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ILL H!51. SUkltf 









Judge ol ibe Superior Court of Chicago. 





CHAPTER I. This is an Age of Written Constitutions 5 

CHAPTER II. The Advantages of Written Constitutions 8 

CHAPTER III. The American Constitutional Form of Government the Strong- 
est in the World 11 

CHAPTER IV. The Ordinance of 1787 The Great Organic Law of the North- 
west 14 

CHAPTER V. The Efforts to Perpetuate Slavery Notwithstanding the 

Ordinance 16 

CHAPTER VI. The First Court Ever Held in the Northwest Territory 18 

CHAPTER VII. The Organization and Admission of New States 20 

CHAPTER VIII. The Admission of Ohio and Indiana into the Union 23 

CHAPTER IX. The Admission of Michigan and Wisconsin into the Union 27 

CHAPTER X. Illinois and Virginia George Rogers Clark and the Back- 
woodsmen 29 

> CHAPTER XI. Illinois County 33 

CHAPTER XII. Constitutional Conventions in Illinois...., 38 

CHAPTER XIII. The Founders of the Commonwealth 46 

CHAPTER XIV. Governor Coles, and his Immediate Friends and Contem- 
poraries 50 

CHAPTER XV. The Great Convention Struggle of 1823-4 to make Illinois a 

Slave State 66 

CHAPTER XVI. The Development of Infant Industries, or how Banking can 

be Carried on by Politicians 73 

; CHAPTER XVII. Repeal of the Black Laws of Illinois. 77 

<j CHAPTER XVIII. Mason and Dixon's Line in Illinois 87 

''.CHAPTER XIX. The Period Preceding the Calling of the Constitutional 

Convention of 1847 91 

CHAPTER XX. The Partisan War on the Supreme Court and the Reorganiza- 
tion of the Same 93 

(i:\pTERXXI.-The Constitutional Convention of 1847 103 

CHAPTER XXII. Constitutional Convention of 1862 109 

CHAPTER XXIII. Constitutional Convention of 1869-70 116- 

CHAPTER XXIV. Is a Constitutional Convention Needed 124 

CHAPTER XXV. Radicalism and Conservatism 128 

CHAPTER XXVI. Limitations and Restraints are Necessary in all Free Gov- 
ernments . . . , -. 136 

CHAPTER XXVII. The Power and Scope of a Constitutional Convention.... 139 

X CHAPTER XXVIII. Legislative Provisions in Modern Constitutions 143 

CHAPTER XXIX. An Examination of Some of the Objections Which Are 

Urged against the Present Constitution 145 




CHAPTER XXX. The Administration of the Criminal Law in the State of 

Illinois 148 

CHAPTER XXXI. State and Federal Judges 153 

CHAPTER XXXII. Constitutional Convention Necessary to Induce the Su- 
preme Court to Recognize and Enforce the Statutes Relating to the 
Common Law 156 

CHAPTER XXXIII. The Address of the Delegates to the People, Showing 

the Changes made in the Old Constitution and the Reforms Proposed. . 161 

CHAPTER XXXIV. How State Taxes have been Diverted. School Lands 
Stolen, and other Abuses under the old Regime, with some Remarks on 
the Value of the " Pay as You Go " Policy 171 

CHAPTER XXXV. The Organization and Government of Great' Cities 176 

CHAPTER XXXVI.--Frequent Changes in the Organic Law of a State not 

Desirable 185 

CHAPTER XXXVII. Illinois ought to be a Model Republic, with a Constitu- 
tion and Laws to Correspond 189 

CHAPTER XXXVIII. Public Virtue 191 

CHAPTER XXXIX. No State will ever be Prosperous under any Constitution 

unless the People are Educated 195 

CHAPTER XL. The Right of American Citizens to be Protected in Exercising 

the Elective Franchise 197 

CHAPTER XLI. Conclusion . . 202 

"TT'TTTHIN tlie period of seventy-three years the people of 
Illinois have held four constitutional conventions and have 
become somewhat conversant with constitution-making and political 

The genius of our people for statecraft was early developed, 
and the number of state-artificers which was then produced, shows 
no signs of abatement. 

Of the four conventions referred to it has fallen to our lot to be 
a member of two of them, one in 1862 and the other in 1870, which 
framed our present Constitution. 

Many of the members of these conventions were men of great 
experience, and whose knowledge of events reach back to the very 
beginnings of our history as a State. 

It had long been in contemplation by us to write a sketch of 
these various conventions, together with an account of events that 
preceded and called them into existence, and of some of the public 
men that took part in them, when we received an invitation from 
the State Bar Association to read a paper before that body upon the 
needs of a constitutional convention to revise and amend our 
present Constitution. Upon considering the matter we resolved to 
at once make use of the materials already on hand, not only by way 
of review of some of the most interesting events in our State history, 



but to discuss in the light of experience at considerable length the 
whole subject of written constitutions and what, if anything, was 
required by way of amendments to our own organic law as it at 
present exists. Such a work we have ventured to characterize as 
a '"'Constitutional History of Illinois," and which may be regarded 
as a special study of one phase of our history not hitherto treated 
of by any of our historians. 

We submit it with great deference to our fellow-citizens, hoping 
that we may be able to contribute in some slight degree to a better 
understanding of some of the most stirring events in the formative 
period of this great commonwealth, and of the men who took part 
in them. 

CHICAGO, January 23, 1891. 


This is an Age of Written Constitutions. 

T^HE present is an age when the powers of the government are 
sought to be defined and limited so that the people may know 
their rights, and those who govern may not invade them. 

It is an age of written constitutions, and it is a curious fact 
that to-day there is not a government in Europe, except those of 
Russia and Turkey, but what are constitutional governments; while 
upon the American continent, since Brazil became a republic, not 
a single monarchy exists. Most European constitutions are usually 
found written in some law which has been passed and promulgated 
by representatives of the people, which the king or ruler has been 
graciously pleased to approve, conferring upon the people the right 
of representation and taking part in making the laws; while in the 
United States, where it is held that "all power is inherent in the 
people and all free governments are on their authority and insti- 
tuted for their peace, safety and happiness," a much more elaborate 
form is made use of, and the most exact details are required to 
define and regulate the sovereign powers and the measure of 
authority of all the departments of the government legislative, 
executive, judicial, civil and military general and local, and each 
and every function of the government. 

The problem is to confer authority and so reserve liberty that 
each shall serve as a check or balance upon the other, and that each, 
without being dangerous in itself, may help and not encroach upon 
the other. 

The days of charters and special privileges have passed away, 
and absolute equality before the law is the only condition which 
the people of this country will accept or tolerate. 

The publicists of Europe hold that all power of government is 
derived from God through the instrumentality of kings, while the 
political creed of America is that the impartial governor of the 
universe has not communicated his attributes of power, wisdom, 
justice and mercy to kings only, and denied the least portion of 
them to every other class of mankind, but that the only divine 



right that any king or ruler has is derived from the people them- 

Indeed, as Winterbottom says in his "Yiew of the United 
States," in 1796: 

"The creed of an American colonist was short, but substantial. 
He believed that God made all mankind originally equal; that he 
endowed them with the rights of life, property, and as much lib- 
erty as was consistent with the rights of otbers; that he had be- 
stowed on his vast family of the human race the earth for their 
support; and that all government was a political institution between 
men naturally equal, not for the aggrandizement of one or a few, 
but for the general happiness of the whole community." 

And one, long after this time, in reviewing the tracks of the 
early American pioneers, says : 

"Without the infection of wild or social tbeories, they were 
animated by a love of liberty and a spirit of personal independ- 
ence unknown to the great body of the people of Europe, while at 
the same time recognizing the law which united the individual to 
the family and to the society in which he is appointed to live; to 
the municipalit} 7 and the commonwealth which gave him protec- 
tion, and to a great nation which met and satisfied the natural sen- 
timent of country." 

In this country sovereignty is in the people. In them are those 
inherent powers of society, which no climate, no time, no constitu- 
tion, no contract, can ever destroy or diminish. In them, as the 
supreme power, resides the right of command or the right to insti- 
tute organic law, to establish public authority and to compel obedi- 
ence to it. On this foundation rose the American superstructure 
of government. 

James Otis once said that there could be no prescription old 
enough to supersede the law of nature and the grant of Almighty 
God, who had given all men a right to be free; that nothing but 
life and liberty were hereditable; that in solving practically the 
grand, political problem the first and simple principle must be 
equality and the power of the whole. 

In its practical sense sovereignty means nothing more nor less 
than the power to originate and secure the performance of all gov- 
ernmental acts. 

The powers of sovereignty in the people of the United States 


are parceled out between the Nation and the State, by the creators 
of sovereignty itself, that is by the people. 

The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were engaged very much 
in discussing the prerogatives of kings, and the contest never died 
out till the last heir of the royal house of the Stuarts had passed 

In Blackstone's time (1753) prerogative had assumed such definite 
shape as to be capable of being defined, and he defines it as follows: 
"By the word prerogative we usually understand that special pre- 
eminence, which the king had over and above all other persons, and 
out of the ordinary course of the common law, in right of his real 
dignity. It signifies in its etymology (from prce and rogo) something 
that is required and demanded before or in preference to others. And 
hence it follows that it must be in its nature singular and eccen- 
trical; that it can only be applied to those rights and capacities which 
the king enjoys alone in contradistinction to others, and not to those 
which he enjoys in common with any of his subjects; for if once 
any prerogative of the crown could be held in common with the 
subject it would cease to be prerogative any longer, and, therefore, 
Finch lays it down as a maxim, that the prerogative is, that law on 
the case of the king, which is law in no case of the subject." 

St. George Tucker in commenting upon this in his edition of 
B'r.ckstone in (1803) says, that " This definition of prerogative is 
enough to make a citizen of the United States shudder at the recol. 
lection that he was born under a government in which such 
doctrines are received as Catholic." 

It was one of the wise utterances of Locke, that "The freedom 
of a people under Government is dependent upon standing rules 
to live by, so that the Government may become a government of 
laws and not of men." 


The Advantages of Written Constitutions. 

rTHHERE has always been, since the Government of the United 
-L States was established, and long before, a controversy between 
publicists and jurists as to the advantages and disadvantages of 
written and unwritten constitutions, and good and plausible reasons 
may be assigned why unwritten constitutions should be preferred to 
written constitutions, and vice versa. This opens a wide Held and we 
shall not enter it. It is sufficient for us to express our decided pref- 
erence for a written constitution, rather than an inference from 
disconnected facts or customs, which may become the playthings of 
judicial tribunals. It gives a strong feeling of right and a power- 
ful impulse of action to have the written law clearly on one's side, 
and though power, if it comes to the last, may succeed, yet unless 
wielded by frenzy will pause before it dares to pass the Rubicon, 
and to declare revolution. 

A written constitution has the peculiar advantage of serving as 
a beacon to apprise the people when their rights and liberties are 
invaded or in danger and Thomas Jefferson says : u Though 
written constitutions may be violated in moments of passion or 
delusion, yet they furnish a text to which those who are watchful 
may again rally and recall the people; they fix, too, for the people 
principles of their political creed." 

If every man in the community had studied political economy 
and the science of government, and had been trained to understand 
his political rights and duties, and the rights and duties of his 
fellow-man, had mastered checks and balances, and would constitute 
himself a watchman to see that there were no violations of these 
functions and prerogatives, and that no public functionary usurped 
any of the rights of the people, then perhaps an unwritten constitu- 
tion would be sufficient for all purposes, and possibly be regarded 
the best. It could, by common consent, be made to yield to all the 
exigencies, wants and necessities of the people, as they arose and 
were required, and constitutional conventions would be unknown 
and unnecessary. But for a community whose training has been 



imperfect, whose opportunities for observation have been limited, 
and which has not reached a high degree of development, then a 
written constitution becomes indispensable, and is far preferable. 

To render a written -constitution safe, however, we admit that 
it must provide efficient machinery for its own amendment, and not 
be too unyielding but it never should be degraded to that of an 
ordinary statute, which may be passed to-day and repealed 

Thomas Jefferson once expressed an opinion, that no constitution 
ought to go longer than twenty years, without an opportunity being 
given to the citizens to amend it. This opinion he based upon the 
consideration that by the European tables of mortality it appeared 
that a generation of men lasted on the average about that number 
of years, and that every succeeding generation, like its predecessor, 
had "a right to choose for itself the form of government it 
believed most productive of its own happiness; and to accom- 
modate to the circumstances in which it finds itself, and that which 
it received from its predecessors." 

But in expressing this opinion he did not hold it to be necessary 
that a constitutional convention should be called together every 
twenty years. And we judge from other opinions that he expressed 
that it would meet every contingency, if amendments could from 
time to time be proposed, and voted upon by the people. 

it does not follow that because defects have been discovered here 
and there in the structure of an organic law, or that some of its 
provisions have fallen short of the requirements or expectations of 
the people, that a great convention should be called together to 
consider the same and rectify it, when the same result can be 
brought about by other and simpler means. 

Is our constitution so unyielding in its provisions as to prevent 
amendments as speedily as they are required? 

And what, allow me to ask, is the grievance that can not now be 
remedied by appropriate legislation on the part of the General 

A constitution is nothing more nor less than a limitation of 
power on the part of the Legislature and in the absence of a pro- 
hibitory clause, actually prohibiting the General Assembly of the 
State of Illinois from legislating upon any given subject, it is as 
omnipotent as that of the British Parliament. 


If the people of this country were more homogeneous than they 
are if they were influenced by the same traditions, the same 
general customs and systems of law and structure of government, 
but few laws would probably be required, and we would not per- 
haps be always striving for something new and employing our 
highest courts to settle doubtful questions. But the fact is the 
tendency of all of our legislators is in the direction of innovation 
and not of conservatism. Here men pass from private to public 
employment, with but little knowledge of governmental principles, 
and with no knowledge whatever of formulating them, and the 
result is that we need constitutional limitations to restrain the 
rashness and rawness of those whom we select to act as Solons and 
law givers, however fiercely they may beat against the barriers 
that hem them in. 

Indeed it is the leading principle of our American system of 
government to rest its permanency upon laws rather than upon 
men, and as a general rule, if the laws are wise and right, it would 
make but a very little difference to the people by whom they are 
administered, so long as they are actually, honestly and efficiently 

Thus the Constitution and the laws are our real rulers; the men 
who for the time being are our real rulers, the men who for the 
time being are at the head of the government, are the servants of 
the laws, and are simply called upon to see that they are properly 
respected and administered. And so it may be well that it is even 
better to have as rulers honest men of moderate ability, who will 
strive diligently to know their duty and to do it, than to have men 
of higher capacity, whose consciousness of their great abilities 
might tempt them, in the interest of their ambition, to leave the 
old and safe ways and experiment in new and dangerous ones. 

There are but very few men in this country but what discourse 
long and learnedly upon the Constitution and constitutional govern- 
ment. There are but very few laws ever passed either by our National 
or State Legislatures but what sooner or later are attacked as being 
unconstitutional, and it is nothing uncommon for justices of the 
peace and those of a little higher grade, to boldly announce that 
this or that law need not be obeyed, and if anybody does undertake 
to obey the same they shall be indicted and punished for so doing. 


The American Constitutional Form of Government the 
Strongest in the World. 

English theory of government is that its constitution is pli- 
able, is always yielding, and can be made to fit any emergency. 
Its constitutional^ convention they say is always in session unless 
adjourned for short intervals, or prorogued by the supreme ruler of 
the empire, whose power to do so dates back to the remote past. 
An act of Parliament when passed and approved becomes a part of 
the Constitution, while in the United States every law must be sub- 
ject to a still higher law, to wit, an organic law, which no power can 
change or destroy except by certain methods prescribed by the 
people themselves. It is true that English jurists and English states- 
men constantly refer to their constitution, and when they refer to 
an act as being unconstitutional they mean that it conflicts with 
their system of government and with the principles embodied in 
Magna Charta, the Bill of Eights, the Petition of Rights, the 
Habeas Corpus Act or Act of Settlement, but they can refer to no 
great body of organic law or established system of government, out- 
lined on parchment or paper, which has ever been formally adopted 
and promulgated by a vote of the people, as the rule and guidance 
of rulers and ruled, and they glory in this as something remarkable 
and as evidence of the highest wisdom. Indeed the tories of Eng- 
land have never ceased to laugh at and ridicule our constitution, 
but we think that the time will come when it will be taken as a 
model for every government in Christendom, and every government 
of the world will become a representative government. 

Mr. Gladstone, the great English liberal, deserves to be excepted 
from most of the English statesmen of past and present ages, for 
he says: "I think the Constitution of the United States represents 
the most admirable creation that has ever been produced by one 
effort of human intelligence." If these are his sentiments it is no 
wonder that he is in favor of Home Rule in Ireland, and every 
other country where intelligent human beings have their abode. 

When the constitution of this country was drafted, but few 



such documents had ever seen the light. " It consisted of a few 
sheets of paper, which, when held in' the hands of the secretary of 
the convention that formed it, appeared so weak, so frail and 
imperfect that it seemed as if it would have but very little force 
and effect in binding together the various States of the Union or 
commanding the respect of the people." It was in fact a mere 
skeleton, and the powers conferred upon the new government were 
merely enumerated but not defined. Their definition would ulti- 
mately depend upon the extent to which it would be prudent or 
practicable to assert and employ them. Skill, courage and energy 
would make good a broad definition. Timidity, cowardice or dis- 
loyalty would shrivel them into insignificance. To-day our govern- 
ment is, in my judgment, the strongest government on earth. 

We begun our national life by adopting a form and system of 
government by vote of the people, and so did most of the States 
constituting the American Union. 

It is true that a number of the States were granted charter 
governments, some of which existed until long after the Revolution 
notably Connecticut, which existed under the charter of Charles, 
in 1662, down to 1818, and Rhode Island, from 1665 down to 1842 
but the people established their own governments without any 
authority from the Crown, and afterward procured the charters, 
which conferred the same authority they had already exercised. 

The people elected their governors and assemblies, and the king 
reserved no power to veto their laws. 

The traveler to Europe as he visits country after country, and 
sees in many of them the sad results of povert} 7 , misery and mis- 
government, is moved with pity. 

France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Bohemia, Poland and Turkey are 
not advancing with rapidity, and there is much in them that may 
be regarded as benighted. It is true that France, Spain and Italy 
have grappled with many of the social problems of the age, and 
have taken advantage of steam and electricity and many of the 
modern appliances with which we are so familiar, but these you 
meet with in the cities and along their crowded thoroughfares; 
but back in the country is " the stillness of the ages." The people 
stand aghast or remain stolid and indifferent. They are a hun- 
dred years behind the age. The absence of the school house is 
noticeable everywhere, while the night of the middle ages seems to 


have settled down upon the rural population of Bohemia, Poland 
and Austria, and that of Italy and France is destitute of all enter- 
prise. The Turkish Empire is in a worse condition than in the age 
of Theodosius, and seems to be incapable of regeneration. 

There are yet large portions of Europe which seem to have 
come to a standstill, and to have arrived at 

" That Ia8t dread mood 
Of sated lust and dull decrepitude. 
No law, no art, no faith, no hope, no God. 
When round the freezing founts of life in peevish ring, 
Crouched on the bare-worn sod, 
Babbling about the unreturning spring, 
And whining for dead creeds that can not save, 
The toothless nations shiver to their grave." 

In this country we are happy to say things are different, and 
efforts at reform are observable everywhere. Reforms in the laws 
and in the methods of domestic government are matters of State 
concern, and under our form of government the powers reserved to 
the people in these respects embrace nearly every governmental 
power essential to a wise and liberal government. 

. The Constitution of the United States, in fact, enjoins and pro- 
motes, instead of restricting, the best possible domestic govern- 
ment, republican in form, which the people can devise for their 
respective States. 

The National Legislature has its limited range of legislative 
powers; the State Legislatures have the rest. 

Forty-two State Legislatures keep watch and ward against 
National encroachment, and the Supreme Court of the United States 
towers above them all, directing, restraining and nullifying the 
action of either National or State Legislature which infringes the 

The States of this Union are unfettered in their powers to regu- 
late their domestic affairs, except in a very few particulars. The 
form of government which we adopt must be republican in type, 
the rights of the citizens must be respected, and in the language of 
our Bill of Rights " elections must be free and equal," even if it 
requires force to make them so. 

Our interests center in domestic arid local affairs. 

" We are interested in the concerns of our neighborhood, town, 
county and State. Aside from the post-office officials, we rarely 


come in contact with a Federal officer, except now and then a mili- 
tary or naval officer on leave of absence. If we take an interest in 
moral, social, educational or humanitarian reforms the Nation can 
not lawfully help us; our field is the State or under its favor." 


The Ordinance of 1787 The Great Organic Law of the 


IN the history of every country there are supreme events to 
which may be traced the influence that shaped the destiny of 
the people for good or evil; in that of the United States it is custom, 
ary to refer to the Declaration of Independence and the adoption 
of the Constitution in encomiastic phrase, as exhibiting wisdom and 
genius of the highest order. But whatever may be said of these 
may be applied to the ordinance of 1787, with equal justice. 

Aye, more; the spirit of the ordinance has conferred blessings 
in addition to those derived from the Constitution upon the citizens 
of the States erected under its provisions. "Upon the surpassing 
excellence of the ordinance," said Judge Timothy Walker, " no 
language of panegyric would be extravagant. The Romans would 
have imagined some divine Egeria for its author. It approaches 
as nearly to absolute perfection as anything to be found in the 
legislation of mankind; for, after the experience of fifty years, it 
would perhaps be impossible to alter without marring it." 

In short it is one of those matchless specimens of sagacious fore- 
cast, which even the reckless spirit of innovation would not venture 
to assail. As long as human government shall endure, the influence 
for good of this remarkable charter shall be witnessed. It was the 
one really great act of legislation by Congress under the old Con- 
federation, and it was the happy fortune of Arthur St. Clair to be 
the president of the body at that time and have the opportunity to 
give the measure his hearty support. 1 St. Clair papers, 118. 

It was of this ordinance that the great Daniel Webster, in his 
first speech upon Foot's Resolution in the Senate of the United 
States, on the 20th of January, 1829, said : 


" At the foundation of the Constitution of thes6 new North- 
western States, lies the celebrated ordinance of 1787. 

" We are accustomed, sir, to praise the law givers of antiquity; 
we help to perpetuate the fame of Solon and Lycurgus, but 1 doubt 
whether one single law of any lawyer, ancient or modern, has pro- 
duced effects of more distinct, marked and lasting character than 
the ordinance of 1787. That instrument was drawn by Nathan 
Dane, then and now a citizen of Massachusetts. 

" It was adopted, as I think I have understood, without the 
slightest alteration; and certainly it has happened to few men to be 
the authors of a political measure of more large and enduring con- 
sequence. It fixed forever the character of the population in the 
vast regions of the Ohio, by excluding from them involuntary ser- 
vitude. It impressed on the soil itself, while it was yet a wil- 
derness, an incapacity to sustain any other than freemen. It laid 
the interdict against personal servitude in original compact, not 
only deeper than all local law, but deeper also than all local consti- 
tutions. Under the circumstances then existing, 1 look upon the 
original and seasonable provision as a real good attained. We see 
its consequences at this moment, and we shall never cease to see 
them, perhaps, while the Ohio shall flow. It was a great and salu- 
tary measure of prevention." 

In these late years many publications have been put forth to show 
that Nathan Dane was not the author of the ordinance of 1787, 
and the claim of Dr. Manasseh Cutler, of Massachusetts, has been 
most strenuously urged. We do not deem it necessary to engage 
in the discussion of this subject at this time, and are content to 
leave it to contemporary history. 

But there is one thing that may be affirmed of the ordinance of 
1787, and that is it was the first great Constitution which was pre- 
pared in advance to govern and control a vast territory that was 
soon to develop into a great commonwealth. 

" Save New England alone, there is no section of the United 

o * 

States embracing several States, that is so distinct an historical unit, 
and that so readily yields to historical treatment, as the old 

"It is the part of the great West first discovered and colonized 
by the French. It was the occasion of the final struggle for 
dominion between France and England in North America. It was 


the theatre of one of the most brilliant and far reaching military 
exploits of the Revolution. The disposition to be made of it at the 
close of the Revolution, is the most important territorial question 
treated in the history of American diplomacy. After the war the 
Northwest began to assume a constantly increasing importance in 
the national history. It is the original public domain and part of 
the West first colonized under the authority of the national gov- 
ernment. It was the first and the most important territory ever 
organized by Congress. It is the only part of the United States 
ever under a secondary constitution like the ordinance of 1787." 

Out of this territory five great States have been carved, and 
each one has framed a constitution for itself, and there is probably 
no region of the world where constitution making has been indulged 
in to such an extent, and in no region where the science of 
government is better understood. 


The Efforts to Perpetuate Slavery Notwithstanding- the 


whole country was, from tjie earliest period, devoted to 
-A- freedom, but it is quite astonishing at this day, to know how 
early and what persistent efforts were made to establish and per- 
petuate slavery in this territory, notwithstanding it was expressly 
prohibited by the ordinance of 1787. 

The French residents of St. Vincents and at Kaskaskia and 
Cahokia had boon permitted to hold slaves by the king of France, 
and this permission was continued under the government of Great 
Britain, and was not interfered with during the territorial period. 
Some slaves were removed to the Louisiana Territory, but others 
were retained as indentured servants. Memorials soon began to 
pour into Congress asking a suspension of the sixth article. 

The first of these, signed by John Edgar, and the others, were 
reported on May 12, 1796, by Joshua Coit, of Connecticut, to 
whom they had been referred, adversely. 

In December, 1802, a meeting of citizens of the Indiana Terri- 
tory, held at Vincennes and presided over by "William Henry Har- 


risen, resolved to make an effort to secure a suspension of the sixth 
article of the ordinance. 

A memorial was drawn up, and in February following, it and a 
letter from Mr. Harrison were referred to a special committee of 
which John Randolph, of Virginia, was chairman. March 2, 1802, 
Mr. Randolph reported the following resolution: 

Resolved^ That it is inexpedient to suspend, for a limited time, the 
operation of the sixth article of compact between the original 
States and the people and States west of the river Ohio. 

This resolution was accompanied by these most pertinent and sen- 
sible remarks: "The rapid population of the State of Ohio suffi- 
ciently evince, in the opinion of your committee, that the labor of 
slaves is not necessary to promote the growth and settlement of 
colonies in that region ; that this labor, demonstrably the dearest 
of any, can only be employed to advantage in the cultivation of 
products more valuable than any known to that quarter of the 
United States; that the committee deem it highly dangerous and 
inexpedient to impair a provision wisely calculated to promote the 
happiness and prosperity of the Northwestern country, and to give 
strength and security to that extensive frontier. In the salutary 
operation of this sagacious and benevolent restraint it is believed 
that the inhabitants of Indiana will, at no distant day, find ample 
remuneration for a temporary privation of labor and of emigra- 

In March, 1804, C?esar Rodney, of Delaware afterward 
Attorney General of the United States reported the resolution of 
a special committee in favor of the suspension of the inhibition 
for ten years. 

A similar report was made in 1806 by James Garnet, of Vir- 
ginia; and in 1807 Mr, Parker, delegate from Indiana, reported 
favorably on a memorial of William Henry Harrison and the Ter- 
ritorial Legislature praying for a suspension of the sixth article of 
the ordinance. But subsequently no action was ever taken by the 
House on these favorable reports. Subsequently General Harrison 
and his Legislature went before the Senate, and a special committee, 
consisting of Mr. Franklin, of North Carolina, Mr. Kitchell, of New 
Jersey, and Mr. Tiffin, of Ohio, was appointed. 

They brought in an adverse report, and that put an end to the 
efforts to destroy the anti-slavery clause of the ordinance. 


What if Ohio had formed a slave State constitution in 1802. 
What if Illinois had actually made the proposed change in 1824? 
What would Congress and the Supreme Court possibly have done 
with the hard questions that would have arisen in such a contin- 
gency? And if one or both of those States had become slave States, 
what then? What would have happened if slave State men had 
been in a majority in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, no one can do more 
tiian conjecture. 

Fortunately, at the decisive tests, the free State men were in 
the majority. Moreover, the ordinance helped to create the 
majority as well as to protect it against assault. Governor 
Reynolds, who had lived in Illinois since 1800 and who was a slave 
State man in 1824, although he afterwards rejoiced at his own 
defeat, said in 1855: "This act of Congress was the great sheet 
anchor that secured the States of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois from 
slavery. I never had any doubt but slavery would now exist in 
Illinois if it had not been prevented by this famous ordinance." 

The First Court Ever Held in the Northwest Territory. 

county of Washington, having within its limits about half 
-A. of the present State of Ohio, was erected on the 26th of July, 
1788. Officers for the militia were appointed. The governor 
appointed three distinguished gentlemen justices of the peace, viz.: 
Rufus Putnam, Benjamin Tapper and Winthrop Sargent, and on 
the 30th of August, established a Court of Quarter Sessions, of 
which he appointed another distinguished citizen and soldier, Return 
Jonathan Meigs, clerk. Gen. Putnam was also made judge of pro- 
bate, with Colonel Meigs as clerk. 

Laws having now been framed, civil officers appointed there- 
under, a county erected, and the population having increased on 
the Ohio to one hundred and thirty-two souls, there remained 
to complete the Government only the formal inauguration of the 
judiciary; with just laws, bench and forum, the liberties of the 
people would be made secure. Tuesday the 2d day of September, 
1788, was the day set apart for the ceremony. 


The account of an eye witness enables us to enter into the spirit 
of the occasion and to feel, after an interval of more than a hundred 
years, something like a just appreciation of the greatness of the 
work of those Revolutionary heroes. 

It is the duty, as it should be the pleasure, of all who enjoy the 
blessings conferred by the most liberal Government, and equal and 
beneficent laws, to study the sources of these and the character of 
the men who framed and established them. 

They builded for posterity. The scene is laid at Marietta at the 
mouth of the Muskingum, September 2, 1788. On that memorable 
first Tuesday of September, 1788, the citizens, Governor St. Clair 
and other territorial officers and military from Fort Harmar, being 
assembled at the point, a procession was formed, and as became the 
occasion, with Colonel Ebenezer Sproat, sheriff, with drawn sword and 
wand of office, at the head, marched up a path that had been cut 
through the forest, to the hall in the northwest block-house of 
Campus Martins, where the whole counter-marched, and the judges, 
Putnam and Tapper took their seats on the high bench. Prayer was 
fittingly offered by our friend, Reverend Mariasseh Cutler, who was 
on a visit to the new colony, after which the commissions of the 
judges, clerk and sheriff were read and the opening proclaimed in 
deep tones by Colonel Sproat in these words: " O, yes! a court is 
opened for the administration of even-handed justice, to the poor 
and the rich, to the guilty and the innocent without respect of per- 
sons; none to be punished without trial by their peers, and then in 
pursuance of laws and evidence in the case." 

Paul Fearing, Esq., was admitted as an attorney and was the 
first lawyer in the territory. This was the opening of the Com- 
mon Pleas. 

The Indian chiefs who had been invited by Governor St. Clair to 
attend a convention were curious witnesses of this impressive scene. 

Ou the Tuesday following September 9th, the first Court of 
Quarter Sessions was held in the southeast block-house, occupied 
by Colonel E. Battelle. Ilildreth describes this event as follows : 

"Colonel Meigs, clerk, read the general commission issued by 
the governor, after which Colonel Sproat's deep bass voice com- 
manded the solemn attention of all. 

"General Rufus Putnam and General Benjamin Tupper were 
all the justices of the quorum, and Isaac Pierce, Thomas Lord and 


Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs assistant justices; Colonel Meigs 
was also clerk. Paul Fearing was admitte'd an attorney of this 
court, and appointed court counselor for the United States in the 
county of Washington. 

"The grand jury was constituted as follows: William Stacy, 
foreman; Nathaniel Gushing, Nathaniel Goodale, Charles Knowles, 
Anselm Tup per, Jonathan Stone, Oliver Rice, Ezra Lunt, John 
Matthews, George Ingersol, Jonathan Devol, Samuel Stebbins, 
Jethro Putnam and Jabez True. The charge was given with much 
dignity and propriety by Judge Putnam. At one o'clock the 
grand jury retired, and the court adjourned for thirty minutes. At 
half past one the court again opened, when the jurors entered and 
presented a written address to the court, which, after being read, 
was ordered to be filed. Judge Putnam replied to the address. 
There being no suits before court, it was adjourned without day." 
St. Clair Papers. 


The Organization and Admission of New States. 

ON Friday, the 5th of October, 1787, Congress elected General 
Arthur St. Clair governor of the Northwestern Territory; 
James M. Varnum, Samuel Holden Parsons and John Armstrong, 
judges, and Winthrop Sargent, secretary. John Armstrong having 
declined the office of judge, John C. Cleves Sy mines was appointed 
to till the vacancy. Judge Varnum died January 10, 1789, and 
Parsons, 1790. These vacancies were filled by the appointment of 
George Turner and Gen. Rufus Putnam, an old revolutionary 
soldier who had taken up his abode at Marietta, at the mouth of 
the Muskingum. Judge Putnam served until 1796 when he 
resigned to accept the office of surveyor-general. Joseph Gill- 
man, of Point Harnar, was appointed to the vacancy. Judge 
Turner removed from the Territory and resigned in 1796. In his 
place Return Jonathan Meigs was appointed in February, 1798. 
There were no further changes until Ohio was erected as a State. 
At this time no congressional legislation had taken place to carry 


into effect the ordinance, and General St. Glair improved the earliest 
opportunity after the assembling of the First Congress under the 
Federal Constitution to secure the necessary action. In July, 1789, 
Mr. Fitzsimmons, of Pennsylvania, reported in the House of Rep- 
resentatives a bill which had been drafted by St. Clair for the 
government of the Northwestern Territory, which passed the 
House and Senate without opposition. This act gave the sanction 
of the National Legislature to all of the important provisions of the 
ordinance, including the compact for the inhibition of slavery, which 
was a formal assertion of the right of the National Legislature to 
regulate that institution in the Territories. 

By the ordinance of 1787, the governor and judges which 
were to be selected were empowered to adopt and publish such 
" laws of the original States " as they deemed fit and necessary, 
reporting them to Congress from time to time, which laws were to 
continue in force until the organization of the General Assembly, 
unless disapproved by Congress. This method of legislation was 
followed in constituting all the Territories carved out of the old 
Northwest, except Wisconsin in 1836, and also in the act of 1790, 
for the territory south of the Ohio. 

This Legislature thus constituted, soon found that their author- 
ity was altogether too limited, and without any regard to the pro- 
visions of the ordinance of 1787, commenced to legislate de novo. 

The Legislature met at various times and places at Marietta, 
Cincinnati and Vincennes,and promulgated laws; but among the very 
first ones in June, 1795, which was copied from an old Virginia stat- 
ute of the colonial period, was one which provided that " the com- 
mon law of England and all general statutes in aid of the common 
law prior to the fourth year of James I, should be in force in the 
territory." The other laws passed in 1795, were principally derived 
from the statute book of Pennsylvania. 

The next thing in order was to constitute counties in order to 
provide for local governments, and while these counties were riot 
as large as those that Virginia had bounded on the west by the 
South Sea or even by the Mississippi river, they were still of truly 
imperial proportions. Washington county, for example, reached 
from the Ohio to Lake Erie and from the Pennsylvania line to the 
Ctiyahoga-Tuscarawas line and the Scioto; St.Clair county embraced 
all Southern Illinois. But Wayne county, organized in 179B, was 
the most extensive of all, including all the territory within the fol- 


lowing limits: North by the International boundary line, east by 
the Cuyahoga, the portage path and the Tuscarawas; south by a 
line reaching from the forks above Fort Laurens; west and north- 
west to the head of the Miami in the Ohio; thence northwest to 
the portage between the Miami of the lake and the Wabash, where 
Fort Wayne now is, and thence northwest to the head of Lake 
Michigan; and west by a line running north to the International 
boundary, including all the lands in Wisconsin draining eastward to 
the same lake. 

It is needless to say, that as time passed, the original counties 
had to be divided into smaller ones, and that the General Assem- 
bly, after 1799, claimed the power to make the subdivision, 
but the governor denied the Assembly's claim, and vetoed its 
bills erecting new counties, the result being a controversy that was 
finally carried to Congress and decided against him. Much of the 
bitterness which was engendered by this controversy, is said to have 
been due to land speculators, who were anxious to organize new 
counties in order to provide for office holders, and also for the 
profits that might be derived from the location of county seats. 


In the beginning Virginia hadl'been organized by a charter of 
James I, in 1609, with movable boundaries on the west, extending 
" up into the land throughout from sea to sea, west and northwest, 
so that as settlers took possession of the country jurisdiction was 
extended over them. The authorities of that old commonwealth 
claimed the earth. In 1738 the General Assembly created Augusta 
county, bounding it on the east by the Blue Ridge, and on the west 
and northwest by " the utmost limits of Virginia, whether these 
limits were the Pacific Ocean or the Mississippi river. They 
included all western Pennsylvania. It took years to settle the 
disputes which this claim of Virginia gave rise to, and it was not 
until 1779 that commissioners appointed by the respective States 
met at Baltimore and agreed upon common boundaries, which was 
"To extend Mason and Dixon's line due west live degrees of longi- 
tude, to be computed from the river Delaware, for the southern 
boundary of Pennsylvania, and that a meridian line drawn from 
the western extremity thereof to the northern limit of the said 
State, be the western boundary of Pennsylvania forever." This con- 
tract was duly ratified by the Legislatures of the two States. In 


1785 Mason and Dixon's line was extended and the southwestern 
corner of Pennsylvania established. 

The "Pan Handle" is what was left of Virginia east of the 
Ohio river and north of Mason and Dixon's line after the bound- 
ary was run from this point to Lake Erie, in 1786. 

When the State of Ohio was formed, in 1802, the " Pan Han- 
dle" first showed its beautiful proportions on the map of the United 
States. It received its name in legislative debate from Hon. John 
McMillan, delegate from Brooke county, to match the Accomac 
projection, which he dubbed the Spoon Handle.* 


The Admission of Ohio and Indiana into the Union. 

IN May, 1800, an act was passed by the Congress of the United 
States, dividing the Northwest Territory by what is known as 
the Greenville line, from the Ohio up to Fort Recovery, and thence 
directly north through Michigan. All eastward of this boundary 
continued to be the Northwest Territory. 

The country westward was established as the Indiana Territory, 
but in all other respects was governed by the ordinance. 

Chillicothe and Vincennes were made the seats of government 
of the respective districts or territories until otherwise ordered by 
their Legislatures. 

On April 30. 1S02, an act was passed authorizing a convention 
of delegates to be elected in September, and a convention to be 
held November 1st, at Chillicothe, to determine whether to estab- 
lish a State government, and, if so, to proceed at once to form and 
adopt a constitution, provided the same should be republican in 
form 'and conform to the compact of the ordinance of 1787. On 
the 29th of November a constitution was adopted without being 
submitted to a vote of the people, the enabling act not requir- 
ing it. 

The action of the people thus taken was reported to Congress* 
together with the constitution which had been adopted by the 
convention, and asking for its approval. 

*Creg. Hist, of Wash. Co., Pa.; Old Northwest, p. 109, note. 


But before this was done a question was raised whether Mr. 
Fearing, who, it will be recollected, was the first lawyer ever 
admitted to the bar of the State of Ohio, and who was then a dele- 
gate in Congress, was entitled to his seat as a delegate which was 
not settled until January 31st. Then a further delay took place in 
regard to certain " additional donations" which the convention had 
proposed, which were finally consented to by a bill which was not 
passed until March 3, 1803. 

The Senate also had taken up the subject by a bill introduced 
January 5th, to " provide for giving effect to the laws of the United 
States, within the State of Ohio." A communication was pre- 
sented from "Worthington on the 7th, as agent, inclosing a copy of 
the State Constitution. A committee was directed to report what 
legislative measures, if any, were necessary for admitting the State 
of Ohio into the Union, and extending the laws of the United 
States over the State. The bill reported by this committee, after 
reciting that a constitution and State government had been formed 
by the people pursuant to the enabling act, passed by Congress, and 
that they had given it the name of the State of Ohio, ordained that 
it be established as a judicial district of the United States; that a 
district court be organized, and hold its term on the first Monday 
in June, at Chillicothe ; and that the laws of the United States 
should be of the same force and effect in the said State as else- 
where in the United States. This bill was passed by Congress 
February 19th. 

Hufus King, in his work on Ohio, in discussing this matter, 
among other things says : 

" Here, then, were two acts of Congress recognizing the State of 
Ohio, but no State yet established which could accept or act upon 
them; and the Constitution expressly recognizing the Territorial 
government as in force until the State government should be estab- 
lished. The elections were held January llth. 

The first General Assembly met at Chillicothe on the 1st of 
March. Upon organizing aud canvassing the votes for governor, 
Edward Tiffin was declared to be elected. In the course of the 
session Return Jonathan Meigs, Jr., Samuel Huntington and "Will- 
iam Sprigg were appointed judges of the Supreme Court. Thomas 
"Worthington and John Smith were chosen as Senators to Congress, 
and an act passed for holding an election of a representative to 
Congress, on June llth. Jeremiah Morrow was elected. But 


Congress had adjourned on the 3d of March, and the Senators and 
Representatives of Ohio were not actually admitted until the next 

As there was no formal act of admission by Congress, much 
dispute has arisen as to the time when Ohio was admitted as one of 
the United States, the various hypotheses ranging all along from 
the date of the enabling act, April 30, 1802, to the actual seating 
of her Senators and Representatives in Congress, October 17, 1803. 
It is quite clear that the enabling act did not form the State. It is 
also certain that the inchoate State, which was framed by the con- 
vention, was postponed, by its express submission, to the Territorial 
government until the State government could be formed and set in 
operation. The earliest day at which this can be said to have 
occurred was at the meeting of the Legislature on the first day of 

The law-making power being the repository and paramount 
representative of the power and sovereignty of the State, the Terri- 
torial government on that day ceased, and Ohio became a State in 
the Union." 

This was the view of the question subsequently adopted by 
Congress. In March, 1804, Judge Meigs, for himself and his asso- 
ciates of the Territorial court, presented a petition stating that they 
had continued to exercise the duties until April 15, 1803, and had 
applied at the treasury for payment of their salaries accordingly. 

The accounting officers, on the advice of the attorney -general, 
had refused to allow it beyond November 29, 1802, the day on 
which the State Constitution and form of government had been 
adopted. The judges had thereupon applied to the Legislature of 
Ohio, and they likewise refused, holding it to be an obligation of 
the United States. 

After reports by two committees, and a warm debate and close 
division in committee of the whole, an act was passed February 21, 
1806, directing the salaries of the Territorial officers to be allowed 
and paid at the treasury until March 1, 1803. 

This, therefore, may be deemed an authoritative decision on 
the subject. 

The instrument so adopted, it would be respectful to pass in 
silence. It was framed by men of little experience in matters of 
State, and under circumstances unfavorable to much forecast. 

With such a model of simplicity and strength before them as 


the National Constitution, which had just been formed, the wonder 
is that some of its ideas were not borrowed. It seems to have been 
studiously disregarded; and Ohio, as well as some States further 
westward, which her emigrant sons with filial regard induced to 
adopt her example, has suffered ever since from a weak form of 
government made up in haste, and apparently in mortal dread of 
Governor St. Clair. He declined to be a candidate for the office of 
governor, but unluckily not until the convention had adjourned. 

In after years Ohio's greatest and wittiest governor was wont 
to say, that, after passing the first week of his administration with 
nothing to do, he had taken an inquest of the office, and found that 
reprieving criminals and appointing notaries were the sole "flowers 
of the prerogative." 

Briefly stated, it was a government which had no executive, a 
half-starved, short-lived judiciary, and a lop-sided Legislature. 

This department, overloaded with the appointing power which 
had been taken away from the executive, became so much depraved 
in the traffic of offices, that, in an assembly where there was a tie 
both between the Democrats and the Whigs, two "Free Soilers" 
held the balance of power, and were permitted to choose a United 
States Senator, in consideration of giving their votes, for every 
other appointment, to the party which aided them in this supreme 
exploit of jobbery. A new constitution put an end to this, but the 
shadow of St. Clair still predominates. 

One occurrence in the 'convention deserves notice. In terms 
for the qualification of voters, as at first adopted, the right of suf- 
frage had been conferred upon negroes and mulattoes. But on a 
revision, a motion to strike this out was carried only by the casting 
vote of the President a strange prelude to the rigorous "Black 
Laws" soon afterward adopted by the Legislature. 

The admission of Indiana was effected without opposition and 
without causing a single ripple on the surface of public affairs. 

In response to a petition from the Territorial Legislature, Con- 
gress passed an enabling act April 19, 1816, defining the bounda- 
ries and providing for the election of delegates and the calling of 
a convention to frame a constitution. 

The convention convened at Cory don June 10-29, 1816, and 
framed a constitution, and the State was admitted into the Union 
December 11, 1816. 


The Admission of Michigan and Wisconsin into the Union. 

HUE history of the admission of Michigan into the Union, forms, 


perhaps, quite as interesting a chapter as any in our annals. 
'No other part of the United States has seen so many changes of 
national and local jurisdiction. It has belonged to France, to Eng- 
land and to the United States. 

From 1796 to 1803 it was part of the Northwest Territory, from 
1803 to 1805 a part of Indiana, and then an independent territory 
until its admission into the Union, in 1837. In 1832 the people, at 
a popular election, cast a large majority vote in favor of entering into 
a State government. Proceeding upon the theory of the Federalists 
in 1802, that no enabling act was necessary, the Territorial Legis- 
lature, January 20, 1835, passed an act calling a convention to 
frame a constitution, and designating April 4th the day for the elec- 
tion of delegates. The election was held; the convention assembled 
at Detroit, May llth to June 29th, and a constitution was drawn up 
and ratified November 2d. President Jackson laid it before Con- 
gress in a special message. A boundary contest immediately 
sprang up between Ohio and Indiana, which led to "war," and the 
marshaling of political and military forces, but no blood was shed. 

A great presidential contest was imminent, and Andrew Jackson 
was interested in the candidacy of Martin Van Buren. The State 
of Arkansas also stood at the door knocking for admittance, and the 
administration party was anxious that both should be admitted in 
time to vote, for it was expected that both would be democratic; but 
Michigan was a free State and Arkansas was a slave State, and 
although it was understood that in this scale, one would balance the 
other, there was yet an anxiety on either side lest the other should 
get the advantage. 

Acts for the admission of the two States were finally approved 
June 15, 1836 ; the one admitting Arkansas unconditionally, the 
other Michigan with certain conditions relating to its boundaries, 
which were required to be assented to by a delegated convention 
called to sit at Ann Arbor September 4th. The convention rejected 



the propositions and conditions. This caused a great disappoint- 
ment among the politicians, and the governor was importuned to 
call another convention to consider the matter, but he replied that 
there was no time to call another, and he had no authority to do so. 
The enterprising citizens of that commonwealth were, however, 
equal to the emergency and accordingly five citizens, " in the name 
of the people in their primary capacity," called a convention to 
meet at Ann Arbor December 14th, which it was afterward ascer- 
tained to be in accordance with a democratic scheme formed at 
Washington. The convention was dubbed the " frost-bitten con- 
vention," assumed " sovereign powers," assented to all the terms 
and conditions provided in the act of Congress, and adjourned. 
They reported their action to the House, and, to the astonishment 
of the people of Michigan and the civilized world, Congress 
accepted the action of this convention as amply sufficient and as 
meeting the requirements of the act of admission, and then and 
there admitted Michigan into the Union, but the electoral vote was 
not counted. 

The admission of Wisconsin into the Union was not accompa- 
nied by such "signs and portents" as that of Michigan, and was 
not effected until two constitutional conventions had been held and 
two constitutions framed, one of which, on being submitted to the 
people, was rejected, and the other was not adopted until after the 
lapse of several years after the first one was rejected; and it was 
not until May 29, 1848, that the State became a member of the 

A controversy first arose between Michigan and Wisconsin as 
to what was to be her future boundaries, and finally led to a divis- 
ion of the great peninsula which commences in the region of Green 
Bay and extends to the shores of Lake Superior. Then the people 
demanded a restoration of that portion of Illinois which includes 
many of the northern counties of the State, and, strange to say, 
were aided and assisted in this claim by large numbers of the inhab- 
itants of those counties, who sympathized with the people of Wis- 
consin. Public meetings were held in various Illinois towns, and 
adopted resolutions in favor of the Wisconsin claim, and on the 6th 
of July, 1840, a convention was held at Rockford, which declared 
that the fourteen northern counties belonged to Wisconsin, and 
recommended the people to elect delegates to a convention, to be 
held at Madison in November, for the purpose of adopting such 


lawful and constitutional measures as may seem to be necessary and 
proper for the early adjustment of the southern boundary. 

