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By Clark E. Carr.
An Address Delivered before the Faculty and
Students op the University op Illinois,
Illinois Day, December 3, 1911.
"L-etymologie de ce mot Illinois vient, selon ce qui nous
avons dit, du terme Illini qui dans langue de cette Nation
signifie un homme fait ou acheve, de meme qui ce mot
Alleman veut dire tout homme; comme si on vouloit
signifier par la qu un Alleman tient du couer & de la
bravoure de tous les homme de quelque Nation qu'ils
Pere Hennepin, "Decouverte d'un pays plus grand que
I give here the etymology and definition of the name of
our state as given by Father Hennepin, in his own lan-
The following is a somewhat free translation of Father
"The etymology of the word 'Illinois' comes, as we have
said, from the term 'Illini/ which in the language of that
nation (Indian) signifies a man finished or complete, the
same as the word 'Alleman' expresses full man, as if they
wished to signify by this that a German is imbued with the
spirit, fortitude, and heroism of all the men of every race
that has existed, or can exist." — From Father Hennepin's
"Discovery of a Country Greater Than Europe."
This work of Father Hennepin gives an account of his
expedition with LaSalle through the territory of Illinois,
in 1679 and 1680.
The first European nation to claim title to the vast
region, of which Illinois is a part, was Spain. Spaniards,
under the leadership of Ferdinand de Soto, who discovered
Florida and, finally, the Mississippi River, claimed, as a
part of Florida, all the region drained by the Mighty Father
of Waters and its tributaries. This was in 1541, when the
Spanish claim was conceded. So it appears, that Illinois
was first under the dominion of Spain. But the Spaniards
did not then, and never have occupied the Illinois terri-
In 1673, James Marquette, a French Priest, with five
of his countrymen, reached the Mississippi near its source,
which they descended for a long distance, and, in return-
ing, ascended the Illinois River. They were, probably,
the first white persons who traversed Illinois.
The fame of Marquette induced others to follow, among
whom, in 1678, was Chevalier de LaSalle with a party of
Frenchmen, among whom was Father Hennepin. Others
of their countrymen followed, and Illinois was occupied,
to a great degree, by the French, and was practically held
by them until through the conquest of Quebec, by Wolfe,
in 1759, it became subject to Great Britain.
The territory of Illinois was, immediately after inde-
pendence had been achieved, conceded to belong to Vir-
ginia, and Virginia, by an act of her legislature passed on
December 9th, 1778, proceeded to organize it into a county
— the county of Illinois. Illinois existed as such county
until January, 1782, about four years when, by the failure
of the Virginia Legislature to act the county of Illinois
ceased to exist.
During her existence as a county, Illinois was in a state
of lawlessness, such as had never before been known,
until, finally, the country was in a state of anarchy, which
prevailed until Government in 1790, under the ordinance
of 1787, was inaugurated.
It is generally understood, that all the territory com-
prising Illinois belonged to Virginia. This is true of a
large portion of our Illinois territory, but not of all.
At the closing of the Revolutionary War, those states
of the union having no claims upon western lands, beyond
such as had been occupied by settlers, declared that the
western lands should belong — not to any individual state,
but to the United States, as a whole. Upon this proposi-
tion, Maryland was the most pronounced, she going so far
as to refuse, so long as those claims were urged, and until
they were surrendered, to ratify the Articles of Confeder-
ation, which was necessary to put a government in motion.
The result was, that Congress, on September 6, 1780,
requested the surrender of, and cession to the United
States, of those lands. New York was the first state to
cede her western lands to the United States., She was
followed by Virginia, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
These claims, of those individual states, were made under
the theory that each colony or state, as it emerged from
under the rule of Great Britain, owned all the lands west
of it, so far as the jurisdiction of the mother country had
Virginia had stronger claim to the Illinois country than
any other state, because an expedition sent out by her
governor, Patrick Henry, under George Rogers Clark,
in 1778, during the Revolutionary war, had conquered the
country and wrested it from the British. The great Pat-
rick Henry took extraordinary interest in the expedition
of Clark, which he, himself, sent out, and he may not
inappropriately be called The Father of Illinois.
