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Hand , John?. 
Illinois iAn 














0, OF til. IIB. 



H Wi 



I am pleased to meet you on this, the eighty-eighth, an- 
niversary of the admission of Illinois as a State into the Union. 

In what I shall say this evening, I will only call your at- 
tention to a few of the prominent landmarks which have 
been left along the highway which the people of Illinois have 
traveled in the building of that great State, leaving you at 
your leisure to fill in the details of the brief outline of its his- 
tory which I shall present to you, and if I shall succeed in 
more fully arousing your interest in the study of the subject, 
I will have accomplished all I could hope to accomplish in 
one evening. 

The discovery, early settlement and development of the 
State of Illinois, are attractive and inspiring subjects for 
study, and the young man or woman who desires to acquire 
a thorough knowledge of the history of that great common- 
wealth and is so fortunate as to be a student in an institution 
of learning founded and fostered by the State, where able in- 
structors are provided and an ample library furnished, is to 
to be congratulated. 

The fourth centennial of the discovery of the Western 
Continent was celebrated upon Illinois soil thirteen years 
ago, by the civilized and semi-civilized nations of two con- 
tinents, whose peoples assembled on the shores of the great 
lake which washes its north-eastern boundary, to pay hom- 
age to the progress made by the Anglo-Saxon race in the 
United States in four hundred years. 

When Columbus, with his hardy band of explorers, at 
the close of a tempestuous voyage, knelt upon and kissed 
the soil of San Salvador, upon that island and upon the ad- 

joining mainland he saw only evidences of savage life. The 

character native tribes then occupying North America were wholly un- 

settiers civilized and the colonization of the territory now within the 

limits of the United States was not attempted by civilized 

man for more than a century subsequent to the discovery of 

the Western Continent. 

The North American continent was settled by the Span- 
iards, the English and the French. The Spaniards took pos- 
session of Mexico and Florida, the English of Virginia and 
New England, and the French, the country tributary to the 
St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes. 

The Spaniards were avaricious, cruel and blood-thirsty. 

They overran the country in search of gold and the fountain 

The of immortal youth, and devastation, rapine and murder stalk- 


ed along their pathway. De Soto discovered the Mississippi 
in 1541; St. Augustine was founded in 1565, and in 1781 Span- 
ish soldiers marched from St. Louis, the capital of Upper 
Louisiana, across Illinois, to the mouth of the St. Joseph 
river, in Michigan, where they destroyed the English fort 
located at that point, and then hurriedly took shelter beyond 
the Mississippi river, in territory controlled by Spain. The 
Spaniards did not permanently attach themselves to the soil, 
yet they laid boastful claim not only to Florida, but to the 
entire Mississippi valley, including the Illinois country, and 
at the close of the Revolutionary war joined the French in 
an attempt to confine the American Republic to the territory 
east of the Alleghany mountains, and later sought to prevent 
the free navigation of the Mississippi river by the inhabit- 
ants of Tennessee, Kentucky and the Northwest Territory. 
The power of the Spaniards in North America east of the 
Mississippi river was, however, soon broken, and early in the 
last century they awoke from their dream of conquest and 
abandoned their efforts to establish an empire in the Missis- 


sippi valley, and the title to the vast territory over which 
they had marched and counter-marched, on both sides of the 
Mississippi river, vested in their more steadfast, English 
speaking neighbors, which territory has since been cut into 
numerous great States of the American Republic. 

The English came to America, not in search of gold, but 
to acquire homes for themselves and their posterity, and to 
establish in the New World a new nation where man might The 


worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience 
and enjoy civil and political liberty. They brought with them 
and planted upon the Atlantic Coast, the common law, the 
richest gift of the English people to the American Colonies, 
which today forms the basis of the jurisprudence of Illinois 
and of the other States of the Union, save one. The Eng- 
lish people were nation builders, and while their progress 
westward was slow, they were destined in time to extend their 
language, influence, customs, laws and civilization over that 
vast territory which extends from the Atlantic ocean, upon 
the east, to the Pacific ocean, on the west; and from the Great 
Lakes of the north, to the Gulf of Mexico upon the south. 
The French came to America to build a New France. 
They were not cruel, nor blood-thirsty, like the Spaniards, The 


and instead of waging a war of extermination against the In- 
dians, sought to proselyte them to their faith. They were not 
only willing to barter a blanket or a string of colored beads 
to their red brothers for their peltries, but they gladly ac- 
cepted their hospitality and protection, and often shared 
their wigwams and made their daughters and sisters their 
wives. They did not cultivate the soil, but preferred to hunt, 
trap, and fish, in company with the native tribes, and at a 
time when the English were raising corn and cultivating to- 
bacco along the eastern slope of the Alleghanies, they were 
canoeing upon the streams and penetrating the trackless for- 

ests in the regions of the Great Lakes, upon whose shores 
their priests established missions and their merchants erect- 
ed trading posts. 