In 1842 the territorial governor sent an official communication 
to the governor of Illinois, informing him that the Illinois juris- 
diction over the frontier counties was accidental and temporary. 

Great excitement ensued, and the people were kept in a contin- 
ual agitation over the boundary question, State banking and various 
other matters, and, as before stated, it was not until May 29, 1848, 
that Wisconsin was admitted into the Union. 


Illinois and Virginia George Rogers Clark and the Back- 

THE individual enterprise of Col. George Rogers Clark to lead 
an expedition into the Illinois country and drive out the 
English, French and Indians that had their headquarters at Kas- 
kaskia and neighboring villages, or make them acknowledge 
allegiance to the Americans, was one worthy of the daring and 
genius of that intrepid and experienced frontiersman. 

The story has been too often told to bear repetition. Its great 
importance arises from the fact that, starting as he did from 
Virginia, and under the auspices of Virginia, his conquest has been 
claimed as belonging exclusively "to the Nation of Virginia," as 
Thomas Jefferson characterized that great commonwealth. 

Roosevelt, in his " Winning of the West," says : " It is idle to 
talk of that conquest as being purely a Virginia affair. It was con- 
quered by Clark, a Virginian, with some scant help from Virginia, 
but it was retained only owing to the power of the United States, 
and the patriotism of such northern statesmen as Jay, Adams and 
Franklin, the negotiators of the final treaty. Had Virginia alone 
been in interest, Great Britain would not have even paid her claims 
the compliment of listening to them. Virginia's share in the 
history of the Nation, has ever been gallant and leading; but the 
Revolutionary war was emphatically fought by Americans for 
America; no part could have been won without the help of the 


whole, and every victory was thus a victory for all, in which all 
alike can take pride." 

The fate of Clark was melancholy, and like that of General 
Arthur St. Clair, closed in poverty and gloom. He was ultimately 
made a brigadier-general in the Virginia militia, and to the 
harassed settlers in Kentucky, his mere name was a tower of 

Alone and with the very slenderest means, he had conquered and 
held a vast and beautiful region, which, but for him, would have 
formed part of a foreign and hostile empire; he had clothed and paid 
his soldiers with the spoils of his enemies; he had spent his own 
fortune as carelessly as he had risked his life, and the only reward 
that he was destined for many years to receive, was the sword 
voted him by the Legislature. 

Clark felt that he was entitled to some substantial reward rather 
than an empty bauble for his services, and the tradition is that when 
the Virginia commissioners offered Clark the sword, the grim old 
fighter, smarting under the sense of his wrongs, threw it indignantly 
from him, telling the envoys that he demanded from Virginia his 
just rights and promised reward of his services, not an empty com- 
pliment. The inhabitants of Illinois paid to his shade the post- 
humous honor of naming a county after him, and the city of 
Chicago an important street, over which uncounted thousands daily 
and hourly pass and repass, who never knew of his existence, and 
never heard of his exploits. 

" The country beyond the Alleghanies was first won and settled 
by the backwoodsmen themselves, acting under their own leaders, 
obeying their own desires and following their own methods. They 
were a marked and peculiar people. The good and evil traits in 
their character were such as naturally belonged to a strong, harsh 
and homely race, which, with all its shortcomings, was nevertheless 
bringing a tremenduous work to a triumphant conclusion. The 
backwoodsmen were, above all things, characteristically American; 
and it is fitting that the two greatest and most typical of all 
Americans, should have been respectively a sharer and an outcome of 
their work. Washington himself passed the most important years of 
his youth heading the westward movement of his people; clad in 
the traditional dress of the backwoodsman, in tasseled hunting 
shirt and fringed leggings, he led them to battle against the French 
and Indians, and helped to clear the way for the American advance. 


The only other man who, in the American roll of honor, stands by 
the side of Washington, was born when the distinctive work of 
the pioneers had ended; and yet he was bone of their bone and 
flesh of their flesh; for from the loins of this gaunt frontier folk 
sprang mighty Abraham Lincoln." The claims of Virginia to the 
Northwestern Territory have, first and last, been the subject of 
very great discussion, and were, at the time when she made her 
deed of cession to the United States. She claimed in the first 
place, all of the sovereign powers of a Nation, and laid great stress 
upon her conquest of the territory by Clark, which was followed 
by many public acts of the Colonial Government, asserting and 
exercising dominion over the same. 


Thomas Jefferson entertained a most exalted opinion of the 
power of the State of Virginia, and sometimes spoke of that great 
Commonwealth as the Nation of Virginia. As an example, in 
1799, the question was extensively discussed whether the Supreme 
Court of the United States possessed a general common law juris- 
diction, and in a letter addressed to Edmund Randolph on the 18th 
of August, of that year, among other things said: "Before the 
Revolution, the Nation of Virginia had, by the organs they then 
thought proper to constitute, established a system of laws, which 
they divided into three denominations, of: 

I. Common Law. 

II. Chancery; or if you please into two only: 1. Common 
law. 2. Chancery. 

When by the Declaration of Independence they chose to abolish 
their former organs of declaring their will, the acts of will already 
formally and constitutionally declared, remained untouched. For 
the Nation was not dissolved, was not annihilated; its will, therefore, 
remained in full vigor; and on establishing the new organs, 
first of a convention and afterward a more complicated Legislature, 
the old acts of National will continued in force, until the Nation 
should, by its new organs, declare its will changed. 

The common law, therefore, which was not in force when we 
landed here, nor till we had formed ourselves into a Nation and had 
manifested by the organs we constituted that the common law was 
to be our law, because the Nation continued in being, and because, 
though it changed the organs for the future declarations of its will, 


yet it did not change its former declarations that the common law 
was Us law. Apply these principles to the present case. Before 
the Revolution there existed no such Nation as the United States; 
they then first associated as a Nation, but for special purposes only. 
They had all their laws to make as Virginia had on her first 
establishment as a Nation. But the; did not, as Virginia had done, 
proceed to adopt a whole system of laws ready made to their hand. 

That Virginia did, as the settlers passed beyond the Alleghanies, 
exercise acts of sovereignty over the regions which were, from 
time to time, reported to the authorities as existing, is not denied, 
for we find that the county of Orange was created in 173i, Augusta 
in 1738, and Botetourt in 1769, in which act it is naively stated 
that it is " bounded west by the utmost limits of Virginia." 

Other counties erected before the Revolution, extended to the 
Ohio, and embraced Kentucky. 

Chief Justice Chase, in reviewing the controversy which arose 
in regard to Virginia's claim to the whole Northwestern Territory 
and of the various other claims to western lands by eastern States 
among other things says : "Of these various claims, that of the United 
States seems to have been the most natural and just. The charter 
of Virginia had been vacated by a judicial proceeding; the company 
to whom it was granted had been dissolved, the grant itself had 
been resumed by the Crown, and large tracts of the country 
included in its original limits, had been patented to various individ- 
uals and associations without remonstrance on the part of the 
colony of Virginia." 

The expenses incurred and the efforts made by Virginia in the 
reduction of the British posts and in the defense and protection of 
the frontier, created a just claim upon the treasury of the Union, 
but could not, of themselves, confer a valid title to the western 
lands. The western boundary of Connecticut had been so clearly 
defined in her agreement with New York that her claims to terri- 
tory beyond that line could not be entitled to much consideration; 
the pretensions of New York were liable to easy refutation upon 
an appeal to western geography and an investigation into the real 
extent of the territory of the six nations, and the claim of Massa- 
chusetts rested upon a charter granted at a period when the terri- 
tory now claimed under it was actually possessed and occupied by 
France. In opposition to these various pretensions, the Congress, 
as the common head of the United States, maintained its title to 


the western lands upon the solid ground that a vacant territory 
wrested from the common enemy by the united arms and at the 
joint expense of all the States, ought of right to belong to Congress 
in trust for the common use and benefit of the whole Union. 

In 1776 the Virginia Legislature erected the county of Ken- 
tucky, which included about everything southwest of the Ohio. 

On the 4th of July, 1778, George Rogers Clark captured 
Kaskaskia, which had been for nearly a hundred years the capital 
of what was called the Illinois country, and in October, 1778, the 
Legislature of Virginia declared, " All citizens of the Common- 
wealth of Virginia, who are actually settlers there, or who shall 
hereafter be settled on the west side of the Ohio, shall be included 
in the District of Kentucky, which shall be called Illinois County." 
A lieutenant commandant was appointed by Governor Patrick 
Henry to govern the county, with full instructions for carrying 
on the government. 

The French settlements remained under Virginia jurisdiction 
until March, 1784 


Illinois County. 

ILLINOIS was once the frontier county of Virginia; and Ban- 
croft says that " Virginia was the first State in the world com- 
posed of separate boroughs, diffused over an extensive surface, where 
representation was organized on the principle of universal suffrage." 
As the State of Illinois has never, at any time, printed in any 
statute or volume of session laws, either public or private, the act 
of Virginia organizing what is now known as the State of Illinois 
into the County of Illinois, we have here printed it in full, so that 
it can be seen and read of all men : 


AN ACT for establishing the County of Illinois, and for the more effectual protec- 
tion and defense thereof. 

WHEREAS, By a successful expedition carried on by the Virginia 
militia, on the western side of the Ohio river, several of the British 


posts within the territory of this commonwealth, in the country 
adjacent to the river Mississippi, have been reduced, and the inhab- 
itants have acknowledged themselves citizens thereof, and taken 
the oath of fidelity to the same; and the good faith and safety of 
the commonwealth require that the said citizens should be supported 
arid protected by speedy and effectual reinforcements, which will 
be the best means of preventing the inroads and depredations of 
the Indians upon the inhabitants to the westward of the Allegheny 
Mountains; and whereas, from their remote situation, it may at 
this time be difficult, if not impracticable, to govern them by the 
present laws of this commonwealth, until proper information, by 
intercourse with their fellow-citizens on the east side of the Ohio, 
shall have familiarized them to the same, and it is therefore expe- 
dient that some temporary form of government, adapted to their 
circumstances, should in the meantime be established: 

Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That all the citizens of 
this commonwealth who are already settled, or shall hereafter 
settle, on the western side of the Ohio aforesaid, shall be included 
in a distinct county, which shall be called Illinois county; and that 
the governor of this commonwealth, with the advice of the council, 
may appoint a county lieutenant or commandant in chief in that 
county, during pleasure, who shall appoint and commission so many 
deputy commandants, militia officers and commissaries, as he shall 
think proper in the different districts, during pleasure, all of whom, 
before they enter into office, shall take the oath of fidelity to this 
commonwealth and the oath of office, according to the form of their 
own religion, which the inhabitants shall fully, and to all intents and 
purposes enjoy, together with all their civil rights and property. 

And all civil officers to which the said inhabitants have been 
accustomed, necessary for the preservation of peace and the adminis- 
tration of justice, shall be chosen by a majority of the citizens in 
their respective districts, to be convened for that purpose by the 
county lieutenant or commandant, or his deputy, and shall be com- 
missioned by the said county lieutenant or commandant in chief, 
and be paid for their services in the same manner as such expenses 
have been heretofore borne, levied and paid in that county; which 
said civil officers, after taking the oaths as before prescribed, shall 
exercise their several jurisdictions, and conduct themselves agree- 
able to the laws which the present settlers are now accustomed to. 

And on any criminal prosecution, where the offender shall be 


adjudged guilty, it shall and may be lawful for the county lieuten- 
ant or commandant in chief to pardon his or her offense, except in 
cases of murder or treason; and in such cases, he may respite exe- 
cution from time to time until the sense of the governor in the 
first instance, and of the General Assembly in the case of treason, is 
obtained. But where any officers, directed to be appointed by this 
act, are such as the inhabitants have been unused to, it shall and 
may be lawful for the governor, with the advice of the council, to 
draw a warrant or warrants on the treasury of this commonwealth 
for the payment of the salaries of such officers, so as the sum or 
sums drawn for do not exceed the sum of five hundred pounds, 
anything herein to the contrary notwithstanding. 

And for the protection and defense of the said county and its 

Be it enacted, That it shall and may be* lawful for the gov- 
ernor, with the advice of the council, forthwith to order, raise, 
levy, either by voluntary enlistments or detachments from the 
militia, five hundred men, with proper officers, to march immedi- 
ately into the said county of Illinois, to garrison such forts or 
stations already taken, or which it may be proper to take there or 
elsewhere, for protecting the said county, and for keeping up our 
communication with them, and also with the Spanish settlements, as 
he, with the advice aforesaid, shall direct. And the said governor, 
with the advice of the council, shall, from time to time, until 
further provision shall be made for the same by the General 
Assembly, continue to relieve the said volunteers, or militia, by 
other enlistments or detachments, as hereinbefore directed, and to 
issue warrants on the treasurer of this commonwealth for all 
charges and expenses accruing thereon, which the said treasurer is 
hereby required to pay accordingly. 

And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for 
the governor, with the advice of the council, to take such measures 
as they shall judge most expedient, or the necessity of the case 
requires, for supplying the said inhabitants, as well as our friendly 
Indians in those parts, with goods and other necessaries, either by 
opening a communication and trade with New Orleans, or otherwise, 
and to appoint proper persons for managing and conducting the 
same on behalf of this commonwealth. 

Provided, That any of the said inhabitants may likewise carry 
on such trade on their own accounts, notwithstanding. 


This act shall continue and be in force from and after the pass- 
ing of the same, for and during the term of twelve months, and 
from thence to the end of the next session of assembly, and no 
longer. [Oct., 1778, 3d of Commonwealth. Chapter XXI, page 
552, Vol. 9, Hening's Statutes at Large. 

The name of Illinois county was changed by General St. Clair 
and his council, when he became governor of the Northwestern 
Territory, to that of St. Clair county, in March, 1790. Randolph 
county was established in 1795, and these two counties were con 
tinned by the Illinois Territorial Government, when Illinois was set 
off from Indiana Territory, in 1809, and the boundaries of these 
two counties were coterminous with that of the present State. 

Edwards county was organized November *28, 1814, and its 
original boundaries were as follows: "All that tract of country 
within the following boundaries, to-wit: Beginning at the mouth 
of Bon Pas Creek, on the Big Wabash, and running thence due 
west to the meridian line (3d P. M.), which runs north from the 
mouth of the Ohio river; thence with said meridian line, and due 
north till it strikes the line of Upper Canada; thence with the line 
of Upper Canada to the line that separates this territory from the 
Indiana Territory, and thence with the said dividing line to the 

Edwards county was cut off from Gallatin, and then White 
county, in 1818, was taken off from the south part of Edwards. 

In its original organization Edwards county embraced an 
immense area of territory, extending practically from the Ohio 
river (for its southern boundary, Gallatin county, was but relatively 
a short distance from that river) to Upper Canada, including what 
is now a portion of the State of Wisconsin. 

The following counties, or parts of counties, in Illinois, have 
been formed out of the territory included in Edwards county, 
Wabash, Clay, Jasper, Coles, Macon, De Witt, Kankakee, Kendall, 
De Kalb, Wayne, Richland, Effingham, Cumberland, Piatt, McLean, 
Grundy, Du Page, Boone, Jefferson, Lawrence, Fayette, Edgar, 
Champaign, Livingston, La Salle, McHenry, Marion, Crawford, 
Shelby, Clark, Vermillion, Iroquois, Will, Kane, Lake and Cook. 

It is difficult to imagine, in the great changes that are here shown 
to have taken place in the civil divisions of the State, that when 
Edwards county was organized neither Cook county nor the city of 
Chicago had an existence; but that Cook county was embraced in 


Edwards county, and its county seat, at Palmyra, at the falls of the 
Big Wabash, a town which has long since ceased to exist. 

When the first constitution of the State of Illinois was formed, 
not a man was in the convention that framed it who lived North of 
what is now the limits of Madison county. All of the records 
of that convention have been lost. 

The first governor of Illinois Territory, by proclamation, divided 
the whole territory into three counties, and so it remained until the 
14th of September, 1812, when Governor Edwards,! -by proclama- 
tion, established the county of Madison, with the following boun- 
daries, to- wit: "Beginning on the Mississippi, to run with the second 
township above Cahokia, east until it strikes the dividing line 
between the Illinois and Indiana territories; thence Illinois, with 
the said dividing line to the line of Upper Canada ; thence with said 
line to the Mississippi ; thence down the Mississippi to the place 
of beginning. 

This included about three-fourths of the State. 

On the 31st of January, 1821, Pike county was established, by 
an act of the Legislature, with the following boundaries: " Begin- 
ning at the mouth of the Illinois river, and running thence up the 
middle of said river to the forks of the same ; thence up the south 
fork of said river until it strikes the State line of Indiana ; thence 
north with said line to the north boundary line of this State; thence 
west to the boundary line of the State, and thence with said line to 
the place of beginning." 

On the 28th of January, 1823, Fulton county was carved out of 
the above territory, and on the 13th of January, 1825, the Legisla- 
ture passed a law organizing and establishing the county of Peoria, 
with the following boundaries, to-wit : Beginning where the line 
between townships eleven and twelve north intersects the Illinois 
river; thence west with said line to the range line between ranges 
four and five east ; thence south with said line to the range line 
between townships seven and eight; thence east to the line between 
ranges five and six ; thence south to the middle of the main chan- 
nel of the Illinois river; thence up along the middle of the main 
channel of said river to the place of beginning. 

On the 7th of December, 1825, the county was divided into three 
election districts : One was called the Chicago precinct ; and Alex- 
ander Wolcott, John Kinzie and John Baptiste Beaubien, all inhab- 
itants of Chicago, were appointed judges of election for said precinct. 


In 1778 Chicago was in Virginia, and up to 1809 was in Indiana. 
February 3, 1809, Indiana Territory was, by an act of Congress, 
divided into two separate governments. President Madison ap- 
pointed John Boyle, an associate justice of the Court of Appeals 
of Kentucky, governor of the territory, but he declined, and Ninian 
Edwards, chief justice of the same court, was appointed in his 
stead. Nathaniel Pope was appointed secretary; Alexander Stuart, 
Obadiah Jones and Jesse B. Thomas, judges; Benjamin II. Boyle, 

Under the ordinance of 1787 and the act of Congress February 
3, 1809, the Governor and Judges constituted the law-making power 
of the territory, and as such they met for the first time at Kaskas- 
kia, June 13, 1809, and their first act was to resolve that the laws of 
Indiana Territory, in force prior to March 1, 1809, which applied 
to the government of the territory, should remain in full force and 
effect. The duration of the session was seven days. 

In 1821 Chicago was in Pike county; in 1823 in Fulton county; 
and in 1825 in Peoria county. 

The act creating Cook county was passed and approved by the 
General Assemby of Illinois, January 15, 1831, and by that same 
act Chicago was made the county seat, and a ferry established at 
the seat of justice. It was named after Daniel P. Cook, a son-in- 
law of Governor l^inian Edwards, who was one of the first United 
States Senators from this State. He was a member of Congress 
from 1820 to 1827, and died during that year at the age of thirty- 

In March, 1831, Cook county was organized. It embraced 
within its boundaries all the territory which now constitutes the 
counties of Lake, McHenry, Du Page and Will, and the only voting 
place in the county at the first election was Chicago. 

Constitutional Conventions in Illinois. 

State of Illinois has held already four constitutional con- 
-L ventions. The first was in 1818, under an act of Con- 
gress passed April 18, 1818, termed an enabling act, and was for 


the purpose of forming a " State Constitution and a State Govern- 
ment," republican in form, and in accordance with the principles 
embodied in the ordinance of 1787. 

The next was -held in 1847, the next in 1862, and the last one in 
1869-70. Each of these last conventions was for the purpose of 
" altering, revising and amending " the then existing Constitution. 


In 1818 the whole number of people in the State of Illinois was 
about 45,000. Some two or three thousand of these were the 
descendants of the old French settlers in the villages of Kaskas- 
kia, Prairie Du Rocher, Prairie Du Pont, Cahokia, and Peoria. 
Many of these had intermarried with the Indians and lived a roving 
life, hunting and trapping. The American inhabitants were chiefly 
from Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Some of 
them had been officers and soldiers under George Rogers Clark, and 
were good types of the pioneer element. They were farmers, me- 
chanics and soldiers, and skilled in Indian warfare. The settled 
part of the State did not, in 1818, extend much north of Edwards- 
ville and Alton, while all the rest of the State was comparatively 
an unbroken wilderness. The Black Hawk war did not occur until 

The first Constitution was made up in its principal provisions 
from the Constitutions of Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana; was adopted 
by the delegates and never submitted to the people following, in 
this regard, the precedent set by most of the slave States. Indeed, 
the first Constitution, we believe, that ever was submitted to the 
people for its adoption or rejection, was in the case of Maine, 
in 1820. 

It was very objectionable, in vesting the Legislature with the 
appointing power of most of the principal officers of the State and 
this we are told arose in this way : As originally framed this power 
was committed to the executive, but as it was expected that Shad- 
rach Bond would be elected governor, and that he would not 
appoint a particular candidate to the office of state auditor, whom 
the members of the convention favored, they changed the provis- 
ion,* and inserted this clause in the schedule: "An auditor of 
public accounts, an attorney-general, and such other officers as may 
be necessary, may be appointed by the General Assembly." At 
tirst the Legislature limited its exercise of this power to the appoint- 


ment of the above designated officers, the governor appointing the 
state's attorneys, recorders and other officers and agents provided 
for by law, but whenever it happened that the governor was not in 
accord with the General Assembly, it would deprive him of his 
patronage. Thus there was a continual liability to a change of the 
appointing power, and the consequences were a constant pull- 
ing, hauling and intriguing, which led to corrupt combinations and 
the most disgraceful system of log rolling that could be imagined. 

In the election of members to the convention the only questions 
which were agitated and discussed before the people were the right 
of constituents to instruct their representatives, and the introduction 
of slavery. It is needless to say that the Constitution bears many 
visible marks of the slave-holder, and the slave-holding interests 
were unduly, and most unjustly protected, as will appear by arti- 
cle YI of that instrument. 

While professing to abolish slavery in the first section, by 
declaring that " neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall here- 
after be introduced into this State, otherwise than for the punish- 
ment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, 
it proceeded to recognize the validity of contracts of indenture of 
"persons" in several ways, especially the third section, which is in 
these words : 

" Sec. 3. Each and every person who has been bound to service 
by contract or indenture by virtue of the laws of the 'Illinois Ter- 
ritory, heretofore existing, and in conformity to the provi- 
sions of the same, without fraud or collusion, shall be held to a 
specific performance of their contracts or indentures; and such 
negroes and rnulattoes as have been registered in conformity with 
the aforesaid laws, shall serve out the time appointed by said laws. 
Provided, however, That children hereafter born of such person, 
negroes or mulattoes, shall become free the males at the age of 
twenty-one years, the females at the age of eighteen years; each and 
every child born of indentured parents shall be entered with the 
clerk of the county in which they reside, by their owners, within 
six months after the birth of said child." 

Under and by virtue of those provisions the famous Black Laws 
were passed, which disgraced the statute books of this State for 
years, and which established a species of slavery about as effect- 
ually as if it actually existed. Perhaps this is rather too strong 
language, but these laws served to annoy greatly the negroes and 


mulattoes, and, strange to say, were continued in force until repealed 
by the General Assembly, in 1867. 

A still further explanation of this matter may not be amiss. 

In 1807 the Indiana Legislature passed an act authorizing the 
owners of negroes and mulattoes more than fifteen years of age to 
bring them into the Territory, and to have them bound to service 
by indenture for such time as the master and slave might agree 
upon. If, within thirty days of the time he was brought into the 
Territory, the slave would not consent to be indentured, then his 
owner should have sixty days in which to remove him into any 
State where slavery existed. The law also permitted any person to 
bring slaves under fifteen years of age into the Territory, and to 
hold them to service the males until the age of thirty-five, the 
females until the age of thirty -two years. Male children, born in 
the Territory, of a parent of color owing service by indenture, should 
serve the master until the age of thirty years; female children 
until the age of twenty-eight years. This act continued in force 
until 1810. On the territorial statute book are also found very re- 
pressive acts concerning servants. This act was continued in force 
by the Illinois Legislature after the division of the Territory. In 
1814 the same Legislature passed a law providing that slaves might, 
with consent of their owners, hire themselves in the Territory for 
a term not exceeding one year, and that such act should not in any 
way affect the master's right of property in them in the State or 
Territory where they belonged. The preamble of this act assigns 
as reasons for its provisions that mills can not be erected, or other 
needed improvements made, for want of laborers; and, particularly, 
that the manufacture of salt, the supply of which should be abun- 
dant and the price low, can not be carried on by means of white 
men. Still further, an act passed in 1812 forbade the emigration 
of free negroes to the Territory of Illinois under severe penalties; 
and enjoined free negroes already there to register themselves and 
their children in the office of the clerk of the county, also under 
severe penalties. 

When one remembers that the Northwest was covered on two 
sides by slave territory, from which it was separated onTv by the 
Ohio and Mississippi rivers, he appreciates the facilities that such 
enactments as the foregoing gave for evading the intent of the 
sixth compact of the ordinance. Comment is not needed to show 
that the ingenuity here displayed could have invented a system of 


enforced labor not at all inferior to that devised by some of the 
Southern States under President Johnson's reconstructed scheme. 
Moreover, these enactments explain certain provisions respecting 
indentures in the first Constitutions of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois 
that would otherwise be inexplicable. 

When the resolution declaring the admission of Illinois to the 
Union was on its passage through the House of Representatives, Mr. 
Tallmadge, of Kew York, opposed its adoption on the ground that 
it contravened the sixth article of the ordinance of 1787. He 
felt himself constrained to come to the conclusion that the section 
of the Constitution described above embraced a complete recogni- 
tion of existing slavery, if not providing for its future introduction 
and toleration. He contrasted the Illinois and the Indiana Consti- 
tutions, to the disadvantage of the former. Thirty-four votes were 
registered in the house against the resolution. 

In the constitutional convention of 1818 there were but three 
lawyers, Jesse B. Thomas, Ellas Kent Kane and A. F. Hubbard, so 
far as we know. 

Thomas was a delegate to Congress from Indiana Territory in 
1809, at the time it was divided, and the principal agent in securing 
the division. He was a lawyer of ability, of high standing, but an 
advocate of slavery, and in the subsequent history of Illinois was a 
leader of the pro-slavery party. 

He was president of the convention which formed our State 
Constitution at the time we were admitted into the Union, and was 
elected the first United States Senator. 

The leading member of the convention was probably Elias 
Kent Kane, although we can not certainly tell, owing to the loss or 
destruction of the records of the convention. He was born in the 
State of New York and was bred to the profession of the law. He 
removed, when a very young man, to Tennessee, and finally came to 
Illinois and settled in Kaskaskia in 1815, when he was about twenty 
years of age. His talents were both solid and brilliant, and he 
soon became a leader; was appointed Secretary of State under the 
new government in 1818, then became a member of the General 
Assembly and finally United States Senator, and died a member of 
that body in 1835. 

Kane county on the Fox river was named after him. 

A. F. Hubbard is chiefly distinguished for having attempted to 
oust governor Coles from the office of governor while he was 



temporarily absent from the State by issuing a call for an extra 
session of the General Assembly, and appointing one "W. L. D. Ewing 
pay master-general of the State militia, etc., basing his claim for so 
doing on a provision in the executive article of the Constitution, 
which reads as follows: 

"In case of impeachment, refusal to qualify, resignation or ab- 
sence from the State, the lieutenant-governor shall exercise all the 
power and authority appertaining to the office of governor, until 
the time pointed out by the Constitution for the election of a gov- 
ernor shall arrive; unless the General Assembly shall otherwise 
provide by law for the election of a governor to fill such vacancy." 

Under this provision Hubbard claimed that he was governor 
de jure and de facto, having been elected lieutenant-governor at 
the election in 1822, but on an opposition ticket. The State at that 
time was considered overwhelmingly democratic, and Chief Justice 
Phillips was the regular candidate of that party, with Adolphus F. 
Hubbard lieutenant-governor. Edward Coles, a very popular 
and strong anti-slavery man, was brought out against Phillips, and 
was elected over him by a considerable majority, but both branches 
of the Legislature were opposed to him, and every kind of a partisan 
scheme was resorted to, to annoy him. Mobs were incited against 
him, with threats of personal violence, suits were commenced 
against him for bringing slaves into the territory and liberating 
them, and he was heavily fined. At last, while temporarily absent 
from the State, the bold attempt was made by Hubbard to usurp 
his office. The issuing of a commission to Ewing was, at the time, 
considered a very shrewd move, and it was thought for a time that 
it would succeed, but Judge Lockwood was at that time on the 
Supreme Bench, and he showed so clearly the ridiculous nature of 
the attempt, that it came to naught. The legal history of this 
affair may be found set forth at large in Breese's reports, and arose 
on an application of Ewing to compel the Secretary of State, George 
Forquer, by mandamus, to append his signature to this commission 
which had been issued by Hubbard. 

"We know but very little of the constitutional convention of 1818, 
owing to the fact that all its records have been lost or destroyed, 
but there is one thing that Governor Ford mentions in his history 
of Illinois that is quite interesting, and that is that during the ses- 
sion of the convention of 1818, the Reverend Mr. Wiley and his 
congregation of Covenanters in Randolph county, sent in a petition 


asking the convention to declare in the Constitution that " Jesus 
Christ was the head of the government, and that the Holy Scriptures 
were the only rule of faith and practice." This petition was either 
not noticed at all or was acted upon unfavorably, which so displeased 
the Covenanters, that they henceforth looked upon the Constitu- 
tion as "an heathen and unbaptized government," and refused to 
vote, to work on the roads, serve on juries, hold any office or do 
any act showing that they recognized the government. 

This state of affairs continued until the great contest commenced 
in 1824, whether Illinois should become a slave or a free State, 
when they arose in their might and voted unanimously against 

As early as 1818 the State was filled with a class of politicians 
who were intent in controlling every office in sight, whether local, 
State or National, and when the Constitution was formed the gov- 
ernor was clothed with a large measure of the appointing power. 
Shadrach Bond had been fixed upon by the common barrators for 
the first governor, and the convention wished for some reason to 
have Elijah C. Berry the first auditor of public accounts; but it 
having been ascertained that Bond would not appoint him, the man- 
agers, at the very last moment, and just before it was adopted in 
the Convention, affixed this provision to the schedule: "An auditor 
of public accounts, an attorney-general, and such other officers of 
the State as may be necessary, may be appointed by the General 
Assembly," as above stated. 

Thus "accoutered," the Constitution was adopted and "they all 
plunged in." By " they" we mean the whole army of hungry 
politicians, who were waiting the day when they could obtain access 
to the public crib and fatten on its stores. An inventory was taken, 
and who were " officers of the State " and who were not, soon 
became a matter of debate, and the question was asked by members 
of the General Assembly : Were state's attorneys of the circuits 
were canal commissioners, fund commissioners, commissioners of 
the board of public works, bank directors, canal agents, etc. were 
they State officers ? And the reply came back from the General 
Assembly every time : Yes, they were State officers. And the 
General Assembly absorbed them with great alacrity and relish. 

Ford says : " Some times such agents were appointed by elec- 
tion; then, again, the Legislature would pass a law enacting them 
into office by name and surname. They contrived to strip the gov- 


ernor of all patronage not positively secured to him by the Consti- 
tution such as the appointment of a secretary of stale and the till- 
ing of vacancies during the recess of their sessions. At tirst the 
Legislature contented itself with the power to elect an auditor and 
attorney-general ; the governor, all the state's attorneys, the record- 
ers of counties, all State officers and agents occasionally needed, 
and many minor county officers. But in the administration of Gov- 
ernor Duncan, he was finally stripped of all patronage, except the 
appointment of notaries public and public administrators. Some- 
times one Legislature, feeling pleased with the governor, would 
give him some appointing power which their successors would take 
away if they happened to quarrel with him. 

This constant changing and shifting of powers from one co- 
ordinate branch of the government to another, which rendered it 
impossible for the people to foresee exactly for what purpose either 
the governor or the Legislature were elected, was one of the worst 
features of the government. It led to innumerable intrigues and 
corruptions, and for a long time destroyed the harmony between 
the executive and legislative departments. 

And all this was caused by the convention of 1818 in the attempt 
to get one man into an office of no very considerable importance. 

At the time of the formation of the Constitution of 1818 the State 
was divided into fourteen counties, namely: St. Clair, Randolph, 
Madison, Gallatin, Johnson, Edwards, "White, Pope, Jackson, 
Crawford, Bond, Union, Washington and Franklin. 

St. Clair was represented by John Messenger and James 
Leman, Jr. 

Randolph by George Fisher and Elias Kent Kane. 

Madison by B. Stephenson, Joseph Borong and Abraham 

Gallatin by Michael Jones, Leonard White and Adolphus 
Frederick Hubbard. 

Johnson was represented by Hezekiah West and William 

Edwards by Seth Gord and Levi Compton. 

Pope by Samuel O'Melveny and Ferguson. 

White by Willis Hargrave and Enoch Moore. 

Jackson by Conrad Well and James Hall, Jr. 

Crawford by Joseph Kitchell and Ed. K Cullom. 

Bond by Thomas Kirkpatrick and Samuel G. Morse. 


Union by William Echols and John Whiteacre. 

Washington by Andrew Bankson, and 

Franklin by Isham Harrison and Thomas Roberts. 

Jesse B. Thomas was president of the convention and William 
C. Greenup was secretary. 

The convention assembled at Kaskaskia on the first Monday of 
August, 1818, in accordance with the fourth section of the 
enabling act, and adjourned on the 26th of August. 

The Founders of the Commonwealth. 

" TN the birth of societies," says Montesquieu, "it is the chiefs 
J- of the republics who form the institution, and in the sequel 
it is the institution which forms the chiefs of the republics." And 
he adds : " One of the causes of the prosperity of Rome was the 
fact that its kings were all great men. We find nowhere else in 
history an uninterrupted series of such statesmen and such military 

" Historic truth ought to be no less sacred than religion. If the 
precepts of faith raise our souls above the interests of this world, the 
lessons of history, in their turn, inspire us with the love of the 
beautiful and the just, and the hatred of whatever presents an 
obstacle to the progress of humanity. These lessons, to be profit- 
able, require certain conditions. It is necessary that the facts be 
produced with a rigorous exactness, that the changes, political or 
social, be analyzed philosophically, that the exacting interest of the 
details of public men should not divert attention from the political 
part they played, or cause us to forget their providential mission." 

Illinois was fortunate in the beginning by having for her found- 
ers a race of great men. Col. George Rogers Clark, the conqueror 
of the Illinois country, takes rank next to Hannibal. 

Governor Edwards, the first governor of the territory of Illinois 
and the first senator of the State, was the friend of Madison and the 
schoolmate of William Wirt. He was born in Maryland and was 
brought up under the very best educational and social influences 


of his native State. He early removed to Kentucky, became chief 
justice of that State, and occupied that position at the time that 
Madison selected him as governor of the Illinois Territory. 

At the time Illinois was admitted into the Union the affairs of 
the State were wholly controlled by pro-slavery men, who seemed 
bent upon making the State a slave State. 

Governor Edwards himself, the foremost citizen of the State 
and a man of commanding influence, first governor of the Illinois 
Territory, afterward senator, was a slave-holder, and held slaves in the 
territory, contrary to the ordinance of 1787 the great organic law of 
the Northwest Territory and contrary to his oath of office, as will 
be seen by the following notice, under his own hand and signature. 

" NOTICE. I have for sale 22 slaves; among them are several of 
both sexes, between the ages of 10 and 17 years. If not shortly 
sold I shall wish to hire them in Missouri Territory. I have 
also for sale a full-blooded stud horse, a very large English bull and 
several young ones. 

" Oct. 1, 1815. NINIAN EDWARDS." 

Taken from the " Illinois Herald," published in Kaskaskia Oct. 
1, 1815. 

Governor Edwards, though by birth a southern man, and 
appointed from Kentucky as governor upon the organization of the 
territory, was yet, as William H. Brown said, in favor of a free 
Constitution for Illinois, and did, much to his credit, range him- 
self on the side of the free soilers in the great struggle which took 
place between the contending hosts in 1824. 

The Secretary of State was Nathaniel Pope, a man of great 
ability, refined in his manners and of scholarly tastes. He was 
chosen territorial delegate to Congress in 1816, and it was by and 
through his efforts that the northern boundary of the State was so 
changed as to bring Chicago into Illinois instead of leaving it in 

Judge Jesse B. Thomas was a delegate to Congress from Indiana 
Territory at the time it was divided, in 1809, and the Illinois Ter- 
ritory created. He removed to Kaskaskia, was elected the presi- 
dent of the constitutional convention of 1818, and then senator, 
with Governor Edwards as his colleague. He was a strong pro- 
slavery man, and a leader of that party in the State, but, as we have 
been told, regretted his course before he died. He died in Ohio. 
He was born in Hagerstown, Maryland, and claimed to be a direct 


descendant of Lord Baltimore. He is said to have been the author 
of the Missouri Compromise Bill of 1820. 

Judge Griswold was from New England strict as a Puritan 
and conscientious as a saint. Governor Reynolds says of him: " He 
was a correct, honest man, a good lawyer, paid his debts and sung 
David's psalms." 

"William H. Brown was the friend and companion of Lockwood 
and Coles, and one of the most upright men that we ever knew. 
He died at the "Bible Hotel," at Amsterdam, Holland, in 1867, of 
small-pox, while on a foreign journey, some twenty-three years ago, 
at an advanced age. 

John Reynolds, familiarly known as the " Old Ranger " is one 
of the most picturesque characters that ever lived in this State. 
He was born of Irish parentage in Pennsylvania, February 26, 
1788; removed to Illinois in 1800 lived on a farm for a time; then 
went to school at Knoxviile, Tennessee was ever foremost in 
horse and foot-racing shooting matches studied law, and when 
he hung out his shingle at Cahokia in 1814, announced his advent 
in the " Illinois Herald," published at Kaskaskia, as follows : 

" To the poor people of Illinois and Missouri Territory. To 
the above cla^s of mankind whose pecuniary circumstance will not 
admit of feeing a lawyer, I tender my professional services as a 
lawyer in all courts I may practice in, without fee or reward. 


He was great on the stump, in church, school-house, grocery, 
or the open air. He became judge of the Supreme Court, and 
governor of the State. 

Among the reminiscences of the times is an advertisement in 
the "Missouri Gazette" of May 14, 1816, as follows: 


Will be given to any person, who will deliver to me, in Caho- 
kia, a negro boy named Moses, who ran away from me in Cahokia 
about two months since. He is about sixteen years old. well made, 
and did belong to Messrs. McKnight & Brady, in St. Louis, 
where he has been since frequently, and is supposed to be harbored 
there or thereabout. He had on a hunting shirt when he left me, 
May 14, 1816. 


Governor Ford, in speaking of Reynolds, says that he had 
passed his life on the frontier among a frontier people; had learned all 


the by-words, catch- words, old and odd sayings and figures of speech 
invented by vulgar ingenuity and common among a backwoods 
people; to these he had added a copious supply of his own, and 
had diligently compounded them all into a language peculiar to 
himself, which he used on all occasions, public and private. He 
was a man of remarkably good sense and shrewdness for the sphere 
in which he was destined to move, and possessed a fertile imagina- 
tion, a ready eloquence, and a continual mirthfnlness and pleasantry 
when mingling with the people. He had a kind heart, and was 
ready to do a favor, and never harbored resentment against any 
human being. 

Shadrach Bond was another great man who has left his mark 
on the times, and, although a pro-slavery man, was in his day and 
generation highly regarded and esteemed. 

Pie was elected the first governor of the State by an almost 
unanimous vote. He came to the Territory from Maryland in 179i, 
and settled in the American Bottom, in what is now Monroe county. 
He was of commanding presence, noble mien, and of great dignity 
of character. He kept horses and hounds, and lived like one of 
the landed gentlemen of the eighteenth century. He was a mem- 
ber of the Territorial Legislature of Ohio and Indiana, a captain in 
the war of 1812, and was the first delegate to Congress from Illi- 
nois Territory, taking his seat December 3, 1812. 

Pierre Menard was elected lieutenant-governor on the same 
ticket with Bond, and he also was a most remarkable man. He was 
of French extraction, born at St. Antoine, thirty-five miles from 
Montreal, October 7, 1766, and came to Kaskaskia from Yincennes 
in 1790, and engaged in merchandising. He was a great favorite 
with the Indians, became active in public affairs, was elected a 
member of the Territorial Legislature of Indiana, afterward removed 
to Kaskaskia and there became president of the council of the Ter- 
ritorial General Assembly of Illinois, and was the most distinguished 
of all the French emigrants that ever came to the West. 

He was a good financier and understood its principles well. His 
command of the English language was somewhat limited, and once 
when the proposition came up in the Senate to memorialize the 
Treasurer of the United States to secure the _bills of the bank of 
Edwardsville in payment of lands, believing it to be objectionable, 
he refused to put the question. Upon its being demonstrated to him 
that it was his duty to put the question, he said : " Gentlemen, if 


I inns' I mus'. You who are in favor of dis resolution will say 
aye; but I bet you one tousand dollar Congress never make him 
land-office money; you are opposed will say no." 

Thomas Reynolds, a younger brother of Governor John Rey- 
nolds, was an active politician in this State until 1828, when he 
removed to Missouri, of which commonwealth he was elected gov- 
ernor in 1840. 

He possessed many of the original traits and picturesque char- 
acteristics of his brother. He was not only a very popular man 
among his associates, but he was a long-headed, shrewd and push- 
ing man, and never allowed slight obstacles to daunt his courage or 
thwart his purposes. 

George Flower, one of the old pioneers of whom we shall speak 
hereafter, writing from his personal knowledge, says : " Our influ- 
ential men, and all who held office, from the governor to the con- 
stable, were from slave States. Every sheriff and every clerk of 
the county were pro-slavery men; every lawyer and all our judges 
were from slave States and pro-slavery. I know of but one excep- 
tion in the whole bar that attended our courts, and that was Samuel 
D. Lockwood." 


Governor Coles, and his Immediate Friends and Contem- 

/^ OYERNOR COLES, Judge Lockwood and Judge Griswold 
VJToccupy very conspicuous positions in our history; especially 
Governor Coles; and if ever any man deserves immortality it is he. 

He drew around him the very best men of his time, such men 
as Lockwood, Birkbeck, Flower, Daniel P. Cook and William H. 
Brown, and threw his heart and soul into the fight against human 
slavery, and it was his efforts probably more than any one man's 
that succeeded in making Illinois forever a free State. 

His life was pure and above reproach. He endured insults, 
reproaches, buffetings and persecutions without number, but survived 
them all and died peacefully at his home in Philadelphia in 1838. 

His career demands something more than a passing notice. 


He was born in Albemarle county, Virginia, December 15, 1786. 
His father, John Coles, had been a colonel in the Revolutionary 
War. He was fitted for college by private tutors, was sent to 
Hampden Sidney in 1805, then to William and Mary College at 
Williamsburg, but did not graduate therefrom owing to a very severe 
accident by which his leg was fractured in so severe a manner as to 
impair his health and prevent him from performing all labor. His 
limb was with great trouble preserved and his health finally restored. 
Among his classmates were Lieutenant-General Scott, President 
John Tyler, William S. Archer, United States Senator from Vir- 
ginia, and Mr. Justice Baldwin of the Supreme Court of the United 
States. The Coles family was a very prominent one and allied 
with some of the most distinguished politicians in the State, and the 
family mansion was the seat of all the old-fashioned Virginia Com- 
monwealth. It was visited by Patrick Henry, Jefferson, Madison, 
Monroe, the Randolphs, Tazwell, Wirt, and many others of the 
leading men of that time. At the age of twenty-three he became 
the private secretary of President Madison and so remained for 
the period of six years. His correspondence with Thomas Jef- 
ferson upon the subject of slavery is historic and fixed his opinion 
upon that matter forever. He was the owner of a plantation and 
many slaves and these he resolved to liberate. He visited the West 
in 1815 to select a place for his future abode and where he might 
take his slaves and liberate them. He selected Illinois, but before he 
could effect that object he was sent by President Madison to Russia 
to settle a difficulty which had arisen between, the Czar and our 
American Consul. The trouble grew out of the conduct of the 
Russian Minister at Washington who had misrepresented matters 
there to the Czar, but when he became aware of the facts offered 
to make proper amends, even to sending the offending minister to 

Mr. Coles, after having finished the business which he was sent 
abroad to transact, returned by way of Berlin and Paris, where lie 
was presented to Louis XVIII by Mr. Gallatin and there he met 
La Fayette. 

In 1819, he removed to Edwardsville in this State, after having 
liberated his slaves on their voyage down the Ohio river. After 
his arrival at Edwardsville, for the better protection of the freed- 
men, and on the advice of the Hon. Daniel P. Cook, one of the 
best lawyers of the State, he gave separate papers of manumission 

OFtt-U** 8 


to all his former slaves. At this time neither Governor Coles nor 
Mr. Cook knew anything about a law of the State that had been 
previously passed, but which was not promulgated till several 
months afterward. -This law prohibited any person from bringing 
into the State any negroes for the purpose of emancipation unless 
he should give bonds in the penalty of one thousand dollars, that 
the negro would not become a countv charge: and that if the eman- 

o / o j 

cipator neglected to give this bond, he should forfeit and pay the 
sum of two hundred dollars for every negro emancipated. Gov- 
ernor Coles had, as we have said, emancipated all his slaves long 
before they reached Illinois, but had given them certificates of 
manumission after his arrival at Edwardsville. This afforded a 
fine opportunity for the pro-slavery party to harass and annoy 
him on the ground of a technical violation of the law. Conse- 
quently proceedings were instituted against him in the name of the 
County of Madison and the writ was returnable at the March 
term of the Circuit Court at Edwardsville, 1824. John Reynolds 
was the presiding judge and after a considerable delay, every 
special plea having been ignored, the case came to trial before a 
jury on the plea of nil debet and resulted in their returning a ver- 
dict against him for $2,000. It appeared on the trial that three of 
the negroes had died before the commencement of the suit, but the 
judge held that that made no difference; that a grave offense had 
been committed and he must suffer the consequences. The late 
Elihu Washburne in his very interesting and valuable biography of 
Governor Coles, says, among other things : " From a bill of excep- 
tions taken during the trial and spread upon the records of the 
court it appears that the defendant, Coles, offered to give in evidence 
and prove to the jury that three of the negroes of the plaintiff had 
departed this life before the commencement of the suit; but the 
astute judge would not permit the testimony to be given, thus prac- 
tically deciding that it was necessary to hold the county harmless 
from the support of dead men. The defendant then offered to 
prove by Joseph Conway, the clerk of the County Commissioners' 
Court, that the defendant had never been notified or required to 
give bond, but the court would not permit such evidence to be 
given. The defendant then further offered to prove by Daniel P. 
Cook, the attorney under whose advice he acted, the conversation 
he had with him before the date of manumission, and that he, Cook 
advised the giving of such certificate in order to protect the 


negroes and to 'enable them to live themselves;' and also to 
prove by said Cook all the circumstances and conversation between 
said witness and defendant, which induced and led to the execu- 
tion of said certificate, all of which was rejected." 

The certificate which Mr. Coles gave, was in the following 
words and figures, to-wit : " Whereas my father, the late John 
Coles, of Albemarle, in the State of Virginia, did, in his last will 
and testament, give and bequeath to me certain negro slaves, among 
others, Robert Crawford and his sister, Polly Crawford ; the said 
Robert Crawford being a mulatto about five feet seven inches high 
and now about twenty-seven years of age; and the said Polly being 
a mulatto woman about five feet one inch high, and now about six- 
teen or seventeen years of age : 

" And whereas I do not believe that man can have a right of prop- 
erty in his fellowman, but on the contrary, that all mankind are 
endowed by nature with equal rights, I do, therefore, by these 
presents, restore to the said Robert and his sister Polly, that inalien- 
able liberty of which they have been deprived. And I do hereby 
renounce for myself and my heirs forever, all claim of every 
description whatever to them and their services, and I do hereby 
emancipate and make free the said Robert Crawford and his sister 
Polly Crawford. In testimony whereof the said Cole set his hand 
and seal on the 19th day of July, 1819." 