For her territory Illinois is, therefore, indebted to Vir-
ginia for much the greater portion, but she is also indebted
to Connecticut and Massachusetts for a considerable por-
This Western Territory was ceded to the United States,
and the general government passed an ordinance known as
the ordinance of 1787, under which the vast region was
organized into states. Article 5 of the ordinance provided
for the formation out of the territory north-west of the
Ohio, of not less than three nor more than five states.
By the Ordinance of 1787, the northern boundary of
Illinois was to have been on a line drawn from east to west,
touching the most southerly point, or bend, of Lake
Michigan. This line would have been about sixty-one
miles south of the northern boundary of Illinois, as finally
established. The northern boundary would have been
latitude forty-one degrees and thirty-seven minutes, in-
stead of at forty-two degrees and thirty minutes, where it
is. The counties of Jo Daviess, Stephenson, Winnebago,
Boone, McHenry, Lake, Carroll, Whiteside, Lee, Ogle,
DeKalb, Kane, Dupage and Cook, including Chicago with
all its vast trade, would have been in Wisconsin.
Judge Nathaniel Pope was the delegate of the territory
of Illinois in Congress.
In December, 1817, the territorial Legislature of Illinois,
prepared a memorial to Congress, praying for leave to form
a state government, in this territory, which memorial was
sent to Judge Pope, the territorial delegate in Congress.
On Judge Pope's motion, a bill was introduced in accord-
ance with the memorial sent by the Territorial Legislature
of Illinois, leaving the northern boundary at forty-one
degrees and thirty-seven minutes, the southern point of
Lake Michigan, but immediately after he introduced this
bill, Judge Pope, on his own responsibility, without in-
structions from Illinois, nor from any other source, himself
made a motion that the Enabling Act which had been for-
mulated in Illinois, be so amended as to move the northern
boundary of Illinois to its present position.
It is seldom that any man is in a position to render a
great and valuable service to the people with whom he is
connected, and it is not always the case, when one happens
to be in such a position, that he realizes its importance and
has the courage and enterprise to seize upon it. Judge
Pope, at once, realized the importance to his own state,
about to be organized, and to this whole nation, of moving
the boundary of Illinois to the North. No one in Illinois,
nor elsewhere, realized the importance of such movement,
The idea originated in the brain of this great man — he
was in a position to carry it into execution and he did not
hesitate. It may be justly said, that Judge Pope's inter-
est in his own state, in the matter, was not paramount to
his interest in the whole great nation. With a prescience
that now seems wonderful, he realized the danger of seces-
sion and disruption of the union, which was attempted
forty years later, and he argued that, situated as she was,
with her hold through the Mississippi and Ohio rivers,
upon the South and Southern commerce, if she could ac-
quire a similar hold upon the North and East, upon New
York and New England, Pennsylvania and Ohio, Illinois
would be the most potential of any state of the union in
holding the states together. That so situated in the midst
of the Republic her grasp upon the East and North, and
upon the South, Illinois could never be shaken off — that
the union could never be dissolved. He saw that if Illi-
nois had only commerce with the South, as would have
been the case had she been limited to the river trade, she
would have been inclined, should secession be attempted,
to go with the South.
These arguments were made, in Congress, by Judge
Pope, while the Enabling Act for Illinois was being con-
sidered, and carried the day. Long after that great states-
man had passed away, his arguments were tested, in the
midst of carnage and death, in the smoke of battle by brave
Illinois heroes, some of them led by his own son, a major
general in the United States army* and proved to be
As may be supposed, the people of Wisconsin, as that
region became occupied and after a Territory was or-
ganized, expressed their disapproval of a measure, which
took from their State so much valuable territory and gave
it to Illinois.
In 1838, the Territorial Legislature, of Wisconsin, sent
a memorial to Congress protesting against this change of
boundary, claiming that, by the Ordinance of 1787, they
were entitled to the region in dispute, and urging that it be
restored to them. The Wisconsin Territorial Legislature
of 1839, took similar action. Judge Doty, the Territorial
Governor in 1841, was especially earnest and eloquent in
urging the claims of Wisconsin.