In May, 1673, as a result of the early occupation of the 
Lake country by the French Jesuit priests, hunters, traders 
and trappers, two young Frenchmen, Joliet, a merchant, and 
Marquette, a Jesuit priest, in company with five oars-men, 
left the mission at St. Ignace, on the Straits of Mackinac, in 


Jesuits two boats, under a commission from the Intendant of New 

France, to explore the west, and, if possible, to find the 
Great River which it was rumored lay from the Straits to- 
ward the setting sun. They crossed Green Bay, ascended 
the Fox river, made the portage to the Wisconsin river and 
floated down its rapid current to its mouth, and on June 17th 
they passed out onto the broad bosom of the Father of Waters. 
One hundred and thirty-two years before that date, De Soto 
and his half-famished followers in their wanderings had 
stumbled upon that mighty river, hundreds of miles farther 
down its course, and in the waters of which that intrepid 
Spaniard found his grave. From the days when De Soto's 
men floated down the Mississippi upon rough rafts to the 
time of Joliet and Marquette, so far as recorded history teach- 
es, no white man had stood upon its banks. From the mouth 
of the Wisconsin river, the explorers passed down the Miss- 
issippi river until they reached the mouth of the Arkansas 
river, from whence they retraced their steps to the mouth of 
the Illinois river, which they ascended and returned to the 
mission at Green Bay by the Des Plaines river, the Chicago 
portage, the Chicago river and Lake Michigan, where they 
arrived in the early fall. 

Joliet and Marquette were the first white men to set foot 

Marquette upon Illinois soil. Joliet returned to New France, and the 

following year Father Marquette returned to the Illinois coun- 
try. He spent the winter of 1674-5 in a lodge near the mouth 
of the Chicago river, and with the return of spring visited 
the Indian villages along the Illinois river, preached to the 
Indians and established the first mission in Illinois. On the 
return trip he died, and was buried in the sands upon the 
south shore of Lake Michigan. The following year his re- 
mains were exhumed by Mission Indians and his bones were 
tenderly borne to St. Ignace, where they now rest upon the 
shore of the Straits he dearly loved. Father Marquette was 
a devout man, whose "saintly character will long remain an 
inspiration to men of every creed and calling. " 

After the discovery of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, 
the ruling power in New France determined to unite so far 
as they could the St. Lawrence, the basin of the Great Lakes 
and the Mississippi valley. In 1679 it was determined to 
build a line of forts upon the banks and shores of these great 
water-ways, and La Salle, a daring Frenchman, was commis- Lasaiie 

and Tonty 

sioned to repair to the Illinois country. In company with 
that great leader of men, Tonty, and Father Hennepin, who 
afterwards explored the upper Mississippi, and a number of 
artisans and soldiers, La Salle reached the Illinois country 
in January, 1680, and during that winter erected Fort Creve- 
coeur on the south side of the river, at the lower end of Peo- 
ria Lake. Thereafter he built Fort St. Louis, upon Starved 
Rock, a bold promontory projecting to the water's edge, far- 
ther up the stream. He descended the Illinois and Missis- 
sippi rivers to the Gulf of Mexico, and soon returned to 
France with a view to bringing out to the Illinois country a 
colony. On his return, by way of the Gulf of Mexico, he 
failed to find the mouth of the Mississippi river, and while 
wandering through the swamps and bayous of the South, in 


a superhuman effort to extricate the colonists from the terri- 
ble situation into which he had brought them, and after he 
and they had endured great hardships and sufferings, he per- 
ished, within the bounds of what is now the State of Texas, 
by the treachery of one of his own men. "Thus in the vigor 
of his manhood, at the age of forty-three, died Robert Cave- 
lier de la Salle, 'one of the greatest men,' writes Tonty, 'of 
this age;' without question one of the most remarkable ex- 
plorers whose names live in history." 