This act of emancipation, executed by Governor Coles and spread 
upon the records of the court, stands out to his immortal honor and 
makes more conspicuous the infamy of his persecutors. 

The motion for a new trial, which had been made in the case at 
the September term, 1824, was not decided at that term, and the 
case went over to the March term, 1835. At this term of the 
court, Judge Samuel McRoberts presided. He was a hard-hearted 
and most unmerciful judge. The motion for anew trial in the case 
which he found undecided, was promptly overruled. 

Between the term of the court in September, 1824, and the 
March term, 1825, the Legislature (in January, 1825,) passed an act 
releasing all penalties incurred under the act of 1819 (including 
those sued for), upon which Coles was prosecuted. The law required 
as conditions precedent to the release of the penalties, the execution 
of a bond that the negroes should not become a charge upon any 
county in the State, and that all the costs of the suit and damages 
should be paid. To enable the defendant to take advantage of this 


act, at the June term it was moved to set aside the verdict and judg- 
ment to enable him to plead puis darien continuance. 

McRoberts proved equal to this last phase of the case; he 
overruled the motion for a new trial and rejected' the plea, holding 
that the Legislature could not make a law to bar the recovery of 
the penalty in the case. The judge was not able to prevent the 
defendant from taking an appeal to the Supreme Court of the 
State. This appeal was taken and heard at the June term of the 
court at Vandalia, 1826. 

The judgment of the Circuit Court was reversed and the cause 
remanded with directions to receive the defendant's plea. Chief 
Justice Wilson gave an able and elaborate opinion. The case is 
fully reported in Breese's Reports, page 115, and is entitled, Coles, 
plaintiff in error, versus The County of Madison, defendant in 

The case was argued in the Supreme Court by Henry 
Starr for Coles, and Turney & Reynolds for the county of Madi- 
son. Henry Starr was at this time residing at Edwardsville and 
one of the best lawyers in the State. He was a strong personal 
and political friend of Coles and took a deep interest in this case. 
After being several years at Edwardsville, he returned to Cincin- 
nati, where he attained great eminence in his profession. 

This persecution did not end here but a number of libel suits 
were instituted against him for his just criticisms on the scandalous 
conduct of the judge who tried the case against him for freeing his 
slaves, but he finally triumphed over all his enemies and his course 
and conduct were fully vindicated and his character has grown 
brighter and brighter with each revolving year. The tribute which 
Mr. Washburne has paid him in his " Sketch of Edward Coles " is 
worthy of all praise. He died at his residence in Philadelphia, July 
7, 1868. We regard Mr. Coles like John the Forerunner, in his 
course and career, and we have no doubt he had more or less influence 
upon the life and destiny of the immortal Lincoln, who was thor- 
oughly acquainted with his persecutions, his sacrifices and his mar- 
tyrdom in endeavoring to make Illinois a free State. 

Judge Gillespie, in a letter to Mr. Washburne, dated Edwards- 
ville, February 28, 1881, speaks of Governor Coles as follows: " I 
knew the governor well. He lived in this place while lie was 
a citizen of Illinois. He was a remarkable man, and devoted him- 
self to the propagation of the sentiments of freedom. He was the 


most unrelenting foe to slavery I ever knew. His time, money, 
everything belonging to' him, was expended in the cause so dear to 
ln's heart. He brought his slaves here from Virginia and liberated 
them, gave to each head of a family a tract of land, within four 
miles of this place, where they settled and lived for many years. 
He was unmarried while he lived in Illinois, and when in Edwards- 
ville boarded in the family of James Mason. His character was 
without spot or blemish in all the walks of life." 

Judge Caton, who was for many years a circuit judge and one 
of the Supreme judges of the State, a man who is revered by every 
one who knows him as one of the earliest settlers of Chicago, in a 
great argument made by him in 1881, in the United States Circuit 
Court, at Chicago, against the repudiation of certain bonds issued 
by the city of Ottawa, said: " In closing this reference to the past 
of our State, allow me to say that Illinois has produced three great 
men, whose conspicuous services will render their names immortal, 
aiid which should be commemorated by enduring monuments, and 
to whom we owe a debt of gratitude that can never be paid. 

The first was Edward Coles, who was governor of the State in 
1824, and who saved the State from the black curse of African 
slavery, then and forever. The second was Thomas Ford, who was 
governor in 1842, and who saved the State from the scarcely less 
blighting curse of repudiation; and the third was Abraham Lincoln, 
who saved the Union from dismemberment and the Nation from 
destruction. Not alone, either of them ; for all were assisted and 
supported by other great men whose names should be scarcely less 
honored; but they were the great leaders in these great labors, whose 
talents and whose integrity led the people to these great accomplish- 
ments. In all time to come posterity should bow its head in grati- 
tude whenever either of these names should be spoken." 

His public career in the State of Illinois was practically closed 
in 1826, when, on the 5th day of December of that year, he sent his 
valedictory message to the Legislature, and soon after retired from 
office. This message was mainly devoted to the affairs of the State. 
But in it he made a most touching allusion to the deaths of Thomas 
Jefferson and John Adams, which occurred simultaneously, on the 
4th of July preceding, " thus sanctioning by their deaths a day ren- 
dered glorious by the most important event of their lives and in the 
history of their country." To Mr. Jefferson, to whom he was most 
tenderly attached by ties of sympathy and friendship, he paid a 


most eloquent tribute, describing him as a "sage and a philanthro- 
pist, as a statesman and a patriot, the author of the Declaration of 
Independence, the great political reformer to whose strong, bold 
and original genius we are, in a great degree, indebted for our civil 
and religious freedom, and for our correct understanding of the 
rights of men and of nations. 

In closing, he earnestly appealed to the General Assembly to 
repeal the " Black Code," which related to the servitude of the 
blacks and "indentured servants;" in order, as he said, to "make 
the laws in relation to that unfortunate class of our fellow-beings, the 
descendants of Africa, less repugnant to our political institutions 
and local situation;" to do which "it is requisite that provision 
should be made, not only for loosening the fetters of servitude, but 
for the security and protection of free persons of color. It is also 
indispensable that the law should be radically altered, and, so far 
from considering every colored person a slave unless he can procure 
written evidence of his freedom in Illinois, every man should be 
presumed free until the contrary is made to appear." 

It will scarcely be believed that these laws, to which Governor 
Coles refers, and known, as we have said, as the " Black Code," 
actually remained on the statute books of this State for more than 
a quarter of a century afterward, and were not repealed until the 
year 1865. 

On the 28th of November, 1833, he was married at Philadelphia 
by Bishop De Lancey, to Miss Sally Logan Roberts, a daughter of 
Hugh Roberts, a descendant of Hugh Roberts, of Peullyn, Wales, 
who came to this country with William Penn in 1682. Possessed 
of an ample fortune, his private life seems to have brought him 
every charm, and surrounded him with every happiness. Of a 
very happy, bright and cheerful disposition, he entered sympathet- 
ically into the pleasures of all, and promoted in every possible way 
the happiness of all. He was an affectionate husband, a devoted 
father and a kind friend. 

Governor Coles was a very little less than six feet in height, of 
a slender build, and strongly marked features. His eyes were 
brilliant, and his countenance particularly when lighted up by a 
smile was one of rare beauty. He died in Philadelphia at the 
ripe old age of eighty-two, July 7, 1868, and lies buried in that 
beautiful resting-place of the dead near the city known as the 
" Woodland." 



During Governor Coles' administration was the visit of Lafay- 
ette to Illinois in 1825. In the month of December previous, the 
Legislature of the State had extended to the General a most cordial 
and pressing invitation to visit Illinois, and as Lafayette came up 
the Mississippi river from New Orleans, Governor Coles, who had 
extended the invitation to him on behalf of the State, couched in 
the most respectful and cordial language, sent forward his aid-de- 
camps to meet him at St. Louis and accompany him to the State, 
with a letter in his own hand to this effect: 

EDWAKDSVILLE, April 25, 1825. 

DEAR Sra: This will be handed to you by my friend and aid- 
de-camps, Col. William Schuyler Hamilton, whom I take pleasure in 
introducing to you as the son of your old and particular friend, 
Gen. Alexander Hamilton. As it is not known when you will arrive 
at St. Louis or what will be your intended route from thence, Col. 
Hamilton is posted there for the purpose of waiting on you as soon 
as you shall arrive and ascertaining from you and making known to 
me by what route you propose to return to the eastward and when 
and where it will be most agreeable for you to afford me the hap- 
piness of seeing you and welcoming you to Illinois. 

I am, with the greatest respect and esteem, your devoted friend, 


This Col. William Schuyler Hamilton is worth remembering, 
and is deserving of more than a passing tribute owing to more 
reasons than one. He was the son of the immortal Alexander 
Hamilton, and his real name was William Stephen Hamilton and 
not William Schuyler, as Governor Coles calls him. He lived in 
the State of Illinois during the administration of Governor Coles, 
was appointed by him his aid-de-camps, with the rank of colonel, and 
performed all his duties with great intelligence, dignity and decorum. 
He was born in New York, August 4, 1797, and was admitted to 
the West Point Academy in 1814 and resigned in 1817. He left 
his home in New York and settled at an early day in Sangamon 
County, Illinois. He was United States deputy surveyor of the 
public lands, and in that capacity surveyed the township in which 
Springfield now stands. In 1824 he was elected a member of the 
House of Representatives from Sangamon County. In 1827 he 
removed to the "Fever River Lead Mines" and commenced mining 


for lead ore at a point soon known as " Hamilton's Diggings," now 
Wiota, in Lafayette county, "Wisconsin. Hon. Elihu Washburne, 
in referring to him, says: "I knew Colonel Hamilton well from 
1841 to 1849, when he emigrated to California. He occupied a 
prominent position in Southwestern Wisconsin and was a well known 
whig politician. He was a member of the House of Representa- 
tives in the Territorial Legislature of Wisconsin in 1842-3. He 
died in Sacramento, California, October 9, 1850. For nineteen 
years neither stone nor slab marked the spot where reposed his 
ashes. When the careless grave digger threw his shovelfuls of 
earth on his coffin, little could he have thought he was covering the 
remains of a son of Alexander Hamilton, in my judgment the great- 
est of all American statesmen. Colonel Hamilton was brave, gen- 
erous, hospitable and humane, and unusually quick in perception 
and decided in action." In 1879 Cyrus Woodman, Esq., of Cam- 
bridge, Massachusetts, who was long a resident of Mineral Point, 
Wisconsin, and a devoted friend of Colonel Hamilton, purchased a 
lot in the cemetery of Sacramento, and marked the grave with 
granite head and foot-stones. On the polished surface of the head- 
stone he placed the following inscription: 




AUGUST 4, 1797. 







Judge Samuel D. Lockwood was a man whose life and public 
services are worthy of commemoration, and he will take rank next 
to Governor Coles. He came to the State in 1818, and died in 1874. 
He was elected state's attorney in 1821 was appointed Secretary 
of State by Governor Coles in 1822; receiver of public moneys by 


President Monroe in 1823; in 1824 was elected one of the judges 
of the Supreme Court and remained in that position till the adop- 
tion of the Constitution in 1848, when he was appointed trustee of 
the Illinois Central Railroad Company. 

He was born in Poundridge, Westchester Co., N. Y., Aug. 2, 
1789, and died at Batavia, April 23, 1874, in the eighty-fifth year of 
his age. The impress that he left upon the State and the age in 
which he lived, we trust, will not soon be forgotten. 

The part that he took in public affairs in the founding and estab- 
lishing charitable and public institutions has identified .his name 
with everything that is noble and good. "When the State was in 
danger of becoming a slave State, he threw into the contest his soul, 
his conscience, his money and estate, and in connection with Coles, 
William H. Brown, and scores of others, fought the good fight and 
won the victory. 

He was a great lawyer, judge and jurist, and possessed a char- 
acter worthy of imitation. He was the author of the Criminal 
Code of the State in 1825, and considering the time and occasion, 
and his want of all exterior aids in the shape of books, it was and 
is a masterpiece. It is a curious fact that the Chicago anarchists 
were tried under a provision of that Code entitled "Accesso- 
ries to Crime," as follows : " An accessory, is he or she who stands 
by and aids, abets or assists; or who, not being present aid ing, abet- 
ting or assisting, hath advised and encouraged the perpetration of 
the crime. 

" He or she who thus aids, abets or assists, advises or encourages, 
shall be deemed and considered as principal, and punished accord- 

Of Judge Lockwood, Dr. Edward Beecher, who was president 
of Illinois College for fourteen years, says: " I can not enter into 
any details of the life of Judge Lockwood, nor of his legal services to 
the community. But I can say that during an acquaintance of over 
twenty years, of which fourteen associated me with him as a trustee 
of Illinois College, I have seen in him incorruptible integrity and 
wisdom as a counsellor in all things, with an unwavering devotion to 
sound principles and the public good in every position he held. 

"His life, in all its relations, public and social, was spotless and I 
think he had the entire confidence and warm affection of the whole 
community in which he lived. 


" His services to the cause of liberty in the early history of the 
State deserves a warm recognition." 

Dr. T. M. Post, of St. Louis, himself renowned as a minister of 
the Gospel, as a scholar and a statesman, says : " There was in his 
character a rare blending of elements a modesty, gentleness and 
delicacy well nigh feminine, and great general kindness, combined 
with intrepid firmness of principle, a large practical wisdom, distin- 
guished judicial ability and integrity, and a personal purity and 
honor as stainless as a star. He was a most beneficent power in 
founding and shaping the early history and civilization of Illinois." 

There was heroism in those men who stayed the tide of incoming 
barbarism and opened the springs of a high 'civilization who kept 
out slavery with its. three-fold curse on master, servant and soil, and 
established freedom with its three-fold blessing on mind, body and 
estate ; who planted the seed, and cherished to a vigorous growth 
our educational, benevolent and Christian institutions, adorning the 
prairie with schoolhouses, asylums and churches. The real history 
of Illinois must be found in the lives of her eminent men. 


Next to Governor Coles, Lockwood and Mr. Peck, the man who 
did the most in arousing and forming public opinion to the dan- 
gers of making Illinois a sla've State was Morris Birkbeck of 
Edwards county. He was an Englishman by birth, and was born in 
"Wanborough, England, in 1763. He was highly educated, possessed 
a fine library and was renowned for his scholarship arid high classi- 
cal attainments. He had met Governor Coles on his visit to Eng- 
land a number of years before his advent to Illinois, and, probably 
through his influence, had emigrated to America and taken up his 
abode in Edwards county, where he founded a town and named it 
after his native town in England, "Wanborough. The settlement 
was soon known as the "English Settlement" and is a romance 
in itself equal in interest to that of a fairy tale. He was a man of 
great experience and observation which he had improved by foreign 
travel; and he had prior to his coming to this country written a 
book of travels entitled " Notes of a Journey through France," 
which had attracted the attention of Thomas Jefferson and was 
found in his library at Monticello. 

He is the author also of the well known works entitled " Letters 
from Illinois " and % ' Notes on a Journey in America." His views 
upon the subject of slavery may be gathered from a letter dated 


July 28, 1818. written to a friend in France, in which he says: " In 
passing from theory to practice 1 have experienced no diminution of 
my love for freedom; but 1 hate tyranny more cordially and I want 
language to express the loathing I feel for personal slavery; prac- 
ticed by freemen it is most detestable. It is the leprosy of the 
United States, a foul blotch which more or less contaminates the 
entire system in public and in private, from the president's chair to 
the cabin of the hunter." 

When the great controversy was raging over the question 
whether Illinois should be slave or free, Mr. Birkbeck wrote a series 
of letters over the nom de plume of Jonathan Freeman, which 
were widely read and greatly admired. They were plainly written 
but were full of facts and figures and captivated all who read them. 
He was most bitterly assaulted by the pro-slavery party and 
denounced as a " foreign emissary," an '-exile," a quaker and an 
infidel of the worst type, to exterminate whom would be doing God's 
will. He deserves, for the part he took in making Illinois a free 
State, immortal honor, and his memory should be embalmed in brass 
and marble. He was drowned while crossing a small stream called 
Fox river, June 4, 1825. His body was taken two days afterward 
to New Harmony, Indiana, and buried with every mark of respect 
and affection. Thus perished Morris Birkbeck, one of the ablest 
and most celebrated men of his time in Illinois, whose influence 
wielded in the cause of freedom and humanity, should always be 
gratefully remembered. Associated with Mr. Birkbeck in his work 
of establishing the English colony at Wanborough was George 
Flower, who was also a great man and deserves particular mention. 
He was an Englishman by birth, and was born in Hertford, the 
county town of Hertfordshire, twenty miles northeast of London. 
He had known Birkbeck in his youth, had traveled with him over 
France soon after the fall of Napoleon, and from France southward 
to the shores of the Mediterranean, skirting the Pyrenees and 
returning thence by a more easterly route to Paris. 

Birkbeck dedicated his small but very interesting volume enti- 
tled "Notes on a Journey through France," etc., to Mr. Flower in 
these words: 
To Mr. George Iflower, of Morden, near Hertford. 

DEAR SIB: Yon were my agreeable and intelligent fellow- 
traveler, and I offer you this little volume as the result of our 
joint observations. Your faithful friend, 

Wanborough, Nov. 13, 1814. M. BIRKBECK. 


Flower first sailed from Liverpool for America in the ship 
Robert Burns in April, 1816, and was fifty days in crossing the 
Atlantic. He traveled on horseback across the Alleghanies to the 
far West; met Gen. Jackson at Nashville, Tennessee, and return- 
ing East visited Jefferson at his Poplar Forest estate, to whom he had 
letters'of introduction and with whom he stayed, on Jefferson's 
invitation, for several months, passing the winter with him. There 
is nothing which has ever been written, which contains such a 
charming picture as his life-like sketch of Mr. Jefferson in the 
home of his family and in his domestic privacy, as he saw him in 

Mr. Jefferson, it appears, was a great believer in land and his large 
possessions at Monticello did not seem to satisfy him and he pur- 
chased an estate in Bedford county, which he called Poplar Forest, 
and which was but a short distance east of Lynchburg. Mr. Flower 
was a man of rare intelligence, of fine literary tastes, and extensive 
reading, with a great knowledge of men and things in Europe, and 
Mr. Jefferson became very much interested in him. 

Mr. Flower in his account of his visit to Jefferson, says: ""We 
entered the State of Virginia at Abington. 1 found Mr. Jefferson 
at his Poplar Forest estate, in the western part of the State of 
Virginia. His house was built after the fashion of a French chateau. 
Octagon rooms, floors of polished oak, lofty ceilings, large mirrors, 
betokened his French taste, acquired by his long residence in France. 
Mr. Jefferson's figure was rather majestic; tall, over six feet, thin 
and rather high-shouldered; manners simple, kind and courteous. 
His dress in color and form was quaint and old-fashioned, plain and 
neat, a dark pepper and salt coat, cut in the old quaker fashion, 
with a single row of large metal buttons, knee-breeches, gray 
worsted stockings, shoes fastened by large metal buckles such was 
the appearance of Jefferson when I first made his acquaintance in 
1816. His two granddaughters Misses Randolph well educated 
and accomplished ladies, were staying with him at the time." He 
was delighted with the conversations of Jefferson, who gave him 
the minor history of events before only known to him generally in 
published records and publications of the times. While here he 
became acquainted with the Coles family, Isaac Coles, the brother 
of Governor Coles, being Jefferson's private secretary. His sister, 
Miss Coles, had just been married to Hon. Andrew Stevenson, who 
was afterward minister to Great Britain, and was the first American, 


we believe, who WPS ever voted the freedom of the city of London. 
He was present at the inauguration of James Monroe as President 
of the United States. He afterward met Edward Coles at the 
house of Madison. 

A short time after this he joined the colony of Morris Birkbeck 
and went West with him and located at the English colony in 
Edwards county. The story of his life is as thrilling as a romance 
and is embodied in what is known as the " History of the English 
Settlement in Edwards County," published at the expense of Levi 
Z. Leiter, and constitutes the first of a series of the Chicago His- 
torical publications. He and his wife died on the same day early 
in January, 1862, at the house of their daughter, Mrs. Agniell, at 
Grayville, White county, Illinois. Dr. Barry of the Chicago His- 
torical Society, in a just tribute to his great and exalted worth, says: 
"Born in Hertfordshire, England, in affluent circumstances, after 
gaining some distinction in his native land by continental travel for 
the benefit of British husbandry, he came to America in 1817 
(about thirty years of age) as the associate of Morris Birkbeck in 
founding the English colony at Albion, Edwards county, in Illi- 

It was no mere sordid impulse that moved either of these noble- 
hearted men in their scheme of colonization. Republicans from deep- 
seated sentiment and conviction, the great American Republic drew 
them hither as to a congenial home, and here they jointly estab- 
lished a thrifty and successful colony, transplanting on our virgin 
prairies the arts and improvements of the old mother country. 
The large wealth possessed by Mr. Flower gave him a command- 
ing, a responsible, and we may add, a laborious position in the new 
colony. His spacious mansion of rare extent and finish in a new 
settlement was the scene of frank and elegant hospitality. Strangers 
of distinction sought it from afar. Improved husbandry, with the 
importation of the finest fleeces of England and Spain, followed 
the guiding hand of the master mind. The calm and philosophic 
wisdom of Mr. Flower, united witli a rare benevolence, has left 
bright traces upon our western history. 

In the eventful strife which accompanied the daring attempt in 
1823, to legalize African slavery in Illinois, no one enlisted with a 
truer heroism than he. We of the present day, and amidst the 
dire commotions of civil war, can but poorly comprehend the 
ferocity and the gloomy portents of that struggle. So nearly 


balanced were the contending parties of the State, that the vote of 
the English colony, ever true to the instincts of freedom, turned 
the scale, a handful of sturdy Britons being the forlorn hope to 
stay the triumph of wrong and oppression, whose success might 
have sealed forever, the doom of republican and constitutional 
liberty in America. The failure of that nefarious plot against our 
young and noble State, led to an outburst of persecution against 
free negroes and their humane protectors, transcending even the 
invidious hostility of our so-called Black Laws, and constitutional 

Mr. Flower was one of that class of men whose fine insight, large 
views and calm force, raised him above all claimants to popular 
favor. In his early maturity, he numbered among his friends and 
correspondents such personages as our American Jefferson, Lafay- 
ette, and the Comte de Lasteyrie, of France, Madame O'Connor 
(the daughter of Condorcet), Ireland, and Cobbett, of England. 
By these, and such as these, his superior tone of mind and character 
was held in true esteem. In the depths of our yet unfurrowed 
prairies, and amidst the struggle and hardship of a new settlement, 
a mind and heart like his might fail of a just appreciation by his 
contemporaries. This sad realization he doubtless felt. But now 
that he has passed from the scenes of his voluntary exile, let it not 
be said that a true and gifted manhood was here and we knew it not. 

There are those now, and to come, who will keep green his 
memory, and take pleasure in recovering the traces of a noble mind 
that lived and thought and acted only for human good. 

That his teachings and example bore fruit is evidenced by the 
fact that the records of the Indiana volunteers show that Richard 
Flower was among the first to enlist in the First Indiana Cavalry, 
at Mount Vernon, Indiana, on the breaking out of the rebellion, and 
he fell in the battle of Fredericktown, Missouri, on the 18th of 
October, 1861. 

Daniel P. Cook, who was at this period a young and rising 
statesman, did not figure in the great contest for freedom in Illinois 
as conspicuously as many others, but he acted as the legal adviser of 
Governor Coles on many occasions and his name and fame are closely 
identified with this great movement. 

In 1827 Hon. Daniel P. Cook, member of Congress from this 
State, obtained a grant of land in aid of the Illinois and Michigan 
Canal, and thus obtained the title of " Father of the Illinois and 


Michigan Canal." At that time this project was wholly a Southern 
Illinois enterprise, and Mr. Cook was a representative from that 
portion of the State. 

He was a member of Congress commencing with the second 
session of 1819, and served with great distinction in that body eight 
years. He was elected at the early age of twenty-five, served eight 
years and died when only thirty-three years old. He was a most 
remarkable man, possessed of great foresight, eloquence and sagac- 
ity and was the compeer of Clay, Calhoun, Wirt, Stevenson and 
McDuffie. He was chairman of the important committee of ways 
and means in the House, during his last term of service and bid 
fair to become one of the foremost men in the Nation. He was 
early impressed with the idea of improving the water ways of our 
State and of building a canal from the Mississippi river to Chicago. 

In 1824, the Legislature of the State passed a law giving to a 
private company the practical, if not exclusive, control of the Illi- 
nois river and the power of making a canal. So averse was he to 
this, that he left his'seat in Congress, came home to Illinois, pro- 
cured the repeal of the charter and then procured the land grant 
which resulted in building the canal. The project of connecting 
the waters of the Mississippi with those of Lake Michigan was agi- 
tated as early as 1814. In 1818, Governor Bond pressed it upon 
the attention of the first Legislature, then sitting at Kaskaskia, and 
Governor Coles, in 1822, did the same. 

In 1821, the Legislature appropriated $10,000 for the survey 
of the route of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. In 1823, canal 
commissioners were appointed and a tour of inspection was made 
under Col. J. Post and R. Paul, of Missouri. The work was com- 
menced in 1836, and completed in 1845. 

Daniel P. Cook was one of the most enterprising and far-seeing 
statesmen of his time. The State of Illinois and the county of Cook 
owe him a debt of gratitude which can never be repaid. He 
deserves at least a monument to his memory and it should be 
erected at no distant day. 


The Great Convention Struggle of 1823-4 to Make Illinois 

a Slave State. 

SIX years after the Constitution of 1818 had been adopted and 
before even the provisions had become known to the scattered 
population of the State a struggle commenced for supremacy 
between the pro-slavery inhabitants and those who were in favor 
of forever keeping the State free such as has never been wit- 
nessed in this country, except perhaps in regard to Kansas, nearly 
forty years afterward. It was a gigantic conspiracy which was 
entered into by the leading office-holders and aspirants for office 
in the State backed by parties in Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri. 
Missouri had just been admitted into the Union under and by 
virtue of what is known as the Missouri Compromise, and the slave- 
holding population and their sympathizers resolved to keep com- 
pany with their neighbors. 

The times were hard. The farmer could find no market for his 
abundant crops. Manufactures languished, improvements were at a 
standstill, and the mechanic was without work. The country was 
cursed by a fluctuating and irredeemable paper currency, which had 
driven all real money out of circulation. 

The flow of immigration to the State had in a great measure 
ceased, but a great emigration passed through the State to Missouri. 
Great numbers of well-to-do emigrants from the slave States, tak- 
ing with them their slaves, were then leaving their homes to find 
new ones west of the Mississippi. When passing through Illinois to 
their destination, with their well equipped emigrant wagons, drawn 
by splendid horses, with their retinue of slaves, and with all the 
lordly airs of that class of slave-holders, they avowed that their 
only reason for not settling in Illinois, was that they could not hold 
their slaves. This fact had a very great influence, particularly in 
that part of the State through which the emigration passed, and 
people denounced the unwise provision of the Constitution pro- 
hibiting slavery and thus preventing a great influx of population to 

add wealth to the State. 



During the years 1823-4 occurred the great controversy over 
the question " Shall a convention be called to form a new State Con- 
stitution" it being well understood that if the convention was 
called, Illinois would become a slave State, if it was not, it would 
remain a free State. 

The proposition was beaten by a considerable majority after one 
of the most exciting campaigns ever held within our borders. 

The success which had attended the admission of Missouri into 
the Union, under and by virtue of the famous compromise bill, 
encouraged the pro-slavery party in this State to believe that if a 
convention were called to revise and amend the Constitution, they 
could make Illinois a slave State, and every effort was put forth to 
accomplish that object. The Constitution had, it must be recol- 
lected, been in operation only about four years, and the only thing 
that was ever particularly complained of was the restrictions on the 
appointing power of the governor and the Council of Revision. 
But this made no difference; the fiat went forth that Illinois must 
be made a slave State in order to keep pace with Missouri, and the 
struggle commenced. 

William H. Brown, in recounting his reminiscences of the 
period, says: "Among those who supported the convention, as a 
.general thing, were the rank and file of the politicians of the State. 
Of these must be excepted a few such men as Daniel P. Cook, and 
Governor Edwards, even, who, according to my recollection, was 
absent from the State and took no part in the controversy. These 
politicians were dangerous opponents, because, long engaged in the 
struggles for power and office, they were practiced leaders and 
familiar with all the means and appliances for success with the 
people. With them were the men of wrecked fortunes and loose 
principles, as also the young, aspiring and ambitious, misled by the 
loud boasting and extravagant calculations of the party, supposing 
that the great majority was upon that side. The French population 
also, to secure more perfectly their supposed rights to the people of 
color then held by them in bondage, were the natural allies of the 
conventionists and desirous of their success. To these must be 
added, with very few exception?, the poor whites from the slave 
States, the most vociferous and malignant of all. Their poverty 
and shiftlessness precluded the possibility of their becoming slave- 
holders if the Constitution should be changed. Their toil and zeal 
could only be accounted for upon the supposition that they desired 


a class of humanity among us more debased and ignorant than them- 

The Constitution of Illinois made it the duty of the General 
Assembly whenever two-thirds of its members should think it 
necessary to alter or amend the Constitution, to recommend to the 
electors at the next election of members to the General Assembly, 
to vote for or against a convention for such purpose, and if it shall 
appear that a majority of all the citizens voted for a convention, 
the General Assernbty shall at their next session call one to be held 
in time and manner specified under the provision. The agitation for 
a convention commenced and was favored by every pro-slavery 
elector in the State. 

The first skirmish occurred in the General Assembly of 1820-21, 
when Lockwood was elected to the office of attorney-general. 

The second was the election of Edward Coles governor, in 
August, 1822, as the second governor of the State, and was one of 
the most wonderful dramas ever enacted, whether State or National. 

The convention party never dreamed of any other result than 
that in their own favor, and nominated Chief Justice Joseph 
Phillips. Some opposition having, however, developed against him, 
a faction nominated Judge Thomas C. Brown, who they thought 
would draw largely from Coles, but in this they were mistaken, and 
when the votes were counted it was found that Coles had received 
2,810 votes; Phillips, 2,760; Brown, 2,543, and Moore, a fourth 
candidate, 522. 

This gave Coles a plurality of fifty-one votes over Phillips, and 
he was elected. The first thing that Coles did was to appoint Sam- 
uel D. Lockwood Secretary of State, and the party squared for 

On the convening of the General Assembly it was found that in 
order to hold ia convention to revise the Constitution, under the pro- 
visions of the Constitution it was necessary to have a two-thirds 
vote, and they were lacking one vote in the House. At first it was 
attempted to have the question decided by joint ballot, but as it was 
found that the Constitution required that the act calling the con- 
vention must be decided by a two- thirds majority in each House, 
that plan was abandoned and scoundrelism was resorted to. 

A man by the name of Hanson had been elected to the House 
of Representatives from Pike county. His seat was contested by 
a man by the name of Shaw. Finding Hanson favorable to calling a 


convention, Shaw was ousted of his seat and went home. This 
happened very early in the session, and but little was thought 
about it. It was after a time, however, discovered that Hanson 
would not vote in favor of a convention and he was unseated and 
Shaw recalled. This gave them the requisite two-thirds majority 
and their joy knew no bounds. They indulged in the most shame- 
ful orgies and an impromptu jollification was gotten up not only 
to celebrate their hard-earned victory but to insult _and degrade 
their opponents. 

Governor Ford in describing this affair says: "The night after 
this resolution passed, the convention party assembled to triumph 
in a great carousal. They formed themselves into a noisy, dis- 
orderly and tumultuous procession, headed by Judge Phillips, 
Judge Smith, Judge Thomas Reynolds, late governor of Missouri, 
and Lieutenant-Governor Kinuey, followed by the majority of the 
Legislature and the hangers-on and rabble about the seat of govern- 
ment; and they marched with the blowing of tin horns and the 
beating of drums and tin pans to the residence of Governor Coles 
and to the boarding houses of their principal opponents toward 
whom they manifested their contempt And displeasure by a con- 
fused medley of groans, waitings and lamentations. Their object 
was to intimidate and crush all opposition at once." 

Governor John Reynolds characterized the proceeding as " a 
wild and indecorous proceeding by torch light and liquor," and in 
his history "My Own Times," says that, "this proceeding in the 
General Assembly looked revolutionary and was condemned by all 
honest and reflecting men. This outrage was a death blow to the 

The people soon took fire and the contest commenced. Each 
anti-convention member of the General Assembly contributed fifty 
dollars to a common fund. Governor Coles gave his whole four 
years salary, amounting to $4,000, to the work. Lockwood, in 
order to earn money to aid in the work, resigned the office of Secre- 
tary of State with its meagre fees and accepted the office of receiver 
of public moneys, and devoted all his surplus income to the cause. 
The enthusiasm kindled and men, women and children became 
aroused and interested, and the excitement spread through the 
State. Papers were bought and established, appeals were made, 
broadsides written, and in less than six months after the adjourn- 
ment of the General Assembly the heavens glowed as if illuminated 


by prairie fires. The convention men formed secret clubs with grips 
and signals, and adopted as a pass word "convention or die," but it 
was of no use. There was a God in Israel. The anti-convention 
party became thoroughly united, and were led by men that knew 
no fear, and whose convictions were so strong that they would have 
gone to the scaffold or the stake singing hosannas to God. They 
belonged to that class of martyrs that have worshiped God and died 
for the " Old Cause," since the Redeemer was crucified on the cross 
and since Sidney poured out his soul for the liberty of his fellow- 

The leaders of the convention party were politicians and 
schemers. They were influenced to a great extent by their ambi- 
tion for office and were envious and distrustful, often angry, often 
overbearing and in want of respect for the opinions of others. 
Gov. Reynolds, an active convention man himself, says that "the 
convention question gave rise to two years of the most furious and 
boisterous excitement and contest that ever visited Illinois. Men, 
women and children entered the arena of party warfare and strife, 
and the families and neighborhoods were so divided and furious and 
bitter against one another that it seemed as if a regular civil war 
might result. The leaders of the convention were Elias Kent 
Kane, McLean, Judge Phillips, Judge McRoberts, A. P. Field, 
Governor Bond, A. Beaird. Robinson, Smith, Kinney, West, R. M. 
Young and others. The opposition was headed by Governor .Coles, 
Rev. J. M. Peck, Judge Lockwood, Daniel P. Cook, William H. 
Brown, Judge Pope, Governor Edwards, Morris Birkbeck. George 
Flower, David Blackwell, Hooper Warren, Henry Eddy, George 
Forquer, George Churchill and others. Ostensibly the most influ- 
ential and energetic public men were on the side of the convention, 
but the opposition was better organized and trained in the cause. 
The facts and arguments were the strongest on the merits of the 
subject in opposition to slavery, which had its effect in such long 
discussions before the election. The question, as it was familiarly 
called at the time, united the various denominations of religion 
which had never before acted together. The opposition to the 
convention labored with more enthusiasm and devotedness to the 
cause than the other side and organized better and sooner. The 


opposition succeeded by 1,800 votes majority, and thus ended the 
most important and the most exciting election that was ever wit- 
nessed in the State. The full vote stood 4,972 for the convention. 


and 6,400 against the convention, showing that each party brought 
out its full strength. The victory thus won undoubtedly saved 
Indiana (because the same thing was agitated there) from becoming 
a slave State, and set bounds to that great blighting and withering 
curse to every clime and country it ever reached. " The noise of 
the conflict has long since died away, and the actors in it all rest 
from their labors, but a grateful people should always remember 
that freedom in Illinois was secured, not by the ordinance of 1787 
alone, but by the persistent energy, the noble faith and heroic 
enthusiasm of our honored fathers of the present century." 

Those who were in favor of calling a convention to make 
Illinois a slave State, numbered among its champions, the ablest and 
most influential men of the time, among whom were ex-Governor 
Bond, and six gentlemen who afterward became United States 
senators : Jesse B. Thomas, John McLean, Elias Kent Kane, John 
M. Robinson, Samuel McRoberts and Richard M. Young; there were 
also, Chief Justice Phillips of the Supreme Court, who was 
characterized at the time as a demagogue of the first water, William 
Kinney and Zadoc Casey, subsequently lieutenant-governors of the 
State, Colonel Alexander P. Field, Joseph A. Beaird, Gen. "Willis 
Hargrave, Emanuel J. West, Lieutenant-Governor Hubbard, John 
Reynolds, a judge of the Supreme Court, Thomas Reynolds, brother 
of John Reynolds, afterward governor of Missouri, and many others. 

On the anti-convention side were a class of men, not so dis- 
tinguished, but they were the most conscientious, intensely earnest 
and determined men that ever lived. The martyrs and holy men 
of old never surpassed them in zeal and Christian fortitude. Men, 
we have been told, prayed for success and the blessings of Almighty 
Godmpon their efforts and the results of their labors who never 
prayed before, and Christian women sang, wept and prayed, cheered 
and encouraged them to persevere to the end. 

Governor Coles took the lead and worked night and day organ- 
izing the opposition everywhere and wielding his facile and power- 
ful pen with great effect. He was aided and assisted by Judge 
Lockwood, William H. Brown, Rev. John M. Peck, Morris Birk- 
beck, Robert Flower, and hosts of others whose names deserve 

Among the most effective and untiring workers was Rev. John 
M. Peck of St. Clair county. He was originally from Connecticut, 
possessed of a strong and comprehensive mind, well educated and 


with an energy and perseverance rarely surpassed. His headquar- 
ters were St. Clair county. This he organized in the most thorough 
manner and then extended his system, which was something like 
the organization of the minute men in the times of the Revolution, 
to fourteen other counties. He appealed to God and the con- 
sciences of men with an eloquence akin to that of St. Paul. Uniting 
the work of establishing Sunday schools, temperance societies and 
the distribution of the Bible, he preached a crusade against slavery 
wherever he went, equal to those who roused the masses to rescue 
the Holy Sepulchre from the hands of the infidels during the mid- 
dle ages. He was a master of pathos and painted the trials, suffer- 
ings and sorrows of the poor and downcast creatures who were 
held in bondage in colors such as moved all to tears. To the hum- 
ble and needy farmers he held above them a crown of glory like 
that of Bunyan's diadem over the toiler with the muck-rake if they 
did their duty, and his appeals to their wives to aid and assist them 
in the good work were irresistible. Bunyan's allegory was at his 
tongue's end and he never failed to point out the trials of Christian 
as those of their own, and that the sight of the Delectable mountains 
and Paradise itself were theirs if they would go to the polls and 
vote against calling a convention to make Illinois a slave State. 
John Bunyan had much to do with dedicating to freedom our great 
and glorious Commonwealth. God be praised. 

Mr. Hinsdale, in his " Old Northwest," in reviewing this period 
and this great struggle says : " From the first the propagandists 
fought a losing battle. When the end was finally reached, the vote 
stood for a convention, 4,950; against a convention, 6,822, being a 
majority of 1,872 in a total vote of 11,772. In view of this large 
majority, the subsequent political history of Illinois for thirty years 
is very remarkable. The State passed almost at once into the hands 
of a powerful and violent pro-slavery party and thus remained until 
the repeal of the Missouri Compromise brought about a new com- 
bination of political forces. But the attempt to enthrone slavery 
in the citadel of the State Constitution was not renewed." 


The Development of Infant Industries, or how Banking- can 
be Carried on by Politicians. 

history of banking by politicians and the administration of 
-L State banks by boards of directors, composed of politicians, is 
one of the most instructive lessons ever taught a free people. The 
Jate Thomas Ford has given a most graphic account of the period of 
speculation in Illinois, which set in soon after the adoption of the 
Constitution of 1818, and which is worth recounting. " Until 1817," 
says he, "everything of a foreign growth or manufacture had been 
brought from New Orleans on keel boats, towed with ropes or 
pushed with poles by the hardy race of boatmen of that day, up 
the current of the Mississippi, or else wagoned across the moun- 
tains from Philadelphia, and from thence floated down the Ohio, 
to its mouth, in keel boats, and from there shoved, pushed and 
towed up the Mississippi, as from New Orleans. Upon the con, 
elusion of the war of 1812, the people from the old States began to 
come and settle in the country. They brought some money and 
property with them and introduced some changes in the customs 
and modes of living. Before the war, such a thing as money was 
scarcely ever seen in the country. The skins of the deer and raccoon 
supplying the place of a circulating medium." 

The money which was now brought in and which had before 
been paid by the United States to the rnilitia during the war, turned 
the heads of all the people, and gave them new ideas and aspira- 
tions, so that by 1819, the whole country was in a rage for specu- 
lating in lands and town lots. The States of Ohio and Kentucky, a 
'little before, had each incorporated a batch of about forty independ- 
ent banks. The Illinois Territory had incorporated two at home, 
one at Edwardsville, and the other at Shawneetown; and the Terri- 
tory of Missouri added two more at St. Louis. 

These banks made money very plenty; emigrants brought it to 
the State in great abundance. The owners of it had to use it in 
some way, and as it could not be used in legitimate commerce in a 
State where commerce did not exist, the most of it was used to 



build houses in towns which the limited business of the country 
did not require, and to purchase land which the labor of the country 
was not sufficient to cultivate. This was "developing the infant 
resources of a new country." The United States Government was 
then selling land at two dollars per acre; eighty dollars on the 
quarter section to be paid down on the purchase with a credit of 
five years for the resident. For nearly every sum of eighty dol- 
lars there was in the country, a quarter section of land was pur- 
chased; for in those days there were no specie circulars to restrain 
unwarrantable speculations; but, on the contrary, the notes of most 
of the numerous banks in existence were good in the public and 
land offices. The amount of land thus purchased was increased by 
the general expectation that the rapid settlement of the country 
would enable the speculator to sell it for a high price before the 
expiration of the credit. This great abundance of money, also, 
about this time made a vast increase in the amount of merchandise 
brought into the State. "When money is plenty, every man's credit 
is good. The people dealt with the stores on credit, and drew 
upon a certain fortune in prospect for payment. Every one was 
expecting to make it out of the future immigrant. 

The speculator was to sell him houses and lands, and the farmer 
was to sell him everything he wanted to begin with and to live 
upon until he could supply himself. Towns were laid out all over 
the country and lots were purchased by every one on credit; the 
town maker received no money for his lots, but he received notes 
of hand which he considered to be as good as cash, and he lived 
and embarked in other ventures as if they had been cash in truth. 
In this mode, by the year 1820, nearly the whole people were 
irrevocably involved in debt. The banks in Ohio and Kentucky 
broke one after another, leaving the people of those States covered 
with indebtedness and without the means of extrication. The 
banks at home and in St. Louis ceased business. 

The great tide of immigrants from abroad, which had been 
looked for, failed to come. Real estate was unsalable; the lands 
purchased of the United States were unpaid for and likely to be 
forfeited. Bank notes had driven out specie, and when these notes 
became worthless, there was no money of any description left in 
the country. 

To remedy those evils, the Legislature of 1821 created a State 
bank. It was founded without money and wholly on the credit of 


the State. It was authorized to issue one, two, three, five, ten and 
twenty dollar notes, the likeness of bank bills, bearing two per cent, 
annual interest, and payable by the State in ten years. A principal 
bank was established at Vandaliaand four or five branches in other 
places; the Legislature elected all the directors and officers, a large 
number of whom were members of the Legislature, and all of them 
professional politicians. 

The bank was directed by law to lend the bills to the people, to 
the amount of one hundred dollars on personal security, and upon 
the security of mortgages upon land for a greater sum. 

These bills were to be received in payment of all State and 
county taxes, and for all costs and fees and salaries of public officers; 
and if a creditor refused to indorse on his execution his willingness 
to receive them in payment of his debt, the debtor could replevy 
or stay its collection for three years by giving personal security. 

The bill creating this new system of banking, was forced 
through the House by sheer brute force. John McLean, of Shaw- 
neetown, who was speaker of the House at the time, was insulted 
and bullied to such a degree and in such an outrageous manner, that 
he resigned the speakership, and opposed the bill with all his might, 
but it was of no avail. 

The governor and judges, acting as a council of revision, objected 
to it as being unconstitutional and inexpedient, but it passed through 
both Houses by the constitutional majorities. The Supreme Court 
of the United States afterward decided that all the bills of such 
banks which were payable at a future day, were bills of credit and 
prohibited by the Constitution. 

In 1821 the new bank went into operation. Every man who 
could get an indorser borrowed his hundred dollars. The directors 
were, as before stated, all politicians, and were either then candi- 
dates for office or expected to be. Lending to everybody and 
refusing none was the surest road to popularity. 

Three hundred thousand dollars of the new money was soon 
lent without much attention to security or care for eventual pay- 
ment. It first fell twenty-live cents, then fifty and then seventy 
cents below par. As the bills of the Ohio and Kentucky banks had 
driven all other money out of the State, so this new issue effectually 
kept it out. Such a total absence was there of the silver coins, that 
it became utterly impossible, in the course of trade, to make small 
change. The people, from necessity, were compelled to cut the 


new bills into two pieces so as to make two halves of a dollar. Fol 
about four years there was no other kind of money, but this uncur- 
rent State bank paper. In the meantime, very few persons 
pretended to pay their debts to the bank. More than half of those 
who borrowed considered what they had gotten from it as so much 
clear gain, and never intended to pay it from the first. 

By the year 1824 it became impossible to carry on the State 
government with such money as the bills of this bank. The State 
revenue varied from twenty-five to thirty thousand dollars per 
annum which was raised almost exclusively by a tax on lands, then 
owned by non-residents, in the military tract lying northwest of the 
Illinois river. 

The resident land tax in other parts of the State was paid into 
the county treasuries. The annual expenditures of the State gov- 
ernment were about equal 'to the annual revenues; and as the taxes 
were collected in the bills of the State bank, the Legislature, to 
carry on the government, were compelled to provide for their own 
pay, that of all the public officers, and the expenses of the govern- 
ment, by taking and giving enough of the depreciated bills to equal 
in value the sums required to be paid. So that each member 
instead of receiving three dollars per day, received nine dollars per 
day. The salaries of the governor and judges, and all other ex- 
penses were paid in the same way. So that if $30,000 were required 
to pay the expenses of the government fora year, under this system 
it took $90,000 to do it. And thus by the financial aid of an insolv- 
ent bank, the Legislature managed to treble the public- expenses, 
without increasing the revenues or amount of service to the State. 
In fact, this State lost two-thirds of its revenues and expended 
three times the amount necessary to carry on the government. 
In the course of ten years, it must have lost more than $150,000 by 
receiving a depreciated currency, $150,000 more by paying it out, 
and $100,000 of the loans, which were never repaid by the borrow- 
ers and which the State had to make good, by receiving the bills of 
the bank for taxes, by funding some at six per cent, interest, and 
paying a part in cash in the year 1831. 

Repeal of the Black Laws of Illinois. 

struggles which the early settlers of Illinois underwent in 
endeavoring to establish a free government, developed heroes 
who braved hardships, dangers and outrages such as have seldom 
fallen to the lot of mortals in this new world. They deserve to 
have their names handed down to posterity, embalmed by the 
most tender recollections. 

"Long 1 ago was Gracchus slain, 
Brutus perished long ago; 
But the living roots remain, 

Whence the shoots of freedom grow." 

Among those who made their appearance on the stage of action 
soon after the pioneers had retired to rest and who entered with 
heart and soul into the work of liberating the slaves and of amelio- 
rating the condition of the negroes and mulattoes in Illinois was 
Zebina Eastman. He located at an early day in Chicago, estab- 
lished "The Western Citizen," and in connection with Hooper 
Warren, James H. Collins, Calvin DeWolf, Philo Carpenter, Dr. 
C. Y. Dyer, L. C. P. Freer, Kev. F. Bascom and others who were 
indignant that a pro-slavery mob had taken the life of Elijah P. 
Lovejoy at Alton, and who revolted at the arrogant and cruel spirit 
manifested by pro-slavery men everywhere, organized the old 
"Liberty Party," and preached abolitionism pure and simple 
throughout the length and breadth of the land. 