* Mayor General John Pope.
Even in Illinois, in the disputed Territory, there were
those who favored the claims of Wisconsin. There were
meetings, in the disputed Territory, to advocate the claims
of Wisconsin, culminating in a delegate convention at
Rockford, in 1840, in which delegates, from nine counties
of the disputed Territory, declared in favor of Wisconsin.
The controversy was finally and completely set at rest,
forever, when, in 1848, Wisconsin accepted, as her Southern
boundary, the line of forty-two degrees and thirty minutes,
already adopted as the Northern boundary of Illinois,
upon the motion of Judge Pope in Congress thirty years
It may be remarked, in passing, that Michigan had a
similar controversy with Ohio. Her southern boundary
was, by Ordinance of 1787, as she claimed, the same parallel
as was that of Illinois, before moved to the north through
the efforts of Judge Pope, a line running due east from
the southern point of Lake Michigan. She was obliged
to relinquish much of southern Territory but she was rich-
ly compensated by being granted the Northern Peninsula.
All laws of Illinois are made in the name of the people
and must be introduced with the words "Be it enacted by
the people of the State of Illinois.' ' If not always carried
out in practice, the theory is that everything emanates
from the people. This being the case, no study is more
interesting nor important, to Illinoisans, than that of the
people. Pope's aphorism that, "The Proper Study of
Mankind, is Man," is, with us, particularly worth following.
The people of the State of Illinois are, perhaps in a
greater degree than those of any other state, drawn from
those who dominate the earth.
They are made up from the best of the southern, the
middle and the northern States, and of Europe. Here,
upon the prairies, the best blood of the earth co-mingles
and is producing a race surpassing any the world has ever
known. The men and women of the North are allying
themselves with those of the South, and vice versa. A
marriage is recalled, in which the groom is descended from
the Cavaliers of Virginia, and the bride from the Puritans
of New England. So far as possible to ascertain, the
husband has no Puritan blood, and the wife no Cavalier
blood. His ancestors were of Virginia, his grand parents
migrated from Virginia to Kentucky, where his father
and mother were born, and his father and mother migrated
to Missouri, where he was born.
The grand parents of his wife were of New England
and migrated to New York, where her father and mother
were born, and her parents, in turn, moved to Illinois,
where she was born.
Those who have come to Illinois naturally, have, in
their bosoms, at first prejudice in a greater or less degree,
in favor of the customs and people, among whom they were
born, and against those of regions more remote. Here in
Illinois, we learn that other regions produce men and
women, equal and sometimes superior, to those with
whom we are related, and it has a tendency to broaden us.
Illinois, when she became a state by her admission into
the union, in 1818, had not so great a population as now
have several of her counties, only 35,000:
This population was composed, mostly of people from
the southern states, but there were many French who had
made their impress, in a great degree, upon the state, and
given it character. The population was mostly confined
to the region since designated as Egypt. There were few
people north of St. Louis, north of the line of the Ohio and
Mississippi Railway. It was not until twenty-five years
later, that people migrated, in great numbers, to northern
and central Illinois. When she became a state, northern
Illinois was uninhabited, or occupied by savages. Finally,
people came in to northern Illinois, from the northern and
middle, and other states, and they were followed, in great
numbers, by immigrants from northern and central Europe,
English, Irish, Scandinavians, Germans and other races,
who have assimilated with and become homogeneous with
native Americans, to such a degree, that the second genera-
tion can hardly be distinguished from those whose ances-
tors came over in the Mayflower, or with John Smith of
The blood of men, whose ancestors fought under Gusta-
vus Adolphus and Marlborough, and Frederick the Great,
and Oliver Cromwell and at the battle of the Boyne
co-mingling, upon the prairies, with that of those who
fought under George Washington, is producing a race of
Illini worthy of the name.
Now are coming from Italy and Greece, and all southern
Europe, races whose influence cannot yet be estimated.
