Masons of Chicago, without consulting the employers, 
adopted a resolution providing for the payment of wages on 
Saturday instead of Tuesday. This trivial demand was the 
culmination of a series of exactions which had marked the arro- 
gant policy of the union, and determined the master masons 
to make it the occasion for a fight against the union itself. 
The bricklayers had increased their wages from $1.50 a day 
in 1877 to $4.00 on the ten-hour basis. In 1886 the union 
secured the eight-hour day. It also insisted on the closed shop 
and a limitation of the number of apprentices. It charged an 

18 Knights of Labor, April 16, 1887. 


excessive initiation fee and kept down the number of brick- 
layers available. And now it wished to prescribe the pay day. 
The Master Mason and Builders' Association decided to break 
the union and to that end secured the cooperation of the other 
associations of builders and material men. They ordered a 
general lockout of all the building trades, affecting some 30,000 
men. This lockout lasted from May 10 to June 1 1. 

The new organization of the master builders was called 
the Central Council of Builders and comprised the master 
plumbers, steam fitters, plasterers, roofers, masons, painters, 
carpenters, blacksmiths, stonecutters, cornice makers, brick- 
makers, terra cotta and tile manufacturers, real estate agents, 
architects, and the Traders' and Builders' Exchange. They 
adopted a declaration of principles which avowed the indi- 
vidual agreement of each workingman with his employer 
instead of a collective agreement and the abolition of restric- 
tions on apprenticeship. The master masons and carpenters 
also announced that hereafter they would institute the nine- 
hour day instead of the eight. The council of builders was 
materially aided in this lockout by the National Builders Asso- 
ciation, whose executive committee came to Chicago to counsel 
with it. The Amalgamated Council of Building Trades, on the 
other hand, took alarm at this intrusion of the national organi- 
zation and issued a call for a national convention of working- 
men in the building trades to be held in Chicago on June 28. 
At that time the National Building Trades Council of North 
America was organized. 

Before this date, however, the lockout had been ended. 
Some of the contractors were willing to make concessions, the 
material men were unwilling to lose the whole building season, 
and the bricklayers on their side withdrew their demand for 
Saturday pay. Finally the master masons consented to arbi- 
tration. The outcome must be regarded as a defeat for the 


union. Although the principle of the organization on the 
part of both employer and employee was affirmed and the 
eight-hour day was retained, the closed shop had to be given 
up, the powers of the walking delegate were curtailed, and a 
standing committee of arbitration was provided for. This 
board was to decide on differences that might arise between 
the two parties involved, establish a minimum wage, name a 
pay day, fix the rate of pay for overtime, determine the number 
of hours of work per day, and lay down regulations for 
apprenticeship; but during the period of arbitration it stipu- 
lated, "work shall go on continuously, and all parties inter- 
ested shall be governed by the award made or decisions 
rendered." 29 This system remained in force until 1897, and 
was one of the earliest stable trade agreements in an impor- 
tant trade covering a local field. The settlement thus effected 
between the bricklayers and the master masons emphasized 
the value of the joint agreement as an antidote to strikes, and 
the Amalgamated Council of Building Trades was allowed to 
lapse the following year. 

The stability thus secured for the bricklayers did not extend 
to the other less skilled building trades. The carpenters were 
at odds with their employers for years, and in May, 1890, 
struck for higher wages; while they made a partial settlement, 
friction continued during most of the summer and buildings 
all over the city were tied up, with consequent interruption of 
work to other trades. The need for common action again 
became clear. Then, too, the World's Fair was about to be 
built in Chicago; united action would be necessary to secure 
the best terms. It was under these conditions that a union 
of the allied building trades was again called into existence, 
but this time under the name of the Building Trades Council. 