The accounts of the rich soil and abundant game abound- 
ing in the Illinois country, carried to Montreal by Joliet and 
La Salle, and the publication of the report of Father Mar- 
quette of the discovery of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, 
encouraged a few hardy pioneers to migrate to the Illinois 
country, and by the year 1700 there were a number of fam- 
ilies residing in the Mississippi valley, near the mouth of the 
Kaskaskia river, which was the first permanent white settle- 
ment in the Illinois country. The French subsequently found- 
ed other settlements and in 1718 commenced the building of 
Fort Chartres, which was located on the east side of the Miss- 
issippi river, some sixteen miles up-stream from Kaskaskia. 
The construction of this fort is said to have drained the 
treasury of France, and while it never fired a hostile shot, it 
was the greatest structure of its kind in America at the time 
it was completed in 1720. The seat of government of the 
Illinois country was located at Fort Chartres until it was 
transferred in 1772, by the English to Kaskaskia. 

Port Chartres The French, when Fort Chartres was completed, doubt- 

less supposed they had firmly established themselves in the 
Mississippi valley. The God of War, however, smiled upon 
the English upon the Plains of Abraham, and the French, at 
the treaty of Paris, 1763, ceded to England all her possessions 
in America east of the Mississippi river, except the Isle of 

Orleans, and the Illinois country was lost to France. In 1765, 
Fort Chartres was taken possession of on behalf of the Eng- 
lish by Captain Sterling and a company of Highlanders, and 
with its transfer English civilization permanently supplanted 
that of France in the Illinois country. 

From the treaty of Paris, in 1763, to the signing of the 
Declaration of Independence, in 1776, but little progress was 
made in the Illinois country. The British did not encourage 
its permanent settlement, but sought to occupy the country 
as a vast game preserve for the benefit of the Indian, and in 
October, 1763, to effect that purpose, a proclamation was issu- 
ed in the name of King George, which declared "it to be our 
royal will and pleasure to reserve under our sover- 

eignty, protection and dominion, for the use of the said Indi- 
ans * all the lands and territories lying to the west- 
ward of the sources of the rivers which fall into the sea from 
the west and north-west, * * * and we do hereby strict- 
ly forbid, on pain of our displeasure, all our loving subjects 
from making any purchases or settlements whatever, or 
taking possession of any of the lands above reserved, with- 
out our special leave and license," but "despite this attempt 
to obstruct the tide of western settlement," the North-west 
was soon to be occupied by men from east of the Alle- 
ghanies who were pouring through the mountain passes into 
Kentucky and Tennessee. 

At this epoch in the settlement of the Illinois country, 
there appeared upon the stage of action, a young Virginian, 
who was the counterpart of Washington in many particulars 
and who has been called the ' 'Washington of the North-west. " Clark 
He was fairly well educated, was a surveyor by occupation, 
and an Indian fighter of renown, having served with great 
credit in Lord Dunmore's and other Indian wars. In 1777, 
the Indians north and west of the Ohio river, were being in- 

cited by the English to attack the settlers in Kentucky and 
Tennessee, and our young hero, then in Kentucky, im- 
mediately repaired to Virginia to confer with Patrick Henry, 
the then governor of that State, relative to the defense of 
the northwest border. He advocated the carrying of the 
war into the heart of the Indian country. He represented 
to Governor Henry that the forts lately surrendered by the 
French to the English were poorly manned and provisioned, 
and that the French inhabitants of the Illinois country were 
not friendly or loyal to the English and that by prompt 
action he was of the opinion the Illinois country could be 
wrested from the British, and the Indians defeated and dis- 
persed. He so impressed the great Virginian with his views 
that he was granted $6,000 in currency and authorized to or- 
ganize an expedition against the posts north of the Ohio, in 
the name of Virginia. He rendezvoused his army at Red-' 
stone, and on May 12, 1779, with two hundred and fifty men, 
broke camp, destined for the Illinois country. He obtained 
supplies for the expedition at Pittsburg, and then his little 
army dropped down the Ohio river, on flat boats, to what is 
Fort Massac now Corn Island. He left the Ohio river at Fort Massac and 
started across the country, one hundred twenty miles, for 
Kaskaskia, with no provisions other than parched Indian 
corn, which his men carried in their haversacks. He ar- 
rived at Kaskaskia July fourth, the anniversary of the sign- 
ing of the Declaration of Independence, and surprised and 
captured the garrison. He remained at Kaskaskia and Ca- 
hokia until the month of February, 1779, when with one 
hundred seventy men, mid flood and frost and without a 
commissary, he made one of the most wonderful winter cam- 
paigns on record, from Kaskaskia to Vincennes. on the 
Wabash river, a distance of two hundred twenty miles, and 


after an attack captured Fort Sackville with its commanding 
officer, General Hamilton, and its entire garrison, and all its 
military supplies. With the capture of General Hamilton capture of 

