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bling of the General Assembly, in case the latter should adjourn previous to the expiration of the ten days, not being counted), otherwise the bill so presented shall become a law. In the new constitution, it will be observed, the Judges of the Supreme Court are excluded from sharing with the Governor in the privilege of exercising the veto power.
These being the principal alterations in the old constitution of the State, we now turn again to her history.
Here, it is worthy of special remark, that when the new constitution I was formed, in 1847, a clause was introduced in it by which, if
approved by the people, a special tax of two mills upon the dollar was levied, and was to be applied to extinguish the principal of the State debt. The people, in 1848, voted upon this provision separately, and adopted it by ten thousand majority. This, so far as we know, is the first instance, in which the people of a State deliberately taxed them. selves, in order to pay an old and burthensome debt. It is a fine exhibition of the integrity of the citizens of Illinois, and has contributed much towards establishing the character and reputation she now enjoys in commercial circles, both in this country and in Europe.
The Illinois and Michigan Canal, which, for so long a time, re.. mained in an unfinished condition, and for which so many fruitless struggles were made, was at length completed and opened for navigation, in the spring of 1848. Connecting Lake Michigan, at Chicago, with La Salle, the head of navigation on the Illinois river, it forms an uninterrupted water communication between the Lakes and the Mississippi, being 100 miles long, navigable for boats of the largest class, and in every respect one of the finest canals in the Union.
Upon inquiring, whether, besides the canal, other works of improve ment had been proposed and carried out, we shall find, that since the State trusted to individual enterprise, what she herself, under the “internal improvement system," had failed to accomplish, railroads were projected, the rapid progress and completion of so many of which, within the short space of four years, must excite our just surprise. While, previous to February, 1852, there were but 95 miles of railroad in operation throughout the whole State, within the following four years 2315 additional miles of railroad were completed and put
in operation, intersecting the State in every direction. The fact, that 2315 miles of railroad were completed in Illinois in four years, we leave as an achievement for future ages to emulate, and, if possible, excel.
The best part of the whole affair is, that they are all doing a fine business, and as they were so cheaply built over the beautiful prairies of the State, there is hardly room for doubt, but that they will pay handsome dividends to their enterprising stockholders; the Galena Road has paid as high as twenty-one per cent. in a single year. Of these various railroads, the one called “ Illinois Central Railroad,” being one of the most magnificent works in this or any other country, deserves particular notice. Its main track extends from Dunleith, a new town on the Mississippi, opposite Dubuque, Iowa, directly through the heart of the State, to Cairo, at the mouth of the Ohio. At Centralia, 112 miles north of Cairo, the Chicago branch leaves the main line, pursuing a direct course, a little east of the centre of the State, to Chicago. The distance from Chicago to Centralia is 251, and from Cairo to Dubuque 453 miles, making the total length of the road 704 miles.
The road owes its rapid completion to the generous grant made, in 1850, by Congress, to the State of Illinois, of 2,595,000 acres of land to aid in its construction, and on the 10th of February, 1851, the Legislature gave a charter to the present company, granting it all the land given by Congress to the State, on condition, that the road should be completed by 1857, and that after it was finished, seven per cent. of its gross receipts should be paid into the treasury of the State. The lands belonging to the road are worth, and will sell for far more than the road has cost; part has already been sold; the quality of the residue, now in the market, justifies the assertion, that so good an opportunity for men in moderate circumstances to secure a farm and a competency, will not be likely to occur again for many years.
Of the advantages bestowed by this great work upon the State, we need not speak. It runs through a country as rich in agricultural and mineral resources as any other sublunary region : it connects the Upper Mississippi and the Great Lakes with the Mississippi at Cairo, below which that majestic river is navigable for large steamers at all seasons of the year; giving Chicago a perpetual communication with the Southern States. A single glance upon the map, and its relations to the prosperity of the entire State will at once be understood. The completion of the road will involve an expenditure of nearly twenty millions of dollars.
In 1850, the national census returned the population at 851,470, an increase of about 80 per cent. since 1840, which, though less than that in previous decades, owing to the fact that emigrants had then just begun to locate in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota, a large portion of whom, it is known, went from Illinois, was yet a most rapid growth.
In 1851, the General Assembly, by an Act approved February 17, authorized a geological survey of the State, which is yet in progress, under the direction of J. G. Norwood, who, on the 5th of February, 1853, sent in a report, showing, how far he had succeeded in his labors, and establishing the fact, that large as the natural resources of the State of Illinois were already then estimated to be, they were yet very
far underrated. Mr. Norwood is still engaged on bis work; no further account of the results of his investigations have been pub
lished as yet.