Mr. Eastman took a great interest in the movement to repeal 
the Black Laws of Illinois, and it is to his efforts, and to John Jones, 
as much, if not more, than any others, that those disgraceful laws 
were repealed. 

In 1882, in a discourse before the Chicago Historical Society, he, 
among other things, said : 

By the ordinance of 1787 it is provided that " there shall be 



neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said Territory, 
otherwise than in punishment of crime whereof the party shall have 
been duly convicted." 

The enabling act of Congress, by which the people of the State 
might vote to put off their minority and enter into the indissoluble 
bonds of the National Union, required strict conformity to this 
condition of perpetual freedom. 

The Constitution of the State, made in 1818, makes the harmo- 
nious declaration: " Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall 
hereafter be introduced into this State otherwise than for the pun- 
ishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly con- 
victed," indorsing and using the words of the ordinance. 

One would think the temple of liberty sufficiently guarded, bul- 
warked by these two firm buttresses, standing on the pillars of its 
portal. But there is something more in this State Constitution, 
with only a break of a semicolon. It is this: "Nor shall any male 
person arrived at the age of twenty-one years, nor any female per- 
son arrived at the age of eighteen years, be held to serve any 
person as a servant under any indenture hereafter made, unless such 
person shall enter into such indenture while in a state of perfect 
freedom, and on a condition of a bona fide consideration received 
or to be received for their services. Nor shall any indenture of 
any negro or mulatto hereafter made and executed out of this State? 
or if made in this State, whose term of service exceeds one year, 
be of the least validity, except those given in cases of apprentice- 

There seems to be a strange muddle of conditions in this lan- 
guage. Involuntary servitude is prohibited, yet there are certain 
conditions that remind us that permission is granted under prohi- 

The constitutional provisions are continued in other sections: 
" No person bound to labor in any other State shall be hired to 
labor in this State, except within the tract reserved for the salt 
works near Shawneetown, nor even in that place for a longer period 
than one year at any one time, nor shall it be allowed there after 
the year 1825. Any violation of this article shall effect the eman- 
cipation of such person from his obligation to service." Permis- 
sion again under prohibition! There is something about this salt- 
work business worthy of attention. It was one of the rat-holes 


through which slavery crept into the Territory. Saline springs or 
bogs were discovered which gave to the early settlers the much 
needed article of salt, if properly improved. To bring over a slave 
from Kentucky, to make salt enough to salt his porridge, served 
the legal purpose of his introduction, and many a farm was fenced 
and worked in the southern portion of the State by slaves working 
in the salt works, and that process of saving slavery with salt con- 
tinued till 1825. 

Another section provides as follows: "Each and every person 
who has been bound to service by contract or indenture in virtue of 
the laws of Illinois Territory heretofore existing, and in conformity 
to the provisions of the same, without fraud or collusion, shall be 
held to a specific performance of their contracts or indentures; and 
such negroes and mulattoes as have been registered in conformity 
with the aforesaid laws shall serve out the time appointed by said 
laws; provided, however, that the children hereafter born of such 
persons, negroes or mulattoes, shall become free the males at the 
age of twenty-one years, and the females at the age of eighteen 
years. Each and every child born of indentured parents shall be 
entered with the clerk of the county in which they reside by the 
owners, within six months from the birth of said child." It seems 
by this that children of indentured persons were constitutionally 
owned by their masters. By reference to the law, which will be 
soon quoted, it will be seen that perpetual slavery was possible un- 
der this clause of the Constitution, for none of the children were 
emancipated till they were of legal age; but propagation may come 
much earlier than legal majority. 

Such were the constitutional provisions of the first Constitution 
of the State, looking fair on their face; but on close scrutiny it is 
seen to attempt to provide for a muddled condition of things, which 
that old muddle of muddles, the slave system, ever brought to the 
community and muddled the heads of our good fathers. They 
would prohibit it, but were required to make provisions for its 
continuance. The fathers of our Constitution, like Gov. Edwards 
and Nathaniel Pope, were among the best of our early men. It 
was the hardest fate ever brought upon a nation to face this 
perpetuated evil of centuries with the necessity that it must be 
ended ; and it is not strange that it took the greatest war of modern 
times to cut that intricate knot with the sword. 


We must now go back a century or more to find facts which 
will help to solve this muddle of the Constitution. 

Notwithstanding Illinois was a part of the Northwest Territory, 
and under the restriction of this ordinance, and one of the States 
formed under it, it was nevertheless one of the old slave colonies. 
Slavery was introduced into Illinois in 1720, when it was a part of 
the French possessions of the Northwest. Philip Francis .Renault 
formed a company in France for working mines in Upper Louisiana, 
which was a part of Illinois; and he started from his country, 
ostensibly in the mining business, with two hundred mechanics and^ 
laborers, and on 'his way, at San Domingo, he purchased five hun- 
dred slaves arid brought them with him to Illinois. A portion of 
these or their descendants were afterward removed to the other 
French possessions on the west of the Mississippi, and helped to 
swell the aggregate of Louisiana slavery. Those that remained were 
the progenitors of the class known in our State from old time as 
the "French slaves," and fell in later as a part of the report of the 
census of slaves in Illinois, and the Frenchman Renault must be set 
down as the first Illinois slave-holder. 

The importation of blacks made a distinct class and the occa- 
sion of a distinct order of the slave-holders about Kaskaskia and 
the American bottoms, and where now descendants of both masters 
and slaves reside in a common Illinois citizenship. At that 
time slavery was legalized in all Christian countries that is, 
if making a system which the law did not create be legalizing 
it. If there is any law that created American slavery I have 
not yet found it. These slaves that Renault brought to Illinois 
were under French jurisdiction at that time and for nearly half a 
century, till the Northwest was ceded to Great Britain in the treaty 
of 1T63. They then came under the English law of bondage (if 
there was any such); and when the territory was captured by 
George Rodgers Clark, in 1778, which was done in the name of the 
sovereignty of Virginia, if they continued slaves under any law it 
must have been under the slave code of Virginia. When that State 
ceded the territory to the Nation these slaves must have been per- 
petuated in a bondage under United States law; and yet the United 
States had no such law. From the cession of Virginia to the 
Nation in 1784 till 1790, when Gov. St. Clair organized the county 
which took his nam, the people who resided in this territory had 
no legislative or judicial supervision, and were a law to themselves^ 


holding the slaves with the grip which they had previously 
obtained. But the ordinance for the cession declared that " there 
shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said 
Territory." Why this ordinance was inoperative in this essen" 
tial point to the slavery then in existence, is something similar in 
character to the later Dred Scott decision virtually, that not to 
have slavery was unconstitutional. But the action of the ordinance 
of 1787 was said to be prospective, and the courts never so decided. 
It was not until 1845 that the Supreme Court of this State settled 
this question of "vested rights," deciding that the slave descendants 
of Renault's importation of 125 years previous were free; and the 
Constitution of this State of 1848 put an end to involuntary servi- 
tude of every form in Illinois. 

In 1800 there was probably a population in the section that 
became Illinois of 3,000 persons. At that time there were reported 
in the census, including Indiana as well, 133 slaves. These must 
have been in the main in Illinois, and the descendants of the " French 
slaves." In 1810 Illinois had 168 slaves; in 1820, 917 a vast 
increase in the course of twenty years, showing that the increase 
must have come, if genuine slaves, from smuggling in from the 
border slave States, and held under the inherited vested rights as 
laborers in the salt works, or from the "indentured servants system," 
which was a dodge upon the restrictive clause of the ordinance. In 
1820 the population of the State was 43,919 whites, 1,476 blacks 
917 of which were slaves; total, 50,345. There came a habit of 
disregarding this prohibition in bringing slaves into many parts of 
the Territory, and even reporting; them in the census. This was 
done in Wisconsin as late as 1830, the marshal reporting a number 
of slaves in the said Territory. Dr. E. G. Dyer, of Burlington, 
Wis., father of the United States Judge, C. E. Dyer, of Racine, 
attacked the marshal for this illegal report, and disclosed the fact 
that these reported slaves were held generally by persons in respon- 
sible official positions in the United States Government. Consider- 
able commotion was created soon after this report of 1840 by the 
disclosure of the fact that Elder John T. Mitchell, a Methodist 
preacher, and once a presiding elder in Chicago, had brought a slave 
into Wisconsin, and held her as such, and afterward removed her to 
Missouri, still retaining the woman as his property, and therefore 


gained the reputation of being a clerical kidnaper. Such were some 
of the early assumptions of the doctrine of squatter sovereignty, 
that a man had the inalienable right to take his slave with him into 
a Territory into which he chose to remove. These facts are a little 
ahead of the logical events of history. But it suits the symmetry 
of the subject to bring them in here. It is best, however, to state 
here that the prohibition of slavery in the Northwest Territory was 
a bid, like "free Kansas," for its settlement by a hardy and indus. 
trious class, who thrived by the labor of their own hands, and for 
its settlement by a class of men from the south who were conscien- 
tiously opposed to slave-holding. It was emphasized as a free 
country, and free men felt invited to make here their homes. The 
early population of the .Northwest was composed of the mingled 
character of such men, and those who believed that prosperity came 
from one man having the power to compel some other man to work 
for him for nothing. 

There came, then, from this condition the incipient conflict of 
ideas of the past generation. The anti-slavery sentiment of the 
revolution was then pervading as a live principle. There was dis- 
satisfaction by interested persons on the other side at the restriction 
in the ordinance. The first petition on the subject to Congress 
came in 1796 from four persons in Kaskaskia, in this State, the seat 
of this inherited French slavery, asking that slavery might be tol- 
erated there. It seems that they felt they were holding their chat- 
tels on a feeble tenure. At that time we were all in one common 
Northwest Territory. Ohio became a State in 1800; then all the 
territory west and north of the Ohio river, from the mouth of the 
Kentucky, became the Territory of Indiana, with William Henry 
Harrison, governor. In 1804 a convention was held at Yincennes, 
of which Gov. Harrison was president, to deliberate on territorial 
interests, and from this convention went up a memorial to Congress 
which was referred to a committee, which reported recommending 
the suspension of the sixth article of the ordinance of 1787, " in a 
qualified manner for ten years, so as to permit the introduction of 
slaves born in the United States." This report was not adopted, 
neither was the previous prayer of the Kaskaskians heeded. 

At the session of the Indiana Territorial Legislature in 1806-7 
a series of resolutions were adopted and reported to Congress by 


the delegate of the territory, requesting the suspension of this 
restrictive article of the ordinance. We were then a part of that 
Territory. Jesse B. Thomas was speaker of the House, and Pierre 
Menard president of the Council, both citizens of Illinois, the latter 
a French slave-holder and the former intermarried with such. 
This report was lost in Congress also. These early efforts to 
establish slavery aroused the people, and an issue was made similar 
to that which was made afterward in our State called the " con- 
vention question." Jonathan Jennings, an anti-slavery man, was 
elected delegate to Congress, which position he held till Indiana 
was admitted as a State. It is known that Gen. Harrison was in 
favor of introducing slavery into the Northwest Territory. 

These facts prepare us for the introduction of the " The Black 
Code of Illinois." Some of the people, if they could not have 
slavery legitimately, would have it illegitimately, for the infamy 
which fell upon us was conceived in sin and brought forth in 
iniquity, a half-parented progeny. 

The Indiana Territorial Legislature passed an act, dated Sep- 
tember 17, 1807, which is the nucleus of our Black Code, with this 
title : " An act concerning the introduction of negroes and mtilat- 
toes into this Territory." 

There are five sections in this act, and it permits the owner of 
any negro or mulatto, above the age of fifteen, to bring such per- 
son into the Territory, and within thirty days take him before the 
clerk of the court, and there make an agreement for service, 
which is to be recorded. If the slave should refuse to make such 
contract, then the owner may return him back to slavery within 
sixty days. Such slaves should be held to service males until 
thirty-five years old and females until thirty -two. The master was 
required to register such slaves and the children with the clerk; 
and these children should be owned by the master and held to serv- 
ice until the age of thirty, and females until the age of twenty- 

This continued to be the law of the Territory of which Illinois 
was a part. In 1809, Indiana became a State, and Illinois inherited 
the Territorial condition and laws, and re-enacted the above. It is 
the law referred to in the Constitution. Such continued to be the 
law until remodeled after the Constitution of 1819. 

But the iniquity was not yet fully matured. Another law was 


passed in 1829. These were codified, BO to speak, in 1833, in the 
revised laws. 

There are twenty-five sections in the law of March 80, 1819. 
It prohibits any black or mulatto person coming into the State 
without producing a certificate of freedom. It was the first blow 
to free negroes. It followed the precedent of slave State legisla- 
tion, and was aimed to keep Illinois from being an as} T lumfor fugi- 
tives from oppression. Free negroes having such certificates were 
required to register their children. It forbids any person bringing 
slaves into the State for the purpose of emancipation. Under this 
act Gov. Coles was fined for emancipating his slaves July 4, 1819. 
It forbids slaves leaving plantations, and provided that if they be 
found away from their plantations without a pass they might be 
whipped by order of a justice to the extent of thirty-five lashes; 
the owner of a plantation finding such negro on his premises might 
flog him ten lashes. The assembling of negroes to a number more 
than three was to be regarded as a riot, and such assembling, seditious 
speeches, etc., might be punished by a justice at his discretion by 
Hogging. A white person was fined $20 for allowing any such 
assemblage. It was made the duty of all judges, coroners, justices^ 
etc., to arrest those found in any such assemblage and put them in 
jail till next day, and then flog thirty-nine lashes on the bareback* 
unless it should occur on Sunday; then the flogging was to be 
piously done on Monday. 

This law seems to be a transcript of the slave codes of Louis- 
iana or South Carolina. This act was passed under the administra- 
tion of Shadrach Bond, our first governor. Hooper Warren, editor 
of the first anti-slavery paper of the Nation, printed at Edwards- 
ville, said that a party had already been formed in the State called 
the Slave party. This party attempted to nullify the Northwest 
ordinance by passing an act in 1823 to call a convention to alter the 
Constitution so as to admit slavery. Gov. Coles had, however, 
been previously elected by a small majority, and he was an anti- 
slavery man of the Jefferson school. The convention project was 
voted down by the people. The people were anti-slavery and the 
Legislature pro-slavery. Senators in Congress voted to admit Mis- 
souri with slavery, and the people condemned the act. They 
elected Daniel P. Cook, after whom Cook county was named, who 
voted against Missouri, and the people continued to re-elect him 
while the Legislature made senators of the candidates he defeated 


at the polls. Free people of color humbly petitioned the Legisla- 
ture for the repeal of the burdensome Black Laws, but their peti- 
tions were unheeded, and heavier burdens were laid upon them. 

So, in 1829, ten years after the previous elaborate Black Act, and 
four years after the slave party met with its rebuff in the defeat of 
the call for the convention, the legislators attempted to do 
by legislation what the people had forbidden them to do by the 
Constitution. The act was approved January 7, 1829. It pro- 
hibits any black or mulatto person, being a citizen of any one of the 
United States, coming and residing in Illinois until he produces a 
certificate of freedom and gives bonds of $1,000 that he will not 
become a charge to the county as a pauper, and that he will obey 
all laws enacted, or which may be enacted, and $500 fine is imposed 
on any person who will give employment or sustenance to any such 
black person who does not give the bond. Any person who can 
not furnish a certificate shall be deemed a runaway slave, and he 
may be taken up by any inhabitant and brought before a justice, 
who shall commit him to the sheriff, who shall commit him to jail, 
and advertise him, and, if no master comes, sell him for time of 
service to pay the expenses of his arrest. The law forbids, under 
penalty of fine and whipping, the marriage of any colored person 
with a white person. It also provides that if any negro who is the 
property of any person shall come into the State for the purpose 
of hiring out, and shall institute proceedings for his freedom, the 
case shall be thrown out of court and the presumptuous negro 
thrown into jail. 

These two laws of 1819 and 1829, and the act of February 16, 
1833, in the criminal code, were the main pillars of the Black Code. 
The criminal code enacts that if any person shall secrete any escaped 
slave, or shall hinder or prevent the lawful owner from retaking 
him, he shall be fined $500 and be imprisoned not exceeding six 
months. Another section forbids any person who holds any indent- 
ured servant from taking him out of the State for sale, or other- 
wise kidnaping him, under the penalty of a fine of $500. The 
crime of kidnaping is punished the same as the crime of protecting 
the fugitive, less the imprisonment. The testimony of no colored or 
mulatto person can be taken in evidence against a white person. 
No colored child is permitted to attend school with white children. 
Indentured servants and slaves were by law made property, and 
could be attached for debt, sold as property, devised in wills, and 


sold to settle estates; and in taxation ranked with cattle, "jennies," 
and jackasses as property. 

In 1845 there was another revision of the Jaws, and these were 
all compiled, boiled down, and made available for handy use in the 
administration of justice. But this was not the end of legislation. 
Two or three years after the passage of the National Fugitive Slave 
Law there was another act passed, dated February 12, 1853, which 
would seem to be a supererogation, as it seems to be a repetition of 
all that went before, with this difference, that it made the act of 
any colored person coming into the State, or any person bringing 
such a one in, a high misdemeanor. That was coming up to the 
climax and apex of crime over and under the color line. This act 
was to be enforced by pains and penalties and fines and imprison- 
ments of the most severe and elaborate character. These acts were 
the laws of the State for more than a generation, and by the friends 
of the anti-slavery agitation were attempted in many sections to be 
rigidly enforced. Then came a period of the operation of the 
underground railroad, the attempted enforcement of these laws, 
kidnaping, lawful and unlawful arrests and rescues and trials before 
the courts for harboring, secreting and delivering the slave from his 

C3 * CJ 

master or from the officers all occurring with many rich scenes of 
humor, in which the "black brother" played the prominent part. 

The Supreme Court in 1855, in the case of Joseph Jarrot, a 
colored man, v. Julia Jarrot, made a decision that the inherited 
slavery from the old French import was unconstitutional. Joseph 
was a descendant of the French slaves and Julia of the slave-holders. 
The Constitution of 1848 made all slavery unconstitutional in 
accordance with the decree of the ordinance of 1787. But the 
Black Code, in the main, remained a part of the law till the close of 
the slaveholders' rebellion. In 1864 John Jones, a noted mulatto 
of Chicago, who had been free born, and had deposited his freedom 
papers with the Historical Society, carried a petition through the 
streets of Chicago asking, since his race had been made free, that 
all these laws that made distinction on account of color might be 
erased from our statute book. He went to Springfield and engi- 
neered the enterprise. Senator Lansing introduced the bill early 
in the session of 1865, for their repeal, and they went out as the 
smoke flies upward. 

This account of the repeal of the Black Laws by Mr. Eastman, 
is so full and complete that we have availed ourselves of his labors 


in this regard. Mr. Eastman was one of the most loyal and patri- 
otic citizens that ever lived in our midst, and on the accession 
of Mr. Lincoln to the office of President was rewarded by him for 
his faithful services to his country, by appointing him United States 
Consul to Bristol, England, where he remained for several years. 
He died at Chicago, greatly honored and respected, some three 
years since. 


Mason and Dixon's Line in Illinois. 

hostile feelings which were aroused among the slave-hold- 
- ing and free State advocates during the great convention 
struggle of 1823-4 never were allayed, and gradually led to a wide 
separation in all political matters. 

Almost from the establishment of the seat of government at 
Kaskaskia, the ancient capital of the French of the "Illinois 
Country," an imaginary, yet dividing line, has existed between the 
northern and southern half of the State. It has moved forward as 
the capital has been changed, like that of the center of population, 
but always northward. The first parallel was at Kaskaskia, next at 
Yaudalia, but when the " long nine " moved the capital from that 
ancient seat of empire to Springfield, they carried with them " this 
sign of the Zodiac," as if it was the ark of the covenant, and it has 
ever since been " like a pillar of fire by night " and " a cloud by 
day," to all the various tribes within this State. 

Among politicians the rule was, as old General Linder once 
said, like that which governed the followers of Cortes. " After the 
battle every excess of rapacity was sufficiently vindicated by the 
plea that the sufferers were unbaptized. Avarice stimulated zeal. 
Zeal consecrated avarice. Proselytes and gold mines were sought 
with equal ardor." In all political campaigns the men of the North 
were most convenient and useful allies to draw on to help defray 
party assessments and furnish the sinews of war, but it would never 
do to allow them to direct the policy of the party. 

In the exciting times of election the Yanks were good enough 
to swell the majorities, but at all other times their wants and neces- 


sities went unheeded. When the inhabited parts of the State 
extended a little north of Alton, then the people of Randolph, 
Monroe, St. Clair and Madison, now southern counties, were as 
anxious for a canal as the people of La Salle and Hennepin. When 
the seat of government was removed to Yandalia and afterward 
to Springfield, those living between these two places immediately 
became Southerners and ever after opposed a canal with all their 
power and might. 

Time, it is true, has somewhat modified this feeling, but still 
"the Cooks" are distrusted and the representatives of portions of 
the State greatly fear " the Trojans bearing gifts." We think, 
however, that it is about time that this " Mason and Dixon's line " 
business should be obliterated, and the interests of the people be 
considered strictly upon their merits, whether those wanting public 
improvements happen to live in Chicago, Cairo, Springfield or 

There has never been a free zone in Illinois and no neutral ground, 
but from the very earliest times there has been a north and south 
party and the prejudices of each against the other have been mani- 
fested in almost every constitutional convention; at every session 
of the General Assembly and in every deliberative body ever called 
for any purpose whatever. Governor Ford in his " History of 
Illinois" refers to it in these terms : "Obstructions to the success 
of wise policy which would relieve the State from multiplied evils, 
were to be found in the character, varieties and genius of the masses 
of the people, and in the motives, aims and enterprises of poli- 
ticians. The shape of the State naturally divided the Legislature 
into represensatives from the south and representatives from the 
north, and under any circumstances a State so long in proportion 
to its breadth, must contain much and many elements of discord. 

The southern portion of the State was settled principally by 
people from the slave-holding States; the north principally from 
New York and New England. The southenrpeople were generally 
poor; they were - such as were not able to own slaves in a slave 
State and who came here to avoid slavery. A poor white man in 
a slave State is of little more importance in the eyes of the wealthy 
than the negro. The very negroes of the rich call such poor per- 
sons " poor white folks." 

The wealthy immigrant from the slave States rarely came here. 
He moved to some new slave State, to which he could take his 


negroes. The consequences were, that our southern settlements 
presented bnt few specimens of the more wealthy, enterprising, 
intellectual and cultivated people from the slave States. Those 
who did come were a very good, honest, kind, hospitable people, 
unambitious of wealth and great lovers of ease and social enjoy- 

The settlers from the North, not being debarred by our Consti- 
tution from bringing their property with them, were of a different 
class. The northern part of the State was settled in the first 
instance by wealthy farmers, enterprising merchants, millers and 
manufacturers. They made farms, built mills, churches, school- 
houses, towns and cities, and made roads and bridges as if by magic, 
so that, although the settlements in the southern part of the State 
are twenty, thirty, forty and fifty years in advance, on the score of 
age, yet are they ten years behind in point of wealth and all the 
appliances of a higher civilization. This of itself was cause enough 
of discord between the two ends of the State. The people of the 
South entertained a most despicable opinion of their Northern 
neighbors. They had never seen the genuine Yankee. They had 
seen a skinning, trafficking and tricky race of peddlers from New 
England, who much infested the West and South, with tin ware, 
small assortments of merchandise and wooden clocks, and they sup- 
posed that the whole of the New England people were like these 

They formed the opinion that a genuine Yankee was a close, 
miserly, dishonest, selfish getter of money, void of generosity, hos- 
pitality or any of the kindlier feelings of human nature. The 
Northern people formed equally as unfavorable an opinion of their 
Southern neighbors. The Northern man believed the Southerner 
to be a long, lank, lean, lazy and ignorant animal, but little in advance 
of the savage state, one who was content to squat in a log cabin, 
with a large family of ill-fed, ill-clothed, idle, ignorant children. 
The truth was, both parties were wrong. There is much natural 
shrewdness and sagacity in the most ignorant of the Southern peo- 
ple ; and they are generally accumulating property as fast as any 
people can who had so little to begin with. The parties are about 
equal in point of generosity and liberality though these virtues 
show themselves in each people in a different way. The Southerner 
is, perhaps, the most hospitable and generous to individuals. He is 
lavish of his victuals, his liquors and other personal favors. But 


the Northern man is the most liberal in contributing to what- 
ever is for the public benefit. Is a school house, a bridge or a 
church to be built, a road to be made, a scholar, a minister to be 
maintained or taxes to be paid for the honor or support of govern- 
ment, the Northern man is never found wanting. This misconcep- 
tion of character was the cause of a good deal of misunderstanding. 
The great canal itself, from Lake Michigan to the Illinois river, was 
opposed by some, at an early day, for fear it would open a way for 
flooding the State with Yankees; even as popular a man as the late 
Lieutenant-Governor Kinney opposed it, in a speech in the Senate, 
on this ground. He said the Yankees spread everywhere. He was 
looking daily for them to overrun the State. They could be found 
in every country on the globe; and one strong proof to him that 
John Cleves Sy mines was wrong in his theory of the earth was, 
that if such an opening at the north pole as that theory supposed 
really existed, the Yankees would have had a big wagon road to it 
long before its discovery by Mr. Symmee. 

In this manner, and by constant appeals to the prejudices of the 
masses, ill-feeling was engendered, and almost any public enterprise 
which was proposed by the people of one section of the State would 
be opposed by the other. It was exactly such a feeling as existed 
between the people of the Southern States and the people of the 
Northern States before the war. 

Another thing: The State of Illinois has, from the beginning, 
been cursed by politicians. They have infested the country, and 
from the time when Jesse B. Thomas became a delegate in Con- 
gress from the Indiana Territory, down to a period within the 
memory of men still living, northern and southern politics have 
swayed and ruled the hour. 

All local questions became subordinate to national questions, and 
consequently men did not seem to take much interest in the develop- 
ment or improvement of the State, but the great and absorbing 
question always was, what would be for the best interests of the 
party, and how this and that would affect the party. All candidates 
for office were selected with reference to their ability to control 
the masses and draw votes, and not with reference to their ability 
to devise a system of public improvements, or establish a sound 
system of finance or build up manufactories. Stump oratory was 
of greater importance than the wisdom of Solomon, and the gift of 
gab greater than the philosophy of Plato or Aristotle. 


It is trne that the annals of this State have been adorned by 
men who will forever take rank with those of the greatest orators of 
any age and any nation, and the cultivation of eloquence is not to be 
despised or undervalued, but the ability of a man to harangue the 
mulitnde and carry the crowd is one thing, statesmanship is entirely 
another. Politicians know a great deal better how to obtain an 
office than how to perform its duties when they have obtained it. 
Political science ought to be studied with reference to the best 
interests of the government, and not for the best interests of any 
given party. Education should be more universally diffused, 
knowledge made more abundant, and, above all, the people must 
be taught the power of thinking for themselves and not permit 
others to do it for them. 

The time has come for wiping out Mason and Dixon's line in 
the State of Illinois and including the entire State in a free zone. 


The Period Preceding- the Calling 1 of the Constitutional 
Convention of 1847. 

period preceding the calling of the convention of 1847, 
J- had, through a series of years, been a period of unrest and 
excitement and, at times, of great turbulence. Politics seemed to 
absorb the attention of everybody and there was a greater amount 
of partisanship to the square rod than was ever found in the history 
of States. The principal business of the lawyers and the people 
generally, seems to have been politics. 

Commencing with the contest over the appointment of Secretary 
of State in 1838, by Governor Carlin, to take the place of one 
Alexander P. Field, who had been appointed by Governor Edwards 
some ten years before, all the politicians in the State became 
involved until it reached the Supreme Court, and soon a war broke 
out upon the judges of the Supreme Court which furnishes as 
disgraceful a chapter as ever occurred in our local annals, with the 
exception of the efforts of the slave-holders to make Illinois a slave 
State. Field was a most striking character. He was a native of 
Kentucky, a nephew of Nathaniel Pope, who was secretary of the 


Territory of Illinois, afterward delegate in Congress and then judge 
of the United States District Court for the State of Illinois. He 
was perhaps the innocent cause of more bad blood and of more 
political intrigues than almost any man of his time. He was a 
member of the Lower House, or General Assembly, from Union 
county, from 1822 to 1828, and from 1828 to 1830 he represented 
Union, Johnson and Alexander counties. He was Secretary of 
State from 1828 to 1840. He had, by a process of evolution, 
gradually become a whig, and the democrats wanted to get him out 
of the way and obtain the office. 

After several years of strife and turmoil, in which the late 
Judge Douglas, Judge Trumbull and McCIernand became con- 
spicuous, he was legislated out of office and was then appointed 
secretary of Wisconsin Territory. Then he moved to New Orleans, 
where he became distinguished as a criminal lawyer, was elected a 
member of the 48th Congress and on the Tth of December 1863, he, 
in conjunction with his colleague, Thomas Cottman, was put on the 
roll of the House as a member of Congress from Louisiana. They 
both voted on preliminary questions and for speaker, but after the 
organization was perfected, the House refused to swear them in as 
members, and subsequently decided that they were not entitled to 
seats. After the war was over he became attorney-general for 
the State of Louisiana, and died in 1877, at New Orleans, after a 
long and painful illness. He was a man of great ability, but some- 
what erratic, as he appears to have been a "convention man " in 
1823-4, and made the motion to unseat Hansen against all par- 
liamentary usages, in order to carry the call for a convention by a 
two-thirds majority. "We met him at Springfield, in 1870, where 
he came on a visit, while the constitutional convention was in ses- 
sion, and he was most cordially received by his old acquaintances. 
It is not necessary to go into details in regard to Field's claim to 
office, for there are scores of people still living who know all about it. 

The Field controversy had hardly closed, however, before a 
much greater one arose, and which led to an open and direct attack 
upon the Supreme Court, and which finally led to its complete re- 


The Partisan War on the Supreme Court and the Reor- 
ganization of the Same. 

THE Constitution of 1818 provided that "the justices of the 
Supreme Court," as they were called, should he appointed by 
the Legislature, and hold office during life; provided, however, that 
the justices first appointed should hold office only five years. The 
selection by the Legislature was a bad feature, but when we con- 
sider the character of the men who were actually appointed, the 
provision that those first appointed should only hold for five years 
was a wise one. The court consisted of a chief justice and three 
associate justices. John Phillips was chief justice; William P. Fos- 
ter, Thomas C. Brown and John Reynolds associate justices. 

Judge Phillips appears to have been a lawyer, but came to the 
State, in 1812, a captain in the regular army. Although a soldier, 
politics was his best hold. 

He was nominated by the pro-slavery party for governor in 
1822, was defeated by Coles, when he resigned in disgust and left 
the State. He went to Tennessee. 

Judge Brown was a large man, affable, yet somewhat stately, 
with but little industry and possessed of but few of the qualifica- 
tions for a judge. He was assigned to the northern circuit; was 
laughed at and despised by many lawyers, who sought to impeach him 
for unfitness, but he remained on the bench until 1848, when the 
new Constitution took effect. 

The selection of John Reynolds afterward known as the Old 
Ranger was at that time regarded with derision and as a farce, for 
he had studied law only a few months, had had no experience or 
practice whatever, and was absolutely without any of the qualifica- 
tions requisite for judge of the highest court in the State. 

But the climax was capped in the selection of a man by the 
name of William P. Foster, who had not been in the State much 
more than three months. Nobody knew it at the time, but he 
afterward proved to be a consummate scoundrel and swindler, and no 
lawyer at all. He had never studied law and had no license, yet he 



contrived to stay in the State for about a year, never offering to per- 
form any of his duties, yet drawing his salary regularly. He 
suddenly decamped and was heard of several times afterward in 
connection with numerous crimes and villainies. 

Thomas Reynolds succeeded Judge Phillips as chief justice, 
and William "Wilson to succeed Foster. Wilson was a man of con- 
siderable ability and proved to be a sound judge and commanded 
the respect of the bar. 

At the session of 1824-5 the Legislature, under the provisions of 
the Constitution, re-organized the judiciary by creating five Circuit 
Court judges, who were to hold all the Circuit Courts in the State; 
and the Supreme Court, composed of four judges, was to be held 
twice a year at the seat of government. William Wilson was 
elected chief justice; Thomas C. Brown, Samuel D. Lockwood and 
Theophilus W. Smith, were elected associate judges of the 
Supreme Court. John York Sawyer, Samuel McRoberts, Richard 
M. Young, James Hall and James O. Wattles, were elected judges 
of the circuits, and James Turney to be attorney-general. 

The appointment of Judge McRoberts was one not fit to be 
made. He was always a most bitter and relentless partisan. He 
removed Joseph Conway and appointed Emanuel J. West, one of 
his particular friends, to the office of clerk of Madison county. The 
people resented this to such an extent that they immediately elected 
Conway to the Senate and kept him there for eight years. 

The salary of these judges was fixed at $1,000 per year, pay- 
able, however, in depreciated currency, which reduced it to about 
$400. The Missouri Compromise measures had stirred up the 
country so that judges and everybody else had. taken sides; the 
movement to make Illinois a slave State had engendered a great 
deal of bad feeling in which Judge Smith had engaged in an open 
street brawl with one Hooper Warren, whom he undertook to cow- 
hide for personalities in the streets of Edwardsville. Then came 
the triangular contest for the presidency between Henry Clay, 
Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams in 1824, in which it was 
charged that Wilson, Lockwood and Brown indorsed the action of 
Daniel i 3 . Cook in giving the vote of the State to Adams, while 
Smith was for Jackson. 

The public seemed to make no discrimination or allowance for 
the opinions of judges any more than anybody else. Wilson, 
Lockwood and Brown, it is said, -maintained strict silence, but Smith, 


who was one of the most pestiferous demagogues that ever lived, was 
" blatant mouthed." 

The very fact that the judges were appointed for life made 
them more and more unpopular and the whole system was attacked 
and declared a fraud and an imposition. But this was not all. The 
Constitution made them a council of revision, and required that all 
bills which should have passed the Senate and House of Kepresent- 
atives, shall, before they become laws, be presented to said council 
for their revision and consideration, and if they disproved of the 
same they could not become laws without receiving the votes of a 
majority of the whole number of members elected. 

The provision was a wise one in many respects, but as it gave 
the judges of the Supreme Court a quasi veto power on the acts of 
the Legislature, it exposed the judges to the most severe criticisms 
every time they acted contrary to the Legislature, and they were 
often misrepresented, vilified and threatened with impeachment and 
a reorganization of the judiciary was resolved upon. in the 
reorganization in the first instance, the State was divided into five 
circuits, and five circuit judges were appointed, leaving to the 
supreme justices only appellate jurisdiction with no circuit duties. 

At the session of the Legislature of 1826-27, four of the circuit 
judges were legislated out of office and their duties assigned to the 
four Supreme Court judges. 

The reason assigned for this change was economy ; but that was 
not the true reason at all, and every one knew that it was not. 

The combined salary of all the nine judges was only $6,200, 
and the saving was ostensibly $2,400, but it proved such an injury 
to the public in consequence of delays and postponement of cases, 
and was found so deleterious, that there was a universal outcry to 
return to the old system. The democratic Legislature was unable 
to starve the whig justices out of office or compel them to resign 
by any species of petty persecution, and for a time they ceased to 
badger the judges. But this state of things was short-lived, and in 
1840-41, matters reached a climax. 

The Supreme Court decided against McClernand, who instituted 
the suit against Field, and 

The war which for a space did fail 
Now trebly thundering swelled the gale. 

The democrats resolved to reform the judiciary. 

The Constitution of the State provided that all free white male 


inhabitants, over the age of twenty-one years, who had resided in 
the State for six months, should be entitled to vote at all general 
and special elections. 

The whigs contended that this did not authorize any but citi- 
zens to vote, while the democrats contended that it included aliens 
as well as citizens. 

There were in the State at this time about 10,000 alien votes, 
nine-tenths of which were democratic, and this matter assumed 
great importance. A case came up to the Supreme Court from 
Galena, in December, 1839, and had been argued, but the democratic 
lawyers discovered, as it is said, by the aid of Judge Smith, that 
a date was wrong in the record and a continuance was had until 
December, 1840. This was thought at the time to have been one 
of the sharpest things ever done, because people believed that the 
majority of the judges had determined to decide against the aliens 
and they could in this way be secure for at least one more election. 

" The plan of campaign," as it is now called in Ireland, which 
was agreed to, was broad and comprehensive. They would abolish 
all the circuit courts, repeal or legislate the judges out of office, 
and create five additional judges of the Supreme Court, all of whom 
were required to hold circuit courts in place of the circuit judges 
legislated out of office. A long and violent struggle ensued, but 
the bill was finally passed through both Houses and returned by the 
council of revision, with their objections, by a considerable major- 
ity in the Senate, and by one majority in the House. By this means, 
Ford says, the new Secretary of State was secured in his office, and 
the democratic party were secured in the continued support of the 
alien vote ; for all the new judges elected at this session were as 
thoroughly satisfied of the right of each governor to appoint his 
own Secretary of State, and of the right of the alien inhabitants to 
vote, as the whig judges could be to the contrary. 

During the pendency of this question before the Legislature 
the whig judges decided the alien case from Galena, but did not 
decide the main question, and it was charged by the democrats that 
the whig judges had hunted up on purpose a trivial point to evade 
responsibility, in the hope that when the dominant party could see 
that they were no longer threatened with a decision contrary to 
their wishes, they would abandon their reform measure. 

Stephen A. Douglas, who had been one of the counsel for the 
aliens, had, it appeared, been in constant and daily communication 


with Judge Smith, who had long aimed to be United States Sen- 
ator, and one evening, in a speech in the lobby of the House, boldly 
affirmed that the judges had at one time all their opinions written 
and ready to deliver, and that all but Judge Smith were against the 
aliens, and they would have so decided if a defect in the record 
had not been discovered. He affirmed this in the most positive 
manner, and stated that he knew exactly what he was about ; that 
he had the information upon authority that could not be denied, 
and nobody dared deny it ; and he therefore proceeded to denounce 
the whig judges in the strongest language at his command. His 
statements attracted great attention, and were reiterated by John 
A. McClernand in the House. 

John A. McClernand was at that time a member of the House 
of Representatives and in the heat of debate also made the most 
direct and specific cliarges against the judges, charging them with 
misconduct, with violations of their oaths of office and of their 
attempt to disfranchise thousands of inhabitants of the State, and 
suggesting that they had committed high crimes and misdemeanors 
enough to warrant their impeachment and removal from office. 
The judges had before this been repeatedly assailed by speeches 
in the lobby, by anonymous newspaper articles and unsigned hand- 
bills, which had been circulated everywhere in the city and around 
the capital and posted on the corners of the street, but they had, 
much to their credit, maintained a most dignified silence. 

But the time came at length for them to break silence, and John 
J. Hardin, who was a member of the House of Representatives 
immediately addressed a note to the judges, asking them if the 
statements which had been made by Douglas and McClernand were 
true. To this communication they returned the following reply : 

SPRINGFIELD, Jan. 26, 1841. 
John J. Hardin, Esq., 

DEAR SIR : Your letter of to-day has just been received and we 
proceed to answer it without hesitation. In doing so, we can not, 
however, but express our great astonishment at the character of 
the statement to which you refer. Yon say that Mr. McClernand, 
a member of the House of Representatives, has asserted in debate : 
" I am authorized to say and I do say on my own responsibility, if 
any such responsibility is needed, that the judges of the Supreme 
Court prepared an opinion against the right of foreigners to vote, 


at the last June term of that court, but on account of objections 
made by counsel to a mistake in the record, they withheld their 
opinion but did so most reluctantly. The opinion has gone abroad 
that these judges made the decision, recently delivered, on the sub- 
ject of the right of foreigners to vote, in order to defeat the bill 
under consideration, and to prevent these judges going on the cir- 

To this statement we give the most unqualified denial in all its 
points; neither of the members of the court having ever prepared 
or written any opinion against the right of aliens to vote at elections. 
As to the insinuations that the decision of any case was made at 
the time to defeat the judiciary bill we reply, it is in all its parts 
equally unjust and without a pretense for its justification. 

We have thus promptly complied with your request and we 
can not close this communication without remarking the great 
injustice done to ourselves, not only by the statement referred to, 
but the numerous other slanders, which in our situation we have no 
means of repelling. We have the honor to be 

Tour obedient servants, 


This communication was a stunner and created a great sensa- 

Douglas and McOlernand were called to account in both Houses 
of the Legislature and it was demanded of them to give their 
authority, and they gave Judge Smith as their authority, and they 
were backed up in their assertions by several very prominent men 
who had heard Smith say the same thing. Judge Smith now 
became very unpopular, was accused of hypocrisy and prevarication 
and denounced by men in his own party as a liar, an intriguer and 
utterly ( unworthy of confidence or belief. He lost caste and never 
regained it. 

The history of this man Smith has never been written, but if it 
should be, it would furnish one of the most striking examples 
of the demagogue on the bench, that was ever presented to the 
people of this country. He had, as one of the old pioneers once 
told me, always a penchant for politics, was always scheming and 
plotting, and greatly desired to be United States Senator, and if 


lie could not be that, he wanted to be governor; but having 
obtained a seat on the Supreme Bench, he was reluctant to give it 
up, and undertook to uee it as a stepping stone to something else- 
His devices and intrigues to this end were, according to all accounts, 
unceasing. In fact, he never lacked a plot to advance himself or 
blow up some other person. He was laborious, indefatigable and 
untiring in his scheming; but his plans were too complicated and 
intricate to be successfully executed. He was always unsuccessful, 
and as misery loves company, he was delighted alike at the mis- 
haps of friends and foes, and "was ever chuckling over the blasted 
hopes of some one else." He was impeached by the House of 
.Representatives in 1833 on several charges of gross misdemeanor in 
office, and only escaped conviction by the Senate by that provision 
of the Constitution which required a two-thirds vote of that body to 
sustain the charges. 

It is no liglit thing for a man like Judge Smith, who was called 
to occupy one of the highest positions in the State, to be thus sum- 
moned before the tribunal of posterity and have judgment passed 
upon him. But men must not trifle with justice or with a high and 
holy office. The generation to which he belonged has disappeared, 
and the time has come when the rash and indiscriminate judgments 
which his contemporaries passed upon his character may be calmly 
revised by history; but in the interest of justice, and as a warning 
to all demagogues who may seek to prostitute a high judicial posi- 
tion to their own purposes and their own aggrandizement, we have 
been compelled to make this note, and this shall be our excuse for 
disturbing his consecrated mould. 

Of him it may be said, in the words of Hudibras : 

Our State-artificer foresaw 

Which way !he world began to draw, 

For as old sinners have all points 

0' th' compass in their bones and joints, 

Can by their pangs and aches find 

All turns and changes of the wind, 

And better than by Napier's bones 

Feel in their own the age of moons; 

So guilty sinners in a State, 

Can by their crimes prognosticate, 

And in their consciences feel pain 

Some days before a shower of rain; 

He therefore wisely cast about 

All ways he could to ensure bis throat. 


The Council of Revision which still existed and which still 
retained a shadow of authority did not approve the bill and 
returned it to the House with their objections. The bill was, how- 
ever, repassed by a majority of one, and that one vote was given by 
a member who opposed the bill on its passage and who immediately 
after was appointed clerk of the Supreme Court as newly organized, 
the five new judges, without any consultation whatever with their 
associates, turning out the old clerk and putting this very conscien- 
tious and reformatory member in his place. But this was not all. 
The old judges, it mattered not where they lived, were assigned to 
circuits as far removed from their homes as possible, and they 
were treated with every mark of discourtesy within their power. 

Old Judge Brown, whose home was in Shawneetown in the 
extreme southern part of the State, was assigned to the Galena 
district. This was done in order to secure his resignation, but it 
proving unsuccessful, an attempt was made to remove him by 
impeachment on the following charges and specifications, to wit: 
i4 That he had not the natural strength of intellect and lacked the 
legal and literary learning requisite and indispensable to the high 
and responsible duties devolving upon him as a judge of the 
Supreme Court; that his opinions delivered in that court were 
written and revised by others and that his decisions on the circuit 
had been the mere echo of some favorite attorney; and that by 
nature, education and habit he was wholly unfit for his high 

It is probable that never since the impeachment of Warren 
Hastings for high crimes and misdemeanors, had there been an 
instance like this, of an attempt so degrading. Eis office was wanted 
for another, and so eager were the applicants that they could not 
wait for the old man to pay the debt of nature. They were more 
rapacious and merciless in their demands than the Mahrattas, for 
they had some respect for the rules of justice and the sentiments of 
humanity. But the common sense of mankind, which, in matters 
of this sort, seldom goes wrong, will always recognize a distinction 
between crimes which originate in an inordinate zeal for the com- 
monwealth and crimes which originate in selfish cupidity. Indeed, 
if a man is honest and upright, the community is quite apt to over- 
look transactions which may even be characterized as indelicate and 
irregular. It is quite likely from what we know and what we have 
heard of Judge Brown, that he had long since outlived his useful- 


ness and would have commanded the respect of the community had 
he voluntarily retired to private life and enjoyed the closing hours 
of a serene old age in the perusal of the classics like "De Senectue," 
or even Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, but he was reluctant to be 
driven from his post of duty or have his effects administered upon 
before the appointed hour. An impression got abroad that the 
weak old man was being persecuted and the impeachment proceed- 
ings which had barely been initiated, were dropped and came to 


All these things that we have narrated, however, did not have 
the effect to stay the tide of reform which now set in. The demo- 
crats were determined to teach the judiciary a lesson and to give 
them to understand and be informed that if. they undertook to 
thwart " the will of the people " they must take the consequences. 
The reform bill passed, and five additional judges of the Supreme 
Court were forthwith elected, consisting of Thomas Ford, Sidney 
Breese, Walter B. Scates, Samuel H. Treat and Stephen A. Doug- 
las. Some of these newly appointed judges applied themselves 
with great diligence to the discharge of their duties and afterward 
became distinguished as jurists, notably Judges Breese and Treat. 

Judge Douglas was far better fitted for the stormy scenes occur- 
ring in the halls of Congress than in the consultation chamber or in 
listening to dry and uninteresting arguments on the bench, and in a 
short time resigned and entered upon a career in that great world of 
politics that is almost without a parallel. Judge Douglas wrote but 
very few opinions while on the bench, but there is one that was 
written by him that is quite famous and that is the opinion in the 
case of Penny v. Little, 3 Scam. 301. It shows great research; shows 
how Illinois adopted the common law, how it is still in force, and 
then proceeds to show that a landlord has a right to distrain for 
rent where the rent is due and no power is contained in the lease, 
the same being authorized by the common law. This is the lead- 
ing case upon this subject in this State and has been often cited in 
this and other States. His name and fame are indubitably linked 
with that of his great rival, Lincoln, like that of Pitt and Fox. 

History owes to him this attestation: that in an hour of peril, 
when this Government was threatened with overthrow by the most 
gigantic conspiracy which the world ever saw, he cast to the winds 
every consideration except his country. He declared that there 
were but two parties left, namely patriots and traitors, andheunhes- 


itatingly ranged himself on the side of his country and with his 
dying breath besought the people to stand by the Government. He 
was possessed of genius of a very high order, of strong passions, of 
quick sensibility, of magnetic power and vehement enthusiasm which 
in a good cause could carry everything before him. 

All men and all parties have united in decreeing to him post- 
humous honors although he was gravely criticized while living. It 
Lincoln was the great representative of the people in their contest 
for liberty and acted as its guardian, Douglas acted as the great 
commoner and steadying power of the State when the crisis came. 
If he was forced into the position that he final!} 7 assumed, it was 
not unnatural, and the language that he made use of was not the 
cant of patriotism. He died suddenly amid the fiery paroxysms 
of malcontents, some of whom thought that he should have still 
held out in his opposition to his great rival; out time has decreed 
that Lincoln and Douglas occupied co-ordinate positions in an un- 
divided empire, and while posterity takes note of his errors it 
deliberately announces that among the eminent men of this gen- 
eration scarcely one has left a more stainless and a more splendid 

At the same session, when the Reform Bill was passed, and as a 
reward for unexampled services to the party while occupying the 
bench, Samuel McRoberts was nominated and elected United States 
Senator. He was known at that time, and ever will be known, as 
the maligner and oppressor of Governor Coles, before whom a part 
of the litigation took place relating to penalties incurred for bring- 
ing slaves into the State and liberating them here. 