Fort Sackville 

and his army, all the northwest territory south of Detroit, 
passed under the control of the State of Virginia and was 
governed by that State as the County of Illinois, until the 
State ceded her claim in the Northwest Territory to the 
United States in 1784. 

The topography of the country was so little known at 
the time the original grants were made by England to the 
several colonies that these grants often were conflicting and 
contradictory, and in many instances highly extravagant. 
The consequences were that immediately after the colonies 
broke away from the mother country, conflicting claims to 
the unsettled territory lying west of the Alleghany moun- 
tains were set up by the several colonies, which, after in- 
dependence had been established, threatened the formation 
of a permanent union. Impoverished as the States then were 
and overburdened with debts created for the general good of 
the whole country, it was claimed by many that the vacant 
lands which were so unevenly distributed originally, ought to 
be made a common fund for defraying the expenses of the rev- 
olutionary war, and Congress made successfully an appeal to 
the patriotism and magnanimity of the favored States to cede 
their respective claims in the public domain to the United 
States goverment. New York and Virginia led the way, and 
their examples were followed, at successive intervals, by all 
of the other States claiming lands situated west of the Alle- 
ghanies. By these cessions the United States derived title 
to all that portion of the public domain lying north of Florida 
and east of the Mississippi river. Thus was a source of irri- 
tation between the original States removed, and the title to 
the public domain vested in the United States. By the cession 


of Virginia of her interest in the lands situated in the North- 
west Territory, the titles acquired by purchasers of the public 
lands in Illinois were rendered free from doubt. 

General Clark, at the time of the conquest of the North- 
west Territory, was twenty-five years of age, of strong frame, 
of great courage, and possessed of "unbridled passions. " His 
soldiers were men of desperate courage, who fully realized 
they were fighting to protect their homes and their wives and 
children from the torch and tomahawk of the merciless sav- 
age. It is difficult at this date to estimate the importance of the 
victories won by General Clark in the Northwest. Suffice it 
to say that he and his backwoodsmen captured the Illinois 
country alone, from the English and Indians, and maintained 
their hold upon it until the close of the Revolutionary war 
and made it possible for the representatives of the United 
States at Paris, in 1783, to establish the western boundary 
of the United States at the Mississippi river, instead of at 
the crest of the Alleghany mountains. 

The Ordinance of 1787, passed by Congress for the 
of ITS? " * government of the North-west Territory, has been character- 
ized as a second Declaration of Independence. It was indeed 
a charter of liberty. The first governor of the Northwest 
Territory was General St. Clair. May 7, 1800, the North- 
west Territory was divided, the territory west of a line drawn 
north from a point on the Ohio river opposite the mouth of 
the Kentucky river to Port Recovery, and thence to the 
Canadian line, was created into the Territory of Indiana, 
with General Harrison as its first governor, and the terri- 
tory east of that line was admitted into the Union as the 
State of Ohio, on February 19, 1803. And on February 3, 
1809, that portion of the Territory of Indiana lying west of 
the lower Wabash river and the meridian of Vincennes was 
erected into the Territory of Illinois with Ninian Edwards as 


its first governor, and nine years later, December 3, 1818, 
Illinois was admitted into the Union, a State, with all the 
rights and privileges of the original States. 