29 Second Annual Convention of the National Association of Builders of 
America, Report, 1888, p. 21. 


In point of purpose and organization this council did not differ 
from its predecessor, though it assumed somewhat greater 
powers. It was hereafter to give out all union cards; it was 
to have one general inspector and two assistants, who were to 
investigate and report on all cases that were not clear. There 
was a considerable centralization of power in the council, 
whose decision was final and could be revoked only by a two- 
thirds vote of all the delegates present at a meeting following 
eight days' notice. 30 

Following the organization of the Building Trades Council 
a number of other councils appeared in the period 18911893. 
These were the United Mill Workers Council, Marine Trade 
and Labor Council, Machinery Trades Council, Allied Printing 
Trades Council, Woodworkers Council, and Garment Workers 
Council. By 1894 the councils had become important enough 
to elicit suggestions from some quarters that in the future the 
Trades Assembly be made up of delegates from the trades 
councils instead of from the trade-unions. 31 

The statistics of strikes during the latter eighties and the 
early nineties show the usual fluctuations. After the strenuous 
years 1887 and 1888, during which the number of strikes in 
the state rose to the highest figures yet reached, but which were 
also marked by the greatest number of failures, the labor 
movement entered upon a quiet stage in its history. The 
number of strikes fell to the lowest point in 1889, perhaps as 
a result of the stability introduced into the building trades by 
the bricklayers' trade agreement. But the year 1890 made a 
new record with 138 strikes affecting 2,496 establishments. 
Of these some 385 were for reduction of hours alone, the 
largest number for this cause in any year except 1886, and 496 
for reduction of hours and increase of wages. This was the 

80 Constitution reprinted in Arbeiter-Zeitung, February 18, 1891. 

81 Ibid., October 4, 1894. 


result of the effort made by the carpenters' union under the 
direction of the American Federation of Labor to secure an 
eight-hour day, not only in Illinois but throughout the country; 
strikes were undertaken in 141 cities. The next two years 
saw a return to more normal conditions, but in 1 893 the number 
of establishments affected again swelled to large proportions, 
although the number of separate strikes was but little larger 
than in the two preceding years. Most of the strikes were 
successful. 32 

32 A table showing in brief the main facts concerning strikes in Illinois 
between 1887 and 1893 is found in the appendix, p. 509. 









All other 

1870. . 














1800. . , 

78. e 








of farms 

Area in farms 

Improved area 
in farms (acres) 

Per cent of 
land area 
in farms 

Per cent 
of farms 

1870. . 








31.671 64? 

26.11 S.IS4 



1800. . 

240 68 1 

30.408. 277 

25 669 060 





acres per 

Average value per farm 

Average value of 
land and 
buildings per acre 
per farm 

All farm 

Land and 


and bees 

1870. . 





S X8 




1 Thirteenth Census. Abstract, 653. 






Average value of 
field crops 

Distribution (per cent) 











Percentage of field crops 


Hay and 




20. 6 







Average value of 
cereal crops 

Distribution (per cent) 




1870-74.. . 





I87C-7Q. . 


1881-80. . 

1800-04.. . 




Percentage of cereal crops 







1870-74. . 



II. 6 







1871-70. . 


1881-80. . 


a Less than one per cent. 





Average yield 

(per cent) 

Distribution (per cent) 




1870-74.. . 



32.7 a 


45.5 b 





1875-70. . 


i88<-8o. . 

1800-04.. . 


per acre 

Price per 

per acre 

1870-74.. . 





47 C 
1.22 C 
.76 f 


i88<-8o. . 

1800-04.. . 

o Estimated to follow acreage instead of yield. 
b For last year in period. 
c Signifies a deficit. 



Average yield 

(per cent) 

Distribution (per cent) a 




1877-70. . 


0.9 b 
2.2 b 



45 .8 


i88;-8o. . 

1800-04.. . 


per acre 

Price per 

per acre 










1800-04. . 

a Given for last year of period, except for 1890-1894. 
b Signifies a decrease. 





Average yield 

(per cent) 

Distribution (per cent) a 




1870-76. . 



7-5 b 






i88s-8o. . 

1800-04.. . 


per acre 

Price per 

per acre 

1870-76. . 








1877-70 . 


i88<;-8o. . 


a Given for last year only of period, except for 18901894. 
b Signifies a decrease or deficit. 

OATS IN ILLINOIS, 1870-1894 


Average yield 

(per cent) 

Distribution (per cent) a 




1870-74.. . 