The violent and unjustifiable attacks which at this period were 
made upon the judiciary, were disgraceful to all those engaged in it, 
and will always be regarded as a dark shadow cast over our judicial 
annals. The part which Judge Theophilus W. Smith took in this 
matter is certainly entirely inexcusable and he may be regarded as one 
of the arch conspirators against his brethren on the bench and an 
aider and abetter of those off the bench, to degrade the majority 
of judges composing the highest tribunal in the land, and among 
whom may be reckoned some who were the purest and most upright 
and conscientious men that ever lived. But decency and common 
sense finally triumphed. 


"And sovereign law the States collected will 

O'er thrones and globes elate, 
Sits empress-crowning good, repressing ill, 

Smit by her sacred frown 
The fiend, Discretion, like a vapor sinks, 

And e'en the all dazzling crown 
Hides his faint rays and at her bidding shrinks." 

The Constitutional Convention of 1847. 

rpWENTY-FIVE years after the Constitution of 1818 had been 
-L adopted, a general movement was started for calling a conven- 
tion "to alter, amend and revise" that instrument. It was claimed 
that it was not to be a party measure at all, but in the sequel, both 
parties, whigs and democrats, nominated delegates upon strictly 
party lines, with the exception of Morgan county. The special 
election for delegates was fixed for the third Monday of April, 
1847, and the convention was to meet in Springfield, on the first 
Monday of June following. 

Morgan county was entitled to four delegates, and there, by 
an agreement of parties, Judge Samuel D. Lockwood, William 
Thomas, James Dunlap and Newton Cloud were elected. This 
circumstance was of such an unusual and extraordinary character, 
politics having been carried into every election of every sort, char- 
acter and kind, from the formation of the State down, that it gave 
these delegates, aside from their merits as men, a high rank at once. 
Newton Cloud was elected president of the convention, and the 
others assigned to prominent positions, Judge Lockwood being 
chairman of the executive committee. 

There were many men in that convention of great ability, 
some of whom afterward acquired a national reputation, among 
whom may be mentioned Judge David Davis, John M. Palmer, 
Stephen T. Logan, and others. The names of the delegates are 
herewith appended. 

The proceedings were reported for the public press, in part by 
the late James Sheahau of Chicago, the well known newspaper 


writer who came on from Washington for that purpose, and from 
him we learned that every question was discussed from the institu- 
tion of human governments and the birth of republics down to the 
last ward caucus. The chief topics, however, next to State sov- 
ereignty and National union, which engaged the attention of that 
body, was the appointing power, the re-organization of the judicial 
department limiting the right of suffrage to citizenship, repudia- 
tion of the State debt and tax titles. 

When the constitutional convention met in 1847, the financial 
condition of the State was at a very low ebb. The interest on the 
State debt was greatly in arrear. The State banks had gone down 
with a crash, and bankruptcy had overtaken many of the best men 
in the State, and Illinois was charged with repudiation and was in 
great danger of becoming " a stench in the nostrils of the civilized 
world." The governor of the State said : " The people at home 
began to wake up in terror; the people abroad who wished to settle in 
anew country avoided Illinois as they would pestilence and famine; 
and there was great danger that the future emigrants would be men 
who, having no regard for their own characters, would also have 
none for that of the State where they might live. The terrors of 
high taxation were before all eyes, botii at home and abroad. Every 
one at home wanted to sell his property and move away, and but 
few, either at home or abroad, wanted to purchase. The impossi- 
bility of selling kept us from losing population, and the fear of 
disgrace or high taxes prevented us from gaining materially." 

After a considerable discussion and great opposition the follow- 
ing article was introduced into the convention : " There shall be 
annually assessed and collected a tax of two mills upon each dollar's 
worth of taxable property to be applied as follows, to wit : The 
fund so created shall be kept separate and shall annually, on the 
first day of January, be apportioned and paid over pro rata upon 
all such State indebtedness, other than the canal and school indebt- 
edness, as may, for that purpose, be presented by the holders of the 
same to be entered as credits upon and to that extent, in extinguish- 
ment of the principal of that indebtedness." This was a very wise 
measure but strange to say, so bitterly was it fought that it had to 
be submitted to the people as a separate article and was only adopted 
by a vote of 42,017 to 30,586, whereas it should have been unani- 

It was a great reform measure, and was, we believe, originally 


d by Governor Ford, and was advocated with all his power 
and wisdom. The next great measure was that relating to tax 
titles, which was introduced by Judge Lockwood, and appears in 
full in Section 4, Article 9 of the Constitution. Before this time, the 
onus proba ndi of showing irregularities in the proceedings leading 
up to the issuing of a tax deed rested upon the owner, and the 
deed was prima facie evidence that the land was subject to taxa- 
tion, that the taxes were unpaid, that the lands were unredeemed, 
that it had been legally advertised, that it was sold for taxes, that 
the grantee was the purchaser, and that the sale was conducted in 
the manner required by law. It was possible for a man to lose 
title to his land, although residing on it and having paid the taxes. 

The next thing that the convention did was to wipe out com- 
pletely and entirely the provision in the Constitution of 1818 relat- 
ing to the Council of Revision. That was especially odious, and 
was hated and reviled and denounced without stint or measure. 
But much can be said in its favor, and such a mode of revision of 
the laws, before going into effect, seems to be based upon consid- 
erations of the highest wisdom, and in any State where the great- 
est perfection is sought after and desired, ought not to be objected 
to. In a country, however, where every man takes rank with 
Solon and Lycurgus, there can be but few restraints imposed upon 
a "fierce democracie," and even the veto power, upon hasty legisla- 
tion, has often been declared odious and undemocratic. 

Our legislation seems to proceed upon the theory of rectifying 
present defects and providing for present necessities, no matter how 
the same may be brought about, nor how it may affect the future 
condition of the people, nor what the results may be. If such laws 
are ever submitted to the Supreme Court for construction, after 
being put in force, and the various conflicting provisions are weighed 
and compared, the decision arrived at is based upon an equation of 
errors, and they soon become obsolete and of no force and effect. 
The only consolation about the whole matter is, that the Supreme 
Court of the State does, in spite of everything, constitute a stand- 
ing committee of revision, and first and last passes upon almost 
every law that is enacted. 

There is one thing, we think, in connection with the Constitution 
of 1847, not generally known, and which is particularly referred to 
in Coffin's biography of Judge Lockwood, and that is this: the 


manner in which God is recognized in the Constitution. It will be 
recollected that the Covenanters had in 1818 petitioned to have 
some mention of the Supreme Being made in the Constitution, but 
their petition was rejected and they opposed its adoption with all 
their might and main. Judge Lockwood, knowing this fact, wrote 
out, and on motion of William Thomas, the colleague of Lockwood, 
the preamble was amended as follows: " We, the people of the 
State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political 
and religious liberty which He has so long permitted us to enjoy, 
and looking to him for a blessing upon our endeavors to secure and 
transmit the same unimpaired to succeeding generations, in order 
to form a more perfect government, establish justice, insure domes- 
tic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the gen- 
eral welfare and to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and 
our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the 
State of Illinois." And there it remains as a part of the organic 
law to this day. 

The Constitution which was then framed was a great improve- 
ment over that of 1818, but proved to be subject to abuse in many 
ways notably that of special legislation and the granting of private 
charters, which encouraged the greed of politicians and others to 
such an extent as to almost absorb the time and attention of the 
members, and to such an extent as to sacrifice all public interests. 
It also fixed irrevocably in the Constitution itself the salaries of all 
the officers of the government, which, in a few years, proved a 
great evil, because, with the change of the times and the increased 
cost of living, the salaries fixed in the Constitution were wholly 
inadequate to pay officers for their services. The judicial system 
proved inadequate, and, as a matter of fact, the State increased in 
population so fast, and the development of the various complicated 
interests was so rapid, and there were so many things which came 
to pass that nobody anticipated or thought of, that the Constitution 
became almost obsolete. The people had outgrown it, and it was 
so defective in so many particulars that a new constitutional con- 
vention became imperative. 

This convention numbered among its members many men of 
great experience and of the highest integrity, as will be seen by 
referring to the list of the same hereto appended; they served their 
country long and well, but very few are now left to tell the tale. 



Adams County William Laughlin, Wm. B. Powers, Jacob M. Nichols. 

Adams and Highland Counties Archibald Williams. 

Alexander and Pulaski Counties Martin Atherton. 

Bond County Michael G. Dale. 

Boone County Daniel H. Whitney. 

Brown County James W. Singleton. 

Brown and Schuyler Counties James Brockton, Alexander McHatton. 

Bureau County Simon Kinney. 

Calhoun and Jersey Counties William Bosbyshell. 

Carroll and Ogle Counties Garner Moffet. 

Cass County HenryJF. Dummer. 

Campaign and Vermillion Counties Thompson R. Webber. 

Christian and Shelby Counties D. D. Shu in way. 

Clark County William Tutt, Justin Harlan. 

Clark, Edgar and Coles Counties Uri Manly. 

Clinton County Benjamin Bond. 

Coles County Thomas A. Marshall, Thomas Trower. 

Cook County Patrick Ballingall, Francis C. Sherman, Reuben E. Heacock, 
E. F. Colby. 

Crawford County Nelson Hawley. 

Cumberland and Effingham Counties William H. Blakely. 

DeKalb County George H. Hill. 

DeWitt County George B. Lemon. 

DuPage County Jeduthan Hatch. 

DuPage and Will Counties Samuel Anderson. 

Edgar County William Shields and George W. Rives. 

Edwards and Wayne Counties Alvin R. Kenner. 

Fayette County John W. Edmonson and Joseph T. Eccles. 

Franklin County John W. Akin. 

Fulton County David Markley, Hezekiah M. Wead, Isaac Linley, George 

Gallatin County Albert G. Caldwell, Jacob Smith. 

Greene County Franklin Witt, L. E. Worcester, D. M. Woodson. 

Grundy and La Salle Counties George W. Armstrong. 

Hancock County Thomas C. Sharpe, George S. Moore, Robert Miller, Thomas 

Harding and Gallatin Counties Andrew McCallen. 

Henderson County Gilbert Turnbull. 

Henry and Knox Counties Joshua Harper. 

Highland County Lewis J. Simpson. 

Iroquois and Will Counties Jesse 0. Norton. 

Jackson County Alexander M. Jenkins. 

Jasper and Crawford Counties Richard G. Morris. 

Jefferson County Franklin S. Casey. 

Jefferson, Marion and Franklin Counties Zadok Casey, Walter B. Scales. 

Jersey County A. R. Knapp. 

Jo. Daviess County Thompson Campbell, W. B. Green, 0. C. Pratt. 

Johnson County John Oliver. 


Kane County Alfred Churchill, Augustus Adams, Thomas Judd. 

Kendall County John West Mason. 

Knox County Curtis K. Harvey, James Knox. 

Lake County Horace Butler, Hulbut Swan. 

La Salle County William Stadden, Abraham Hoes. 

Lawrence County John Mieure. 

Lee County John Dement. 

Livingston and McLean Counties Samuel Lander. 

Logan County James Tuttle. 

McLean County David Davis. 

Mason County F. S. D. Marshall. 

Macoupin County James Graham, John M. Palmer. ] 

McDonough County James M. Campbell. 

McDonough and Warren Counties John Huston. 

McHenry County John Sibley, Peter W. Deitz. 

Madison County Cyrus Edwards, E. M. West, Benaiah Robinson, George, T. 

Marshall and Stark Counties Henry D. Palmer. 

Marion County George A. Pace. 

Macon and Piatt Counties Edward 0. Smith. 

Massac County Thomas G. C. Davis. 

Menard County Benjamin F. Northcott. 

Mercer County Frederick Frick. 

Montgomery County Hiram Rouutree. 

Montgomery and Bond Counties James M. Davis. 

Moultrie and Shelby Counties Anthony Thornton. 

Morgan County Newton Cloud, James Dunlap, William Thomas. 

Monroe County James A. James, John D. Whiteside. 

Ogle County D. J. Pinckney. 

Perry County H. B. Jones. 

Perry, Washington and Clinton Counties John Grain. 

Peoria County William W. Thompson, Lincoln B. Knowlton. 

Peoria and Fulton Counties Onslow Peters. 

Pike County William R. Archer, Harvey Dunn, William A. Grimsbaw. 

Pope County William Sim. 

Putnam County Oaks Turner. 

Randolph County Ezekiel W. Robbins, Richard B. Servant 

Richland County Alfred Kitchell. 

Rock Island County John W. Spencer, John Dawaon. 

Sangamon County James H. Matheny, Ninian W. Edwards, Stephen T. 

Scott County N. M. Knapp, Daniel Dinsmore. 

Schuyler County William A. Minshall. 

Shelby County Edward Evey. 

St. Clair County William W. Roman, Wm. C. Kinney, John McCully, George 

Stephenson County Seth B. Far well, Thomas B. Carter. 

Tazewell County William H. Holmes. 

Union County John Canady, John W. Vance. 


Wabash Count}- Charles H. Constable. 

Warren County Abner C. Harding. 

Washington County Zenos H. Vernor. 

Wayne County James M. Hogue. 

Whiteside County Aaron C. Jackson. 

White County S. Snowden Hayes, Daniel Hay. 

Woodford County Samuel J. Cross. 

Winnebago County Selden M. Church, Robert J. Cross. 

Williamson County John T. Louden. 

Williamson, Franklin and Jackson Counties Willis Allen. 

Will County Hugh Henderson, William McClure. 

Constitutional Convention of 1862. 

years after the adoption of the Constitution of 1848 
-L another convention was called " to revise, alter and amend " 
that, but as its work was not indorsed by the people, we shall not 
enter very much into details concerning it. It was termed a " High 
Rolling Convention," and assumed such powers that it soon disgusted 
the people and brought its work into disrepute. 

It spent a great deal of time over the question whether the mem- 
bers should take an oath to support the Constitution, and frittered 
away much valuable time in the discussion of the question whether 
it could pass ordinances whether it could legislate appropriate 
money out of the public treasury and indulged in a vast amount 
of buncombe and wearisome platitudes involving the policy of the 
war, and insisting that instead of the same being conducted accord- 
ing to Hardee's tactics, Generals Scott's, Halleck's or Grant's tactics 
it should be conducted according to the Constitution. Many had 
never heard of the war powers of the Constitution and were greatly 
surprised to find that war meant war, and that "unconditional sur- 
render" was a very impolite way of treating rebels in arms, who 
were endeavoring to overthrow the government. In short, the use 
of gunpowder was very offensive and the din of battle greatly inter- 
fered with profound thought and deep meditation. 

But there is one thing which it is well to remember and that is 
this: "If there be any truth by the universal experience of 
nations, it is this, that to carry the spirit of peace into war is a 


weak and cruel policy. The time of negotiation is the time for 
deliberation and delay. But when an extreme case calls for that 
remedy, which is in its own nature most violent, and which in 
such cases is a remedy only because it is violent, it is idle to think 
of mitigating and diluting. Languid war can do nothing which 
negotiation or submission will not do better, and to act on any 
other principle is not to save blood and money, but to squander them." 

At this period there were many who were in favor of languid 
war, but the people generally were not. Time proved that the 
science of politics was incompatible with the science of war, and 
that those who were great in the forum and on the hustings, were 
powerless before belching batteries and the shot and shell from 
parks of artillery. 

Politics and partisan feelings followed us from the field of poli- 
tics to the hall of our assemblage and marred if they did not ruin 
the objects and purposes of our deliberations. The mouth disease 
was prevalent and in many instances proved fatal. 

The majority of the delegates to the Illinois Convention of 
1862 affirmed in substance that the act of the General Assembly 
under and by virtue of which it was convened, was no longer bind- 
ing upon the convention after we had assembled and organized. 
It assumed and claimed all governmental powers, and while it 
proceeded on that theory, as one witty member said on its adjourn- 
ment, " it has still left us in doubt when the functions of a constitu- 
tional convention ends, and when revolution begins." 

The time at which we convened was not propitious. The war 
was then at its height, and every member was deeply interested in 
it. There was marching and counter-marching throughout the land. 
There were camps of recruits, camps of instruction forming every- 
where, and the railroads were loaded with soldiers hastening to the 
front. The great campaign in the West and in the Mississippi 
valley had been in progress for some time, and Grant had ascended 
the Tennessee, and had commenced his march on Forts Henry and 

"We had members who had volunteered, and one at least left the 
convention to take charge of his company, and arrived in time to 
take part in the storming of the forts. I recollect at one time our 
convention suspended business and flocked to the windows to see 
Col. ".Robert Ingersoll inarch out of Springfield at the head of the 
12th Illinois Cavalry. 


Grant was charged with great rudeness by General Buckner, his 
former classmate at West Point, when in response to a communica- 
tion asking for delay, he res ponded with the laconic reply "Uncondi- 
tional surrender ; we propose to move immediately upon your works." 
He moved, and General Buckner moved, and the next thing that 
we knew was the arrival of some ten thousand prisoners in our 
midst, "clad in their Joseph coat, of many a dye." Many were 
thinly clad, with straw hats on, sick, sore and diseased, sad at heart, 
and were marched to temporary cantonments and entered upon a 
new life as prisoners of war in camps a short distance out of Spring- 
field. Train load after train load arrived in quick succession, and 
United States soldiers swarmed everywhere. Many prisoners were 
afterward transferred to Chicago, and many died of disease, of 
homesickness and exposure. The minds of men were naturally 
more absorbed with the progress of the war, than in altering, amend- 
ing, revising or forming a new constitution. 

The policy of the war had been challenged long before the elec- 
tion of delegates, and when the convention assembled, the majority 
were overwhelmingly against the republican party, and partisan pro- 
clivities soon became manifest. 

The convention was composed of seventy-five delegates, and 
numbered among its members many men of distinction, as will be 
seen by reference to the list of delegates hereto attached. Some 
afterward attained national renown. One at least now tills the 
next highest office in the republic, the office of Chief Justice of 
the United States. There was Benjamin Edwards, the son of 
the great Ninian Edwards, the first governor of the Illinois 
Territory. There was John Dement, one of the early pioneers, 
"William J. Allen, now United States District Judge, George "Wall, 
now on the Appellate bench in this district, each of whom were 
afterward members of the convention of 1869-1870. There was 
also ex-Governor French, Anthony Thornton, O. B. Ficklin, Judge 
Pur,)le, and the gifted orator Joel Manning, from Peoria, General 
Orme, Porter Sheldon, afterward a member of Congress, E. P. 
Ferry, now Governor of the State of Washington, and one of the 
early governors of the Territory, and many others too numerous to 
mention. My colleagues were Melville W. Fuller, now Chief Jus- 
tice of the United States Supreme Court, John Wentworth and 
John H. Muhlke. Hon. William H. Hacker was elected president 
of the convention, and Hon. William M. Springer, commonly known 



at that time as "Bill Springer," was elected clerk. He has for 
many years been engaged in doing missionary work at Washington 
as a member of the House of Representatives. The convention 
was lively and at times boisterous. We might as well have under- 
taken to form a constitution on the battlefield. 

There were many members who had become infused with the 
doctrines of State sovereignty and the omnipotence of the conven- 
tion and it went to excesses. It claimed to have all the powers 
of the people if they were assembled together and were bodily 
present, and were acting in their original and primary capacity. It 
was at a time when a great deal was said in the newspapers about 
ordinances, and that was a term which was well known throughout 
the South. Ordinances were made use of then to accomplish 
secession, and they were odious. 

Our people did not like the nomenclature and did not like their 
purpose, and denounced them without stint or measure. Notwith- 
standing this, ordinances of one kind and another were introduced 
and passed, and the people began to find fault, and the soldier ele- 
ment greatly excited. It was rumored that some of the leading 
men in the convention were "Knights of the Golden Circle," and 
were hostile to the government. 

This feeling of hostility reached its climax when, on the arrival 
of news of the capture of Fort Henry, we introduced some high 
sounding, yet patriotic resolutions, rejoicing over the great victory 
which had been achieved by our soldiers over " the rebels and 
traitors," and which, instead of being adopted by a rising vote, as we 
demanded, were referred to a select committee, and after some delay 
were reported back shorn of all their beauty and symmetry cold and 
lifeless as if they had been subjected to a refrigerating process. This 
aroused the people greatly, and responses soon came from the army 
and Illinois soldiers in the field, and the usefulness of the convention 
was at an end. It was foredoomed, 'and several times the minority 
threatened to retire in a body. 

It was at this juncture that Mr. Manning, of Peoria, on the fall 
of Fort Donaldson, in a paroxysm of patriotic zeal, introduced, and 
the convention passed, an ordinance commencing: "Be it ordained 
by the People of the State of Illinois, represented and assembled in 
constitutional convention, That the sum of five hundred thousand 
dollars, or so much thereof as may be necessary, be, and the same is 
hereby appropriated out of the treasury of the State of Illinois, for 


the exclusive purpose of relieving the wants and sufferings of the 
brave sons of Illinois who have been or may be wounded in the 
battles fought by them and their brothers in the defense of the 
Union and Constitution." Sections two and three authorized the 
issue by the governor, auditor and treasurer of Illinois, of State 
bonds for that amount, and provided for the disbursement of the 
money by those officers, jointly, with a committee to be appointed 
by the convention. 

There never was- a more praiseworthy object; but as the ordi- 
nance was introduced, as all who were members of that convention 
know, as a bluff, and to silence all hostile criticisms of the action of 
those who were in the majority, it is needless to say that it never 
amounted to anything; but it does illustrate most clearly the pre- 
tensions of those who held to the doctrine that the people of the 
State of Illinois were not only "represented" there on that day, but 
were actually "assembled in constitutional convention," and could 
legislate to any extent and on any subject, precisely as if every 
individual voter were bodily present and then and there voting. 

When it was perceived that the work of the convention was 
being so severely criticised, a reaction took place among the "high 
rollers," and a partial restoration of good feeling took place, and a 
great effort was then made to frame a Constitution that would be 
acceptable to the people, and if it had not been for the hostile 
feelings which had been so injudiciously engendered, the Constitu- 
tion would have been adopted. As finally prepared, it was really a 
good Constitution, and a great improvement over .the then existing 
Constitution, but nothing would suffice. It was, on a popular vote, 
overwhelmingly defeated, and matters left in their condition until 
peace was restored, and all national issues had been settled by the 
dread arbitrament of war. 

Many of the discussions which took place were characterized 
by great ability, but the two speeches which we recollect with great 
distinctness, and which were probably the two ablest speeches, 
all things considered, made upon the floor of the House, were those 
by Melville W. Fuller, now chief justice, and that of John Went- 
worth, on the death of Stephen A. Douglas. Judge Douglas had 
died some months before, and this was the first deliberative body 
which had assembled in the State after his death; and very early in 
the session Mr. Fuller had introduced a resolution calling for the 
appointment of a special committee to report suitable resolutions in 


regard to the same, and was, of course, made chairman of the com- 
mittee; on the report coming in at a fixed day, some weeks after- 
ward, the convention was given up to a consideration of the same 
and to speech-making. Mr. Fuller had made the most thorough 
preparation for the occasion, and his effort was not disappointing. 
It was a master-piece, and gave him almost a national reputation. 
Mr. Wentworth's speech was of a somewhat different character 
from that of Fuller's, and abounded in reminiscences of Douglas 
and his contests for recognition in Illinois, his great contest for the 
House of Representatives with John T. Stuart, his opposition to 
Buchanan, and closed with a magnificent tribute to his patriotism, his 
honesty and the position that he would assume in the future annals 
of this State. Mr. Wentworth was on this occasion at his best and 
carried all before him. 

No finer tributes were ever paid to the memory of Douglas 
than those two speeches, and we have often wondered that they 
were not resurrected and published. 

And here we would say, as many maybe interested in knowing, 
that Mr. Fuller, while gomg with his party on party questions, was 
not a " high roller" in the convention, but was most eminently fair 
and considerate in everything. He was always a gentleman and was 
distinguished as a scholar. The abilities that he then displayed 
were a sure promise of what he afterward became. 

OF JANUARY 7, 1862. 

Alexander. Pulaski and Union Counties William A. Hacker. 

Pope, Hardin and Massac Counties George W. Waters. 

Williamson and Johnson William J. Allen. 

Gal latin and Saline Counties Milton Bartley. 

Franklin and Jackson Counties Andrew D. Duff. 

Randolph County Daniel Reiley. I 

Washington and Perry Counties George W. Wall. 

Jefferson, Marion and Hamilton Counties H. K. S. Omelreny, T. B. Tanner. 

Wabash and White Counties Thomas W. Stone. 

Wayne and Edwards Counties R. P. Hanna. 

Monroe County Thomas W. Morgan. 

St. Clair County Augustus C. French, James B. Underwood. 

Clinton and Bond Counties Samuel Stevenson. 

Madison County Solomon Koepfli. 

Fayette and Em'ngham Counties Isaac L. Leith. 

Richland, Clay and Jasper Counties James H. Parker. 

Lawrence and Crawford Counties Harmon Alexander. 

Cumberland and Alexander Counties Anthony Thornton. 


Montgomery and Christian Counties Horatio M. Vandeveer. 

Macoupin County Lewis Solomon. 

Greene County John M. Woodson. 

Edgar County James A. Eades. 

Coles, Moultrie and Douglas Counties Orlando B. Ficklin. 

Sungamon County Benjamin S. Edwards, James D. Smith. 

Morgan and Scott Counties Joseph Morton, Albert G. Burr. 

Pike and Brown Counties Alexander Starne, Archibald Glenn. 

Adams County James W. Singleton, Austin Brooks. 

Schuyler County John P. Richmond. 

Hancock County Milton M. Morrill. 

McDonough County Joseph C. Thompson. 

Fulton County Lewis W. Ross, John G. Graham. 

Cass and Minard Counties Thompson W. McNeeley. 

Logan and Mason Counties E. L. Austin. 

Macon. Piatt, DeVVitt and Champaign Counties T. R. Webber. 

Vermillion and Ford Counties Elias S. Terry. 

McLean County William W. Orme. 

Tazewell County Robert B. M. Wilson. 

Henderson and Warren Counties Jonathan-Simpson. 

Peoria County Julius Manning. 

Stark County Norman H. Purple. 

Marshall, Woodford and Putnam Counties John Burn?. 

La Salle, Livingston and Grundy Counties Alexander Campbell, Perry A. 

Kendall County Thomas Finnie. 

Will, DuPage, Kankakee and Iroquois Counties Francis Goodspeed, J. W. 
Paddock, Henry C. Childs. 

Kane and De Kalb Counties Stephen B. Stinson. 

Bureau County Robert T. Templeton. 

Mercer, Henry and Rock Island Counties George W. Pleasants. 

Lee and Whiteside Counties John Dement. 

Ogle County Charles Newcomer. 

Jo Daviess and Carroll Counties Wellington Weigley, Henry Smith. 

Stephenson County Williard P. Naramore. 

Winnebago County Porter Sheldon. 

Boone and McHenry Counties William M. Jackson, Luther W. Lawrence. 

Lake County Elisha P. Terry. 

Cook County John Wentworth, Melville W. Fuller, Elliott Anthony, John 
H. Muhlke. 

Madison County Samuel A. Buckmaster. 

Jersey County William A. Allen. 

Kane County Adoniram J. Joslyn. 

Knox County W. Sheldon Gale. 

Constitutional Convention of 1869-70. 

SEVEN years after the constitutional convention of 1862 had 
adjourned another was called together and entered upon the 
task of revising the Constitution which had been in existence since 
1848. The war was then over and when the convention assembled, 
the delegates were in a chastened mood. The grave lessons which 
had been taught us during that long period which preceded and 
accompanied the war had not been forgotten, but all entered upon 
their duties with the ripe experience of men who had given to the 
subject of government the most profound study. Many had taken 
part in the war and had at various times been connected with the 
government, had tilled high and honorable positions in the National 
and State government, had had long experience and great obser- 
vation in local affairs, and knew the wants and requirements of 
the State thoroughly. "We met in the Hall of the House of Rep- 
resentatives of the old State House on Monday, the 13th of Decem- 
ber, 1869, at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and the final adjournment 
took place on the 13th of May, 1870. 

The delegates were nearly equally divided in politics and an 
occurrence happened in regard to the selection of a permanent chair- 
man of the convention, very similar to that which took place on 
the assembling of the constitutional convention of 1847. The dele- 
gates from Cook county had been elected as non- partisans and on 
a citizens' ticket. It was composed of Joseph Medill, editor of the 
Chicago Tribune, William F. Coolbaugh, S. S. Hayes, Daniel Cam- 
eron, Charles Hitchcock and myself. We held the balance of 
power and we concluded to assist in the organization of the House 
on as nearly a non-partisan basis as possible; and as the State was 
overwhelmingly republican, we thought of course that the per- 
manent chairmanship should be given to a republican, and as Mr. 
Hitchcock was a republican lawyer of great learning and distinc- 
tion we selected him. The minor offices were all about equally 
divided. A slight skirmish occurred at the opening of the conven- 
tion between the opposing forces, as to who should be made 



temporary chairman, which imparted zest to the occasion. The 
friends of William Gary, of Jo Daviess, and the friends of 
John Dement, of Lee, were both proposed by parties at one 
and the same time, and they were both declared elected, both 
ascended the platform at the same moment and each "assumed 
the chair;" and on motions being made each would alternately 
put the motions and sometimes one would declare the same 
carried, while the other would declare them lost. The scene was 
so ludicrous and laughable that we were kept in an uproar nearly 
all the afternoon. On the adjournment of the convention for the 
day a consultation was had, and as it was shown that Mr. Dement 
had the greatest following, was an old pioneer, and had been in the 
constitutional convention of 1847 and 1862, it was decided that it 
would be no more than right to confer the honor of temporary pre- 
siding officer upon him, and expunge from the record all that had 
taken place under the auspices of the double-headed convention. 
This was agreed to, and the record of the convention as made up, 
shows nothing of the dual order of proceedings, but shows that 
Mr. Dement was elected temporary presiding officer by a vote of 
45 to 38. 

Col. Dement was a most worthy man, had been long connected 
with the State, and had been a member as we have said of the 
constitutional conventions of 1847 and 1862, and on taking the 
chair referred to these things in a most happy manner, as follows: 

" Gentlemen of the Convention: Usual as I know it is, for per- 
sons indicated as presiding officer for the mere temporary purpose 
of organizing a deliberative body to make a response in return to 
their friends, I certainly, under the peculiar circumstances by which 
I occupy this position, would not act in accordance with my feel- 
ings if I did not adopt some form of expressing my thanks to you. 
While there has been something that at first appeared as though 
unpleasant results might occur, my obligations and gratitude are 
eminently increased by what I firmly believe to be a harmonious 
conclusion of this little episode, as I shall please to call it. I am 
proud of it on account of the kindness and good feeling that I 
believe exists between the gentleman who was proposed for the 
same position a"s myself, and when I cast my vote for him, there 
was something more intended than a mere exchange of courtesies. 

I respect the gentleman. 

I respect those gentleman that cast their votes in his favor. 


The compliment that I have received at your hands is greatly 
enhanced by the circumstances that have been mentioned already; 
nevertheless, without adopting these compliments and sentiments, I 
must say that I regard this compliment as high as it is possible for 
me to regard any, for the reason that there are so many here who 
are my seniors and superiors. 

But 1 have another reason to feel grateful to yon. 

There are gentlemen here with whom I have been associated in 
the conventions of 1847 and 1862, and others here who are my 
friends of more than forty years standing. 

These circumstances renew to my mind scenes of my life that 
are dear to me. They carry me back to that period when I explored 
the then wilderness territory of Illinois, and you will allow me, 
with yourselves, to express my gratitute, admiration and wonder 
at the great change which we experience in comparing these two 
periods that, when our State contained probably not over twenty 
thousand white people, and the present, when we estimate its popu- 
lation by millions. We all recognize the fact that we occupy our 
present positions at the call of the great people in the exercise of 
the most conservative and liberal spirit, and also the obligations that 
these circumstances impose upon us of framing a constitution and 
a fundamental law, under the provisions of which the affairs of 
our State shall be administered for the prosperity and happiness of 
the millions of our general population as well as for their welfare 
in the future." 

No address was ever conceived in better taste. It was well 
received, and coming from one so well known and respected, and 
from one who was so nearly connected with the pioneer period of the 
State, we all looked upon it as a happy augury and a most graceful 
ending to what at first bid fair to be an unpleasant beginning to 
our labors. 

Hon. William Gary, who was brought into prominence by the 
occurrence above referred to, was a lawyer of prominence, who lived 
at Galena and who was elected a delegate from Jo Daviess county. 
He afterward became United States District Attorney for Utah 
Territory, then removed to Deadwood in Western Dakota, where 
he has resided ever since. 

The men who composed that convention were many of them 
distinguished in their chosen walks long before their fellow citizens 
selected them to assist in framing a fundamental law, under which 


our civil institutions have been ennobled, and our beloved com- 
monwealth has attained the front rank in the galaxy of States. 
There, on that day, the 13th of December, 1869, were assembled 
men, venerable in years, who had adorned the Senate of the United 
States, men who had been members of Congress, distinguished 
jurists who had presided over the highest tribunal within our 
borders, men renowned in the marts of commerce, great bankers 
and merchants, the editors of great newspapers, leaders of public 
opinion, men who were authority in finance, representatives of the 
hardy yeomanry and tillers of the soil, who understood well the 
interests of the rural population, men who had traveled far and 
learned much, men who were masters of experimental science, phy- 
sicians of renown, men of great classical attainments, men of native 
eloquence, ornaments of the Senate, the pulpit and the bar, and we 
will add, no one of whom ever presumed or had the temerity to 
believe that he was legislating for all time, or that when he died all 
wisdom in framing the laws and the Constitution of the greatest of 
our commonwealths, would die with him. 

Hon. John M. Palmer was the Republican governor of the State 
at that time. His politics were sound, his instincts good, and he was 
one of the most intelligent public officers that ever occupied the 
executive chair. 

He was frequently called upon by members of the convention 
for his advice, and so highly was he regarded that we caused to 
be published for our use all of his veto messages, which were 
quite numerous and very able, among which was his veto message 
of the famous Lake Front Bill, which was a master-piece of logic 
and one of the most important documents of the kind which ever 
emanated from the hand and brain of a lawyer in this State. He 
assisted by his advice in the framing of the executive article, and 
we will not withhold our tribute of respect and meed of praise, 
although strange vagaries may have since passed over his mental 
vision, and the lurid flames of the Chicago fire warped his judg- 
ment as to what constitutes the true limitations of the police power 
of the United States Government and that of the State in attempting 
to deal with unforeseen calamities and untold woes in the midst of a 
conflagration which had never been equaled since the destruction 
of Jerusalem in the days of Titus. 

He took a prominent part in putting down the war of the Rebell- 
ion was among the first to liberate the slaves while stationed in 


Kentucky, and was a leader of public opinion. We trust that ho 
will some day tell us why he became a democrat. He yet lingers 
on the stage of action as powerful as Ajax, as invulnerable as 
Achilles, in the full enjoyment of unimpaired energies, gloriously 
awaiting his apotheosis. 

And right here we fall into reverie. The metamorphosis which 
political parties and many of our public men have undergone in 
relation to many public questions since the close of the war. is 
astonishing to us. It is not unlike that which took place in the times 
of George the First, as described by Macaulay in his review of the 
life and times of " The Earl of Chatham." 

"Dante tells us that he saw in Malebolge, a strange encounter 
between a human form and a serpent. The enemies, after cruel 
wounds inflicted, stood for a time glaring on each other. A great 
cloud surrounded them, and then a wonderful metamorphosis began. 
Each creature was transfigured into the likeness of its antagonists. 
The serpent's tail divided itself into two legs; the man's legs inter- 
twined themselves into a tail. The body of the serpent put forth 
arms; the arms of the man shrank into his body. At length the 
serpent stood up a man and spoke; the man sank down a serpent 
and glided, hissing, away. Something like this was the transforma- 
tion which, during the reign of George the First, befell the two 
English parties. Each gradually took the shape and color of its 
foe, till at length the tory rose up erect, the zealot of freedom, and 
the whig crawled and licked the dust at the feet of power." 

The lesson which this teaches is one of sad and solemn import, 
like the fall of Adam, and is attended with all of its consequences. 

We entered upon the discharge of our duties with alacrity, and 
held an inquest upon all existing institutions, systems and depart- 
ments of the government, and we let nothing escape us. We voted 
for every resolution of investigation in regard to all created things, 
from the days of the " mound builders " down to the construction 
of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. We pondered over all forms of 
government and all methods of exercising the elective franchise, 
and ended by adopting minority representation, which has, it is 
claimed, proved to be a great check on the tyranny of majorities, 
and like carrying a lighted lamp into regions heretofore black with 
darkness and surrounded with gloom. Hon. Joseph Medill, the 
veteran editor of the Chicago Tribune, was the great apostle and 
champion of this system of voting, and is to-day its warm defender. 


It seems to have worked very well and has been the means of intro- 
ducing those differing in politics to each other, and toning down 
in many instances the views of those who could never before see 
any good coining forth from Nazareth. 

Minority representation was, at the time of its introduction, 
a novelty in political science, and was regarded as an experiment, 
and of it, it may be said : " There is no more hazardous enterprise 
than that of bearing the torch of truth into those dark and infected 
recesses in which no light has ever shone." 

It was the choice and pleasure of Mr. Medill to penetrate the 
noisome vapors, and to brave the terrible explosion. He took 
his stand upon the popular parts of his political creed with firmness 
and decision, and defended them with, an ability rarely equaled. 
He was like Milton when he stood up for divorce and regicide. 
He attacked the prevailing system without scruple, and bore down 
on it without let or hindrance. " His radiant and beneficent career 
resembled the god of light and fertility." He pushed through 
minority representation, and there it remains a monument to his 
foresight and an educator of the highest order. It astonished all 
the Bourbons and old-fashioned Andrew Jackson democrats, and 
moss-backed politicians of both parties, and they have never ceased 
to wonder at it till the present hour. We do not think that it has 
effected all that has been claimed for it, and the system is still open 
for debate. 

What the delegates did on that occasion was by no means a 
finality, and it may be that in the rapid changes which have taken 
place, and are now taking place, much of their work may have been 
found useless or impracticable, and should be superseded by other 
systems arid other provisions that we thought not of, but we doubt 
it. Men who have neither looked into the history of the past, nor 
yet troubled themselves to learn what happens year by year, will 
often be surprised to find what changes take place in a few months 
or years, and it is asserted that neither men nor measures can 
remain for an hour unchanged. This statement is partly true and 
partly false in its application to fixed governments, and changes in 
systems are not as rapid as they are sometimes thought to be. The 
members of that convention did the best that they knew how, and 
many now sleep from their labors and are at rest. The great 
majority of them have long since passed over into the better laud. 


A few of us still remain, but 

"When I remember all 

The friends so linked together, 
I've seen around me fall, 

Like leaves in wintry weather, 
I feel like one who treads alone, 
Some banquet hall deserted, 
Whose lights are fled, 
Whose garlands dead, 
And all but he departed." 

1869 AND 1870. 

First District. Alexander, Pulaski and Union Counties William G. Allen. 

Second District. Massac, Pope and Johnson Counties George W. Brown. 

Third District. Hardin, Saline and G-allatin Counties W. G. Bowman. 

Fourth District. Lawrence and Wabash Counties James M. Sharp. 

Fifth District. Franklin and Jefferson Counties William B. Anderson. 

Sixth District. Jackson and Williamson Counties James M. Washburn. 

Seventh District. Clinton and Washington Counties Harvey P. Buxton. 

Eighth District. Monroe, Randolph and Perry Counties J. H. Wilson, 
George W. Wall. 

Ninth District. Marion County Silas L. Bryan. 

Tenth District. Wayne and Hamilton Counties Robert P. Hanna. 

Eleventh District. Jasper and Crawford Counties James C. Allen. 

Twelfth District. Clay and Richland Counties James P. Robinson. 

Thirteenth District. Fayette and Effingham Counties Beverly W. Henry. 

Fourteenth District. Edwards and White Counties Charles E. McDowell. 

Fifteenth District. $(,. Cia.ii County William H. Snyder, William H. 

Sixteenth District. Madison and Bond Counties Charles F. Springer, Henry 
W. Billings. 

Seventeenth District. Clark and Cumberland Counties John Schofield. 

Eighteenth District. Shelby County George R. Wendling. 

Nineteenth District. Christian and Montgomery Counties Edward Y. Rice. 

Twentieth District. Sangamon and Logan Counties Milton Hay, Samuel C. 

Twenty-first District. Macoupin County John W. Hankins. 

Twenty-second District. Jersey and Calhoun Counties Robert A. King. 

Twenty-third District. Green County James W. English. 

Twenty-fourth District. Pike and Scott Counties William R. Archer, 
John Abbott. 

Twenty-fifth District. Cass and Brewer Counties William S. Vandeventer. 

Twenty-sixth District. Menard and Mason Counties O. H. Wright. 

Twenty-seventh District. Morgan County Henry J. Atkins. 

Twenty-eighth District. Adams County Orville W. Brown Onias C. 

Thirtieth District. Schuyler County Jesse C. Fox. 

Thirty-first District. Hancock County David Ellis. 


Thirty-second District. Henderson and Mercer Counties James S. Pooge. 

Thirty-third District. Warren County A. G. Kirkpatrick. 

Thirty-fourth District. Knox County Alfred M. Craig. 

Thirty-fifth District. Fulton County Lewis W. Ross, Samuel P. Cummings. 

Thirty-sixth District. Peoria and Stark Counties Henry W. Wells, Miles S. 

Thirty-seventh District. Tazewell County Jonathan Merriam. 

Thirty-eighth District, McLean and DeWitt Counties Reuben M. Benja- 
min, Clifton H. Moore. 

Thirty-ninth District. Coles, Douglas, Edgar and Vermillion Counties 
John L. Trucker, Henry P. H. Brownwell, Richard B. Sutherland. 

Fortieth District. Champaign, Macon, Moultrie and Piatt Counties Charles 
Emraerson, Abel Howard. 

Forty-first D strict. Kankakee County Original delegate Wm. H. Patter- 
son, deceased; to Gil vacancy, John P. Gamble. 

Forty-second District. Iroquois and Ford Counties Addison Goodell. 

Forty-third District. Will and Grundy Counties Wm. C. Goodhue, W. P. 

Forty-fourth District. La Salle and Livingston Counties George S. Eld- 
ridge, Joseph Hart, Nathaniel J. Pillsbury. 

Forty-fifth District. Bureau, Putnam, Woodford and Marshall Counties S. 
D. Whiting, Jas. G. Boyne, Peleg S. Perley. 

Forty-sixth District. Henry County George E. Wait. 

Forty-seventh District Rock Island County Calvin Truesdale. 

Forty-eighth District. Whiteside County James McCoy. 

Forty-ninth District. Lee County John Dement. 

Fiftieth District. Ogle County Joseph Parker. 

Fifty-first District. De Kalb, Boone Counties Westel W. Sedgwick, Jesse 
L. Hildrup. 

Fifty-second District. Kane and Kendall Counties Charles Wheaton, Henry 

Fifty-third District. Lake County Elijah M. Haines. 

Fifty-fourth District. McHenry County Lawrence S. Church. 

Fifty-fifth District. Winnebago County Robert J. Cross. 

Fifty-sixth District. Stephenson County Thomas J. Turner. 

Fifty-seventh District. Jo Daviess and Carroll Counties William Gary, 
David C. Wagner. 

Fifty-eighth District. Du Page County Hiram H. Cody. 

Fifty-ninth District. Cook County Joseph Medill, John C. Haines, Snowden 
S. Hayes. 

Sixtieth District. Portion of Cook County William C. Coolbaugh, Charles 

Sixty-first District. Portion of Cook County Elliott Anthony, Daniel 

Is a Constitutional Convention Needed. 

BUT death never interrupts the continuity in the life of govern- 
ments or nations. And this brings us at length to the consider- 
ation of the question which we have been requested to discuss by 
the Bar Association of the State, to wit: " The needs of a Constitutional 
Convention." The form in which the question is presented would 
seem to imply that the matter had been already settled, and that 
all we had to do was to enumerate those needs or various topics or 
subjects which such a convention would be called upon to deal 
with, and then our task would be done. But we are assured that 
in propounding the question in this form, it was not intended that 
those who should be called upon to discuss the same, should assume 
the affirmative side instead of the negative, but that we should be 
left free to discuss the same as we see tit, and it is with this under- 
standing that we now enter the lists as a " free lance." 

The visionaries of this world we are conscious we can not 
satisfy, for we have no time and no inclination to meet their vague 
and declamatory asseverations. What we are concerned with is the 
science of government, and, as a practicable being, what form of 
government is best adapted to promote the happiness and secure 
the rights and interests of the people upon whom it is to act. 

The American forms of government, both National and State, 
are in many respects the most intricate and complex of all forms of 
government since they deal with all the various concerns and rela- 
tions of man, and must perpetually reason from the imperfect expe- 
rience of the past for the boundless contingencies of the future. 
The most that we can hope to do under such circumstances is to 
make nearer and nearer approximations to truth, without our ever 
being certain of having arrived at it in a positive form. Govern- 
ment, however it may be detined, is nothing more nor less than 
the science of adaptations, variable in its elements, dependent upon 
circumstances and incapable of a rigid mathematical demonstration. 

The men who insist that government is a matter of great sim- 
plicity, that its principles are so clear that there ought to be jno 
mistake, and that any persons of ordinary skill ought to be able to 



frame a constitution for any State that will last at least a hundred 
years, are so devoid of all sense or reason that they are beyond our 
influence and beyond our hopes of salvation this side of the resur- 
rection morn. If there is any one thing that has been demonstrated 
it is that in proportion as a government is free, the more compli- 
cated it is. "Simplicity belongs to those only where one will gov- 
erns all, where one mind directs all and all others obey; where few 
arrangements are required, because no checks to power are allowed; 
where law is not a science, but a mandate to be followed and not to 
be discussed; where it is not a rule for permanent action, but a 
capricious and arbitrary dictate of the hour." 

Burke, who during the last century, discoursed with great force 
and vigor in regard to the perfection of government, declared that 
whenever men have a right to do everything they want everything, 
and that in republics great vigilance is necessary to guard against 
the captivations of theories as well as the approaches of more insidious 
foes. And this is true, for government may be overthrown by 
indirect means as well as direct and open assaults. 

' A thousand years scarce serves to form a State, 
An hour may lay it in the dust; and when 
Can man its shattered splendors renovate, 

Recall its virtues back and vanquish Time and Fate." 

The greatest engine of moral power known to human affairs is 
an organized, prosperous State. All that man in his individual 
capacity can do, all that he can effect by his private fraternities, by 
his ingenious discoveries and wonders of art, or by his influence 
over others is as nothing compared with the collective, perpetu- 
ated influence on human affairs and human happiness, of a 
well-constituted, powerful commonwealth. 

"It blesses generations with its sweet influences; even the 
barren earth seems to pour out its fruits under a system where 
rights and property are secure, while her fairest gardens are 
blighted by despotism." 

In this country no State exists or can exist without a govern- 
ment organized under a constitution with which the people them- 
selves have had something to do in framing and adopting. But 
the value of a constitution is relative as well as possible, and no 
nation is to perish that a political theory or political abstraction 
may strive vainly for realization. The life of a people can not be 
sacrificed for a political form or a political dogma. That is 


admitted. Was the Constitution that we made good or bad? 
Have its theories proved delusive and has its system of govern- 
ment become impracticable? Have things so changed that it is 
now necessary to discard it and make another one that shall 
conform to a changed order of things? Wherein, let us inquire, 
has this Constitution failed? what are the changes that are 
demanded, and in what respect shall it be amended? 

Amendments are provided for in the Constitution; are the 
changes which are demanded so radical in their character they can 
not be met by amendments to be submitted to the people in the 
manner provided for in the instrument itself? Is a constitutional 
convention necessary, and if so, what are its needs? 

The subject of "Needs of a Constitutional Convention" may be 
considered either affirmatively or negatively. You may, if you 
please, assume that the objections to the present Constitution are so 
numerous, so well known and widely admitted as to do nothing more, 
as we have said, than enumerate them and thereby avoid all discus- 
sion whatever. On the contrary, if no such state of things exists, 
if no such assumption can be indulged in, and if everything 
alleged is controverted, then the question becomes still more inter- 
esting. Let us see. 

