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ILLINOIS 



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 
foient." 

Pere Hennepin, "Decouverte d'un pays plus grand que 
l'Europe." 

I give here the etymology and definition of the name of 
our state as given by Father Hennepin, in his own lan- 
guage. 

The following is a somewhat free translation of Father 
Hennepin's statement: 

"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- 
tory. 

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 
extended. 

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- 
tion. 

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 



8 

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 
sound. 

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. 



10 

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 
before. 

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 



11 

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- 



12 

tors came over in the Mayflower, or with John Smith of 
Pocahontas fame. 

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 



13 

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 



14 

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 



15 

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- 
selves? 

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 
modern legislatures. 

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. 



16 

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 ' 



17 

Governor Ford, in his "History of Illinois," says of that 
campaign: 

"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 
orators.' ' 

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. 



18 

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 
Illini? ,, 

There has been another epoch, in the history of Illinois, 
scarcely less glorious than the one we have attempted to 
describe. 

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 
ruin. 

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 
their expenditures. 

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. 



19 

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 
to pauperism. 

"Then a party arose that proposed repudiation. There 
were localities where the payment of taxes was refused. 



20 

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 
compromise." 

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 
adopted. 

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. 



21 

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 
is better. 

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. 

ARTICLE 15. 

" 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. 



22 

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- 
western States. 

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 



23 

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 



24 

towaxd her, rises Illinois, whose splendors and glories illu- 
mine every part of the mighty edifice which she majes- 
tically canopies. 

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.