1875-70. . 


1881-80. . 

1800-04.. . 


per acre 

Price per 

per acre 

1870-74. . 


$ -30 


i.2i b 

2.IO b 

1.22 b 
.19 b 

l87<-79. . 


1885-89. . 

1800-04.. . 

a Given for last year only of period, except for 1890-1894. 
b Signifies a decrease or deficit. 





Average yield (bushels) 

Profit per acre 






1870-74. . 







$ .040 
1.75 a 
2.08 a 

I.8 7 

I. 10 


187^-70. . 


i88?-8o. . 

1800-04. . 

a Signifies a deficit. 



Average value 
of crop 

Relative impor- 
tance of 

Distribution (per cent) a 



























1890-94. . . . 






II. I 

a Given for last year only of period, except for 1890-1S94. 



Average yield 

Percentage of all vegetables 
in value 

Irish potatoes 

Sweet potatoes 

Minor root 
crops (value) 



root crops 









8. 7 









a For 1877-1879 only. 




Average yield 

Percentage of all 
orchard fruits 







































Distribution (per cent) a 


Price per 




1870-74.. . 


-6. 3 










1880-84 .... 


1800-04.. . 

a Given for the last year only of the period, except for 1890-1894. 



Broom corn 






17,1 C7,6oO 







Flax fiber 

Flax seed 

Maple sugar 



8,928 a 





1800. . 





grass seed 


Cow peas 

1870. . 

I 3,97 







1800. . 

a Crop of 1879 as given in Statistical Report of Illinois State Board of Agriculture, 70. 
The crop was not reported by the census after 1870. 
b Included under beans. 



Value of 

Distribution (per cent) 



- South 


$118,205,358 a 






1800. . 

a Reduced to a gold basis, 80 per cent of currency values. 












1840. . 




1 10.6 



21. 1 

8 5 .2 





j 8 60 




Average number per farm 








1840. . 



I8. 7 






iSso. . 


1870. . 

a Includes mules; figures are comparable for there were only 10,573 mules in 1860. 
b Data on number of farms lacking. 

DAIRY Cows IN ILLINOIS, 1870-1890 




Distribution (per cent) 

per farm 

North Central 
division division 






52.3 30.0 
55-3 28.5 
60.3 25.3 

1 6.2 



l8qo. . 





Average value 
dairy products 

Distribution (per cent) 




1877-70. . 

$ 7,012,120 







1885-89. . 

l8<)O-Q4. - 


Percentage of total dairy products 





1877-70. . 36.J. 




1 1.2 




1880-84 45-3 

1885-89.. ej. c 

1890-94 69 9 



amount of milk 
sold (gallons) 


Distribution (per cent) 

Price per 




1877-70. . 



6l. S 








9 .6 


1885-80. . 

1800-04.. . 





amount of 
butter sold 

(per cent) 

Average amount 
of cream sold 

1877-70 . 


- 14.2 

1 146,827 a 



1 8oo-Q4.. . 


(per cent) 

amount of 
cheese sold 

(per cent) 

1877-70. . 







1800-04. . 

a 1878-1879. 



other cattle 


Distribution (per cent) 

per farm 


Central South 
division division 

1870. . 

1 ,055,499 




39-0 13-5 
35-6 13-8 

36.6 12.2 










Percentage of kinds of cattle 





Pure-blooded ( recorded) 









1 00.0 



One-half pure-blooded or higher 


All neat cattle 


Distribution of breeds 





Pure-blooded (recorded) 







One-half pure-blooded or higher 


All neat cattle 




(per cent) 

Distribution (per cent) a 


Gain per 
animal if 
fed on 
corn b 




1870-74. . 




25.8 c 
I 7 .6 











- 12.92 

I87S-70. . 