The Constitution was submitted to the people for adoption or 
rejection at an election which was held on the first Saturday in 
July, 1870, and was adopted by a most overwhelming vote. 

It required a considerable legislation to put the Constitution 
into operation, and it was over a year before many of the laws were 
passed and went into effect, so that, while the Constitution has been 
in force twenty years, the reform measures passed in accordance 
with the same, have not been in operation that length of time. 

We have, during the period which has intervened, been a some- 
what close observer of its workings, and we have yet to learn that 
it has proved so unsatisfactory as to require many very radical 
amendments, although expressions have reached us now and then to 
that effect. Those who have gone to the extreme of declaring that 
we have outgrown the Constitution, and have denounced the slow 
method of amending the same, have not, we think, bestowed very 
much thought upon the subject, and have exercised but very little 
discrimination as to whether the reforms that they wish to bring 
about, could be effected by the ordinary methods of legislation or 


It is true that two years ago this matter was given some attention 
by the General Assembly. A resolution was introduced in favor 
of the calling of a convention, but it was defeated by a considerable 
majority. At that time the House resolved itself into a committee 
of the whole and indulged in general debate. It did not, however, 
as it appears from the records, limit the discussion to its own mem- 
bers, but invited outsiders to participate. Among those who were 
called upon to take part was a distinguished member of the bar, a 
resident of the city of Chicago, and a gentleman of large experience 
and observation. His remarks were published at the time, and as they 
have since been frequently referred to, we will briefly call attention 
to them. He reviewed at considerable length the present condition 
of things, and gave his experience of the difficulties and delays 
which ensued in endeavoring to legislate under the present Consti- 
tution; that evils had already developed that he considered of such 
magnitude as to be difficult, if not impossible, to be remedied by 
ordinary legislation; that corporations seemed to be multiplying to 
an alarming extent, and that, too, without check or limit: that the 
entire judicial system was defective in its organization and adminis- 
tration; that the Supreme Court is behind the age or rather the 
needs and the reputation of this State, because of its nomadic char- 
acter; that its reputation suffered because of the division of its 
work, and the numerous places where it is held, and the small 
attention given by the united court to the business that comes 
before it a thing which should be corrected in a new Constitution; 
that the idea of uniformity of laws, which was one of the chief 
characteristics of the Constitution, was impracticable when applied 
to counties, towns and townships, which varied so diametrically in 
many of their wants and necessities, that the legislation which was 
required for Chicago and Cook county was entirely inadequate; that 
local self-government was interfered with; that the provisions in 
the present Constitution in regard to amendments were too cumber- 
some, and were attended witli too much delay; and ended by declar- 
ing that " It (the Constitution) is a document, prepared by men who 
thought they combined, not only the wisdom of the years in which 
they made it, but the wisdom of all the years to come. In a broad 
way, in a wide sense, that general suggestion covers my objection 
-to the Constitution of 1870." His specific objections were immedi- 
ately answered by Mr. Schuwerk and Hon. James Miller, of Stark 
county, lately deceased, and who was, we believe, at the time of his 


death, speaker of the House, and as we believe, fully and completely. 
They showed, at the time, that there was not one of the things that 
were complained of but what could be remedied by the General 
Assembly, or by submitting to the people amendments to the Con- 
stitution itself, and that a constitutional convention was entirely 
unnecessary. Since that time the matter has been discussed to some 
extent in the public press, and two entirely different views have 
beeii presented which are quite interesting. 


Radicalism and Conservatism. 

OK the fifth day of January of this year (1891) there was pub- 
lished in one of the leading journals of Chicago, the "Chicago 
Herald," an editorial, reiterating the same ideas in substance as those 
put forth by Mr. Jewett, in which a direct appeal is made to the 
present General Assembly to take steps to call a convention to 
revise the Constitution, as the present Constitution had long ago 
been outgrown; that it answered its purposes for a time, but it was 
hedged about by so many obstacles to the free expression of the 
public will, it was so completely fortified against reasonable and 
necessary amendment, and it was drawn by men who had such an 
overpowering confidence in their own wisdom and ability to regu- 
late human government for all time, that it long since ceased to be 
useful, and became merely a brake upon the wheels of progress. 
The entire article is as follows : 


The great need of the State of Illinois at this time is a new Con- 
stitution. The instrument of 1870 was long ago outgrown. It 
answered its purpose for a time, but it was hedged about by so many 
obstacles to the free expression of the public will, it was so com- 
pletely fortified against reasonable and necessary amendment, and it 
was drawn by men who had such an overpowering confidence in 
their own wisdom and ability to regulate human government for all 
time, that it long since ceased to be useful, and became merely a 
brake upon the wheels of progress. 


It Las been stated in 'The Herald' that all good citizens should 
combine this winter in favor of the submission of one amendment 
only one being possible at any general election that would strike out 
of that instrument the absurd clause which provides that only one 
section of the Constitution can be amended at a time; but a careful 
examination of the organic law and due consideration of the needs 
of the city and the State will convince most people that to attempt 
to whip the Constitution into shape by amendment would be a task 
involving years of delay and labors almost superhuman. It would 
be better for all concerned to call a constitutional conveniion, and to 
prepare an entirely new instrument for submission to the people. 
In no other way can our fundamental law be brought down to date 
and the egregious mistakes of 1870 be corrected. 

When the present Constitution was submitted, Chicago was a 
city of 300,000 inhabitants, and not a man in Illinois dreamed that 
within a score of years there would be a million and a quarter of 
people within its limits. The Constitution is peculiarl oppressive 
to this great city, whose needs have outgrown the limitations placed 
upon it, but it is also obnoxious to the people of the State at large. 
This is true in particular in the matter of revenue. Under existing 
law the corporations of the State escape just taxation, and the bur- 
dens of government fall with greatest severity upon the poor. The 
system of minority representation is also a fraud and a disgrace to 
an intelligent people. It makes the effective expression of their 
will at the polls a matter of accident, and not infrequently defeats 
the very objects that it was ostensibly designed to serve. In almost 
every direction it blocks with mandatory prohibition every avenue 
of escape from wornout ideas, and conclusively 'bars the way to use- 
ful and necessary reforms born of human progress and the growing 
demands of city and State. It is antiquated, narrow and cranky, 
and it must soon give place to something that will meet the require- 
ments of an enterprising people. 

The General Assembly, which meets this week, will fail of its 
duty if it shall neglect to do its part toward calling a convention 
empowered to prepare and submit to the electors of the State a 
new organic law." 

This was followed by several other articles of a similar character, 
to which the " Chicago Tribune " replied by a series of broadsides 
in the following vigorous manner: 



Again the tax-devourers through their organs and other agen- 
cies are howling for a new constitution, and are urging the General 
Assembly " to do its part toward calling a convention, to prepare 
and submit to the electors of the State a new organic law." The 
existing Constitution it appears is not satisfactory to the tax-devour- 
ers, the beneficiaries of the mortgage bonds, the lobbyists, special 
bill venders, and all the tribe of public plunderers and leeches of 
the kind that utilized the old Constitution to the full extent of their 
opportunities and their greed. The existing Constitution was not 
framed as the organs of the tax-devourers would have it. by " Men 
with an overpowering confidence in their own wisdom," but by men 
who had the sound judgment to carry out the wishes of the people 
who elected them in devising an instrument of fundamental law, 
which would prevent the knavish and evil practices of unfaithful 
legislators, carried on under the constitution which it replaced the 
selling of special franchises and special charters, the taxing and 
bonding of the people to an oppressive degree, the granting of 
special privileges to corporations without consulting the wishes and 
the interests of the people. The existing Constitution was framed 
in accordance with the desires of the people of the State, who 
wanted protection from corrupt and mercenary members of the 
Legislature, and their decision was arrived at after ample discussion 
by themselves and the mature deliberation of their freely chosen 
representatives, who were all fully aware of the evils they had to 
contend against. 

The Constitution of 1870 has admirably fulfilled the purpose of 
its adoption by an almost unanimous vote. It has done away with 
the unendurable abuses that were practiced in all the Legislatures 
prior to 1870. 

The present agitation for a new convention and a new Constitu- 
tion is intended to help the tax-devourers, while placing responsi- 
bility for complicity with their schemes on the people at large. 
This plan will not succeed. The honest people of the State outside 
of Chicago who are well satisfied with the Constitution and the 
honest people of the city who object to more taxation for the bene- 
fit of professional tax-eaters will not submit to a new convention in 
which the lobbyists, the sharpers, and the Chicago Tammanyites 
might, through the agency of political machines, have a majority. 
A new convention might be called, but the people would not ratify 


the product of its deliberations. There is no occasion to incur the 

If necessary the provision of the Constitution preventing the 
submission of more than one amendment at any one general elec- 
tion may be repealed. Thereafter as many amendments as may 
seem proper may be submitted, for popular approval or rejection. 
If certain provisions of the present fundamental law are objection- 
able the people will have the power to rescind or to eliminate 
them. But let us not risk the takino- down of all the bars that have 


been put up to keep the tax-devourers, special charter venders, and 
corporation agents in their proper places. 


A few tax-eaters and certain newspapers, organs of officeholders, 
are clamoring for a new Constitution. But the people of the State 
of Illinois are making no such demand. They are holding no meet- 
ings to ask for a constitutional convention. They are making the 
question an issue at no election. The papers which represent them 
say nothing on the subject or speak only to denounce the proposi- 
tion. Among the grievances of the farmers set forth in their 
platforms and resolves the Illinois Constitution finds no place. No 
city workingmen have said a word against it. 

It is evident that the masses are not troubled by the assertion 
that they "tied their hands" when they adopted their present 
fundamental law and now " want them unbound." Of course they are 
not, for they do not believe it. They know it to be untrue. They 
have a better idea of the nature of State Constitutions than certain 
editorial writers who set themselves up as guides of the multitude, 
though ignorant of the subjects concerning which they give raw 
advice. When " The Tribune " sees papers posing as public instruct- 
ors, and yet unacquainted with the fundamental principles of the 
matters they write about, it confesses that it does feel exasperated 
and would be glad to see a law passed which would keep such sheets 
from making fools of themselves and perhaps befooling their readers. 

The Constitutions of States which have a representative form of 
government are not limitations of the powers of, and do not tie the 
hands of, the people who make them, but of the representatives, 
State and municipal, to whom the people intrust from time to time 
legislative functions. If it were certain that Legislatures would be 
composed of the wisest and most honest men in the community, 
who would never boodle, steal or otherwise abuse their trust, there 


would be no need of a Constitution more than a few lines long. 
All that would be necessary would be to iix the number of mem- 
bers of the Legislature and their term of office, and to make brief 
provision for the executive and judicial departments of the govern- 
ment. But the experience of every State has proved that legislators 
will abuse their trust, and that they can be bought or influenced to 
do things which the people, if they could come together, as in 
town-meeting, would never vote to do. Hence, the steady evolu- 
tion of American State Constitutions, with their increasing restric- 
tions not on the people, but on those agents whom the people, 
unable to meet in a primary body, select as their representatives 
and administrators to act for them. 

Such has been the experience of Illinois. The Constitution of 
1818 gave large powers to the Legislature. That body abused them 
by plunging headlong into avast wildcat scheme of internal improve- 
ments for the bench' t of contractors, which bankrupt the State. 
The result was the Constitution of 1848, which stripped the Legis- 
lature of its power to abuse its trust and betray the people by run- 
ning up a crushing State debt. But the men who made that Con- 
stitution were not far-seeing. They did not perceive that it was as 
important to protect the minor political divisions of the State from 
financial wreck and ruin as it was the State itself. The legislators 
elected under the organic law of 184-8 were even more false to their 
trust than those chosen under that of 1818. Their professions to 
their constituents before election were admirable; their practices 
after election, when they got to Springfield, were villainous. They 
empowered the city council of Chicago to issue millions of bonds 
for all sorts of schemes without consulting the people. They put 
it in the power of the speculators of smaller municipalities to fasten 
mortgages on the taxpayers to help railroads, rolling mills, grist 
mills, coal mines, glass factories, woolen mills, and every variety of 
private enterprise. These corrupt members enacted, with the aid 
of the lobby, and sold to corporations, charters gran ting them special 
privileges and immunities. They were given by the Constitution 
authority to pass general laws on the subject of corporations, but 
they refused persistently to do it, for it would have deprived them 
of the boodle made from the sale of special charters. They ex- 
tended the terms of officers without consulting the people, and 
increased their fees and salaries, though already too high. 

The people stood this misconduct on the part of their agents 


for many years, for they promised before every election to do 
better "the next time." Finally, unable to stand it any longer, 
they ordered a convention and adopted the Constitution of 1870, 
and limited still further, not their own powers, which are still as 
sovereign as they ever were, but those of their representatives. 
For their own protection they put a curb not merely on members of 
the General Assembly but on county boards, city councils and 
township officers. They took from them, large and small, the 
power to blanket-mortgage the property of their constituents and 
to tax them till they staggered. 

The people of Illinois are not dissatisfied with those restrictions 
on representatives. To them they owe low taxes and arrest of 
debts, and they do not wish to untie the hands of their agents and 
let them again plunder at their sweet will in partnership with the 
vultures of the lobby. On the contrary, they are, if anything, in 
favor of drawing the constitutional strings a little tighter. The 
people have not been pleased altogether with the conduct of their 
representatives in the General Assembly for the last few years. 
They have seen on the part of too many of them a disposition to 
abuse the powers they have, and are inclined to think they could be 
curtailed judiciously. 

Thus it will be seen that those who are working for a new "free- 
and-easy, go-as-you-please " Constitution are not trying to "untie 
the hands of the people" but of their agents. They want to secure 
for the latter the same unlimited power of attorney that they had 
under the Constitution of 1848. They want to revive the profitable 
industry of drawing up charters by the hundred, granting special 
franchises, and then lobbying them through the Legislature. They 
want to give again to the General Assembly its power to create 
monopolies for a price. They hanker after the old days when pub- 
lic taxes and public funds could be diverted to private uses. They 
wish to see the wealth which has been saved up during twenty years 
of low taxes and arrested mortgages handed over to the unchecked 
control of the tax-eaters. They want to let down the bars so that 
the thieves and speculators may get into the fat pastures they have 
been kept out of so long. 

This is what they want, but they dare not confess it. The people 
see through their little game, and neither in the Legislature nor at 
the polls can they get the necessary number of votes. The people 
will not untie the hands of their agents, knowing well that the first 


use they would make of their freedom would be to abuse their 
power and to plunder their constituents, as was done under the Con- 
stitution of 1848. 

The "Chicago Herald" says that it is useless to prepare bills 
giving the Chicago justices fixed salaries instead of fees, because 
such legislation would be in violation of the Constitution. It says : 

"Any legislation touching justices of the peace, police magis- 
trates, and constables must apply to the entire State, and it is highly 
improbable that while this stupid enactment remains in force an 
amendment consistent with it can be devised which will satisfy the 
General Assembly, for there is little dissatisfaction throughout the 
interior with the working of the justices' law as it stands." 

This sweeping assertion is based on that clause of the Constitu- 
tion which forbids the Legislature to pass special laws "regulating 
the jurisdiction and duties of justices of the peace, police magis- 
trates, and constables." But no bill which has been drafted as } 7 et 
violates this provision. The pay of justices has nothing to do with 
their jurisdiction or duties. The subject of pay of public officers 
is touched on elsewhere in the Constitution, where it is provided 
that the fees of public officers shall not be increased or diminished 
" during the term for which said officers are elected or appointed." 
The terms of the present Chicago justices are about expiring. 
This is just the time, then, to fix the pay of their successors. 

The " Herald " does not seem to be aware of or suppresses 
the fact that while the fees of justices of the peace are uniform 
throughout the State the Constitution does not require it. The 
Legislature is given power to divide the counties of the State into 
three classes and fix the fees for county and township officers in 
each class. It has done so in the case of many officers. Thus the 
fees Cook county constables are permitted to charge are smaller 
than those of othei constables throughout the State. As Cook 
county is a county of the third class the Legislature can give the 
justices of the peace therein just what pay it pleases. 

But the power of the General Assembly to give Chicago jus- 
tices salaries does not rest on this classification of counties, but on 
the fact that these justices are a class by themselves and that the 
Legislature is nowhere forbidden to provide for their payment in 
a different way from that of other justices. It can not give them 
broader or narrower jurisdiction than other justices. It can not 
provide that business shall be carried on in their courts in a special 


way, but when it is their payment which is concerned the discre- 
tion of the Legislature is unlimited except that there must be no 
change during a man's term of office. 

All this is so simple, so plain, that the " Herald " must know it. 
But for some reason that paper is dissatisfied with the present Con- 
stitution and wants a convention called to frame a new one. It 
will not accept the suggestion of the " The Tribune " that provis- 
ion be made for the submission of many amendments at the same 
time, instead of but one, as now. It says : 

" The Constitution of 1870 is a nuisance to the commonwealth. 
It bars the people's way in every direction. It locked all the doors 
of progress and reform and put the keys in the pockets of a num- 
ber of conceited cranks who fancied that when they got through 
tinkering a Constitution the State would cease growing, and we 
should live according to the code of rules they had agreed upon. 
The time has come for Illinois to break its bonds. The Consti- 
tution of 1870 is not worth amending. It must go." 

And it has much more to say of the same kind. But there is a 
remarkable absence of specific objections to the present organic law. 
There is no enumeration of the things which ought to be done, the 
doing of which it prevents. The allegation that under it Chicago 
justices of the peace can not be paid by salaries is the only definite 
complaint yet made. If that were true which it is not it would 
not justify a constitutional convention. 

There is something suspicious in these vague accusations,' in this 
assertion that changes are necessary, without specifying the changes. 
Can it be that the change which these gentlemen hanker after but 
dare not state, relates to the beneficent provision preventing munici- 
palities plunging into unlimited expenditures and wrapping them- 
selves in mortgages as in a blanket? For years many have been 
trying to let down the bars which have kept the tax-eaters out of 
the pasture. They understand perfectly that an amendment repeal 
ing the debt-limiting provisions of the Constitution would be 
beaten by 200,000 votes, but they hope that if a convention were 
called to frame a new Constitution it might be handled so skillfully 
as to slip in a clause which could be interpreted so as to give every 
municipality the power to borrow as long as it could find lenders. 

Unless the "defects "of the present Constitution are stated 
more specifically than they have been, it must be assumed that 
the wish to repeal it is confined to the tax-grabbers." 


Limitations and Restraints are Necessary in all Free 


AS indicators of public feeling or public opinion the views here 
presented may probably be taken as fairly representing two 
theories of State government and two sets of opinions which are 
entertained by those differing in politics and in regard to the various 
economic questions now agitating the country. 

On the one side are found those who resent all interference on 
the part of the State with local self-government and who are for 
removing all restraints upon legislation in every form, either by the 
State or by municipalities, and who are especially indignant at those 
who, in framing the Constitution, undertook to set bounds to the 
levying and collecting of taxes and the debt power of city councils; 
while on the other are ranged those who are of a more conserva- 
tive character, and who believe that it is not only judicious for the 
people to have some fixed rides in regard to these subjects, but it 
corresponds with the most advanced and enlightened views of all 
civilized governments, that the people ought in many things to limit 
themselves. The experience of our own State has, we think, not 
only demonstrated the wisdom of such a course of procedure, but 
every other State will substantiate it. 

It is necessary to regulate the association of men with each 
other to prevent the invasion of their liberties and rights, and to 
promote that good which society is willing to do for its members. 

There is a class of men who consider it a great hardship that 
the Legislature, and counties, cities, villages and all kinds of munici- 
pal corporations, are not permitted to do just as they please, and 
incur debts to any extent, and for any purpose that speculators and 
schemers may devise, but everybody knows that if the people were 
not protected from the lawlessness and extravagance of their own 
representatives, that they would be ruined, and general insolvency 
ensue. It is very easy to cry out against what is termed paternal 
governments, against public guardians, and against every form of 
restraint on legislation, as an infringement of the liberties of the 



people. 13ut there never was a voluntary organization of men 
associated together to carry on any great enterprise in which each 
and every one had an interest, but that they voluntarily agreed to, and 
entered into certain contracts and undertakings, and adopted rules 
and regulations for their government and guidance. Any other 
course would be simply to inaugurate chaos and invite anarchy. 

The individuals who compose a State are not all of the same 
mind, and in the nature of things can not be ; therefore it is, as all 
who have given the subject any study know, that there must be 
restraints and limitations in all free governments. 

And this is the more necessary when we consider the varied and 
diverse character of the people composing the State, and who would, 
if left to their own notions, engage, in every conceivable enterprise, 
from the establishment and support of a State church down to run- 
ning all railroads at State expense, and carrying the people for 

As the discussion has proceeded we have observed a consider- 
able advance in the positions of those who think that we ought to 
have a constitutional convention, and they have grown more bold 
and aggressive. The Legislature is now in session, and they demand 
that all restrictions on legislation must be removed, and they now 
say: "The people want a constitutional convention. The State 
urgently demands that relief be had from the rusty shackles of a 
code, worthy only of the unprogressive and unintelligent. They 
demand the right to make their laws freely, according to changed 
conditions. The old Constitution must retire with its ancient 

Now it may be that "the State" or the people, are prepared to 
eliminate from the present Constitution all restrictions on special 
legislation, special charters and special privileges, and return to the 
old order of things as they existed under the Constitution of 1848. 
If they are ready to do this, we are perfectly willing that they 
should indicate it by their votes. The people adopted the present 
Constitution, and . they are responsible, of course, for its longer 
continuance. If they say, after a full and fair consideration, that 
the time has come to change it, to throw it off and strike off all 
restraints, "shackles" or "fetters," if you please to call them so, then 
we shall be content. It is not a personal matter with those who 
framed the Constitution, for most of them are already in their 
graves. It is, we repeat, a matter to be determined by the people, 


in their sober senses, and not by the "high rollers," who are 
swinging their hats and crying " hoop la," before the winning post 
is reached. If the experience of the past amounts to nothing, then 
let its lessons go unheeded. 

We stand upon the threshold of the mighty future, and all the 
events of the past seem to dwindle in their dimensions and appear 

We stand in the midst of events which may result in a catas- 
trophe or a revolution. What is in store for us in the near future, 
no one can tell. Let us wait and see. 

The State of Illinois has during its brief existence of not quite 
seventy-three years held four constitutional conventions, and it has 
been our fortune, good or bad, to have been a member of two of 
them, and on several occasions before, we have heard the charge, 
that those who engag'e in the business of framing a constitution 
act as if they thought that they possessed all of the wisdom of the 
past, the present and the future, and acted as if they thought that 
when they died all wisdom would die with them. Now the charge 
of having the " big head," for that is what it all amounts to, is a 
charge easily made and may be hard to answer, especially if those 
who are charged with the offense are arraigned before a tribunal 
that they can not attend, and before judges that refuse to heed their 
mute appeals. But as it is a charge entirely personal in its 
character, we submit that it would be far more prudent on the part 
of those making such charges, to husband their resources and 
proceed to answer their arguments, rather than ''carp at their 

The dervise in the Arabian tale did not hesitate to abandon to 
his comrade the camels with their load of jewels and gold, while he 
retained the casket of that mysterious juice which enabled him to 
behold at a glance all the hidden riches of the universe. Surely it 
is no exaggeration to say that no external advantage is to be com- 
pared with that purification of the intellectual eye, which gives 
us to contemplate the infinite wealth of the mental world, all the 
hoarded treasures of its primeval dynasties, all the shapeless ore of 
its yet unexplored mines. A constitution maker ought, we have no 
doubt, in order to come up to the proper standard, to have the 
cunning and discernment of the Arabian dervise, so that nothing 
could escape his observation. He ought to be able, not only to dis- 
cern " the signs of the times," but to look forward far into the future, 


lincl prepare a way for the coming generations, so straight, that a 
wayfaring man though a fool may not err therein. 

To avoid this charge of arrogating superior wisdom, he must, it 
appears, legislate with a halter around his neck, and be prepared 
in case of failure to be arraigned before that tribunal of posterity, 
where no excuses are tolerated and no errors are condoned. 

The impetuous and appalling rush with which the human intel- 
lect has moved forward in the last fifty years in the career of truth 
and liberty, and in the development of the physical resources of the 
country, has been such that leaders of public opinion have, it appears, 
become impatient, and cry faster and faster, even though the world 
should be endangered by the increased velocity. A constitution 
should not, we submit, be made a foot-ball of, or be degraded to that 
of an ordinary statute, which may be enacted to-day and repealed 

The Power and Scope of a Constitutional Convention. 

"/CONSTITUTIONS are in politics what paper money is in com- 
V_y merce. They afford great facilities and conveniences. But 
we must not attribute to them that value which really belongs to 
what they represent. They are not power, but symbols of power, 
and will, in an emergency, prove altogether useless, unless the 
power for which they stand be forthcoming." 

The real power by which the community is governed, is made 
up of all the means which all its members possess of giving pleasure 
or pain to each other. 

The word " Constitution," as employed in modern times, means 
a system of government in which the people have some share in 
making the laws and a constitutional convention, in American 
political grammar, means that special agency which the people 
select to transact the business of fundamental legislation, and to 
draw up for them, and on their behalf, their organic laws. 

This agency is something akin to that of the school of the philoso- 
phers or amphictyonic council where only sovereigns are delegates, 


and where not only the fundamentals of human society are considered, 
but where the formation and arrangement of all the functions and 
powers of government are defined, marked out and limited. In 
its true sense a constitutional convention sustains a close and inti- 
mate official relation to the State, and is charged with definite 
and not discretionary, indeterminate or unlimited functions. "It 
always acts under a commission fora purpose ascertained and limited 
by law or custom. Its principal feature as contradistinguished from 
the revolutionary convention, is that at every step and movement of 
its existence, it is subaltern it is evoked by the side and at the call 
of a government pre-existing and intended to survive it for the 
purpose of administering to its special needs. It never supplants 
the existing organization and never governs." And here we will 
remark that, although this agency is as well known in the United 
States as almost any other institution connected with the govern- 
ment, yet there was scarcely ever a constitutional convention con- 
vened, but what its powers and prerogatives were sought to be 
amplified and magnified in the strangest manner, and the claim put 
forth that whatever it does is done by the people "in their 
primary and sovereign capacity," and that it is clothed with an 
omnipotence so transcendent and far-reaching that nothing can con- 
trol it. This claim was put forth in a most marked manner in 
Pennsylvania at an early day, in Massachusetts in 1852, was 
advocated in this State in 1862, and in 1869-70, and was the pre- 
vailing doctrine in most, if not all, of the Southern States, up to the 
time of the war of secession; and acting upon this idea and this 
theory, constitutional conventions were made use of as among the 
most efficient organizations ever devised to bring about secession, 
because upon a simple vote of the majority secession could be 
carried, and was carried. To effect it there was needed but a vote 
of a few conspirators, sitting as a constitutional convention, pre- 
tending to utter the voice of the people and refusing to submit 
their ordinances to the test of a popular vote, under the false plea 
that neither the theory of the convention system nor the practice 
of the fathers made such a submission necessary. 

With the close of the war the extreme notions of State sover- 
eignty, and the powers inherent in constitutional conventions have, 
we trust, passed away, and we would not have referred to it here 
if the same theories had not been put forward and adhered to in the 
recent constitutional convention held in the State of Mississippi, 


and which convention adopted a constitution that it had franitd 
without submitting it to a vote of the people. 

Theoretically, it seems to he a very simple matter to establish a 
perfect government; but practically, it is not so simple. Selfishness, 
greed, ignorance and passion are found to be constantly disturbing 
forces, and what is simple in theory is difficult in practice. Fortu- 
nately the governing genius of the people is equal to almost any 
emergency, and whenever a tendency to recklessness and extrava- 
gance lias shown itself, the people have stepped forward and either 
checked it or put an end to it. 

The practical statesman takes cognizance of fixed facts, and is on 
his guard against hypocrisy, ignorance, humbugs, incapacity, dis- 
honesty, corruption, frauds and defalcations, and no constitution 
which opens wide the door for such practices either on the part of 
Legislatures, city councils, county commissioners or school boards, 
ought to be upheld or tolerated. Constitutions are in these modern 
times made by the people, and if they select a few of their fellow- 
men to draw them up for them and propose them, then their 
responsibility ends; it is the people who adopt them. The aggre- 
gate will of the people is usually better than the average intelli- 
gence of the individuals composing the people, because they accept 
the judgment of men wiser than themselves. 

Bad men may deceive, mistakes may be made, but the evil will 
be temporary and will be reformed in obedience to the right feeling 
of the greater numbers of the people. We do not worship the 
Constitution as a fetish or cling to it like the Twelve Tables. 
We do not look upon conventions as an earthly providence and 
we do not think that a constitution should be looked upon as a 
sceptre over a free people in the hands of dead men. The true 
office of a constitution is to determine the order but not the course 
and destination of the people. "It is not providence nor destiny. 
The years and what they bring are withdrawn from the gaze of 
conventions as well as of men. They have no more a horoscope to 
forecast the future in the lives of nations than of individuals, nor 
can they outmaster time, nor wrest the secret from the years. 
The Constitution is to provide that the people shall stand together 
and march together, but their line of march is hidden from it. The 
nation is formed in the changing conditions of history. It must 
pass through conflicts which the prescience of no assembly can antic- 
ipate and they will not regulate their coming by the action of any 
convention, nor conform to its project, nor abide in its provision. 


The aim of the Constitution is to leave each generation free to do 
its own work, to which it is called, but in the continuity of the nation 
and in its normal process, and therein it becomes the assertion of 
the unity of law with the realization of the freedom of the nation 
in its being in history." 

This is, indeed, the teaching of true philosophy, but, like all 
general statements, is subject to certain limitations. It does not 
contain all the truth, for there should be some stability in our Con- 
stitutions or else we will be constantly engaged in the process of 
experiment and change, which all students of political science and 
the wisest statesmen regard as public calamities akin to revolutions. 
The Constitution which provides for its own amendment furnishes 
the most ample means for permanence and progress and for setting 
aside the inconsistent and incongruous, the vague and the incom- 

We see no sense whatever in calling upon the people at the 
present time to assemble and rehearse anew the fundamentals of 
government, and we do not believe that the people are so dissatis- 
fied with the workings of the Constitution as to demand any radical 
revision anywhere. 

Constitutional conventions, in our American political grammar 
and in our American system of government, belong, as we have 
said, to the genus Legislature. The consequence is that they often 
contain vast aggregates of ignorance and inexperience, like ordinary 
Legislatures, and indulge in immeasurable platitudes and endless 
debates over matters long since thoroughly settled in political 
science and in the science of government. 

No constitutional convention should, in my judgment, ever be 
called without selecting in advance a committee of the wisest men 
in the State to carefully consider the defects in the existing Consti- 
tution which it is proposed to amend, and to point out the remedies, 
and provide in advance the changes to be made and the reforms to 
be inaugurated; not that what may be proposed should bind any- 
body or limit the sphere of the investigations or action of those 
called upon to act, but that the convention may have something to act 
upon at once, and not waste valuable time by discussing impracticable 
and incoherent theories of government. If government is a 
science, and if written constitutions are necessary to the well-being 
of society, then it is due to the people that they should approximate 
as near perfection as the skill of man can make them and the lot 
of humanity will allow. 

Legislative Provisions in Modern Constitutions.' 

THE constitutions which have been framed by the various States 
in modern times differ very materially from those that we 
meet with in the early days of the republic. The earlier constitu- 
tions wore confined to outlining the general structure of the govern- 
ment and did not undertake to enact laws and prescribe the condi- 
tions under which laws might be made and executed. Now you 
can find in them whole statutes, from those regulating freight bills, 
warehouse charges and homestead exemptions, down to those for- 
bidding the sale of intoxicating liquors and the practice of law. 

Some of our modern constitutions are getting to be little bet- 
ter than caricatures and are overloaded with legislation, the most 
notable instances of which are California and Mississippi. Califor- 
nia especially is but very little better than a volume of State 
statutes and Mississippi falls but little behind it. 

It will compare favorably with the " Svod Zakonof " or collec- 
tion of Russian laws of which that part relating to the police alone 
contains five thousand sections. The Constitution of the United 
States is a model in many respects for all States, because it confines 
itself to a clear sketch of fundamentals and leaves as much as pos- 
sible to be developed by circumstances. It is this feature of it 
which gives it flexibility and leaves so much to be developed by 

There is considerable legislation to be found in the Constitution 
of 1870; but if any one will take the pains to examine the list of 
committees who had in charge the various subjects in that conven- 
tion, they will find that it was composed of men of very great 
experience in our State affairs, and they declared it was absolutely 
necessary to provide the restraints upon the General Assembly in 
order to bring about any of the reforms that the people demanded, 
and they were inserted for that purpose. 

Many of the things which are there enumerated would, ordinarily, 
we admit, be absolutely within the jurisdiction of the Legislature, 
but what people ever suffered as we have done from special legisla- 
tion and special charters and the enactment of private laws and the 
grant to individuals of special privileges? 



Our legis'atures had also from time to time been disgraced by 
unseemly struggles between contending political parties over the 
organization of the General Assembly. This we provided for. The 
forms to be pursued in the style of laws, methods of revision and 
enactment of the same, the appropriation and expenditure of public 
moneys, prohibiting special legislation upon a number of subjects 
which are particularly enumerated and set forth. 

This legislative feature extends to counties and the removal of 
county seats, homestead exemptions, the organization of banks and 
corporations and of -railroads and warehouses, which in these modern 
times almost dominate the State itself, and which we deemed it 
necessary for the State tb absolutely govern and control. 

Men say in answer to all these things that those who framed a 
constitution on such a theory, acted as if they considered the people 
utterly incapable of self-government, and as if they thought that 
they embodied " all of the wisdom of the present and of future gen- 

Such remarks betray a most superficial knowledge of the condi- 
tion of society and that they have bestowed but very little thought 
upon the subject; for, as Daniel Webster once said: " It is a funda 
mental rule in the structure of human society, that mankind must 
not only limit the powers of their rulers, but must limit them- 
selves." No body of any sense undertakes to bind posterity to any- 
thing; but human governments do have a continuity, and in order 
that they may not degenerate into chaos, or society resolve itself 
into its original elements, rules must be provided for cohesion and 
continuance, although mankind may rise up to-morrow and over- 
throw the same. No government that was ever yet formed pro- 
vided for its own dissolution. 


An Examination of Some of the Objections Which Are 
Urged against the Present Constitution. 

~T~ ET us now briefly examine a little more in detail, some of the 
- ^ objections which have been urged against the Constitution, 
and see if they are sound and reliable and based upon proper found- 
ations. "We enter a general denial to each and every one of them, 
and call for the proofs. 

We plead the general issue. Those who make charges hold the 
affirmative and should prove them. And when anybody asserts 
that any given thing can not be accomplished under the provisions 
of a constitution, it is his duty to show wherein and why it can not 
be done, because, as we have already said, in the absence of a 
limitation on the Legislature, or a prohibition against doing any 
given thing, the Legislature, or as we term it in our Constitution, 
"the General Assembly," is as omnipotent as that of the British 
Parliament. The narrow constructionists will receive no encour- 
agement from the example of Chief Justice Marshall, who 
expounded the Constitution with the wisdom of the sage and (he 
prescience of the seer. In the case of New York v. Miln, 11 Peters, 
139, the Supreme Court of the United States say : " A State has 
the same undeniable and unlimited jurisdiction over all persons and 
things within its territorial limits as any foreign nation, where that 
jurisdiction is not surrendered or restrained by the Constitution of 
the United States; that by virtue of this, it is not only the right, 
but the bounden and solemn duty of a State to advance the safety, 
happiness and prosperity of its people, and to provide for its general 
welfare by any and every act of legis'ation which it may deem to 
be conducive to these ends, when the power over the particular 
subject, or the manner of its exercise, is not surrendered or 
restrained by the Constitution and laws of the United States." 

The rule, in regard to the construction of the provisions of a 
constitution, is very often violated both by courts and lawyers; but 
Chief Justice Marshall declared long years ago that the rule was to 
construe all such instruments liberally, and as common men would 
adjudge the meaning of words used by them in expressing tliein- 
9 (145) 


selves in the ordinary transactions and business of life not technic- 
ally, and in such a manner as to defeat the intention of the fram- 
ers, which was to be gathered from the instrument itself, and from 
the facts and circumstances surrounding them at the time. 

When there is no ambiguity in the words themselves and the 
intention is plain, then there is no room for construction, for there 
is nothing to construe. 

A constitution has no inherent power and no abstract quality 
to deliver any people from all of their distresses. It is not for the 
individual nor for the nation to be saved by any system, however 
complex, nor any dogma, however subtle. The Constitution may 
become itself only the mark which hides from an age its degeneracy 
or as the mausoleum which conceals its decay. But let us treat this 
subject fairly. Let us commence with the preamble and trace its 
outlines and provisions, article by article and section by section 
till the end, and see wherein it falls short of providing a system 
adequate to all the wants of the people. It was not drafted by one 
man and it was not designed to provide for everything, and in that 
respect differs from a statute, completely and entirely. That 
inconsistencies may sometimes be found and incongruities maybe 
noticed, does not militate against the instrument as a whole, if there 
still exists sufficient to furnish adequate remedies for wrongs and 

The true scope of a constitution is that of a framework of 
government and not a complete and completed structure. All that 
is ever required, and all that ever should be presented, is a proper 
sketch, skeleton and framework and not a rounded whole. The 
fact that the Supreme Court of the State leads a nomadic existence 
is due to the Legislature; for the 4th section of the 6th article of the 
Constitution expressly provides that "judicial decisions may be 
altered or diminished in number and the times and places of hold- 
ing said court may be changed by law." 

Here the remedy is with the Legislature, and if the change is 
not made from three places to one, it is wholly the fault of the 
General Assembly. There was a time in the history of this State 
when "court days" and "cattle fairs" were great attractions, and 
that custom still prevails to a considerable extent, we believe, in 
Kentucky; but if this ever did have any application to the Supreme 
Court where the great amount of work is performed in retirement 
and not in "the show ring," the sooner the custom is dropped the 


better. The Supreme Court ought to be held like that of the old 
Court of Common Pleas in England, " in cerium loco" in one place 
and that place the capital. Originally, it does appear that the cider 
men and petty chapmen did receive great gains from the annual 
recurrence of court days, and the advent of the great dignitaries 
that accompanied the judges as in the days of Aula Regis' but that 
time is past, and "boarding around" should cease. It is simply 
disgraceful that this thing should longer be tolerated, and the sooner 
the ancient practice of going in eyre should cease, the better. The 
Supreme Court ought to hold its sessions at the capital and 
nowhere else. 

That there should be any inconvenience arising from the ease, 
and facilities afforded for obtaining charters of incorporation under 
our laws, is a matter wholly within legislative control ; for, instead 
of inaugurating the system of dropping a dime into the slot, and 
receiving a charter of incorporation for the same, the Legislature 
have only to adopt a fee or charge for the same sufficient in amount 
to defray the expenses of employing a corps of clerks to register 
and record and issue the same, and this abuse would stop. In other 
words, no corporate charter should be issued without paying an ade- 
quate amount into the public treasury, sufficient to cover every 
expense, which should be, on the average, twice what it is to-day. 
Then there ought to be appointed by law a public examiner, such 
as exists in Minnesota, to examine at any time into the soundnecs of 
corporations holding franchises from the State and into all public 
accounts of all public officers. 

The amount of money which could be realized from fees and 
charges for the granting of corporate charters would go far to 
relieve the taxpayers from their burdens, and would serve to curtail 
the number of the same. Our State is swarming with corporations 
of all sorts, characters and kinds, which seem to be almost beyond con- 
trol. But it is the fault of the Legislature that it is so, and not the 
Constitution of this State. In Pennsylvania, and in many other 
States, large sums of money have been and are realized from the 
granting of corporate franchises under their laws; but their charges 
cover something beyond the cost of the paper and attaching the 
State seal to them. 


The Administration of the Criminal Law in the State of 


ONE of the most necessary and august functions of a govern- 
ment is to administer justice and it is impossible to diminish 
the authority of justice without taking away from the government 
a portion of its strength. The judicial system which has been pro- 
vided by the Constitution of this State may be defective and the 
administration of the law unsatisfactory, but we submit that the 
reason for this must be looked for somewhere else than in the Con- 
stitution or the laws themselves. Nisi prius judges have in the 
State of Illinois been, by various judicial decisions, dicta and prac- 
tices, deprived of almost all the powers that they ever possessed by 
the common law, until to-day their position in the trial of a case is 
but very little better than that of a moderator in an ordinary 
debate. They have become but little better than a nonentity, and 
the fault is not in the Constitution, but rests somewhere else, and 
entirely outside that instrument. Trace the history of a law suit 
in this State, and especially that of a criminal case, and see how and 
in what manner it is dealt with by the court of last resort. 

After a criminal is tried his case is removed to the Supreme 
Court. For what purpose ? To determine the guilt or innocence 
of the prisoner at the bar? No. The jury that tried him has already 
passed upon that. For error in law ? No, that can not be, for by 
the statute of the State of Illinois, it is provided that the jury are 
the judges of the law and the facts. What then ? Well, it is to 
determine whether the judge that tried him and the prosecuting 
officer that prosecuted him are guilty, whether they pursued the 
right methods to ascertain the facts. Was the presentation of the 
case fair, was there too much severity exhibited by the State's 
Attorney in his cross-examination of witnesses, was the jury the 
right kind of a jury for the prisoner ? Were counsel for the 
defense permitted to examine them at sufficient length to ascertain 
whether they had any bias or had right ideas upon the subject of 



" reasonable doubt," would they convict upon " doubtful or unsatis- 
factory evidence," would they " guess a man into the peniten- 
tiary?" Were these questions answered fully and satisfactorily? 
"What kind of a closing speech did the State's Attorney make was 
it one that aroused the feelings of the jury to the highest pitch or 
did he proceed on a low key ? 

How many times was the State's Attorney interrupted in his 
closing speech by the counsel for the prisoner and why was it that 
the court did not rebuke him in language befitting the occasion? 

How did the judge behave? Did he make any remarks during 
the course of the trial which had the effect to influence the jury? 
Was his bearing such as became the time and the occasion ? Were 
his rulings fair, and were they according to law " as laid down by 
the jury " or by the sages of the law ? Did he place the right 
mark on the instructions which the counsel engaged in the case so 
kindly and courteously handed him just a moment before the case 
closed? Did he make a mistake when he wrote "given" on this 
instruction and "refused" on that? That is the important question. 
It is true that a prisoner at the bar has no right to resort to legerde- 
main in order to clear himself, but it amounts to exactly that and 
nothing more. Technical rules may be useful to guide the ignorant 
and unsophisticated through the mazes of the criminal law but 
they should never be carried so far as to produce results plainly 
detrimental to public repose or to a sound administration of the 
judicial system. 

A constitutional convention may be required to confer upon 
judges the power to superintend the impaneling of juries and to 
control the trial of persons charged with heinous offenses, for 
almost every step that is taken seems to tend to strip them of all 
power in this matter. The time has come, we think, in the history 
of this country, when some practical rule should be adopted in 
regard to the competency of jurors, and that rule is the one that 
was provided for in the first Constitution of Massachusetts, as early 
as 1783, to wit: A man who commits a crime shall be "tried by 
a jury as fair and impartial as the lot of humanity will permit," and 
not by saints and angels. To require that jurors shall come to the 
investigation of criminal charges with minds entirely unimpressed 
by what they had heard in regard to them, or entirely without infor- 
mation concerning them, would be in many cases to exclude every 
man from the panel who was tit to sit as a juror. With the prets- 


ent means of information the facts or rumors concerning an atro- 
cious crime are in a very few hours or days, at farthest, spread 
before every man of reading and intelligence within the district 
from which jurors are to be drawn, and over the whole country, if 
the atrocity be especially great. The greater the enormity of the 
crime the more complete is the protection afforded a villain from 
punishment by a jury. The opinion of Judge Lockwood in the 
case of McKinney v. The People, 2 Gil. 548, may be consulted 
always with profit. 

To plead under the ancient arches of "Westminister Hall, in the 
name of the English nobles, for great nations and kings separated 
from him by half the world, was to Burke the height of human 
glory. There are those who seern to think that if they can appear 
in behalf of some ideal monster, that they are justified in resorting 
to every species of trickery and chicanery, to overawe witnesses, 
browbeat courts, hoodwink juries, and if they can succeed in 
obtaining a verdict in their favor, that that is the acme of fame and 
human greatness/ If they fail, they call to their aid the court of 
last resort and very frequently they do not call in vain. 

The whole body of the criminal law is at the present time over- 
loaded with technicalities, subtleties, refinements, impracticable and 
in many instances absolutely nonsensical rules and rulings, which have 
no other tendency than to protect crime and criminals, and thwart 
public justice. 

A great criminal backed by money can almost defy the public 
and the people, not by the use of it in corrupting courts, but by 
resorting to changes of venue, bills of particulars, excepting to 
everything under heavens, done or said in court, and out of court, 
and then calling upon the court of last resort for their aid and 
assistance in construing everything done and said against the court, 
prosecuting officer, judge and jury, clerks and bailiffs, and they are 
sure to obtain errors enough to reverse the verdict every time. 
Substantial justice, which is really the limit of all earthly tribunals, 
is wholly ignored, and absolute perfection required or else a crimi- 
nal trial is erroneous. Common sense seems to be about the last 
thing made use of in reviewing criminal trials, and the guilt or 
innocence of the accused wholly ignored or forgotten. 

By the law as it exists to-day in the State of Illinois, a person 
charged with the commission of a crime can, by resorting to changes 
of venue, motions for continuances and other tactics known to the 


law, select his judge, fix the time and place for his trial and select 
his own jury, if it takes months to do it. Now, this may seem 
astonishing to a stranger, but if it is not absolutely true in all cases 
it is nearly so. 

A nisi prius judge has no discretion left in him according to its 
true and legal meaning as known and understood by the common 
law, for everything is subject to review from good morning to good 

If we have the common law in this State will some one be kind 
enough to inform me what it is, and if judges have been abridged 
in the exercise of their powers, by whom it was done and by what 
means it was accomplished? Able jurists have, in Maryland and 
Pennsylvania, investigated this subject and determined to what 
extent the common law exists there. But in this State that has not 
yet been determined except our Supreme Court have decided that 
all Circuit Courts have the same powers and jurisdiction as the 
King's Bench, and that the common law exists as it did in Virginia 
prior to 1784. In addition to all these things, the statute adopting 
the common law is still in force and has never been repealed. Does 
it require a constitutional convention to enforce its observance? 

is there anything in the genius of our institutions to require 
absolute perfection arid no errors? 

A prisoner charged with the commission of a crime is entitled 
to a fair and impartial trial as fair and impartial as " the lot of 
humanity will permit " but nothing further and the great question 
should be, is he guilty or innocent and not somebody else. 

There was a time in England when the penalty attached to 
almost every crime was death, and when every species of technical- 
ity and sublety was resorted to to save a criminal, but in this more 
liberal and enlightened age, when the administration of the criminal 
law has been ameliorated by just and merciful laws, and milder 
punishments are awarded for almost every offense, a liberal rule has 
obtained, and the last traces of lawyers' superstitions have been swept 
away and the fanciful scruples of the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries are no longer listened to. 

Modern legislation ought to sweep away every vestige of those 
fantasies and arbitrary rules of criminal lawyers which now hinder 
and obstruct the administration of the criminal law, and go back 
to those simple principles which the untutored wisdom of our fore- 
fathers never thought of calling in question. 


Finally : There are many and various conceptions of justice. 
The most reasonable distinction is between universal and particular 
justice. The first is when every duty is discharged and all right 
done to others, even that which could not have been exacted by 
force or by the vigor of the law. Particular justice is when we do 
that and no more, which may be strictly demanded of us. And 
this is again divided into distributive and commutative. Distribu- 
tive justice pertains to the public, and is sometimes known as public 
justice, while commutative is founded upon reciprocal bargains and 
contracts, but partakes largely of public justice. It is the duty of 
a court in the administration of the law, to see that public justice 
has an equal chance with any other justice, either public or private. 

The tendency of modern ideas seems to be to regard the public 
interests as of but very little consequence. 