By the Ordinance of 1787, the vast region, comprising
Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan, was
dedicated to freedom. Slavery, or involuntary servitude,
was prohibited. Ohio was admitted into the Union, as
a state, in 1803, Indiana in 1816, Illinois in 1818, Wisconsin
in 1848, and Michigan in 1837.
The immense region in which Missouri is comprised,
acquired by us in 1803, under the Louisiana Purchase, had
no inhibition of slavery, and Missouri was admitted into
the union as a slave state.
The State of Illinois has been governed under three
constitutions — the first that of 1818, when the state was
admitted into the Union; the second that of 1848, and
the third, that of 1870, under which latter we are now
living. Unsuccessful attempts have been made to adopt
a new constitution, or amend the one existing, that of
1824 in order to establish slavery, and that of 1862 to
change the administration of the state government.
The three constitutions of Illinois are within the reach
of all and need not, now, be especially considered, except
in regard to one or two matters.
The Constitution of 1818, contained, in its preamble,
no recognition of the Deity. Such a recognition was
urged, with great force and persistence, by several reli-
gious bodies, and quite a number of people, without suc-
cess. The framers refused to accede to their demands.
So intense was the feeling upon this matter, that religious
bodies, notably the covenanters, refused to vote, as did
individual members of other religious bodies. They
claimed that that constitution, by so failing to recognise
the existence of a God, virtually denied that there was a
God. Both constitutions of Illinois since adopted, that of
1848 and that of 1870, recognize the Deity.
But the time came when there was such a paramount
issue, that nobody, including the covenanters, could be
restrained from voting. Slaves were brought to Illinois,
by individuals, from its earliest settlement, but human
beings were never lawfully held in bondage within the
limits of the state.
In 1820, only two years after Illinois was admitted as a
free state, Missouri was admitted as a slave state.
The early emigration to Missouri, as was the case with
Illinois, was from the south. The migration to Missouri,
from Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Carolinas,
was, much of it, through Illinois. The emigrants crossed
the Ohio river at Cincinnati, Louisville, Shawneetown and
other places, and after traversing Illinois, crossed the
Mississippi into Missouri. Many of these emigrants to
Missouri were slaveholders and wealthy. As they passed
along the highways of Illinois, with their great trains,
prairie schooner wagons, horses and mules, and other stock,
household utensils, dogs and guns and slaves, naturally,
they arrested the attention of the Illinois people and,
naturally, the Illinois people wanted them to stop and settle
among them, and so declared. Illinoisans urged upon
these emigrants, that we had a better state than Missouri,
that our lands were as good and as cheap as the lands in
Missouri, and that we had natural advantages superior
to those of Missouri.
While generally admitting that the claims of the Illinois
people, in regard to the excellencies of their state, were
just, those opulent emigrants answered that they could not,
in Illinois, "hold their property* ' (slaves), because slavery
was not lawful in Illinois, and that, in order to hold their
slaves, they must go on to Missouri, a slave state. The
effect of this upon many Illinois people can better be ima-
gined than described.
To see all this wealth and luxury pass by them, was a
serious matter for those poor Illinois pioneers, in that
sparsely settled country. The southern states were right
at their doors. Nearly all of Illinois, that was then in-
habited, bordered upon the south. The southern people
were neighbors and kindred of the Illinois people, of the
same stock and of the same ancestry. The trade relations,
the commerce of Illinois people, were all with the south
extending as far as New Orleans, which was their chief
entrepot. Flatboatmen loaded their craft along the banks
of the Mississippi, the Ohio, the Wabash and the Illinois
rivers and their tributaries with the produce and pelts
and furs, and wool, and even with live-stock, which were
floated into the great southern market of New Orleans.
These Illinoisans, on their leisurely journey home, flush
with money from the sale of their flatboats and cargoes,
made friends in neighborhoods they passed through, and
it was not uncommon for an Illinois swain to bring back
with him, a fair southern belle as his bride.
The relations of Illinoisans, commercially and socially,
with the southern people, could not have been closer.