1885-89. . 

l8oO-04.. . 

a Given for last year of period only, except for 1890-1894. 

b The method used in estimating the comparative profitableness of feeding corn to 
cattle or of selling it directly was as tollows: the average price of a bushel of corn and the 
average price of a beef steer for the period 1860-1914 were calculated, giving 37 cents as 
the average price of corn and $47.70 as the average price of a beef; that is, a beef was 
worth 129 bushels of corn at these figures, which were assumed to be normal. The gain 
or loss was then calculated for each succeeding period, on the basis of the changing prices 
for both corn and beef. This method was worked out in Wallace's Farmer (May 12, 
1916, p. 733) and the monthly results plotted on a chart. 

c Gain over 1865-1869. 







Distribution (per cent) 

per farm 




1870. . 









1800. . 



number sold 


Distribution (per cent) a 

per hog 

Gain per 
hog if fed 
on corn b 




1870-74. . 


39-3 f 




1 6.0 



i87C-7Q. . 



a Given for last year of period only, except for 1890-1894. 
b See note b, p. 491, for method of calculating*. 
fGain over 1865-1869. 



of sheep 


Distribution (per cent) 

per farm 





1870. . 



- II.O 





1800. . 






(per cent) 

Distribution (per cent) a 


Gain per 
sheep if 
fed on 
corn b 




1870-7.1.. . 



- 50.5 c 





2 5 .8 


$ .20 


I&7C-7Q. . 



iSoO-Qd.. . 

a Given for last year of period only, except for 1890-1894. 
b See note b, p. 491, for method of calculation. 
c Gain over 1865-1869. 



Wool shorn 

of fleece 

Distribution (per cent) a 







1870. . 








l8qO. . 

a Average for 1877-1895. 











1872. . 





i I 93,74 













l87*. . 

l874. . 

l87S. . 


l877. . 

1878. . 

1870. . 





1884. . 

1885 '. 




1889. . 



1892. . 


There was a steady decline in the number of liabilities of failed 
establishments between 1877 and 1880, from $8,218,470 to the low water 
mark of $483,802. 

* Financial Review, 1875-1894, passim. 


All figures for the table found on pages 304-305 are taken from the 
statements of warrants drawn on the state treasurer in the reports of the 
state auditor of public accounts. 

The obscurity of some of the items in the auditors' reports, and 
the grouping in many cases of unlike items, often made it difficult to get 
exact figures for distinct items. In such cases the nearest possible approxi- 
mation to exactness was made which careful examination could give. 

The biennium 1875-1876 was only twenty-two months in length, 
owing to the fact that in 1876 the accounts were closed on September 30 
instead of on November 30. Before 1876, the bienniums extended from 
December I to November 30 of the even numbered years; after 1876 
they extended from October I to September 30 of the even numbered 

The items included under the various headings in the table are as 
follows : 

Column I: 

This column includes salaries of governor, lieutenant governor, sec- 
retary of state, treasurer, auditor of public accounts, and attorney-general, 
and the salaries of their regular clerks and assistants. Casual expenditures 
for " extra clerk hire " are not included, the object being to include only 
those items which are continuous from the beginning to the end of the 

Column la: 

This column includes all expenses other than salaries connected with 
the administrative departments, together with the " contingent fund of 
the governor," the state board of equalization expenditures, cost of the 
civil service commission, and a few other minor administrative expenses. 

Column II: 

This column includes per diem, mileage, allowance for postage and 
stationery of the members and officers of the general assembly, and the 
expenses of those employees of the general assembly who were employed 
by that body, but not those employees who were appointed by the secretary 
of state on account of the general assembly. The salaries of the latter 
are included in I la. 



Column Ila: 

This column includes all expenses connected with the general as- 
sembly, and not included in II. It includes the expenses of committees 
appointed by the general assembly, expense of distributing the printed laws 
and journals, and other matters. 

Column III: 

This column includes the salaries of all the judges in the state su- 
preme, appellate, and circuit courts, and those of the state's attorneys in 
the several counties of the state, together with pay of stenographers, clerks, 
and reporters of the state supreme court after 1895-1896. Salaries of 
judges of the superior court of Cook county are also included during the 
whole period. 

Column Ilia: 

This column includes the expenses of the reporter and reports of the 
supreme court, expenses of the court of claims (costs and expenses of 
state suits), and all other judicial expenditures not included in III. 