"Impartiality," says Bouvier, "is the first duty of a judge. He 
is bound to declare what the law is, and not to make it; he is not 
an arbitrator, but an interpreter of the law. It is his duty to be 
patient in the investigation of the case, careful in considering it, and 
firm in his judgment. He ought, according to Cicero, never to lose 
sight that he is a man; that he can not exceed the power given him 
by his commission; that not only power, but public confidence, has 
been given to him, and that he .ought always seriously to attend, not 
to his wishes, but to the requisitions of law and justice." 

It is the prerogative of the court, by the common law, to abso- 
lutely determine whether a juror is biased or prejudiced for or 
against the prisoner at the bar or State, and his decision is final. 

After a juror states that he is not sensible of any bias or preju- 
dice in the case, it ought not to be erroneous to refuse a further 
examination of the juror, and it is said the mind of the court, and 
not of the counsel, must be satisfied that the challenged juror is 
free from bias and prejudice. 

;: "We can never secure from general society, as it is now consti- 
tuted, a body of men entirely free from partiality, impression or bias; 
at best, we can only get as near to this as we can by discrimination 
and scrutiny. The day is fast disappearing when men are required 
to come into a jury box entirely and absolutely free from any 
impression and even opinion, as to matters of general notoriety. 

We are now coming to the recognition of a fact that must have 
been long ago apparent that it is preposterous to expect men 


moving in general society as it is to-day, to be unimpressed and 
uninformed as to current and striking events. 

We must either recede and go back to the practice of an age 
when ignorance of passing events constituted a characteristic of the 
times, and exclude evory juror who has formed an opinion, even 
the slightest, or we must stand abreast with the present age, when 
every remarkable event of to-day is known all over the country to- 
morrow, and exclude those whose opinions are so fixed as to be 
prejudgments or have been founded upon the known evidence in 
the cause. 

It is needless to say the world moves and carries us with it, and 
if we lag behind we must commit the trial of the most important 
causes in life to those so ignorant that their dark minds have 
never been smitten with the rays of intelligence. 

We inherited the common law, and adopted it by statute in 
this State at a very early period, and yet in the trial of jury cases, 
the true position of the court is lost sight of, and instead of being a 
trial by judge and jury, the trial is regarded as a trial by the jury 
alone, and the court has but very little part in it. 

State and Federal Judges. 

IT is a very common remark among lawyers and laymen that the 
United States courts possess many advantages over those of the 
State courts, but they do not stop to consider what it is that makes 
the difference. In the first place the permanence of the judicial 
office has one advantage; secondly, the limited range of their sub- 
jects, which are confined to the Federal jurisdiction, following day by 
day, week by week and year by year, the Supreme Court decis- 
ions; and thirdly, the power that they possess and which they exert 
in trying cases and summing up the facts to the jury. These are 
matters of great importance. 

Chief Justice Kent called attention to some of these points as 
early as 1826. and in the first volume of his Commentaries speaks of 
the matter in this wise : 

"There are," says he, "several reasons why we may anticipate the 


still increasing influence of the Federal government, and the con- 
tinual enlargement of the national system of law in magnitude and 
value. The judiciary of the United States has an advantage over 
many of the State courts, in the tenure of office of the judges, and 
the liberal and stable provision for their support. 

"The United States are, by these means, fairly entitled to com- 
mand better talents, and to look for more firmness of purpose 
greater independence of action, and brighter displays of learning- 
The Federal administration of justice has a manifest superiority over 
that of the individual States, in consequence of the uniformity of 
its decisions, and the universality of their application. 

"Every State court will naturally be disposed to borrow light 
and aid from the national courts, rather than from the courts of 
other individual States, which will probably never be so generally 
respected and understood. The States are multiplying so fast, and 
the reports of their judicial decisions are becoming so numerous, 
that few lawyers will be able or willing to master all the intricacies 
and anomalies of local law, existing beyond the boundaries of their 
own State. Twenty-six independent State courts of final jurisdic- 
tion over the same questions, arising upon the same general code 
of common and of equity law, must necessarily impair the symmetry 
of that code. 

" The danger to be apprehended is, that students will not have 
the courage to enter the complicated labyrinth of so many systems, 
and that they will, of course, entirely neglect them, and be con- 
tented with a knowledge of the law of their own State and the law 
of the United States, and then resort for further assistance to the 
never-failing fountains of European wisdom. 

"But though the national judiciary may be deemed pre-eminent 
in the weight of its influence, the authority of its decisions, and in 
the attraction of their materials, there are abundant considerations 
to cheer and animate us in the elevation of our own local law. The 
judicial power of the United States is necessarily limited to national 
objects. The vast field of the law of property, the very extensive 
head of equity jurisdiction, and the principal rights and duties 
which flow from our civil and domestic relations, fall within the 
control, and we might almost say the exclusive cognizance of the 
State governments. We look essentially to the State courts for 
protection to all these momentous interests. They touch, in their 
operation, every chord of human sympathy, and control our best 


destinies. It is their province to reward and punish. Their bless- 
ings and their terrors will accompany us to the fireside, and 'be in 
constant activity before the, public eye.' The elementary princi- 
ples of the common law are the same in every State, and equally 
enlighten and invigorate every part of our country. Our municipal 
codes can be made to advance with equal steps with that of the 
Nation, in discipline, in wisdom and in lustre, if the State govern- 
ments (as they ought in all honest policy) will only render equal 
patronage and security to the administration of justice. The true 
interests and the permanent freedom of this country require that 
the jurisprudence of the individual States should be cultivated, 
cherished and exalted, and the dignity and reputation of the State 
authorities sustained with becoming pride. In their, subordinate 
relation to the United States, they should endeavor to discharge 
the duty which they owe to the latter, without forgetting the 
respect which they owe to themselves. In the appropriate lan- 
guage of Sir William Blackstone, and which he applied to the 
people of his own country, they should be ' loyal, yet free; obedient 
and yet independent.' " 

By the organic law of the State of Illinois the tenure of office 
of all judges is of short duration, and all are elected by the people. 

The Supreme Court judges are elected for the period of nine 
years, the Circuit and Superior Court judges for six years, and all 
other judges for four years. 

In New York, by a recent amendment to their Constitution, all 
the judges of courts of record, like those of the circuit judges in 
this State, are elected for fourteen years. 

By the Constitution of Massachusetts, which was adopted in 1780, 
it was provided as follows: 

"It is essential to the preservation of the rights of every 
individual, his life, liberty, property and character, that there bean 
impartial interpretation of the laws and administration of justice. 
It is the right of every citizen to be tried by judges as free, impartial 
and independent as the lot of humanity will admit. 

" It is, therefore, not only the best policy, but for the security of 
the rights of the people, and of every citizen, that the judges of the 
Supreme Judicial Court should hold their offices as long as they 
behave themselves well, and that they should have honorable sal- 
aries, ascertained and established by standing laws," and, we will 
add, not required to " board around." 


Mr. Justice Gray, in deciding the case of the United States 
v. The Eeading Kailroad, 123 U. S. 114, says: "Trial by 
jury in the courts of the United States is a trial presided over 
by a judge, with authority* not only to rule upon objections to 
evidence, and to instruct the jury upon the law, but also, when in 
his judgment the due administration of justice requires it, to aid 
the jury by explaining and commenting upon the testimony and 
even giving them his opinion upon the questions of fact, provided 
only he submit those questions to their determination," citing Vicks- 
burg & Meridian Railroad Co. v. Putnam, 118 U. S. 545; St. Louis 
Railway v. The Yickers, 1SS2 U. S. 360. We would like for some 
one to define what a court is in Illinois under our practice. We 
think that a short definition of an Illinois court may be as follows: 
A court is composed of an individual called a judge, assisted by a 
clerk, whose chief duty and functions are to look wise and keep 
order. He has no power to sum up a case or explain anything to a 
jury and the only aid or assistance that he can render them is to 
mark "given" or "refused" on all instructions and conundrums 
presented to him by the attorneys in the case. 


Is a Constitutional Convention Necessary to Induce the 
Supreme Court to Recognize and Enforce the Statutes 
Relating to the Common Law. 

IT is well enough for us as citizens of the State of Illinois and as 
lawyers to remember how directly we are connected with the 
great expounders of the common law. and how strenuously we should 
uphold it when not expressly changed by statute. We all know 
that Illinois was once the frontier county of Virginia, and that 
Virginia was founded by letters-patent issued by James I, in the 
fourth year of his reign, to-wit, April 10, 1606, to Sir Thomas 
Gates, Sir George Somers and others, for two several colonies and 
plantations to be made in Virginia and other parts and territories, 
for trading and also for propagating the Christian religion "to such 
people as yet live in darkness and miserable ignorance of the true 


knowledge and worship of God, and may in time bring the infidels 
and savages living in those parts to human civility and to a settled 
and quiet government." 

We think the antiquaries of the State Bar Association should in- 
vestigate this matter and see if this has yet been accomplished; for if 
the infidels and savages living in these parts have not been reduced 
to " human civility," it is time that steps be taken to do so. We also 
know that by the fifteenth section of the charter of 1606 it was ex- 
pressly stipulated by the king, "for us, our heirs and successors; and 
we do declare, by these presents, being our subjects, which shall dwell 
and inhabit within every or any of the said several colonies and plan- 
tations, and every of their children which shall happen to be born 
within any of the limits and precincts of the said several colonies 
and plantations, shall have and enjoy all liberties, franchises and 
immunities within any of our dominions, to all intents and purposes, 
as if they had been abiding and born within this our realm of Eng- 
land, or any other of our said dominions ;" and that this planted in 
that colony and plantation of Virginia the common law, in all of its 
fullness and strength. But it is not, we think, as generally known 
that the first draft for the proposed first, Virginia charter annexed 
to the petition for the same was drawn by Sir John Popham; that 
the charter itself was prepared and drawn by Sir Edward Coke, 
Attorney-General under James, assisted by Sir John Dodderidge, the 
Solicitor-General; that it was passed under the Great Seal by Sir 
Thomas Edgerton, at that time Lord Chancellor; and that the war- 
rant for it was granted by Eobert Cecil, son of the great Lord Bur- 
leigh, known as Earl of Salisbury, who was at that time the Secre- 
tary of State; and that the first drafts annexed to the petition for 
the second and third charters, extending the boundaries from sea to 
eea, and enlarging the powers of the first, were drawn by Sir Edwin 
Sandys ; that these charters were prepared by Sir Francis Bacon 
and Sir Henry Hobart, and were passed under the seal also of Sir 
Thomas Edgerton, and the warrant issued by Robert Cecil. 

By the 22d section of the second charter of Virginia, power is 
conferred upon the governors and those ruling and governing the 
colony, "full and absolute power and authority to correct, punish, 
pardon, govern and rule all such subjects of ours as shall from time 
to time adventure themselves thither," etc., "so always as the said stat- 
utes, ordinances and proceedings, as near as conveniently may be, be 


agreeable to the Jaws, statutes, government and policy of 'our realm 
of this England" 

The third charter still further enlarged the boundaries specified in 
the two other charters so as to include any islands on the sea 
" adjoining to the said coast of Virginia and without the compass of 
those two hundred miles, by us so granted unto the said treasurer 
and company aforesaid," etc.; then it confers additional power " to, 
punish deserters, misdoers and offenders, and those who circulate 
vile and slanderous reports, by summary arrest, and punishing and 
proceeding to all intents and purposes as it is used in other like 
cases within our realm of England," etc. 

Hume in commenting upon the force and effect of these charters 
says: "Speculative reasoners during that age raised many objec- 
tions to the planting of those remote colonies and foretold they 
would soon shake off her yoke and erect an independent govern- 
ment in America; but time has shown that the views entertained by 
those who encouraged such generous undertakings were more just 
and solid." In less than a generation after, the " speculative rea- 
soners" became prophets. Hume had not evidently heard of George 
Washington, George Eogers Clark or the State of Illinois. 

Sir John Popham was speaker of Elizabeth's fourth Parliament 
1581-83, was Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench, June 2, 1592, 
when he was knighted and made Privy Councillor. He presided 
at the trial of Sir Walter Raleigh in 1603 when Coke prosecuted, 
and both acted like the devil. He also presided at the trial of Guy 
Fawkes and his associates in 1606. He died suddenly June 10, ]607. 
His remains repose under a magnificent tomb in the church at 
Wellington, Somerset, surrounded by a palisade of wood and iron. 

Sir Edward Coke and Sir Francis Bacon need no introduction to 
the American lawyer any more than they do to the English lawyer. 
Bacon and Coke were at the zenith of their power when the Pil- 
grims sailed from England, and it was on the 22d of January, 1621, 
that Bacon's sixtieth birthday was celebrated with such eclat at 
York House, the ancient seat of his family, when his friend, Ben 
Jonson read that celebrated poem containing these lines : 

' Hail happy genius of this ancient pile, 
How comes it all things so about thee smile, 
The fire, the wine, the men, and in the midst 
Thou stand'st as if some mystery thou didst. 


England's High Chancellor, the destined heir, 
In his soft cradle, to his father's chair, 
Whose even thread the Fates spin round and full 
Out of their choicest and their whitest wool." 

January 27th lie was created Yiscount St. Albans; January 20th 
Parliament met, and on February 3d, Bacon, in his speech referring 
to the " benefits, attributes and acts of government of King James," 
says : " This kingdom now first in His Majesty's time hath gotten a lot 
or portion in the New World, by the plantation of Virginia and the 
Summer Islands. And certainly it is with the kingdoms on earth 
as it is in the Kingdom of Heaven; sometimes a grain of mustard 
seed proves a great tree. Who can tell ? " Soon after clouds 
gathered around him. He was tried, convicted, fined and impris- 
oned released, and died at Arundell's House at Highgate, April 9, 
1626. He lies buried in St. Michael's Church, St. Albans. 

In 1661-2, a sort of general revision of the laws of Virginia 
took place in which they expressly recognize the com;non law of 
England, and in the preamble to the code refer to the great con- 
fusion which had marked that period as follows : "Whereas the late 
unhappy distractions caused frequent changes in the government of 
this country, and those produced so many alterations in thu laws 
that the people knew not well what to obey, nor the judge what to 
punish, by which means injustice was hardly to be avoided and the 
just freedom of the people by the uncertainty and licentiousness of 
the laws hardly to be preserved, this assembly, taking the same 
into serious consideration and gravely weighing the obligations 
they are under to discharge to God, the king and the country, have, 
by settling the laws, diligently endeavored to prevent the like 
inconveniences by causing the whole body of the laws to be reviewed, 
all unnecessary acts, and chiefly such as might keep in memory our 
enforced deviation from His Majesty's obedience, to be repealed and 
expunged, and those that are in force to be brought into one volume, 
and lest any prejudice might ariee by the ignorance of the times 
from whence these acts were in force, they have added the duties 
of every act, to the end that court emight rightly administer justice 
and give sentence according to law for anything happening at any 
time since any law was in force, and have also endeavored in all 
things (as near as the capacity and Constitution of this country 
would admit) to adhere to t/iose excellent and often refined laws 
of England to which we profess and acknowledge all due obedience 
and reverence," etc. 2 Hening's Statutes, p. 4.3. 


The charters granted by King James I, expressly provide for 
the administering the law according to the common law of England 
and the statutes made in aid thereof. We adopted the common 
law here when we were a Territory and finally when we were 
admitted into the Union as a State; now, why is it not adhered to 
in the impaneling of jurors and in the recognition of the powers 
of the court and the trial of all criminal cases ? 

By the express provisions of the statutes of this State, it is pro- 
vided "that the common law of England, so far as the same is 
applicable and of a general nature, and all statutes or acts of the 
British Parliament made in aid of, and to supply the defects of 
the common law, prior to the fourth year of James the First, 
excepting the second section of the sixth chapter of forty-three 
Elizabeth, the eighth chapter of thirteenth Elizabeth and ninth 
chapter of thirty-seventh Henry Eighth and which are of a general 
nature and not local to that kingdom, shall be the rule of decision 
and shall be considered as of full force until repealed by legislative 

By Section 428, Chapter 38 of the Criminal Code, it is provided 
that "all trials for criminal offenses shall be conducted according to 
the course of the common law, except when this act points out a 
different mode and the rules of evidence of the common law shall 
also be binding upon all courts and juries in criminal cases, except 
as otherwise provided by law." 

Now it will be observed by all lawyers in the State of Illinois, 
that the only things pertaining to the common law which have been 
expressly abolished by statute are the benefit of clergy, appeals of 
felony, trials by battle and trials by a jury de mediatate linguce. 
All elee remains, and yet the Supreme Court has by its rulings 
completely ignored these statutes for nearly forty years. They 
have notably ignored them by reversing case after case, because 
the court erred in deciding upon the competency of jurors and in 
many other ways too numerous to mention; whereas by the com- 
mon law the impaneling of a jury and passing upon the com- 
petency of jurors was absolutely in the discretion of the presiding 
judge and no case can be found where it was ever sought to review 
this discretion. Discretion in the trial of criminal cases must rest 
somewhere, and to say that this discretion is liable to abuse and 
ought not to be vested in nisi prius judges is to say that there 
ought not to be any such thing at all; and the services of a judge 


might as well be dispensed with and let the lawyers for the accused 
and the jury control the whole trial. 

By the common law all trials were by'a judge and jury; now 
such a thing seems to be wholly unknown. By the common law it 
was the duty of the judge to tell the jury what the case was about 
and to sum up the facts; to-day all a judge can do is to mark instruc- 
tions given or refused. 

Why is it that the statutes relating to the common law are not 
recognized and enforced? 

Does it require a constitutional convention, we repeat, to com- 
pel the court of last resort to recognize and enforce them ? 

Shakspeare must have had this condition of things in mind when 
he said: 

" We have strict statutes and most biting laws 
(The needful bits and curbs for headstrong steeds), 
Which, for these fourteen years, we have let sleep; 
Even like an o'ergrown lion in a cave, 
That goes not out to prey. Now, as fond fathers 
Having bound up threatening twigs of birch 
Only to stick it in their children's sight, 
For terror, not to use; in time the rod 
Becomes more mocked than feared; so our decrees, 
Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead, 
And liberty plucks justice by the nose." 

Measure for Measure, 1, 3. 


The Address of the Delegates to the People, Showing the 
Changes Made in the Old Constitution and the Reforms 

AT the time when we were called upon "to alter, revise and 
amend the Constitution " of this State, the Constitution of 
1848 had become almost obsolete; the people had outgrown it, 
and great abuses existed in almost every department of the govern- 
ment calling for the most radical changes. When we had finished 
our work we gave an account of our stewardship. We issued a 


public address to the people, in which we recounted our labors and 
the reforms sought to be accomplished; and we pointed out wherein 
we had altered, revised and amended the Constitution. That 
address is as follows : 


As your representatives in convention to "alter, revise and 
amend" the Constitution, it is due that we should state in brief 
the most important changes proposed, and some of the reasons 
therefor. Our State Constitution has been in force for almost a 
quarter of a century, during which time our population, wealth and 
interests have augmented. However wise and judicious when 
adopted, that Constitution has become wholly inadequate to subserve 
the necessities of the State, without modifications and restrictions. 
To secure an efficient and at the same time an economical adminis- 
tration of the several departments of the government, a new Con- 
stitution is an imperious necessity. It is not probable that any 
constitution will, in all respects, fully satisfy any one man in the 
State. Every one will find in it something he would exclude, and 
would insert something it does not contain. It -must be judged 
all together, and if better than the old Constitution, it should be 
adopted. In all human institutions the good and evil are mixed 
and sound sense demands that we secure the greatest good attainable; 
and we must often be content if we get more wheat than tares. 
For years past the machinery of our State Government has been 
kept in motion only by continued violation of plain and positive 
constitutional provisions. Nothing can be more pernicious. By 
this the people lose their respect for the laws, and learn to hold 
them in contempt. A reverence for constitutions and laws is the 
best possible guaranty for the stability of the State, the peace and 
good order of society, and the protection of the life, liberty and 
property of the citizen. And whenever it becomes necessary to 
violate a constitution, it should be changed to meet and remove the 
necessity which impelled to such violation. Our State Legislatures 
are only restrained by the Constitution of the State and of the 
United States. It is therefore necessary that State Constitutions 
should contain many regulations and restrictions, while the Constitu- 
tion of the United States may be much shorter, for that is a gov- 
ernment of delegated powers, with only the incidental powers 
necessary and proper to execute the powers granted. 



In addition to the usual guarantees of natural and civil liberty, 
we have declared that no person shall be denied any civil or politi- 
cal right or capacity on account of his religious opinions. All per- 
sons have the right to publish the truth, with good motives and 
for justifiable ends. Private property shall not be taken or dam- 
aged for public use'without just compensation, to be ascertained by 
a jury. The fee of land taken for railroad tracks is to remain in 
the owners, subject to the use for which it is taken. All irrevo- 
cable grants of special privileges or immunities are prohibited, 
to protect the people against privileged orders and dangerous 
monopolies. Grand juries may bs dispensed with. Our jails are 
crowded with criminals during the intervals of circuit courts, at 
great expense to -the counties. County courts may be authorized 
to try, in a summary manner, many criminal cases, and thus save 
the counties the large expenditures of keeping prisoners for trial 
from term to term of the circuit courts, and persons not guilty 
may be promptly discharged or acquitted. 


To avoid partisan injustice in representative districts, and the 
expense and delay of the General Assembly in making them, we 
have provided for districting the State, as in Ohio, by ratio and 
computation. To guard against undue influence upon members of 
the General Assembly, and to afford small counties representatives, 
we have increased their numbers. We have also required a stringent 
oath against bribery and corruption. To afford security against 
hasty and vicious legislation, we have required all bills and amend- 
ments thereto to be printed before they are passed. Only one sub- 
ject shall be embraced in each bill, and when amendments are made 
to laws, or acts are revived, the sections amended and acts revived 
must be stated at length. The evils of special and local legislation 
have become enormous. The expense to the State in passing and 
publishing such laws, and the combinations by which private specu- 
lations have been secured and monopolies with extraordinary and 
dangerous powers have been created, are well known. We have 
prohibited the General Assembly hereafter from passing such laws, 
and have required general laws in all cases where a general law can 
be made applicable. We have forbidden the General Assembly from 
releasing any liability to the State or to any municipal corporation 


therein. We have placed additional guards against speculative con- 
tracts made with officers of the State for stationery, fuel, etc., and 
we have limited the amount of expenditures to be incurred on 
account of the State capitol now in process of construction. 

We have provided for public and private roads, and for the 
drainage of lands. We have required the enactment of liberal 
homestead and exemption laws, and laws for the protection of min- 
ers; and we have submitted a separate article, designed to protect 
producers and shippers of grain against frauds in warehouses. 


We require the governor, at each session of the Legislature, 
and at the close of his term of office, to furnish a statement of all 
moneys received and paid out by him from any funds subject to 
his order, with his vouchers therefor. We make it the duty of 
the auditor of public accounts, treasurer, secretary of state and 
superintendent of public instruction and persons in charge of State 
institutions, to keep an account of all moneys received or disbursed 
by them severally, from all sources and for every service per- 
formed, and to make a semi-annual report thereof to the governor, 
under oath, to be laid before the General Assembly; thus enabling 
the representatives of the people to expose, and by suitable laws 
prevent, improvident expenditures and frauds. We have given the 
governor power to remove all officers appointed by him, in case 
they are incompetent or are guilty of malfeasance in office. We 
have provided a safer mode of canvassing the votes for governor 
and State officers, and avoided the danger of collusion in cases of 
contested elections. We have required the governor to submit a 
careful estimate of expenses and revenue to each General Assem- 
bly. This will restrain extravagant appropriations and give the 
people a proper understanding of the financial condition of the State. 
We have made the veto power as in the Constitution of the United 
States, only to be overcome by a vote of two-thirds in each House 
of the General Assembly. Had this provision been in our existing 
Constitution, it would have saved us from many injurious and 
unconstitutional acts and many chartered monopolies passed by the 
combinations of interested persons. 


We have endeavored to preserve all the courts to which our 
people are accustomed, to avoid the evils of too great a variety of 


courts, and at the same time make the system sufficiently flexible 
to allow the General Assembly to provide for a speedy and prompt 
administration of justice. All the new courts indicated are left 
entirely in the discretion of the General Assembly to create or not, 
as the public wants may demand. Our Supreme Court is bur- 
dened with many unadjudicated cases, and decisions are delayed to 
the prejudice of suitors and the public. To enable that court to 
fully investigate and properly decide and write out creditable opin- 
ions, we have added four more judges to its number. We have 
required its judges to be elected in separate districts, and at times 
when no general election is held, to avoid a partisan court. Should 
that court be unable to dispose of its cases with reasonable dispatch, 
we have authorized the General Assembly to create an appellate 
court, which may be held in each county by the circuit judges, 
without additional compensation and with jurisdiction in such cases 
as may be prescribed by law. Such courts are said to be of great 
value in Ohio and New York. We contemplate continuing the 
old circuit court system. We have, however, authorized the Gen- 
eral Assembly to provide for electing not exceeding four judges in 
a larger circuit, and to assign them to duties in its counties. The 
advocates of this system affirm that it has worked well in other 
States, and is an improvement on our present system; that it avoids 
frequent changes of venue and the expenses of parties and wit- 
nesses occasioned thereby; that it secures greater uniformity of 
practice in circuit courts, and enables the people to procure more 
competent judges and dispose of their suits with greater facility. 

To remove the evil of frequent changes of the times of holding 
courts, we have provided that they shall not be altered during the 
terms of the judges, and to prevent the creation of too many cir- 
cuits we have put restrictions upon the same. We have provided 
that county courts may have additional jurisdiction conferred by 
law, and county judges, if desirable hereafter, may be elected in 
districts composed of two or more counties, and probate courts may 
be established in counties having a population over 50,000. We 
have provided for the election of state's attorneys in each county, in 
lieu of circuit attorneys. We have established a special system of 
courts for the county of Cook, which, it is confidently expected? 
will meet her necessities. We have required laws relating to courts 
to be of general and uniform operation; and the organization, juris- 
diction, powers, proceedings and practice of all courts of the same 


class, so far as regulated by law, and the force and effect of process, 
judgments and decrees of such courts, shall be uniform. We have 
made it the duty of all judges of courts of record to furnish the 
General Assembly with defects they may discover in our laws. 
The performance of this duty with fidelity will enable the Legisla- 
ture to simplify and perfect our statutes. 

All existing courts are continued until otherwise provided by law. 


"We have made our law on suffrage conform to the Constitution 
of the United States, and extended that right to persons informally 
naturalized before courts of record anterior to January, 1870; and 
we have submitted a separate article on minority representation. 


We have required a thorough and efficient system of common 
schools, and that all grants and donations for common school pur- 
poses shall be applied to their use with fidelity. We have forbid- 
den the General Assembly and all public corporations from donating 
money or property to any church, or for any sectarian purpose, or 
for any school controlled by any church or sect ; and we have pro- 
hibited school teachers and school officers from being interested in 
the sale of books, apparatus and furniture in the schools with which 
they are connected. 


We have retained the valuable features of the revenue article in 
the Constitution of 1848, and have provided in addition that before 
sales of real estate for taxes are made, a return of unpaid taxes 
shall be made to some general officer of the county for collection, 
with authority to sell for default, on an order of a court of record, 
the object being to secure uniformity of sales, prevent abuses, and to 
provide a general and convenient mode by which persons interested 
may obtain information and pay assessments or taxes, or redeem 
from tax sales. We have forbidden the General Assembly from 
discharging any county, city, township or district from its propor- 
tionate share of State taxes, and prohibited all commutations 
for such taxes, thus securing, in State taxation, equality of burdens 
for common benefits, and we have repealed the two-mill tax. 


We have provided that if a portion of a county is added 
to another county, its inhabitants shall be obliged to pay its 


proportion of the indebtedness of the county from which it 
is taken. We have required that voters on the question of 
removing county seats shall, next before the election, reside in 
the county six months, and in the election precinct ninety days; 
and that the question of the removal of the county seat shall not 
be oftener submitted than once in ten years; and we have submitted 
separately the question whether less than] three-fifths of the votes 
cast shall be sufficient for the removal of a county seat, when pro- 
posed to be moved further from the center of a county. "We have 
provided that counties having adopted township organization, may, 
by vote, dispense with the same. We have provided that counties 
not under township organization may elect a board of three county 
commissioners to manage their county affairs, one of whom shall be 
elected every year; and we have made special provisions for Cool: 
county. We have provided for the usual county officers and their 
compensation. All officers who are paid by fees, are required to 
make a semi-annual report, under oath, of their fees and emolu- 


In the numerous cities and towns of this State, streets, alleys, 
sidewalks, etc., are indispensable to their growth and prosperity* 
They must be graded, paved and kept in repair. How this shall 
be done, how paid for, what proportion by the owners of con- 
tiguous property, and what by general contribution, the people 
of the particular town or city are better qualified to decide than 
others can be. The same system will not be suited to the wishes or 
necessities of all places. Under our present la '.vs., streets and side- 
walks are falling into decay, and a radical reform is indispensable. 
To remove this evil, we have authorized the Legislature to vest in 
each city and town full power and control of such improvements, 
and of the means best adapted to its wishes, circumstances and 
necessities. For all other purposes, taxation therein must be uni- 
form. We have also prohibited the General Assembly from impos- 
ing taxes upon municipal corporations for corporate purposes. If, 
in all other respects, the two Constitutions are equal, these provis- 
ions alone should secure the support of every citizen of every town 
and city in the State. 


We have provided that no corporation, public or private, shall 
be created or have its charter amended by special law, except 


institutions for charitable, educational or reformatory purposes, 
under the patronage of the State. All grants of chart 2rs for special 
and exclusive privileges under which no organizations have taken 
place, or which shall not have been in operation within ten days 
after this Constitution takes effect, shall be invalid. We have pro- 
hibited the construction of street railways without the consent of 
the local authorities in towns and cities ; and we have provided for 
the protection of the minority of stockholders of private corpora- 
tions in the election of directors. 


"We have prohibited the State from being interested in any 
banking corporation; forbidden the establishment of any bank of 
issue, deposit or discount without the approval of a majority of votes 
cast at a general election. We have declared that no suspension 
of specie payments shall be legalized; and we have required that 
banks shall deposit ample securities for the protection of their 


We have provided that railroads owning parallel or competing 
lines shall not be consolidated, and that a majority of the directors 
shall be residents of this State. We have declared railroads to be 
public highways, and required the General Assembly to establish 
reasonable maximum rates of charges, and to prevent unjust dis- 
criminations and extortions. We have asserted the right of the 
State, by the exercise of the power of eminent domain, to subject 
the property and franchises of incorporated companies to the public 
use, the same as the property of natural persons. We have pro- 
vided against the release of the obligation of the Illinois Central 
Kailroad to the State, thereby securiug to the State nearly half a 
million of dollars annually. 


We have prohibited the State from contracting indebtedness 
beyond $250,000, without submitting the law to the people. We have 
forbidden the General Assembly from loaning the credit of the 
State and making appropriations from the treasury in aid of inter- 
nal improvements, and from paying or assuming the debts or lia- 
bilities of any public or other corporation, association or individual. 
We have prohibited county authorities from ever assessing taxes, 
the aggregate of which shall exceed seventy-five cents per $100 


valuation, except for the payment of indebtedness existing at the 
adoption of this Constitution, unless authorized by a vote of the 
people of the county. We have forbidden cities, counties and all 
public corporations from creating or further increasing their 
indebtedness above five per cent, on the value of the taxable prop- 
erty within the same, and required that at the time of incurring 
such indebtedness, an annual tax shall be levied, sufficient to pay 
the interest as it falls due, and to discharge the principal within 
twenty years. For want of such a provision in our State Constitu- 
tion, our counties, towns and cities have contracted, liabilities of 
over $50,000,000. "We have submitted a separate article prohibit- 
ing all municipal subscriptions to railroad stock. 


Under the present Constitution it was found practically impos- 
sible to carry on the three departments of government without 
evading its provisions. The compensation allowed the governor, 
State officers, judges and members of the General Assembly, was 
wholly insufficient in times when the prices of all the necessaries of 
life were increased, and the currency inflated. By general and 
special laws, the fees of clerks and inferior officers afforded them 
much greater incomes than the salaries of governor and judges, and 
in the populous counties, and in Chicago, those fees afforded com- 
pensation beyond all reasonable bounds. "We have inaugurated a 
system by which all perquisites of judges and State officers will be 
prohibited. We have limited members of the General Assembly 
to fifty dollars each per session, in addition to their per diem and 
mileage, in full for postage, stationery, stamps, newspapers and all 
other incidental perquisites. These perquisites amounted at the 
last session of the General Assembly to over fifty-four thousand 
dollars, which was about five hundred dollars to each member. 

We have provided that the fees and salaries of all officers under 
the Constitution shall not be increased or diminished during their 
terms; and that, with few exceptions, such fees and salaries shall 
be fixed before their terms commence. We have abolished all special 
laws in relation to fees, and put in force the general laws in such 
cases ; and we have required the next General Assembly, by general 
uniform law, to provide and regulate fees of all persons holding 
county offices, and their successors, so as to reduce the same to a 
reasonable compensation, in not exceeding three grades in the dif- 


ferent counties ; and all laws fixing the fees of State, county and 
township officers shall terminate with the terms of those in office at 
the meeting of the first General Assembly. 

We have provided that State and county officers shall be paid 
reasonable salaries, out of the fees collected by them, and that the 
surplus be paid into the State or county treasury. Thus, fees and 
salaries may hereafter be regulated by the condition of the country; 
"and we have allowed all officers now in office to serve out their 


To save all controversy in the future convention to amend the 
Constitution, we have fixed the qualification of its members, the 
oath of office they shall take, the manner of filling vacancies, and 
provided that amendments proposed by such convention, before 
they take effect, shall be ratified by the electors of the State. As 
a means of avoiding the necessity and expense of such a conven- 
tion, we have provided that two-thirds of each House of the Gen- 
eral Assembly, may submit amendments to any one article of the 
Constitution; and if ratified by the people at the succeeding general 
election, such amendments shall constitute part of the Constitution. 
Such are some of the prominent amendments we propose. 
They are the result of much labor, reflection and discussion, and 
we are confident that interest and inclination will induce you to 
give them that earnest, careful and candid consideration they 
deserve, and that you will render such a decision as will promote 
your own well being, and the future prosperity of the powerful, 
patriotic and progressive State of Illinois. And it will afford us 
sincere pleasure, in after years, to find that our efforts have, in 
some measure, contributed to such desirable consummation. 
W. H. UNDERWOOD, Chairman. S. S. HAYES, 


L. W. Ross, J. C. ALLEN, 






How State Taxes Have Been Diverted, School Lands Stolen 
and Other Abuses under the Old Regime, with Some 
Remarks on the Value of the " Pay As You Go " Policy. 

T^HE history of the State of Illinois shows that in the past we 
suffered much from the granting of special charters and hasty 
legislation and we did what we could to stop it. Under the then 
existing order of things, the public interests seemed to have heen 
almost forgotten and just about three quarters of the time of the 
General Assembly was taken up in the consideration of private 
bills and the granting of special charters, whereas now, everybody is 
upon an equality, and general laws, instead of being the excep- 
tion, are the rule. In our address we say: "We have provided 
that no corporation, public or private, shall be created or have its 
charter amended by special laws, except institutions for charitable, 
educational or reformatory purposes under the patronage of the 

We found a condition of things existing in many parts of the 
State that will scarcely be believed at the present time. 

We found that under the guise of assisting in the construction 
of railroads in new sections of the State, that towns, cities, villages 
and even school districts had voted large subsidies, and had issued 
their bonds to pay for the same, and that the people, and especially 
the taxpayers and property owners, were in danger of having their 
property confiscated. In many counties the state of affairs was 
such that persons avoided them, and those seeking homes in the 
West could not be induced to settle there. We investigated this 
matter thoroughly and obtained from the auditor a list of such in- 
debtedness, and found that it was enormous. In many instances 
laws had been passed diverting the State taxes and appropriating 
them to pay the interest on the bonds of municipal indebtedness. 
The State Auditor was made the paymaster of these various munici- 
palities and every effort was put forward to compel the State to 
assume all these debts. 



As a specimen we present one single report upon this subject 

made by the State Auditor. This report was made by the request 

of the convention and in it he says : 

" The American Bottom Levee Company gets the State tax 
on all property assessed in four (4) townships in St. 
Clair county for live (5) years under private laws, 1867, 
Vol. 2, page 795; assessed valuation of said townships in 
1868, $1,534,125; estimated revenue fund tax for 1869 $12,273 

The St. Clair and Monroe Draining Company gets the 
State tax on the increased valuation of subsequent years 
over valuation of 1859, for fifteen years from 1865 
under private laws, 1865, Vol. 2, page 2, in certain dis- 
tricts in the counties of Monroe and St. Clair; estimated 
amount of State revenue tax for 1869, in surplus valua- 
tion of 1869 over 1859 2,000 

The Kaskaskia River Navigation Company under private 
laws, 1869, page 872, gets the State tax on all property 
assessed in nine (9) townships for ten (10) years from 

1868 in Randol ph county. Net valuation in 1868 amounts 
to $1,089,555; estimated amount State revenue tax for 

1869 thus given 2,400 

Alexander county under public laws 1869, page 330, gets 

all State tax collected in said county for the years 1869- 

1870; estimated amount of revenue fund tax for 1869. . 14,000 

Mound City (Pulaski county) under private laws 1867, 
Vol. 1, page 837, gets State tax on all property in said 
city for ten years from 1867; estimated revenue fund 
for 1869 thus given 2,500 

City of Shawneetown (Gallatin county) by its charter, pri- 
vate laws 1861, page 272, gets State tax on all property 
assessed in said city for twenty years. Revenue fund 
State tax on assessment 1869, in said city, estimated to 
exceed 3,500 

Wabash River and its tributaries in Allison Prairie Levee 
^Company (Lawrence county) gets the State tax on all 
property assessed in six (6) townships for ten (10) years 
from 1866, laws 1867 (private), page 305, Vol. 2. The 
property in said township assessed for 1868, $418,461; 
estimated revenue State tax for 1869 3 000 


Surplus, etc., revenue tax (State) on assessment 1869 over 
assessment 1868, given to counties, townships, cities and 
towns in aid of railroads, public laws 1869, page 316, 
estimated by auditor in levying rates of taxes for 1869 
to amount to for 1869 4,728 

Total amount of revenue tax on assessment to be disposed 

of for one year by the foregoing laws $50,701 

In estimating the foregoing amounts only the revenue fund State 
tax was taken into consideration. Heretofore, it has been considered 
that said acts appropriated the tax levied to pay interest on the State 
debt; but in a recent case that came before me, I held that said 
interest tax could not be so diverted. Should this ruling be con- 
tested in the Supreme Court, and not sustained by said court, the 
amounts I have given in each case, as well as the aggregate, would 
be increased one-eighth. 

Yery respectfully, 



See Yol. 1 of the Constitutional Debates, 1870, p. 413-14. 

If this report of the auditor is carefully examined, and its bear- 
ings understood, it will present a most extraordinary showing, and 
if Cook county had thus received at any time any such magnificent 
donations for any purpose, of the State taxes, there would have 
been a universal outcry. 

As a supplement to the above and foregoing, a most interesting 
chapter will be unfolded by referring to page 736 of the journal of 
the convention, and there examining the " statement of State taxes 
appropriated and diverted from the State treasury by special laws 
during the last ten years," together with 1 a reference to the laws 
themselves, made by the auditor by request of the convention. 

The amounts which, first and last, have been taken from the 
State treasury and appropriated for the benefit of private corpora- 
tions and local improvements, and for the benefit of towns, cities 
and villages in the rural districts, would, if carefully collected, 
amount to several millions, while Cook county has never got a 
dollar that we are aware of. 

Another thing we discovered, and it was this: that when the 
appetite for greed and rapacity had once been developed, it stopped 
at nothing and knew no bounds whatever. 


"We had at one time a large quantity of valuable lands belonging 
to the college and seminary fund of the State, located in the county 
of Cook. The people of southern Illinois found it out and in 1861 
got an act through the Legislature incorporating an institution 
which they called the "Illinois Agricultural College" (a private con- 
cern^ not the State Agricultural College at Champaign at all, but 
a private institution), came up to our county, took these lands and 
sold them, and soon after this high-sounding institution was found 
to be bankrupt and all the money which was derived from the sale 
of these lands was lost and squandered. We then came to the con- 
clusion that the indiscriminate organization of private corporations 
by special laws, with special powers and privileges, was a great abuse 
and that some check ought to be placed upon the Legislature in 
granting them and therefore a check was placed upon the Legisla- 
ture for so doing. 

Under the wise and judicious lead of the late Hon. Wm. F. 
Coolbaugh, who had had great experience under somewhat similar 
circumstances in the State of Iowa, and who had a national reputa- 
tion as a financier, we adopted the principle of pay as yougo, which, 
if carried out, will be worth millions to this and all future genera- 
tions. It is a curious thing that in this age, when wealth is so 
universally diffused, that so few have ever mastered the rudiments 
of political economy, and stranger still, that no one seems to under- 
stand the value of a dollar. 

To the great mass of the people it seems to be evidence of the 
highest wisdom if public improvements can be made by borrowing 
money at high rates of interest, provided bonds can be issued to 
pay for the same, and they never bestow a thought upon how 
either the interest is to be paid or the principal satisfied. 

The common councils of our cities and other municipal bodies 
beat against the barriers which protect the public treasury, like 
prisoners against their grated cells. Taxpayers ought to have some 
guaranty against improvidence and the dangers of confiscation. 

We believe if it had not been for the wise and conservative 
policy to be pursued in the levying and collecting of taxes, and the 
limitations on taxation provided in the Constitution, that the city of 
Chicago would to-day be in debt $100,000,000 instead of thirteen 
or fourteen millions. 

We found, in addition to the foregoing, that a system of com- 
mutation of taxes had been inaugurated, by which thousands upon 


thousands of dollars of the public revenues had been taken and 
appropriated to local improvements and private purposes, while the 
other portions of the State were supplying all the defenses. This 
we remedied, and we said in our address: 

"We have forbidden the General Assembly from discharging 
any county, city, township or district from its proportionate share 
of State taxes, and prohibited commutation for such taxes; thus 
securing in State taxation, equality of burdens for common benefits; 
and we have repealed the two-mill tax. * * * 

We have prohibited the State from contracting indebtedness 
beyond $250,000, without submitting the law to the people. We 
have forbidden the General Assembly from loaning the credit of 
the State and making appropriations from the treasury in aid of 
internal improvements and from paying or assuming the debts or 
liabilities of any public or other corporation, association or individ- 
ual. We have prohibited county authorities from over-assessing 
taxes, the aggregate of which shall exceed seventy-five cents per 
$100 valuation, except for the payment of indebtedness existing at 
the adoption of the Constitution, unless authorized by a vote of the 
people of the county. We have forbidden cities, counties and all 
public corporations from creating or further increasing their indebt- 
edness above five per cent, in the value of the taxable property 
within the same, and required that at the time of incurring such 
indebtedness an annual tax shall be levied sufficient to pay the 
interest as it falls due and to discharge the principal within twenty 
years. For want of such a provision in our State Constitution, our 
counties, towns and cities have contracted liabilities of over 
$50,000,000. We have submitted a separate article prohibiting all 
municipal subscriptions to railroad stock. 

The judicial department of the government was reorganized and 
adequate salaries provided for and the Legislature given power to 
change them from time to time, to adjust them so as to allow an 
increase if necessary; whereas, before, they were fixed by the Con- 
stitution and made unchangeable. Uniform laws were required to 
be passed relating to the organization, jurisdiction, powers, pro- 
ceedings and practice of the courts of the same class so far as reg- 
ulated by law, and the force and effect of process, judgments and 
decrees of such courts shall be uniform." 


The Organization and Government of Great Cities. 

NE of the greatest and most valuable characteristics of our Con- 

stitution is that provision which absolutely prohibits class 
legislation and the passage of special and private laws, and of 
"granting to any corporation, association or individual, any special 
privilege, immunity or franchise whatever by special law." This 
feature of our Constitution has received universal commendation, 
both in this country arid in England, and is, as one of the members 
of the British House of Commons told me, one of the most valuable 
prerequisites that was ever appended to a fundamental law. It 
is a standing proclamation to the world and to the people of the 
State of Illinois that the contest for life here shall be that of a free 
fight and no favors Queensbury rules. 

The mode of "regulating county and township affairs," and of 
"incorporating cities, towns or villages, or changing or amending 
the charter of any town, city or village," it will be observed, shall 
be by general laws. But there is no prohibition whatever in the 
Constitution regarding their classification ; and while it may be that 
the Supreme Court would hold that there could not be a law, gen- 
eral in its character, to apply to cities of one million and upwards, 
we doubt it. We think that general powers can be provided for in 
the organic laws of cities which would be ample for every emer- 
gency. But the Constitution does not provide or say anything how 
cities shall be organized; whether they shall be governed as a private 
corporation or by a mayor and common council, composed of fifty 
or five hundred; therefore the government of cities is an open 
question, and is fast becoming the great problem of the age. 

The rural districts seem to be decreasing in population, while 
the young and rising generation seem to be struggling up from the 
small towns, cities and villages, and throwing themselves upon the 
world of the metropolis. 

Hon. Andrew D. White, late President of Cornell University, 
one of the most cultivated of Americans, and a man who has had great 
opportunities for observation, both in this country and in Europe, 



has discussed the " Government of American Cities " in the Decem- 
ber number of " The Forum," 1890, in a most masterly manner, 
and we commend it to all legislators and constitution makers as 
worthy of their most thoughtful consideration. lie shows that we 
are attempting to govern our cities upon "a theory which has 
never been found to work practically in any part of the world." 

His caution is, that, the questions in a city not being political 
questions, but having reference to the laying out of streets, to the 
erection of buildings, to sanitary arrangements, to the control of 
franchises and the like, and to provisions for the public health and 
comfort in parks, boulevards, libraries and museums, that the work 
of the city should be logically managed as a piece of property by 
those who have created it and who have a title to it or a real sub- 
stantial part in it. As things are now, says he, "a city is a polit- 
ical organization over which a crowd of illiterate peasants, freshly 
raked in from Irish bogs, or Bohemian mines, or Italian robber- 
nests may exercise virtual control; and how they control it (speak- 
ing of New York City) we know too well." 

As a compromise between the political and the corporate idea, 
he says, however, "I would elect the mayor by the votesot'the major- 
ity of all the citizens as at present; I would elect the common coun- 
cil by a majority of all the votes of all the citizens, so that wards 
composed largely of thieves and robbers can not send thieves and 
robbers, and so that men who can carry their ward can not control 
the city; I would elect the board of aldermen on a general ticket, 
just as the mayor is elected now, thus requiring candidates for the 
board to have a city reputation. So much for retaining the idea of 
the city as a political body. In addition to this, in consideration 
of the fact that the city is a corporation, we would have those 
owning property in it properly recognized. 

"I would leave to them, and to them alone, the election of a board 
of control, without whose permission no franchise should be 
granted, and no expenditure should be made. This should be the 
rule. * * * A theory resulting in a system virtually like this 
has made the cities of Europe, whether in monarchies or repub- 
lics, what they are, and has made it an honor in man}' foreign 
countries for the foremost citizens to serve in the common coun- 
cils of their cities." There is nothing in our present Constitution 
to prevent the trial of this theory. 


The justice of the peace system plight well, at the present time, 
be superseded by district courts, which should be courts of record, 
with such criminal jurisdiction as to enable them to try and dispose 
of, summarily, all criminal cases below the degree of felony and such 
cases of misdemeanor punishable by fines and imprisonment in the 
penitentiary, as should be provided by law. 

The history of the twenty-eighth section of the judiciary 
article of the Constitution of the State, relating to the appointment 
of justices of the peace in the city of Chicago, is interesting. 