Slavery had been prohibited, in all the northwest territory,
by the ordinance of 1787. But now, Illinois was no longer
subject to that ordinance. She had become a sovereign
state, as independent as was Virginia, or any other state,
and upon an equality with every other state. She now
had the same right and authority to establish slavery, as
had Virginia or any other state.
The slavery question had not yet become a bitter burn-
ing sensational issue. The word "abolitionist, ' ' which after-
wards became odious, had scarcely been spoken.
Benjamin Lundy, "The first of our countrymen who
devoted his life and all his powers, exclusively, to the
cause of the slave," who awakened William Lloyd Garrison
to the Holy cause, to which he devoted his life, Benjamin
Lundy, whose sacred dust mingles with and enriches, in
Putnam county, the soil of Illinois, had but just entered
upon his life work. Slavery was regarded, in the neigh-
boring states, as the natural normal condition of the negro.
Black men were, really although unlawfully, held in bondage
in Illinois. Why not establish the institution in our own
state, by law, and stop this migration to Missouri, and
keep these lordly plutocrats, with their wealth, to our-
With such environments, such relations, and such cap-
tivating inducements, when all their interests seemed to
be in that direction, how those good people of Illinois could
have resisted the inducements held out to them, by the
advocates of slavery, is beyond compare. That they did so
hold out, proves them to belong to the Illini — to be
"imbued with the spirit, fortitude, and heroism of all the
men, of every race that ever existed.' '
To amend the constitution required, first, the vote of
two thirds of each house of the legislature to call an election,
and then the vote of a majority of the people in favor of it.
The two-thirds majorities, of both houses of the legislature,
were obtained," but not without some political manipulation,
somewhat similar to what has been witnessed in more
The proslavery men had the requisite two-thirds in the
senate, but lacked one vote of two-thirds in the house.
By a contest at the opening of the session, between two
men, Nicholas Hansen and John Shaw, both claiming to
have been elected in the remote country of Pike, after a
thorough investigation, Hansen was declared elected and
seated. Shaw gave up the contest and went home. Hansen
was opposed to amending the constitution and it was
learned that Shaw favored it. The proslavery men recon-
sidered the vote by which Hansen had been declared
elected and seated, and admitted Shaw, who was quietly
at home 150 miles away. Shaw was sent for and made a
flying trip, on horseback, to the capitol and the proslavery
men had their two-thirds majority. But still the question
had to be submitted to the vote of the peQple.
Such a contest as was then waged in "Egypt," then all
of Illinois, was scarcely ever hitherto known.
Edward Coles, a name that should be pronounced, by
Illinois people with reverence for all time, was governor.
He had been a Virginia slaveholder. When a young man
but 24 years of age, he was made secretary to President
James Madison. He was a cousin of the celebrated Dolly
Madison, the wife of the president. His position with the
president brought him into relations with the statesmen
of his time. He was, when a young man, a protege of
Thomas Jefferson. He, like Jefferson, came to abhor
human slavery. When he came to Illinois, he brought his
slaves with him, and when descending the Ohio river, he
called them together and set them free.
Edward Coles was the leader of, what at first seemed to
be, but a handful, the anti-slavery men of Illinois. Their
numbers augmented until they began to have hopes, faint
at first, of success. Strong, able, conscientious men
appeared to fight for freedom. Among these men, per-
haps the strongest, next to the governor, were Reverend
John M. Peck and Morris Birkbeck. A great champion
of freedom was Henry Eddy of Shawneetown. Of the
many others who took part, against a convention and in
favor of freedom, were George Churchill, Hooper Warren,
Jonathan H. Pugh, George Forquer, Daniel P. Cook,
Thomas Lippincott and Thomas Mather.
The contest grew in intensity, until it became as acrimon-
ious as were those between the proslavery men and aboli-
tionists in the days just preceding the Civil War.