Column IF: 

This column includes expenses of " printing, paper, and stationery," 
" public printing," " public binding," publishing notices, cost of revision 
of statutes, and expenses and salaries of state printer expert and his 

Column V : 

" Educational institutions " includes normal schools, state university, 
state library, state historical library and natural history museum, and 
the state entomologist. The latter is included because in the earlier period 
the appropriations for his work are included with those for the state 
university. " Current expenses " includes salaries, cost of supplies, etc. 
all those expenses which are used up once and for all time during the 
year or what are commonly called " ordinary expenses." 

Column Va: 

This column includes all expenditures for grounds, buildings (con- 
struction and repair), and equipment, and all other expenses not included 

Column VI: 

" Charitable institutions " includes all insane asylums (except the asy- 
lum for the criminal insane), schools and homes for feeble-minded, deaf 
and dumb, and the blind, the soldiers' orphans' home, soldiers' and sailors' 
home, soldiers' widows' home, and all other charitable institutions main- 


tained by the state. The expenses of the state board of administration 
and the state architect are also included in this group because the cost of 
charitable institutions is the largest single item of expenditure which they 

Column Via: 

This column includes all expenses for charitable institutions not in- 
cluded in column VI. These expenditures represent buildings, grounds, 
equipment, and all other expenses for more or less permanent objects. 

Column VII: 

" Penal and correctional institutions " includes the two state peni- 
tentiaries, the state reformatory, the state school for delinquent boys, the 
state home for juvenile female offenders, and the asylum for insane 

" Current expenses " includes the cost of labor and supplies in run- 
ning the state penal and correctional institutions, together with the ex- 
pense of conveying convicts to and from these institutions, and the expense 
incurred in the apprehension and delivery of fugitives from justice. 

Column Fill: 

" Militia and military affairs " includes the salaries and office ex- 
penses of the adjutant general and his assistants, and all the expenses upon 
the Illinois national guard. 

Column IX: 

This column includes all expenses of construction, repair, equipment, 
and maintenance of the statehouse and the executive mansion. 

Column X : 

This column includes the expenditures from the special school fund, 
plus the cost of the department of public instruction, which is paid from 
the revenue fund. This expenditure is for the maintenance and support 
of the common school system of the state and is separate and apart from 
the expenditures for state normal schools and the state university. 

Column XI: 

This column includes all expenses incurred by the state board of 
health, and a few other minor expenses connected with public health. 

Column XII: 

This column includes all expenditures for canal commissioners and 
canals, money spent out of the canal redemption fund for bridges over the 
Chicago river, which were destroyed by fire in 1871 ; cost of construction 
of an armory, arsenal, and museum at Springfield, the geological survey 


and commissioners, expenses of the state highway commission and for 
state aid roads, public lands and drainage commissioners, and the rivers 
and lakes commission. 

Column XIII: 

This includes the expenditures of the state board of agriculture, and 
the assistance granted to local agricultural boards. 

Column XIV: 

This column includes the railroad and warehouse commission, state 
humane agents, commissioner of labor statistics, state board of livestock 
commissioners and state veterinarian, mine inspectors and mine examiners, 
and various other boards, committees, and commissions, dealing in one 
way or another with state regulation and supervision of private industries. 

Column XV : 

This column contains the amounts of taxes refunded by the state 
treasury to the county and local officials, because such amounts had been 
paid by mistake. 

Column XVI: 

This column includes the amounts paid by the state as interest and 
principal on local bonds issued by cities, counties, drainage districts, town- 
ships, etc. 

Column XVII: 

This column includes the expenditures for fish and game conserva- 
tion in the state. 
Column XVIII: 

This column includes all expenditures of Illinois for historical monu- 
ments, celebrations, and exhibits of all kinds. No expenditures of this 
class appear before 1887-1888. 
Column XIX : 

This column includes the payments of principal and interest on the 
state debt. 
Column XX : 

This column includes everything not included in one of the preceding 
groups. The most important continuous groups placed in this column 
are what are called in the reports " incidental expenses " and special appro- 
priations, which