The Ordinance of 1787 provided that there should be 
erected out of the North-west Territory not less than three 
nor more than five States, and that the northern boundary of 
the State occupying the present geographical position of the 
State of Illinois should be an east and west line drawn 
through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan. 
While the bill for an enabling act was before the Committee 
of the Whole, in Congress, upon the motion of Judge Pope, 
Illinois' delegate in Congress, the act was so amended as to Nathaniel 

Pope and the 

establish the northern boundary of the present State of Illi- Northern 
nois, at 42 30 '. The amendment of Judge Pope carried the 
northern line of the State sixty-one miles north of the line 
fixed by the Ordinance of 1787, and gave to the State 8,500 
square miles of territory now comprising the fourteen north- 
ern counties of the State. The change in the northern 
boundary thus made, was of great importance to the State of 
Illinois and the entire country. Had the line fixed by the 
Ordinance of 1787 been established as the State's northern 
boundary, the State would have been excluded from a partici- 
pation in the commerce of the Great Lakes, and the city of 
Chicago, the eastern terminus of the Illinois and Michigan 
canal, and the northern terminus of the Illinois Central Rail- 
road which traverses the State from north to south, would 
have been in the State of Wisconsin, and several of the great 
railroads which cross northern Illinois from east to west, 
would be located north of the State line of Illinois; and, as 
all the great rivers of the State flow into the Mississippi 
River, and thence to the Gulf, the commerce of the State, in 
its incipiency, would have found an outlet by way of New 


Orleans, instead of through Chicago. As a result of this, 
Illinois' interests would have been with the South, instead 
of the North, during the War of the Rebellion, and the con- 
tending armies for and against the Union might have met in 
armed conflict upon the soil of Illinois, instead of that of 
Kentucky and Missouri, in the early days of that war, and 
the heavy vote of the northern counties which made possible 
the election of a Republican governor in 1856 and gave Abra- 
ham Lincoln the State in 1860, as against Stephen A. Doug- 
las, would not have been cast in Illinois, and the thousands 
.of loyal men who went out in defense of the Union when its 
life was assailed in 1861, from the northern counties of the 
State, would have marched and fought under the banner of 
another State, and Illinois would not have been, as she is to- 
day, the Empire State of the Mississippi Valley, and many 
of those present to-night would have been citizens of Wiscon- 
sin instead of citizens of Illinois. The State of Illinois, as 
well as the entire nation, owes a debt of deep gratitude to 
Judge Pope and his compeers, who had the wisdom and fore- 
sight to bring the State of Illinois into the Union in its pres- 
ent form, rather than in the form in which it was carved out 
by the ordinance of 1787. 

While there are many bright pages of Illinois History, 
Negro slavery there are some dark ones. In 1720, one hundred years after 
in Illinois fa e rs j. car g O o f negro slaves was landed at Jamestown, 
there was landed at St. Philip, near Kaskaskia, by Philip 
Francis Renault, a cargo of five hundred negro slaves from 
San Domingo, which he afterward sold to the inhabitants of 
the Illinois country. Thus was slavery established in the 
Northwest Territory, and it was not eradicated from the 
State of Illinois for more than one hundred and twenty-five 
years, and its baleful influence was felt within the borders of 
the State for a much longer time. 


At the time of the cession of the Illinois country to Eng- 
land by the French, it is estimated there were three thou- 
sand inhabitants in the Northwest Territory, nine hundred 
of whom were negro slaves. Many of the French, with their 
slaves, shortly after the Treaty of Paris, moved beyond the 
Mississippi river, and the population north and west of the 
Ohio river had decreased in 1770 to sixteen hundred, of whom 
six hundred were negro slaves. There were no restrictions im- 
posed upon the holding of slaves in the Northwest Terri- 
tory by England or Virginia, and prior to the passage of the 
Ordinance of 1787 negro servitude was thought by its friends 
to be firmly established in the Northwest Territory. By 
article VI of that ordinance it was provided: "There shall 
be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said ter- 
ritory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes, whereof 
the party shall have been duly convicted." This provision, 
prohibiting slavery in the Northwest Territory, found in 
the Ordinance of 1787, shows that the view, at that time, in 
Congress, was that slavery might be excluded by Congress 
from the territories of the United States, which view was 
subsequently repudiated by Senator Douglas and others, at 
the time of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise in 1854. 
The insertion of article VI in the Ordinance of 1787, caused 
great uneasiness among the slave-holders residing in the 
Northwest Territory. Governor St. Clair, and subsequent- 
ly Governor Harrison, took the position, however, that the 
ordinance should be given a prospective effect, and that it did 
not affect the status of slaves held in the Northwest Terri- 
tory prior to 1787, and that view was apparently acquiesced 
in by the people and the courts in the territory for many 
years. That construction of the ordinance, did not permit 
the bringing of slaves into the Northwest Territory from 


the slave States, and, to encourage the immigration of slave- 
holders with their slaves from the States south and east of 
the Ohio river, a system of "voluntary servitude" was crea- 
ted in the Northwest Territory. Under the voluntary sys- 
tem, the slave was indentured to his master, males until 
they were thirty- five years, and females until they were 
thirty-two years of age, and the children born to persons of 
color during their period of service might be indentured to 
service, the boys until they were thirty years, and the girls 
until they were twenty-eight years of age, and unless slaves 
were indentured within thirty days after they were brought 
into the territory, they could be removed from the territory. 
The legality of this system of voluntary servitude was recog- 
nized by a statute of the Indiana territory, passed in 1807, 
which was subsequently in force in the Illinois territory. 