In recounting the history of that awful contest, Gover-
nor Reynolds, in his "My Own Times," says:
"Men, women and children entered the arena of party
warfare and strife, and the families and neighborhoods
were so divided and fierce, and bitter towards one another,
that it seemed a regular Civil War might be the result —
Many personal combats were indulged in, upon the ques-
tion, and the whole country seemed, at times, to be ready
and willing to resort to physical force to decide the contest. 1 '
Governor Ford, in his "History of Illinois," says of that
"Newspapers, hand bills, and pamphlets were scattered
everywhere, and everywhere they scorched and scathed
as they flew. Almost every stump, in every county, had
its bellowing, indignant orator, on one side or the other,
and the whole people, for the space of months, did scarcely
anything but read newspapers, hand bills, and pamphlets,
quarrel, wrangle, and argue with each other, whenever
they met together to hear the violent harangues of their
Another writer declares that "Even the gentler sex came
within the vortex of this whirlwind of passion — and many
were the angry disputations of those whose cares and inter-
ests were usually confined to their household duties."
Curiously, and it must be said, to their everlasting honor,
many of those who so zealously and heroically fought to
save the state to freedom, had migrated from the South.
They had, in Virginia and Tennessee, and Kentucky and
the Carolinas, like Governor Coles, seen and appreciated
the evils of human slavery, and were willing to fight to the
death, to save Illinois from them. In fact, many of those
Southern people, had left their homes in the South, and
come to Illinois, to get away from the blighting curse.
The fierce campaign continued for eighteen months —
a year and a half . Entering into the contest, with little
hope of success, the free state men made as gallant a fight,
as any of which we have any record. The election was set
for the first Monday of August, 1824. It actually occurred
on the second of August. As the momentous day ap-
proached, the free state men were more and more hopeful,
but they did not relax their efforts, until the polls were
closed. They won, by such a majority as to set the ques-
tion at rest forever. They had a majority of 1,872 votes.
The whole vote cast was 11,772.
It stood, against a convention to amend the constitution
and permit slavery, 6,822; for such a convention 4,950;
majority for free s^ate, 1,872.
Considering the number of votes, in all, only 11,772, the
majority for freedom was remarkable. Can any one doubt
the propriety of the people of the State being called "The
There has been another epoch, in the history of Illinois,
scarcely less glorious than the one we have attempted to
In the year 1836, twelve years after she made her sub-
lime record of dedicating the State to freedom, the people
of Illinois, in their ambition to put the state forward, in
development and prosperity, entered upon a system of
internal improvements, which came near proving to be our
The legislature, of that year, was supplemented by an
internal improvement convention, composed of some of
the ablest men of the state. Two questions were para-
mount, that of embarking upon a vast system of internal
improvement, and that of the removal of the state capital
from Vandalia to Springfield.
There was a coterie of men, who seemed to hold the legis-
lature within their grasp, nine in number, all of unusual
height — of whom Abraham Lincoln was one — known as
"The Long Nine." These, all able men, held the balance
of power in the legislature. They usually went together.
They favored the movement for internal improvement,
and also the removal of the state capital to Springfield, both
of which carried.
Then the money began to be poured out and times were
good. Everything produced by the farmers commanded
a good price. There was so much money and such good
times, that the people became generous and even lavish in
It was expected, that most of the money would be ex-
pended in the improvement of waterways, and money
was raised for that purpose. Such counties as had no
navigable streams, but had paid, had the money paid back
to them, as was the case with Knox County.
But a large sum was to be devoted to the building of
railroads. The system of internal improvements provided
for the building, at once, of 1,342 miles of railway, at a cost
of over nine million dollars.
Before the people began to realize that there was any
danger, they awoke to find that the state was in debt more
than twelve millions of dollars, and bankrupt. The sys-
tem of extravagance was repealed, but not until the state
was unable to pay the interest on its bonds, and the credit
of the state became a bye-word all over the commercial
world. Finally, the people were driven almost to the
extremity of repudiation. A period of depression and
stagnation continued from 1839 to 1857.
In 1840, four years after the inauguration of this wild
policy of internal improvement began, the population of
the whole state was only 476,183. A half dozen of our 102
counties, not including Cook, now have more population
than did the whole state then.
The property value of the state was little in proportion
to population. The people finally woke up to find that
the state owed, in proportion to population and property,
far more than one hundred millions would be now.