For years before the constitutional convention was called to 
revise the Constitution, great complaint existed as to the manner 
in which the law was administered in the justice courts, and as to 
the class of persons who filled the offices. In many instances, the 
justices of the peace were ward loafers and bummers, and in connec- 
tion with the constables who hung around their offices, perpetrated 
the most outrageous crimes upon the poor and defenseless who were 
so unfortunate as to come within their grasp. Conspiracies were 
found to exist, in some instances, between the justices and constables, 
to prefer charges against people for violation of laws and ordinances 
of the city; and they would then be brought before the magistrates 
and fined, or the suits compromised and the money divided between 
the justices and the constables. The whole administration of the 
law had become a farce, and was oftentimes attended with scenes of 
brutality shocking to humanity. In one instance, an ex-judge of a 
circuit court, while trying a case, was set upon by policemen at 
the command of the justice, for a fancied insult to his Majesty, 
and mauled to death at least he died soon after the assault made 
upon him, from the effects of the beating. Public attention finally 
became aroused, and indictments were found against some of the 
justices and constables, and they were convicted and punished. It 
seemed as if no remedy could be offered the public under the old 
system of electing justices, and a universal outcry went up for an 
entire change in the system, and for a better class of men to fill the 
offices. The newspapers all took part in the discussion, and the 
examples of Boston and New York were cited, where district 
courts existed, presided over by judges who had limited juris- 
diction in civil and criminal cases, and who disposed of almost all 
cases of misdemeanors and minor offenses without the interven- 
tion of a grand jury. Judge Russell, of Boston, we believe, long 
presided over one of these inferior courts and was elevated from 


that position to the Supreme Court. "When the constitutional 
convention assembled, we were flooded with petitions from the 
people asking us to change the system from election to appointment- 
I introduced into that body, on January 5 or 7, 1870, the following 


"There shall be no justices of the peace in the city of Chicago, 
but the said city shall be divided into districts, and one judge elected 
for each district, who shall hold his office for the term of four years 
and until his successor is elected and qualified. ~No person shall be 
elected a judge of the said District Court, unless he shall be an 
attorney at law and have been a resident of the city of Chicago at 

least years next preceding his election. There shall be a 

clerk of each of the said courts, and such other officers as may be 
provided by law. Said courts shall have jurisdiction in civil cases 
when the amount in controversy does not exceed two hundred dol- 
lars, and such criminal jurisdiction as may be provided by law. 
Said judges and clerks shall receive such compensation as may be 
provided by law, and all fees and perquisites shall be paid into the 
city treasury." 

This section was referred to the judiciary committee, of which 
Mr. Hayes and myself were members. The matter was considered 
by the judiciary, and they finally reported it back to the convention 
in these words: 

"SEC. 40. There shall be no justices of the peace or police 
magistrates in the city of Chicago, after the expiration of the terms 
of the existing justices of the peace and police magistrates, and the 
General Assembly shall, at its first session after the adoption of 
this Constitution, divide the city into districts, and establish courts 
therein, to consist of one or more judges for each district, and such 
officers as may be provided by law. The judges of said courts 
shall be appointed by the governor, by and with the advice and 
consent of the Senate; but no person shall be appointed except 
upon the recommendation of a majority of the judges of the cir- 
cuit, superior and county courts, and shall hold their offices for 
four years and until their successors be commissioned and qualified. 
Such courts shall have jurisdiction in civil cases at law in said city 
when the amount in controversy does not exceed $200, and such 
criminal jurisdiction as may be conferred by law." 


" The compensation of said judges shall be fixed by law, and paid 
out of the city treasury, and shall not be increased during their 
term of office. All fees and perquisites shall be paid into the city 
treasury. Appeals in civil cases, from justices of the peace in said 
county, and from said courts established in said districts, shall be 
allowed in the Circuit or Superior Court of Cook county, in such 
manner as may be provided by law." [Debates and proceedings of 
the Convention, 2d vol., p. 1481.] 

When this came up for consideration, Mr. Hayes, under 
instructions from the Cook county delegation, arose and offered the 
following as a compromise measure, and as a substitute for the 
above, to-wit : 

" SECTION 40. All justices of the peace in the city of Chicago 
shall be appointed by the governor, by and with the advice and 
consent of the Senate, (but only upon the recommendation of a 
majority of the judges of circuit, superior and county courts), and 
for such districts as are now, or shall hereafter be, provided by law. 
They shall hold their offices for four years, and until their succes- 
sors have been commissioned and qualified, but they may be removed 
by summary proceeding in the circuit or superior court for extor- 
tion or other malfeasance. Existing justices of the peace and 
magistrates may hold their office until the expiration of their respect- 
ive terms." 

The adoption of this section was most rigorously opposed by 
the Hon. O. H. Browning, Cummings, of Fulton, Hankins and 
Allen, of Crawford, and was supported by Messrs. Hayes, Wall, 
Underwood, Coolbaugh and myself, and was finally adopted by a 
vote of 46 yeas to 19 nays. 


The reason why it was made from the original proposition 
and from the section as reported by the judiciary committee, was 
principally because the people in Chicago thought that if district 
courts were established they would become very expensive, and it 
was thought more judicious to provide simply for the appointment of 
justices of the peace rather than for judges. Great opposition mani- 
fested itself in the convention against making the innovation of 
appointing justices of the peace. Many thought that it was 
depriving the people of their rights to take away from them so 
precious a privilege as electing their own local magistrates. I am 


satisfied that if the original plan had been adopted, it would 
have been a great benefit to the people and would have dispensed 
with the grand jury in all that kind of cases which are classed as 
misdemeanors, and would have resulted in speedy justice. There 
is no reason why the law should not be administered with as much 
intelligence in our lower courts as in our higher courts. In Boston 
and in many other of our large cities the inferior courts are pre- 
sided over by well-educated lawyers, and the judges compare favor- 
ably with the judges of the higher courts. The convention was 
assured at the time of the adoption of the present section that nobody 
but men versed in the law would be called upon to administer the 
law. and in the debate which afterward occurred on abolishing grand 
juries, the matter was again referred to. It was stated that the 
examination of criminals in the city of Chicago would take place 
before intelligent magistrates versed in the law, and that the great 
delays which now take place, in awaiting the action of grand juries, 
would be done away with. 

I think on the whole that the system has worked well. Some of 
the justices at the present time are first-class men, men of culture 
and standing, and learned in the law, and are a credit to the city. 
And if they were all of the same class it would be better; and then, 
if vested with criminal jurisdiction, they could be of the greatest 
service to the people, and would relieve the Criminal Court of many 
trifling cases, and save the public and taxpayers thousands of dollars 

There seems to be a great difference of opinion about how much 
our justices and constables realize from fees. This matter could all 
be put at rest if the General Assembly would pass a law to meet 
the requirements of section 13 of article 10 of the Constitution, 
which provides as follows : 

" Every person who is elected or appointed to any office in this 
State, who shall be paid in whole or in part by fees, shall be required 
by law to make a semi-annual report, under oath, to some officer to 
be designated by law, of all his fees and emoluments." 

I think that the justice courts in the city of Chicago are of the 
greatest importance, and that the position should be made one of 
honor, and a sure guaranty that the man who is a justice of the 
peace in this city is a man of character and respectability. There is 
no difficulty whatever in finding such men. The character of these 
courts is, as a whole, better than ever before, and the Constitution 


expressly provides that any one of them may be removed by sum- 
mary proceedings in the Circuit or Superior Court, for extortion, 
or other malfeasance. 


If all justices of the peace in the city of Chicago could be 
selected for their intelligence and character, and with a view to the 
public good, and without fear or favor, and without regard to nation- 
ality or grounds of expediency, and then clothed with the power of 
trying and convicting persons charged with misdemeanors and minor 
offenses, I believe that it would save the city of Chicago thou- 
sands of dollars a year, and be equivalent to adding 200 men to the 
present police force of the city. The administration of the crim- 
inal law at the present time in this city should, if possible, be 
improved, and more speedy trials take place. The efforts of the 
police are often paralyzed by the delays attending the arrest 
and conviction of criminals, while the county jail is kept full and 
running over by persons awaiting examination by the grand jury 
and those awaiting trial. 

So far as Cook county is concerned the problem of blending 
the city and county governments and abolishing township organiza- 
tion is more difficult; but if anything more comprehensive is required, 
a simple amendment regarding the same, submitted to the people, 
can easily be made to accomplish all that is required without call- 
ing together a constitutional convention. 

The interests of the city of Chicago are such that they must 
necessarily engage a good deal of the attention of our Legislature. 

In 1880 the population of Illinois, as we have elsewhere shown, 
was 3,077,877. Thirty-five per cent, of the inhabitants, or 938,620, 
lived in Cook county and in the thirty-eight towns, exclusive of 
Chicago, which had a population of over 4,000 each. In 1890, the 
population is returned as 3.818,536 persons of whom 1,642,732 or 
forty-three per cent, live in this county and the thirty-eight towns, 
and cities like Aurora, Elgin, Springfield, etc. 

In ten years the urban population of the State has grown sev- 
enty-five per cent. The gain in the rest of Illinois has been less 
than 20,000. 

If to the dwellers in this county and the thirty-eight principal 
towns were added the residents of all villages having a population 
of a thousand and over, they would form decidedly more than half 
the inhabitants of the State, 


The population of Illinois to-day is 3,818,536; in 1880, 3,077,- 
877; in 1870, 2,539,891. 

Superintendent Porter, in contrasting the rural with the urban 
population, says: "In Ohio, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri, and in 
Illinois, if the city of Chicago be dropped from consideration, the 
rate of increase has declined decidedly. In Ohio it has fallen from 
20 to 15 per cent; in Indiana, from 18 to 11; in Iowa, from 36 to 
17; in Missouri, from 26 to 23, in spite of the rapid growth of St. 
Louis and Kansas City; and in Illinois, dropping Chicago from con- 
sideration, from 14.9 to 5.6 per cent. 

It is an entire mistake to suppose that every reform that is pro- 
posed and every change'in the existing order of things should be 
provided for in the Constitution. 

The Legislature has, we assert, the power to make any changes 
upon any subject within the bounds of the Legislature, in all cases 
where it is not prohibited by the Constitution itself, and in any case 
where the Legislature is prohibited such prohibition can be easily 
removed by submitting an amendment covering the subject. Those 
who are so eager for a constitutional convention and who are so pro- 
fuse in condemning the present Constitution, wholesale and retail, 
would do well to consider wherein the Legislature is so crippled, 
restrained and restricted as to prevent its acting. We would like to 
have some one point out any particular thing which is required 
to be done and which is necessary to be done at the present time, 
that can not be accomplished by the ordinary means of legislation. 

No general attack on the whole instrument will suffice. We 
want a bill of particulars. If legislation is required for Cook 
county and the city of Chicago, which can not now be obtained owing 
to some " restraining order " of the Constitution, then we say that 
an amendment can be submitted which would confer all power upon 
the General Assembly not only to re-organize the municipal govern- 
ment, but regulate all its affairs in every way that may be desired. 
No constitutional convention is required for any such purpose. 

We have heard much complaint about judges exercising func- 
tions not pertaining to the judicial office proper, such as election 
commissioner, or drainage commissioner, at one and the wune time, 
and that such things ought to be prohibited by the Constitution. 
But why, we would like to know, should the Constitution provide for 
this, when it is to-day wholly within the power of the Legis^tnre? 

If there is a need of a constitutional convention for any one 


thing more than another, it is to enlarge the police power of the 
State in regard to sanitary matters in cities, and to confer power 
upon the General Assembly and compel that department of govern- 
ment to pass a law requiring owners, occupiers and abutters upon 
the public streets to keep their sidewalks free from dirt and filth. 
Our Supreme Court say that this can not be done under our present 
Constitution, although there is nothing in that instrument to pro- 
hibit it. 

This view we do not concur in, and believe it to be unsound. 
The power to compel owners and abntters on sidewalks to keep 
them clean is a power which is exercised in every other city, so far as 
we know, in the American Union, and in all other civilized countries 
beneath the sun. "We are perfectly aware of the reasons assigned 
by the Supreme Court for their view of the subject, and it is 
based upon the theory that a sidewalk is nothing but a part of the 
public street and you might as well compel the abutting owner to 
clean the street as the sidewalk; but we submit that this view is 
fallacious and that the analogy does not hold good in all its parts- 
The man who owns a house and lot, or store, has certain rights and 
privileges to the use of the sidewalk, which nobody else has. He 
may occupy certain portions of it for the display of his goods and 
wares; he may place machinery under the same, and use it for coal 
vaults and other purposes, and may even have removed any one 
who comes before his premises and blocks it up or obstructs it, and 
such persons have interests above and beyond and paramount to 
all others. Why, then, should not they be compelled to keep their 
sidewalks clean ? 

This matter is of such importance to the cities of this State, and 
especially the city of Chicago, that if we can not have it remedied 
short of a constitutional convention, then we are in favor of calling 
it to-morrow. 


Frequent Changes in the Organic Law of a State not 


rTlHE tendency on the part of all young, aspiring and ambitious 
-L statesmen seems to be innovation, and to overload the people 
with a multiplicity of laws and to swell our Constitutions into 

The experience of our State is not, we think, very much different 
from other States in regard to inexperienced men undertaking to 
frame laws for the government of the people. The record upon 
this subject as kept by ex-Governor Ford, and as stated by him in 
his "History of Illinois," is as follows: "The Assembly having 
organized the State government and put it in motion, adjourned to 
meet again in the winter of 1818-19. At this adjourned session 
a code of statute law was passed, mostly borrowed from the statutes 
of Kentucky and Virginia. Upon examining the laws of that day, 
it will be seen that they are generally better drawn up than those 
which were passed at a later and more enlightened period. 

The members were mostly ignorant and unpretending men; 
there was then some reverence for men of real knowledge and real 
abilities; the world was not then filled with audacious and ignorant 
pretenders ; and the sensible and unpretending members were 
content to look to men of real talents and learning to draw their 
bills. But in these days of empiricism and quackery in all things, 
when every ignorant pretender who has the luck to break into the 
Legislature imagines himself to be a Lycurgus or a Moses, very few 
good laws have been made ; and those which we have, were drawn 
by men of talents, who were not members, for the most part. 

But this code did not stand long. For many sessions after- 
ward, in fact until the new revision in 1827, all the standard laws 
were regularly changed and altered every two years to suit the taste 
and whim of every new Legislature. For a long time the rage for 
amending and altering was so great that it was said to be a good 
thing that the Holy Scriptures did not have to come before the Leg- 
islature, for that body would be certain to alter and amend them 



so that no one could tell what was or was not the word of God, any 
more than could be told what was or was not the law of the State. 

A session of the Legislature was like a great fire in the bound- 
less prairies of the State. It consumed everything. And again it 
was like the genial breath of spring, making all things new." Ford's 
History of 111. p. 31-2. 

The moral' of all this is that u the evils that inevitably flow from 
any fundamental change in the institutions of a country, are apt to 
be much more serious than the evils which the change is intended 
to remove. Political government is like a plant; a little watering 
and pruning do very well for it, but the less its roots are fooled with 
the better." 

Change, merely for the sake of change, is nnwise and unjustifi- 
able. We should, in all of our dealings with the fundamental law 
of the land, exercise that true spirit of reform which animates the 
reformer and conservative alike, and which keeps the whole fabric 
standing, by repairing and improving it from time to time, instead of 
tearing it down and digging for relics amid its ruins. Very much 
will, in every country, depend upon the homogeneous elements of 
the people and their ideas of what enters into and constitutes a stable 
government. Mere theories will not amount to anything. French- 
men in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries had theories as mag- 
nificent as any that have been put forth in the eighteenth or nine- 
teenth. And they had even then already learned to do deeds of 
blood in the name of freedom and philanthropy. Therefore French 
institutions have not lasted. The States-General lived but a fitful 
life from century to century and they perished forever in the 
great revolution. Since that time no French institution, no form, 
either of the legislative or of executive powers has been able to keep 
up a continuous being of twenty years. It would be hard to reckon 
up the number of assemblies, conventions, chambers of deputies and 
legislative bodies which have risen and fallen in France within the 
last 100 years, nor how many written constitutions they have formu- 
lated, adopted and promulgated as embodying the true and eternal 
principles of civilized government within the same period. At the 
great exposition, which was held in Paris, 1876, there were exhib- 
ited under a glass case some sixteen or seventeen constitutions finely 
engrossed on parchment, of their skill in providing organic laws for 
the government of their people, and upon reckoning up the period 
of thuir duration, it will appear that not one of them lasted beyond 


fifteen or sixteen years except that of the third republic, which is 
now bnt a few days beyond the twenty-first year. 

We admit that the process of amending oar Constitution is 
slow and cumbrous, but this can be most effectually done away by 
providing that any number of amendments may be submitted at one 
and the same time; in other words, remove the prohibition on the 
number of amendments to be submitted at any one time. 

We do not insist upon the immutability of the fundamental law 
at all, but we do insist that it shall not be changed without some 
good reason and some good cause, for nothing is more deleterious 
than the constant upheaval and turmoil which such a revolution 

There is a class of persons who are never satisfied with any- 
thing, but are ready to stir up discontent and create dissatisfaction 
on the very slighest pretense. The condition of people who live 
amid constant turmoil is not conducive to peace and happiness, nor 
the public welfare. A. constitution ought to be permitted to 
remain in force long enough at least, for the people to become 
acquainted with it before it is overthrown and cast aside as useless. 
We do not think that the times are very propitious for constitution- 
making and we think that the very air is filled with vagaries and 
unpractical theories which, if followed out, will lead us, we know not 

There are in a republic always on hand a set of men who may be 
called traders in sedition; who are ready at a moment's notice to 
jump into the arena and inflame the public mind. There is danger 
that at this conjuncture, men of more zeal than wisdom may obtain 
a fatal influence over the masses. " With these men will be joined 
others, who have neither zeal nor wisdom, common barrators in 
politics, dregs of society, which, in times of violent agitation are 
tossed up from the bottom to the top, and which in quiet times 
sink again from the top to their natural place at the bottom.''* 

A crisis like that which we have mentioned, which makes every 
honest citizen sad and anxious, fills these men with joy and with a 
detestable hope. How is it that such men, formed by nature to be 
objects of mere contempt, can ever inspire terror ? How is it that 
they became dangerous to both Empires and Republics ? The secret 
of their power lies in the indolence or faithlessness of those who 
ought to take the lead in the redress of public grievances. 

" The whole history of low traders in sedition is contained in 


that fine old Hebrew fable which we have read in the book of 
Judges. The trees meet to choose a king. The vine and the fig 
tree and the olive tree decline the office; then it is that the sov- 
ereignty of the forest devolves upon the bramble; then it is that 
from a base and noxious shrub goes forth the fire which devours 
the cedars of Lebanon." 

Let us be instructed. 

We do not distrust the future, but we think that there should 
be inculcated a proper regard for so important a document as the 
charter of the people, which is known as the organic law, and that 
it should not be changed without good cause. 

One of the wisest and most profound students of history says : 
"Popular governments make many mistakes and sometimes the 
people are slow in finding them out, but when once they have dis- 
covered them they have a way of correcting them. A popular 
government is the best kind of government in the world, the most 
wisely conservative, the most steadily progressive and the most 
likely to endure." 

In many of the States the Legislature is required at stated inter- 
vals to submit to the people the question of holding a constitutional 
convention and if the people vote in favor of the same then one is 
called by the Legislature. In New Hampshire this question is sub- 
mitted to a vote of the people every seven years; in Iowa every 
ten years; in Michigan every sixteen years; in New York. Ohio, 
Maryland and Virginia every twenty years. 


Illinois Ought to Be a Model Republic with a Constitution 
and Laws to Correspond. 

AS civilization advances and mankind reach a higher altitude, a 
different standard must be adopted than when ruder methods 
prevailed. The consequences of the past are reaching forward and 
upward to a loftier ideal than was ever thought of in the infancy 
of the State. 

Illinois ought to be the model republic in our great galaxy of 
States, and her Constitution and her laws ought to be characterized 
by the greatest wisdom and the highest enlightenment. 

Prior to the year 1800, eight or ten keel boats of about twenty- 
five tons each, performed all the carrying trade between Cincinnati 
and Pittsburg. The first government vessel appeared on Lake 
Erie in 1802; the first steamboat was launched at Pittsburg in 1811, 
the first on Lake Michigan in 1826, and the first appeared in Chi- 
cago in 1832. 

Illinois contains 55,405 square rniles or 35,459,200 acres of lands. 
It has 10,000 more square miles than New York and Ohio, and 
is nearly as large as all New England. 

The superintendent of the census in his report in 1860 says: 
" Illinois presents the most wonderful example of great, continuous 
and healthful increase. In 1830 Illinois contained 157,445 inhabi- 
tants ; in 1840, 476,183; in 1850, 851,470; in 1860, 1,711,951. 

The gain during the last decade was therefore 860,481, or 
101.66 per cent. 

So large a population, more than doubling itself in ten years by 
the regular course of settlement and natural increase, is without 
parallel. The condition to which Illinois has attained under the 
progress of the last thirty years is a monument to the blessings of 

industry, enterprise, peace and free institutions. 


The remarkable healthfulness of the climate seems to more 
than compensate for its rigors, and the fertility of the new soil leads 
men largely to contend with and overcome the harshness of the 



The energies thus called into action have in a few years made 
the States of the Northwest the granary of Europe; and that sec- 
tion of our Union which, within the recollection of living men, was 
a wilderness, is now the chief source of supply in seasons of 
scarcity, for the suffering millions of another continent." 

Hon. Samuel B. Ruggles, of New York, in his address at the 
great Canal convention held at Chicago in June, 1863, says: 
Ct What human being in his senses, not wholly idiotic or utterly blinded 
by political bigotry or lust of political power, could assert that this 
God-given, exuberant, and all but virgin West has now reached its 
culminating point? For one, I stand awestruck at the immeasur- 
able prospect opening before us. I can see nothing smaller, 
nothing more diminutive, nothing less stupendous than a yearly 
product of cereals to be measured, not as now, by hundreds of thou- 
sands, but a result so vast, so solemn, so fraught with consequences, 
so momentous to our nation and to the world, that I can but bow 
with reverential gratitude before such a wonderful manifestation 
of the providence of our great Creator. Never before in human 
history did He lay out a garden so wide-spread and fertile; never 
before did He provide a granary so magnificent for the use of man. 

For what was ancient Sicily, the granary of Home, or the fertile 
plains of the Po, or the exuberant valley of the Nile itself, compared 
with this, our great continental garden, pouring forth yearly vol- 
umes of food so enormous, and yet so inevitably, resistlessly increas- 
ing? In view of such a power to feed our race who will venture 
to depict or limit the commercial and the political destiny of this 
unequaled portion of the earth ? " 

And he then adds: " The manifest destiny and high office of this 
splended granary, of which this Chicago of yours and of ours is the 
brilliant center, stands out as plain as the sun in the heavens. 

It is unmistakably marked by the finger of God on these wide- 
spread lands and waters, that it is to be our special duty to feed, 
not ourselves of the new world alone, but that venerable, moss- 
covered fatherland that old father world of ours across the ocean 
as the pious Grecian daughter nourished her aged sire; to carry 
abundant food, and that too in the truest Christian spirit, to that 
over-crowded but under-fed European Christendom, to which we 
owe our common origin." 

Illinois is now the third State in the American Union, and what- 
ever she does will be sure to attract attention. As Mr. Webster 


onco said, "the age is extraordinary, the spirit that actuates it is 
peculiar and marked, and our own relation to the times we live in 
and to the questions which interest them, is equally marked and 
peculiar. We are placed by our good fortune and the wisdom and 
valor of our ancestors, in a condition in which we can act no obscure 
part. Be it for honor or dishonor, whatever we do is sure to attract 
the observation of the world. As one of the free States among the 
nations, as a great and rising republic, it would be impossible for 
us, if we were so disposed, to prevent our principles, our sentiments 
and our example from producing some effect upon the opinions and 
hopes of society throughout the civilized world. It rests, probably, 
with ourselves to determine whether the influence of these shall be 
salutary or pernicious." 

If constitution-making is to be further indulged in in this State, 
then let us have the best that can be framed, and let there be abun- 
dance of time in which to frame it. Any defects not of a serious 
nature can be reached and remedied most speedily by amendments, 
as the Constitution now provides; and if provision was made for 
submitting several amendments to the people at one and the same 
time, there is no reason whatever why every contingency may not 
be promptly met at once, and that, too, without delay. 

Public Virtue. 

BUT there is one thing that no constitutional convention can 
create, no organic law establish, and no law preserve, and that 
is public virtue. 

To maintain a representative government, men must have the 
capacity for self-government and no nation can have and possess 
that capacity without they are fitted for it by habits which involve 
individual responsibility and perfect honesty and integrity of pur- 
pose. The Mexican, Central and South American republics have 
constitutions similar to ours. But they do not operate with the 
energy, efficiency, tranquillity and good results that we experience. 


The difference is not in the form and plan of their constitutions, 
but in the people. They have not yet attained the education, poise, 
elevation, virtue and habits which inspire them to co-operate to 
make their government as good as possible and to repose with con- 
fidence upon its stability and justice. Hence revolts, rebellions or 
revolutions need scarcely surprise us. These are cruel and wasteful 
educators, however, and should be avoided. 

A government influences the people, and they in turn, the gov- 
ernment. No government within the range of civilization can 
escape the influences of the civilization of the age. Much less so 
now, when steam and electricity annihilate the barriers of time and 
distance. Our government exists so near the people that the just 
complaint of the feeblest citizen can be heard. The people appeal 
if need be, to the government, without fear of rebuke, and should be 
able to rely upon it with imnly confidence. The government 
adapts itself to the people and the people to their government. 

The stability of our government must ever depend upon the intel- 
ligence and common sense of the people, arid in order that their con- 
fidence may not be impaired they must insist upon the conscientious 
discharge of every duty incumbent upon their representatives and 
a fair and impartial administration of the law by every one of their 
public servants. 

Every evasion of law and every perversion of the same is a 
crime, and every one guilty of such conduct should be arraigned at 
the bar of public conscience, and punished for it. There are men 
who are ready to justify every scheme that is formed, every plot 
that is laid, and every intrigue that is entered into in order to pro- 
mote and achieve party success. 

If men commit crimes against the elective franchise, stuff the 
ballot box, indulge in wholesale perjury to aid and assist in the 
wholesale naturalization of men who are not entitled to that privi- 
lege, they should be punished, and that, too, severely, and when 
they have been once fairly tried and convicted, then the governor 
should be relieved of the constant and increasing importunities of 
those who undertake to mitigate and excuse such offenses, ren- 
dering his life miserable by personal appeals or petitions such as 
have at times beset his pathway within the memory of men still 

It should be understood by everybody that "the way of the 
transgressor is hard," and that punishment stern and unrelenting 


will bs moted out to all those who undertake to thwart the will of 
the people either by fraudulent voting or by making false returns, 
or by stealing votes after they have once been deposited in the 
ballot box. 

If there are in the United States or in this State any high 
crimes and misdemeanors left, these acts constitute them. 

"We agree with ex-President Cleveland in the views which he 
expressed in his recent speech before the Young Men's Democratic 
Club at Philadelphia on General Jackson's day, when he says: 

" I believe that among our people the ideas which endure and 
which inspire warm attachment and devotion are those having some 
elements which appeal to the moral sense. "When men are satisfied 
that a principle is morally right they become its adherents for all 
time. There is sometimes a discouraging distance between what 
our fellow countrymen believe and what they do in such a case, but 
their action in accordance with their belief may always be confi- 
dently expected in good time. A government for the people and 
by the people is everlastingly right. As surely as this is true, so 
surely is it true that party principles which advocate the absolute 
equality of American manhood, and an equal participation by all 
the people in the management of their government and in the bene- 
fit and protection which it affords, are also right. Here is common 
ground, where the best educated thought and reason may meet the 
most impulsive and instinctive Americanism. It is right that every 
man should enjoy the result of his labor to the fullest extent con- 
sistent with his membership in civilized community. It is right 
that our government should be but the instrument of the people's 
will, and that its cost should be limited within the lines of strict 
economy. It is right that the influence of the government should 
be known in every humble home as the guardian of frugal comfort 
and content, and a defense against unjust exactions, and the unearned 
tribute persistently coveted by the selfish and designing. It is 
right that efficiency and honesty in public service should not be 
sacrificed to partisan greed; and it is right that the suffrage of our 
people should be pure and free." 

For ages there has been a class of writers and speakers, some of 
them ignorant, others dishonest, who have been constantly repre- 
senting that governments are able to do, and bound to do, things 
which no government can, without great injury to the country, do. 


Every man of any sense knows that the people support the 
government, and if it is a good government, ought to support it. 
But the doctrine that it is the business of the government to sup- 
port the people is not only unsound but unwise, impracticable and 
impossible. On the physical condition of the great body of the 
people, government acts, not as a specific, but as an alterative. 
Its operation is powerful, indeed, and certain, but gradual and indi- 
rect. The business of government is not directly to make the 
people rich, but to protect them in making themselves rich; and a 
government which attempts more than this is precisely the govern- 
ment which is likely to perform less. Governments do not and 
can not support the people. A great statesman of England once 
yaid: " We have no miraculous power, we have not the rod of the 
Hebrew lawgiver, we can not rain down bread on the multitude 
from Heaven, we can not smite the rock and give them to drink, 
we can give them only freedom to employ their industry to the 
best advantage and security in the enjoyment of what their industry 
has acquired." 

Seasons of distress will come to every country, but they are 
almost always beyond government control. When such a period 
arrives the effect upon the community and upon the people gen- 
erally, is not only very marked, but very peculiar. It often makes 
wise men irritable, unreasonable, credulous, eager for immediate 
relief, and heedless of remote consequences. There is no quackery 
in medicine, in religion or politics, which may not impose even on a 
powerful mind when that mind has been disordered by pain'or fear. 

At such a time distress inflames the passions and makes tho#e 
who are sufferers believe all those who flatter them, and to distrust 
those who serve them. 

Men should know the truth even though they denounce and con- 
demn those who tell it to them. 

Mankind do not live in alms-houses, and it is only by labor, 
constant and unceasing, and prudence and forethought, that anybody 
this side of eternity can keep themselves from want and dependency. 


No State will ever be Prosperous under any Constitution 
unless the People are Educated. 

"~YTT~HAT is it that makes the great difference between country 
VV and country?" says the great essayist Macau ley. "Not the 
exuberance of soil ; not the mildness of climate; not mines, nor havens, 
nor rivers. These things are, indeed, valuable when put to -their 
proper use by human intelligence; bat human intelligence can do much 
without them, and they, without human intelligence, can do nothing. 
They exist in the highest degree in regions of which the inhabitants 
are few and squalid and barbarous and naked and starving; while on 
sterile rocks, amidst unwholesome marshes and under inclement skies, 
may be found immense populations, well fed, well lodged, well 
clad, well governed. Nature meant Egypt and Sicily to be the 
gardens of the world. They once were so. Is it anything on the 
earth or in the air, that makes Scotland more prosperous than 
Egypt, that makes Holland more prosperous than Sicily? No; it 
was the Scotchman that made Scotland ; it was the Dutchman that 
made Holland. Look at North America. Two centuries ago the 
sites on which now arise mills, and hotels, and banks, and colleges, 
and churches, and the senate houses of flourishing commonwealths, 
were deserts abandoned to the panther and the bear. What has 
made the change ? Was it the rich mould or the abundant rivers ? 
No ; the praries were as fertile, the Ohio and the Hudson were as 
broad and as full then as now. Was the improvement the effect 
of some great transfer of capital from the old world to the new? 
No: the emigrants generally brought out with them no more than a 
pittance, but they carried out the English heart and head and arm, 
and the English heart and head and arm turned the wilderness into 
cornfield and orchard and the hugo trees of the primeval forest 
into cities and fleets. Man man is the great instrument that pro- 
duces wealth. The natural difference between Carnpagna and 
Spitzbergen is trifling when compared with the difference between 
a country inhabited by men full of bodily and mental vigor and a 
country inhabited by men weak in mental arid bodily decrepitude.'' 



Again he says, " I believe that it is the right and the duty of 
the State to provide means of education for the common people. 
This proposition seems to me to be implied in every definition that 
has ever yet been given, of the functions of a government. About 
the extent of those functions, there has been much difference of 
opinion among ingenious men. There are some who hold that it is 
the business of a government to meddle with every part of the 
system of human life; to regulate trade by bounties and prohibi- 
tions; to regulate expenditure by sumptuary laws; to regulate 
literature by a censorship; to regulate religion by an inquisition. 
Others go to the opposite extreme and assign to government a very 
narrow sphere of action. 

But the very narrowest sphere that ever was assigned to 
governments by any school of political philosophy is quite wide 
enough for my purpose. On one point all the disputants are agreed. 
They unanimously acknowledge that it is the duty of every govern- 
ment to take order for giving security to the persons and property 
of the community. This being admitted, can it be denied that the 
education of the common people is a most effectual means of secur- 
ing our persons and our property ? The education of the poor is a 
matter which deeply concerns evei\y commonwealth. Just as the 
magistrate ought to interfere for the purpose of preventing the 
spread of leprosy among the people, he ought to interfere for the 
purpose of stopping the progress of the moral distempers which 
are inseparable from ignorance. Nor can this duty be neglected 
without danger to the public peace." 

Mr. Palfrey in his History of New England says, 2d, p. 34, that 
" The democratic people of New England, in recent times have sup- 
posed it to be no invasion of the citizen's liberty to require him 
to submit his children to instruction in reading, writing and arith- 
metic, to the end that they may not grow up to be incapable and 
shiftless, chargeable and troublesome. 

And on similar grounds their predecessors in the primitive age 
considered it to be conducive to the public good and unobjectiona- 
ble to the individual that he should be saved from the misery to 
himself and the mischievousness to his neighbors, of ignorance 
respecting morals and religion." 

Edward Everett said : u From the first settlement of New Eng- 
land, and from an early stage of their progress in many of the 
other States, one of the most prominent traits of the character of 


our population has been to provide and to diffuse the means of 

The village school house and the village church are the monu- 
ments of our republicanism; to read, to write and to discuss grave 
matters in their primary assemblies, are the licentious practices of 
our democracy." 

Educate the people, was the first admonition addressed by Penn 
to the colony which he founded. 

Educate the people, was the legacy of Washington to the Nation 
that he saved. " Educate the people," was the unceasing exhorta- 
tion of Jefferson, and in this exhortation is joined the unanimous 
voice of all the wise and good of all ages and of both hemispheres. 


The Right of American Citizens to be Protected In 
Exercising- the Elective Franchise. 

A GREAT deal has been said, first and last, in regard to the 
meaning and import of the declaration made by those who 
lived under the protecting power of the Roman eagle, "Jam a Ro- 
man citizen." 

The majesty and grandeur of such an utterance must have been 
very great, for it signified legions of soldiers and armies of men 
who were ready to resent insult, and to conquer and destroy all who 
sought to resist the power of the State. 

" Then none was for a party, 

Then all were for the State; 
Then the great man helped the poor, 

And the poor man loved the great. 
Then lands were fairly portioned, 

Then spoils were fairly sold. 
The Romans were like brothers 

In the brave old days of old. 

" Now Roman is to Roman 

More hateful than a foe," 
And the tribunes beard the high 
And the fathers grind the low. 


As we wax hot in faction, 

In battle we wax cold. 
Wherefore men fight not as they fought 

In the brave old days of old." 

These were times when men were chained to chariot wheels to 
grace a Roman holiday, and mothers smiled to see " their infants 
quartered with the hands of war," and when it only required " a 
monarch's voice to cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war." 

Contrast this condition of things with that of an American, and 
let us inquire what it is to bo an American citizen. 

It is a greater honor and a far more lordly position than that 
which was ever enjoyed by any of the imperial hosts that divided 
" all Gaul into three parts," or who set up their mile-stones in the 
sea-girt isle of the Britons. 

The strongest government is that in which there is the assertion 
of personality. That is the realization of the freedom of the people. 

That is not necessarily a strong government which is identified 
with arbitrary rule or arbitrary power. That government is the 
strongest which develops in the hearts of the people the dignity 
and maintenance of law, the institution of rights, the realization of 

For this it is clothed with power and with majesty on earth, 
such as never existed either in Rome or any land over which her 
imperial eagles ever flew. 


" He is an American who, leaving behind him all his ancient preju- 
dices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he 
has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he 
holds. He becomes an American by being received in the broad 
lap of our great Alma Mater. Here individuals of all nations are 
melted into a new race of men, whose labors and posterity will one 
day cause great changes in the world. Americans are the Western 
pilgrims who are carrying along with them that great mass of arts, 
sciences, vigor and industry, which began long since in the East; 
They will finish the circle." Letters of American Farmer. 

The practical operation of popular institutions of government 
provides, in innumerable ways, a demand for every species of intel- 
lectual effort, not merely within the circle of a capital, but through- 
out the land. In short, wherever man has been placed by Provi- 


denco endowed with natural capacities of improvement, there the 
genius of the republic visits him, with a voice of encouragement 
and hope. Every day he receives from the working of the social 
system some new assurance that he is not forgotten in the multitude 
of the people ; he is called to do some act, to assert some right, and 
to enjoy some privilege ; and he is elevated by this consciousness of 
his social importance from the condition of the serf or the peasant 
to that of the freeman and the citizen. Why, then, should not the 
humblest citizen be protected in exercising his right to vote, even 
if it takes armies and navies to accomplish it? 

" All elections shall be free and equal " is the standing procla- 
mation in our Bill of Rights and it seems very strange to us, at 
this day and age of the world, that while all political parties admit 
the supreme importance of regulating and protecting the elective 
franchise, and make it a part of their platforms, there are so many 
who are utterly opposed to any laws by which the power of the 
government, and especially that of the National Government shall 
be invoked to make such laws effective. It is only a little over 
thirty years since the doctrine that we had no National Government 
at all, but that we were a mere compact of States, and that any acts 
of the National Legislature might be disregarded, and that any State 
might secede, and that there was no power to coerce them to sub- 
mission, was universally entertained by most of the Southern people, 
and by a large and powerful party at the North who sympathized 
with them. But these doctrines were declared to be erroneous, 
after referring them for settlement to the dread arbitrament of war, 
and we had supposed that we should hear no more of them. But 
to-day these same ideas are revamped and put forth again, quite as 
offensively as before, and a great ado is being made over what is 
called "The Force Bill," a plain and simple bill to regulate the 
elective franchise at National elections, and of protecting those who 
are entitled to vote, in voting. 

At the outbreak of the war of the rebellion the cry which went 
up was " coercion " and the horrors of " coercion" were preached 
throughout the length and breadth of the land; to-day it is " The 
Force Bill," and men stand aghast at the audacity of those who favor 
that bill or anything whatever like it. It is the same old cry, and 
men may apologize for such a course of conduct as much as they 
please, but it is an attempt to paralyze the arm of the Government 


in its attempt to protect the freedom of elections and to allow 
terrorism to rule supreme. 

The United States is not only a government but a great National 
government, and the only government in this country that has the 
character of nationality. It has jurisdiction over all the general 
legislation and sovereignty which affect the interests of the whole 
people equally and alike, and which require uniformity of regula- 
tion and laws, and it can call to its support the entire power of the 
Nation to enforce this jurisdiction, and the " proposition," as Mr. 
Justice Miller said in the case of Ex Parte Yarbrougb, 110 U. S. 658, 
" that the General Government has not the power to protect the 
elections upon which its existence depends from violence and force, 
is supported by the old argument, often heard, often repeated, and 
in this court never assented to, that when a question of power of 
Congress arises, the advocate of the power must be able to place 
his finger on words which expressly granted it. 

It destroys at one blow, in construing the Constitution of the 
United States, the doctrine universally applied to all instruments in 
writing, that what is implied is as much a part of the instrument as 
what is expressed. This principle, in its application to the Consti- 
tution of the United States, more than to almost any other writing, 
is a necessity by reason of the inherent inability to put into words 
all derivative powers, a difficulty which the instrument itself recog- 
nizes, by conferring upon Congress the authority to pass all laws 
necessary and proper for carrying into execution the powers expressly 
granted, and all other powers vested in the government or any 
branch of it by the Constitution." 

"The prejudices and apprehension as to the central govern- 
ment which prevailed when the Constitution was adopted," said 
Mr. Justice Swayne, in 16 Wallace, 128, "were dispelled by the 
light of experience. The public mind became satisfied that there 
was less danger of tyranny in the head than of anarchy and tyranny 
in the members. Before the war ample protection was given 
against oppression by the Union, but little was given against wrong 
and oppression by the States." 

We insist, in the language of Judge Harlan in 109 U. S. 26-53, 
"that the National Legislature may, without transcending the limits 
of the Constitution, do for human liberty and the fundamental 
rights of American citizenship what it did, with the sanction of the 


United States Supreme Court, for the protection of slavery and the 
rights of the masters of fugitive slaves." 

We think that human liberty and the rights of an American 
citizen in exercising the elective franchise, are entitled to just as 
much consideration as that of a slave-holder for his slave when he 
hunted them all over the United States, and that the election bill 
now pending before the United States Congress is no more a force 
bill than any other bill which provides a penalty for the commis- 
sion of a crime. 

The idea that it is the business of the State governments, and 
those alone, to provide laws for the protection of American citizens 
in casting their votes at National elections and for National repre- 
sentatives is, we submit, simply absurd, and is the last lingering relic 
of the confederate idea of our government which has come down 
to us from pro-slavery days "befo the wah." 

Is it true that National citizenship of itself has no attribute of 
any practical value. 

Is it true that the higher the source and the more inalienaVe 
the rights of man, the less they are within the protection afforded 
by National citizenship and the National Constitution and the more 
they are exposed to invasion by the State ? 

We believe that our Government is a National Government, and 
that the States should assist that government in upholding it in the 
exercise of all its just powers, and that in the language of our Bill 
of Rights, " All elections shall be free and equal." These words 
should be something else than "sounding brass and tinkling 
cymbals," and, if it is necessary to call a constitutional convention 
to give them force and effect, then reckon this as one of the needs 
of a convention. 

The basis of all constitutions and all laws must be eternal justice, 
and all the rights of all the citizens of this republic must be abso- 
lutely equal before the laws. 

The days of provincialism are over in this country, and. as John 
Bright said in one of his great speeches at Birmingham, Dec. 18, 
1862, upon America, "I can not believe that civilization in its 
journey with the sun will sink into endless night in order to gratify 
the ambition of the leaders of this revolt, who seek to 
' Wade through slaughter to a throne 
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind.' 

I have another and a far brighter vision before my gaze. It 
may be but a vision, but I will cherish it. I sec one vast confedoru- 


tion stretching from the frozen North in unbroken line to the glow- 
ing South, and from the wild billows of the Atlantic westward to the 
calmer waters of the Pacific main, and I see one people, and one 
language, and one law and one faith, and over all the wide conti- 
nent, the home of freedom and a refuge of the oppressed of every 
race and of everv clime." 


WHEN the foundations of this republic were laid the world 
was tilled with kings and despotism was supreme. When 
the first Constitution of this State was formed, steamboats had but 
just begun to run on the Hudson river, locomotives had been just 
heard of in England, and it took a month to cross the Atlantic. 
Now behold the change! 

"Power has come to dwell with every people, from the Arctic Sea 
to the Mediterranean, from Portugal to the borders of Russia. 
From end to end of the United States the slave has become a free 
man, and the various forms of bondage have disappeared from 
European Christendom. Abounding harvests of scientific discovery 
have been garnered by numberless inquisitive minds, and the wildest 
forces of nature have been taught to become the docile helpmates 
of man. 

The application of steam to the purpose of travel on land and 
on water, the -employment of a spark of light as the carrier of 
thought across continents and beneath oceans, have made of all the 
inhabitants of the earth one society. The morning newspaper 
gathers up and brings us the noteworthy events of the last four 
and twenty hours, in every quarter of the globe. 

All States are beginning to form parts of one system. 

The ' new nations,' which Shakspeare's prophetic eye saw rising 
on our eastern shore, dwell securely along two oceans, midway 
between their kin in Great Britain, on the one side, and the oldest 
surviving empire on the other. 

More than two thousand years ago it was truly said that the 
nature of justice can be more easily discerned in a State than in one 

It may now be studied in the collective state. The ignorance 


and prejudices that come from isolation are worn away in the con- 
flict of the forms of culture. We learn to think the thought, to 
hope the hope of mankind. Former times spoke of the dawn of 
civilization in some one land; we live in the morning of the world. 
Day by day the men who guide public affairs, are arraigned before 
the judgment seat of the race. A government which adopts a 
merely selfish policy is pronounced to be the foe of the human 
family. The statesman who founds and builds up the well-being 
of his country on justice, has all the nations fora cloud of witnesses, 
and as one of our own poets has said, l The linked hemispheres 
attest his deed.' 

He thrills the world with joy, and man becomes a nobler spirit 
as he learns to gauge his opinions and his acts by a scale commen- 
surate with his nature." 

The days of war are over, and bright and tranquil years of peace 
have succeeded. In no country that exists beneath the sun do we 
mark such progress in all the arts of life, such toleration of domes- 
tic peace, such security for liberty and temperate freedom as we 
behold here. There is no place in all this broad land so well fitted 
to excite in our minds sad yet grateful feelings as the spot on which 
we are now assembled. 

It was at the fearful price of one whose mortal remains repose 
in yonder vale, but whose memory is cherished by the inhabitants of 
the earth with love and affection, that justice and freedom were 
secured. No one since the days of the inspired lawgiver, who after 
long communion with the Ruler of the Universe descended from 
the mountain tops of Sinai with awful aspect and shining face, has 
ever exerted so great an influence upon the human race, as he who 
fell beneath the blows of an assassin while overborne by the weight 
of his country's cares. 

A few years ago he lived and moved among us with no preten- 
sions to greatness, but a leader of acknowledged power and of unsur- 
passed eloquence. He was a member of this bar, and scores M'ho 
hear me have met him in the court room; have traveled with him 
on the circuit; have tried cases with and against him and knew 
him well. He was born nine years before the adoption of our first 
Constitution, and knew of the efforts put forth at that time to make 
this a slave State. Soon after he attained his majority, he took 
part in the legislation of his adopted State ; was one who by his 
vote and influence helped to remove the capital from Vandalia to 


this city; was well acquainted witli Ninian Edwards, Jesse B. 
Thomas, Elias Kent Kane, Governor Coles, Governor Bond, Daniel 
P. Cook, Judge Lockwood and all of that class of persons who took 
part in the great struggle for freedom on our soil in 1822. Ever} 7 
libre of his being was inwrought with sympathy for the poor, the 
down-trodden arid the oppressed, and his life was as grand as any 
of the holy prophets of old. 

He was a natural born leader of men, and was known in his own 
region of the world as the " rail splitter," long before his fame had 
extended to that of neighboring States. 

He took ground against slavery at a very early period, and never 
ceased his opposition to it until his lips were closed in death. 

On the soil of Illinois occurred in 1858, before the breaking out 
of the war, when the slave-holders were seeking to extend slavery 
into the new States beyond the Mississippi, one of the greatest dis- 
cussions upon constitutional law and the genius of our institutions 
that ever occurred in the history of this country. It was on the 
17th of June, 1858, that Mr. Lincoln struck the key note of oppo- 
sition to slavery in this country, when he declared in yonder State 
House that, "a house divided against itself can not stand. I 
believe this government can not endure permanently half-slave and 
half-free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved. I do not 
expect the house to fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divided. 
It will become all one thing or all the other." 

No proclamation was ever sent forth by any commander of 
armies or ruler of nations which was attended with such broad and 
lasting consequences. If it had been inspired from on high it 
could not have been attended with more force or carried with it 
greater weight. 

The first sentence was the announcement of an absolute truth 
embodied in a plain and homely axiom. The other portion of the 
speech which we have quoted was uttered as his belief and expec- 
tation, but it was the truth of prophesy itself. It went like a pro- 
cession over the land and over the sea. It was like a firebell in the 
night time and the contest for supremacy between the hosts of 
slavery and of freedom commenced from that hour, and never 
ceased until white-winged peace folded her pinions beneath the 
app'e tree at Appomattox. 

The generation to which he belonged is fast passing away, but 


let it be here recorded that no one ever left a sweeter memory or a 
brighter example to his countrymen than Abraham Lincoln, the 
great lawgiver of Illinois. 

k 'And, now, we have done. The sceptre may pass away from us. 
Unforeseen accidents may derange our most profound schemes of 
policy, victory may be inconstant to our arms. But there are tri- 
umphs which are followed by no reverse. There is an empire 
exempt from all natural causes of decay. Those triumphs are the 
pacific triumphs of reason over barbarism; that empire is the 
imperishable empire of our arts, our literature and our laws."