At the time the Territory of Illinois was organized, 
there were found therein French negro slaves, indentured 
negro slaves, and free negroes. In the convention which 
framed the Constitution of 1818, there were three classes of 
delegates, those opposed to negro slavery in any form, those 
in favor of negro slavery in its absolute form, and those who 
favored a middle course, that is, the voluntary system. The 
conservatives incorporated into that instrument their view, 
and while it was provided that "slavery or involuntary ser- 
vitude" should not thereafter be introduced into this State 
otherwise than for the punishment of crimes, the voluntary 
system was fully recognized. Although the constitution of 
1818 barred slavery from the State in the future, it was 
contended it did not confer freedom upon the French negro 
slaves who were in the territory prior to the admission of the 
State into the Union, and although the term of service for 
which the black man was permitted to indenture himself was 


shortened to one year, and the children of these indentured 
slaves could not be indentured for a longer period than, the 
boys, until they arrived at the age of twenty-one years, and 
the girls at the age of eighteen years, it did not affect 
the terms of service of the indentured slaves themselves 
then under contract of service, and the State legislature at 
its first session after the admission of the State into the Un- 
ion, re-enacted with all their severity, the "Black Laws," 
which had been in force in the territory. These laws were 
largely copied from the slave codes of Kentucky and Vir- 
ginia, and under them the negro, free or slave, was practi- ^f' ack 
cally without protection. If free, unless he could present a 
certificate of freedom from a court of record, he was liable 
to arrest and imprisonment and to be sold to service by the 
sheriff of the county for a period of one year; or, if he sought 
employment, he was in constant danger of being kidnapped 
by the desperadoes who infested the country, and sold down 
the river. If a slave, indentured or otherwise, he could not 
bring a suit or testify in court; if found from home, he was 
whipped; he might be sold upon execution, or mortgaged, to 
pay or secure his master's debt, and in case of his master's 
death he passed to his master's administrator or executor, 
along with his horses and mules. The "Black Laws" were 
passed and administered with a view to force all the negroes 
in Illinois, other than the French negro slaves, into the vol- 
untary system. The French negro slave and the indentured 
slave had a master and a home; the free negro in Illinois 
was an outcast. The settled portions of Illinois in 1820 bor- 
dered upon the States of Kentucky and Missouri, and the 
slave-holder from Kentucky, with his horses, mules, cattle 
and drove of slaves, passing through Illinois to Missouri, 
often remarked that he regretted Illinois was not a slave 


State, as he would if it were a slave State, settle upon its 
fertile prairies with his slaves. Money was scarce and the 
times were hard, and a cry went up from all over Southern 
Illinois that a great mistake had been made in bringing Illi- 
nois into the Union as a free State and that a convention 
should be called to change the Constitution of the State upon 
the slavery question. There was great excitement on the 
slavery question at the election in the fall of 1822. Hon. 
Edward Coles, a strong anti-slavery man, was elected gov- 
ernor, but the legislature was pro-slavery, and at the session 
of 1823, after unseating an anti-slavery member to give the 
pro-slavery men the required number of votes, a law was 
passed providing for submitting the question of the calling 
of a convention to revise the Constitution to a vote of the 
people. The vote was had on the second of August, 1824, 
and the proposition for the Convention was defeated by a 
majority of 1,668 votes out of a total vote of 11,612, and Illi- 
nois remained a free State. The contest of 1824, over the 
calling of a convention to revise the Constitution of Illinois, 
was the most bitter political contest ever waged in the his- 
tory of the State. It was but a fore-runner of the resort to 
arms which drenched the country in blood thirty-seven 
years later. 