The people of the state were nearly all farmers. They
had, in produce of their farms, plenty, but it would bring
nothing. Corn 8 and 10 cents a bushel; wheat, 40 cents;
pork, 2 and 3 cents a pound; a fat steer from 5 to 10 dollars;
eggs, 3 cents a dozen.
In speaking of those times, a member of the constitution-
al convention in 1870, said:
"It was a glorious time for two or three years, but after
the money ran through and was all gone, and pay day
come, the people had to pass through an ordeal, such as no
community, perhaps on this continent, ever went through
before. It lasted twenty years; it paralyzed industry, it
drove emigrants from the state, it reduced communities
"Then a party arose that proposed repudiation. There
were localities where the payment of taxes was refused.
In others, a compromise with creditors — another name for
repudiation — was proposed. The question of payment was
considered a very dangerous one. Both political parties
evaded it. It was said, "We can't pay the debt." "We
might as well say so. It will take all our property, all we
can raise — all our farms and stock — everything. It is ruin.
Let us tell our creditors, frankly, that we cannot meet this
enormous debt and that in order to get anything they must
But there were brave men in those days. There were
"Illini" men imbued with the spirit, fortitude and heroism
of all the men of every race that ever lived.' '
They would not hear to repudiation. They would not
listen to compromise. They declared that they would not
live in a state that repudiated. They would not live in a
state that would ask a creditor to compromise one dollar
of a lawful claim against them. They said: "We will
mortgage everything, pledge everything, give up everything
to our creditors — and lest we, ourselves, shall faint by the
way, we will place ourselves in a position where we, our-
selves, cannot avoid it. We will make a new fundamental
law binding upon every inhabitant of the state for all time."
And so the constitution of 1848 was formulated and
That constitution provided for a tax of two mills, on
every dollar of property, to be applied entirely to the pay-
ment of the debt. Two mills on a dollar, one-fifth of one
per cent., seemed to be but a small amount, but it was
sufficient to show the American people, and to show the
world, that the people of Illinois stood up to their obliga-
tions. The result was, that first hundreds, then thousands,
then hundreds of thousands, from the east, the middle
States, the South, and from Europe, flocked to the prairies.
Between 1850 and 1860, twelve years after the two mill
tax was assumed, the population more than doubled. In
1850, it was 851,270. In 1860, it was 1,704,290. The two
mill tax was collected until 1870, and at that time, the
population had, since it was adopted, increased threefold.
It had reached the enormous number of 2,529,891 souls.
Before we knew it, the entire State debt was paid and wiped
out and the credit of no other state, in the Union, was, and
The two mill tax was a matter of such vast importance
and resulted in such beneficence, to the people of Illinois,
that we are constrained to give Article 15, of the Constitu-
tion of 1848, in full.
" There shall be annually assessed and collected, in the
same manner as other state revenue may be assessed and
collected, a tax of two mills on each dollar's worth of taxable
property, in addition to all other taxes, 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 appor-
tioned and paid over pro rata, upon all such indebtedness,
other than the canal and school indebtedness, as may, for
that purpose, be presented by the holders of the same, to
be entered as credits upon and to that intent, in extinguish-
ment of the principal of said indebtedness.' '
The Mexican War.
It would be gratifying, if we had the time, to tell of the
splendors of the achievements of Illinois soldiers in the
war with Mexico. There are few chapters in American
history more thrilling than those giving accounts of the
deeds of American soldiers in that war. None were more
brave and gallant than were the men of Illinois.
There were never more brave and efficient officers than
were Bissell, Hardin, Shields and Baker.
The Mexican war proved to be of advantage to officers
of the Civil war, as a school of training, of whom Generals
Grant and Logan were conspicuous examples. There are
four hundred Mexican war veterans now living in Illinois,
but they are so old and feeble that only eighteen were able
to attend their last reunion.
The Civil War.
But the most important epoch in the history of Illinois
was that of the Civil war. She sent to the field 267,057
volunteers in proportion to population, more than any
other state. They were, besides those on special duty,
divided up into 175 regiments, 156 of infantry, 17 of cavalry
and 2 of artillery. She lost 5,874, killed in battle, and
22,786 by disease.
The prediction of Judge Pope proved to be more than
true. Through her relations with the North and South,
Illinois held both in her inexorable grasp. As population
increased, her hold upon both sections became more firm.
Upon the first demonstration of hostility to the govern-
ment, she at once acted, and the importance of her position
became apparent. Almost immediately after the firing
on Fort Sumpter, in the darkness of night, the shrill
whistle of a locomotive was heard from a train of cars on
the Illinois Central Railway, sent out by the mightiest
war governor, and the most alert the country ever produ-
ced, Richard Yates, under the command of General Swift,
bearing men and munitions of war; and the people awoke
in the morning, to find that the most important strategic
point in the Continent, was occupied by Illinois troops,
never to be given up. Northern Illinois, at Chicago, and
now Southern Illinois at Cairo, reached out, the one to the
North and the other to the South, grasping each section in
a grip that could not be shaken off, from that hour, and
was never relaxed, except to get a stronger and firmer
and better hold, extending the advance of United States
volunteers from this vantage ground clear down the Missis-
sippi, taking in and restoring to the Union, the South-
From Belmont to Appomatox, there was not a battle
field upon which Illinois soldiers were not conspicuous in
fighting for the Union.
Her statesmen and officers in those dark days, were
among the best and wisest and noblest of men. She gave
to the land, Stephen A. Douglas, a statesman whose
clarion voice when the war burst forth, awakened the people
to their duty and united men of all parties in one common
purpose to save their country. She produced John A.
Logan, the greatest volunteer-soldier.
She finally, after several others failed, gave to the coun-
try General Ulysses S. Grant who, when directing a million
of men, was capable of making every one useful and help-
ful, in bringing about the grand result. And above all,
Illinois placed over the army and navy and all the people,
Abraham Lincoln, the greatest, wisest and most considerate
of men of all the ages, and he led us to victory.
Lincoln, Douglas, Grant and Logan! What other
commonwealth can number among her immortals such
great names? Such as these can scarcely be found in the
realms of fancy. In the epics of Homer, such a galaxy
does not appear. If one ascends the heights of Olympus
and contemplates the Divinities in the sublimity and glory
with which mythology endows them, he will search in vain
for attributes so sublime and character so majestic. Had
Illinois only given these four to the nation, she would have
been distinguished as is no other commonwealth among the
sisterhood of states. Yet were Lincoln and Douglas and
Grant and Logan not numbered among those sent forth
from the prairies, there would still appear in the firmament
of American glory a constellation of Illinois statesmen
and heroes that would illumine the world.
The temple of which the states of the American Union
form the integral parts is the most sublime that was ever
reared. Its foundations are laid in principles more sub-
stantial and enduring than granite; while the superstructure
embodies and amplifies in sublimity and beneficence, the
wisdom and hopes and aspirations of all the ages.
In the midst of this mighty structure, exalted to lofty
eminence, supported and dependent upon all the other
states, uniting and giving strength and grace and beauty
to the whole, so conspicuous through the achievements of
her sons that all the people instinctively turn their eyes
towaxd her, rises Illinois, whose splendors and glories illu-
mine every part of the mighty edifice which she majes-
New York is justly called the Empire State, and Pennsyl-
vania the Keystone State. Illinois must be recognised as
the stately Dome of the American Republic.
Note. — The above address was delivered in the great
auditorium of the University which was filled.
Doctor Evarts B. Greene, dean of the College of Litera-
ture and Arts of the University, called the assembly to
order and presented as its presiding officer, Honorable
Oliver A. Harker, dean of the law department, an intimate
acquaintance and friend of the orator of the day.
Judge Harker, in introducing the speaker, happily
referred to his honorable public service, both at home and
abroad, and to the books of which he is the author, to
his valuable contributions to history, to his service as
president of the Illinois State Historical Society and to
the esteem in which he is held throughout our great state.