In 1837 Elijah P. Lovejoy was murdered by a pro-slavery 
The Murder m ob at Alton, and the State was shaken from center to cir- 

of Lovejoy 

cumference by the agitation of the slavery question. At 
about that time, cases involving the status of the negro in 
Illinois commenced to find their way into the courts, and 
numerous cases in time reached the Supreme Court. In 1839 
a case was brought by the administrators of Nathan Crom- 
well against David Bailey in the circuit court of Tazewell 
county, upon a promissory note made to Cromwell in his life- 


time, for the purchase of a negro girl named Nance, sold by 
Cromwell to Bailey. The plaintiff was represented by Judge 
Stephen T. Logan, and the defendant by Abraham Lincoln. 
Judgment was rendered upon the note by Judge William 
Thomas, who presided at the trial, in favor of the plaintiff 
for $431.97. The defendant appealed the case to the Supreme 
Court, where it was contended the note was without consid- 
eration and void, as it was given as the purchase price of a 

Opinion of 

human being who the evidence showed was free and there- Judge Breese 

fore not the subject of sale. The Supreme Cqurt reversed 

the trial court. The opinion being written by Judge Breese 

(3 Scam. 71,) who held, contrary to the established rule in 

many of the southern States, that the presumption in Illinois 

was that a negro was free and not the subject of sale. This 

case established a great principle in the jurisprudence of our 

State. Under the old rule the burden was upon the negro to 

establish he was free, as the presumption obtained that a 

black man was a slave. Under the rule established in this 

case, the presumption obtained that a black man was free, 

and the person who asserted he was a slave was required to 

bring forward his proof, which often he could not do. The 

early reported cases, it is sometimes said, often seem to 

reflect pro- slavery views, but after the case of Bailey v 

Cromwell we think that cannot be truthfully said. 

In 1845 the great case of Jarrot v Jarrot, (2 Gilm. 1,) 
was decided, which was an action of assumpsit by the de- 
scendant of a French negro slave, against his master, for 
wages. The negro was defeated in the court below, and the Jud e Youn , s 
case was reversed by the Supreme Court. Separate opinions P Inion 
were filed by Justices Scates and Young. The opinion by 
Judge Young contains an exhaustive review of the legal his- 
tory of slavery in all its phases in the State of Illinois, and 


the judgment rendered in that case sounded the death knell 
of the institution of human slavery in Illinois. The court 
held article VI of the Ordinance of 1787 was a valid enact- 
ment, and, contrary to the view expressed by Governors St. 
Clair and Harrison and acted upon by the people and the 
lower courts for many years, it was held to be retroactive 
in its operation, that is, that it applied to all negro slaves 
in the Northwest Territory at the time of its passage. The 
effect of this decision was to liberate all the French negro 
slaves and their children in Illinois from the bondage in 
which they had been illegally held for fifty-eight years. 

The Constitution of 1848 provided that the General As- 
sembly should pass such laws as might be necessary to effec- 
tually prevent free negroes from permanently settling in 
this State and to prevent owners of slaves from bringing 
them into the State for the purpose of setting them free, 
on February 12, 1853, a statute was passed by the legisla- 
Ne ture which provided that any negro or mulatto, bond or free, 

who should come into the State and remain in the State for 
the period of ten days, with a view to permanently settle in 
the State, should be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, 
upon conviction, in case he failed to pay the fine imposed 
upon him, he should be sold at public auction to any person 
who would pay the fine and costs for the shortest period of 
his service. On the 25th of February, 1862, a mulatto 
named Nelson was arrested and carried before a justice of 
the peace in Hancock county, and convicted of a violation of 
this statute. An appeal was prosecuted to the circuit court 
of that county, and a change of venue was later granted to 
the circuit court of Adams county, where the defendant was 
again convicted. The case was carried by writ of error to 
the Supreme Court, where, in 1864 (33 111. 390,) the statute 


was held constitutional and the judgment of conviction was 
affirmed, on the ground that the sale of a negro under the 
statute for a failure to pay the fine and costs adjudged 
against him, did not reduce him to a state of slavery, but 
was a mode of punishment upon a conviction of crime au- 
thorized by the Constitution. Thus, although slavery did 
not exist, even in form, in Illinois, subsequent to 1845, in 
1864, and after the Emancipation Proclamation had been 
issued and just at the close of the War of the Rebellion, by 
virtue of the Constitution of 1848 and the Act of 1853 it 
was held unlawful for a free black man to acquire a perma- 
nent home in Illinois. This case was the last case decided 
by the Supreme Court of Illinois bearing upon the slavery 
question or the status of the colored man in Illinois, prior 
to the amendments to the Constitution of the United States 
adopted subsequent to 1864. In 1865 the legislature repealed 
the "Black Laws" of 1819 and the equally oppressive Stat- 
ute of 1853, and the principles of the Declaration of In- 
dependence, penned by the immortal Jefferson, that "All 
men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Crea- 
tor with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are 
Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness," then went 
into force, not only in theory but in fact, in the State of Illi- 

From the earliest settlement of the State, and especially 
subsequent to the admission of Missouri as a slave State, 
many runaway negroes from Kentucky and Missouri found 

The Under- 

their way into Illinois, and, as they fled in the darkness, ground Rail- 
over the prairies of the State guided only by the North star ways 
towards Canada and freedom, they were pursued by the 
slave catcher with the instinct and tenacity of the blood 
hound, and while pro- slavery men assisted the slave hunter 


to run down and re-capture runaway slaves, the anti-slavery 
men of the State sympathized with and assisted these black 
men in their flight toward the land of freedom, and in some 
way, which is not now easily understood, during this period 
were constructed across the State of Illinois, three great 
"underground railway" lines, with their termini upon the 
Mississippi river and Lake Michigan, One line started at 
Chester, another at Alton, and a third at Quincy, on the 
Mississippi river. The Quincy line passed subtantially over 
the same route from Quincy to Chicago, now daily traversed 
by the trains of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Rail- 
way Company. There were stations at Galesburg in Knox 
county, at Wethersfield in Henry county, and at Princeton in 
Bureau county. This railway did not run palace sleepers, 
or even smokers. It carried, however, hundreds of black 
men, black women, and black children, from bondage to 
freedom. The engineers, conductors, brakemen and station 
agents upon these lines were God-fearing men who had the 
courage of their convictions, and, if occasion required, did 
not hesitate, when upon duty, to use force to protect their 
passengers from the interference of slave owners and slave 
catchers, whom they loathed and despised. The men who 
were thus engaged in assisting negro slaves to escape from 
bondage violated the statute law of both the State and the 
Nation. This they knew, but they justified their action by 
an appeal to the "higher law." 

The military history of Illinois is no less interesting 

Hirtw""f ry than its civil and P litical history, and when it shall be fully 
Illinois written, will contain honorable mention of La Salle and 

Tonty of the French period, George Rogers Clark and his 
backwoods rifle men of Revolutionary fame, General Rey- 
nolds and his rangers of the War of 1812, General Henry 


and the Illinois militia of the Black Hawk war, and Hardin, 
Baker, Shields and others of the Mexican war. That his- 
tory will, however, deal largely with the war for the preser- 
vation of the Union and the overthrow of human slavery. 
In that great struggle Illinois sent out, in defense of the 
flag more than two hundred fifty thousand of her loyal sons, 
and it has the proud distinction of having been the home of 
John A. Logan, Ulysses S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln, 
the three greatest characters developed during that period. 

"Not without thy wondrous story, 

Illinois, Illinois. 
Can be writ the Nation's glory, 

Illinois, Illinois. 

On the record of thy years 

Abraham Lincoln's name appears, 

Grant and Logan and our tears, 

Illinois, Illinois." 

The "Military Tract.' 

The military tract bounty lands are 
situated between the Illinois arid Mis- 
sissippi rivers. From the confluence 
of the streams to the northern line of 
surveys is a distance of 162 miles. 72 
miles north of the place of beginning 
the 4th principal meridian touches the 
base line, which runs thence west to 
the Mississippi river. The military 
bounty lands extend 9O miles north 
of the base line. The northern bound- 
ary of Mercer county continued east to 
the Illinois river marks the northern 
boundary of what is popularly known 
as the Military Tract. The territory 
thus described includes Calhoun, Pike, 
Adams, Brown, Schuyler, Hancock, 
McDonough, Fulton, Henderson, War- 
ren, Knox, Peoria, Stark and Mercer 
counties, and parts of Henry, Bureau, 
Putnam, and Marshall counties. It com- 
prises 5,36O,OOO acres, more or less, 
3,5OO,OOO acres of which were ap- 
propriated as bounties in quarter-sec- 
tion lots to the non-commissioned 
officers and men who volunteered 
their services in the War of 1812.