At the election in November of that year, the people ratified the General Banking Law, the professed object of which, at the time of its adoption, was to furnish a well-regulated and well-secured paper currency, thereby driving from among the people worthless foreign paper money, and equally worthless domestic issues.
Governor Augustus C. French, who, in conformity with a plan of his, the adoption of which he earnestly urged upon the Legislature, to ascertain the true extent and condition of the State debt, by re-funding the various bonds and scrips into one uniform transferable stock, reducing thereby the motley mass of forms, of which the debt consisted, into a clear and tangible shape - had, by an Act of the General Assembly, passed February 28, 1847, been authorized to cause to be teceived from the holders, and cancelled, all the various kinds of State indebtedness (canal alone excepted); and to substitute therefor an issue of certificates of stock, or stock-bonds of a character uniform and transferable; those issued on account of the principal debt, to be allowed to bear like interest with those originally surrendered up, and those issued for overdue interest, or interest in arrear, to be forbidden to draw interest for ten years, or until after A. D. 1857: 'delivered, on the 3d of January, 1853, when his term of office was about to expire, to the eighteenth Assembly, a message, wherein, after reviewing the general condition of the State, and pointing out for correction some defects in the working of the General Banking Law, he proceeds to state, that the portion of the public debt required by law to be re-funded or exchanged for other and uniform securities, had been principally exchanged; that the small amount yet outstanding would soon be brought forward, which being done, the whole subject of the State debt would appear upon record in a shape easily to be understood by all. In the same message, he estimates the entire State debt at $16,724,177.41; the principal debt, exclusive of interest, of the canal, the affairs of which were, and, we presume, still are, managed by three trustees, acting for the stockholders and the State, amounting to five millions, which would be fully met and liquidated from the proceeds of the sales of land granted by Congress (alternate sections, five miles from each side of the canal), amounting to 230,000 acres, 70,000 of which had already been sold, up to the spring of 1851. Governor Augustus C. French retired from bis office, which he had filled for six consecutive years, universally esteemed for the prudent discretion, integrity, and distinguished ability, with which he had administered the affairs of the State.
Joel A. Mattison was elected governor in his stead, and Gustavus Korner, a German by birth, Lieutenant-Governor of the State, at the same time. Joel A. Mattison assumed the reins of government, delivering, on the 10th of January, 1853, his inaugural message to the Legislature, wherein he speaks thus: “Our public debt, that for a time seemed almost to be a burden sufficient to prevent immigration to our State, has increased in amount until it now (January, 1853) reaches the large sum, principal and interest, of $16,724,177.41; but while this amount has been increasing at the rate of six per cent. per annum, our State has increased at the rate of over ten per cent. for the past few years on her taxable property, continually developing our resources, and adding largely to our population. What seemed almost a burden twelve years ago, is now looked upon as requiring no great effort on the part of the people to
fully pay without any increase of taxation.” He estimates its probable amount on January 1, 1857, at $10,275,262.41, and thinks it probable, that it would be entirely paid before 1865. These expectations of the Governor seem to be on the eve of being realized; for after pressing upon the Legislature the subject of improvement of the navigable rivers and lake harbors of the Western States by the General Government, and wisely recommending the adoption of a system of education, whereby every child in the State might be furnished with an education, that would fit them for every station and condition of life, in a message placed before the Legislature on the 1st of January, 1855, he estimates the entire State debt, inclusive of interest up to that date, at $17,944,652.89, whereupon he proceeds to speak thus :
“ Besides paying enough to pay the entire interest upon the State debt each year, for the past two years, there has been paid and applied upon the arrearage of interest, and the principal of the debt, the sum of $2,750,037.96, being the sum of $1,375,018.98 each year, over and above the accruing interest, making, in all, paid on principal and interest during the past two years, the sum of $3,951,037.96. During the next two years, I confidently expect, that the amount from all sources derived from the available assets of the State, and the revenue applicable to the liquidation of the State debt, will be increased at least twenty per cent., wbich will render the calculation certain, that the views entertained two years ago will be more than realized in ten years, and I might say still sooner, but prefer to give full time. The past two years have realized over $750,037.96 more than enough to meet the calculation, that the debt would be paid, all but $74,080.62, in eleven years. It will be perceived, that a large amount bas been paid at this time, more than enough to meet the calculation referred to, during the past two years; and that the principal and the interest of the debt is being absorbed and cancelled each year, while the revenue is rapidly increasing, and swelling the means of the State to pay.”
Before concluding, the fact appears still worthy of being noticed, that, from 1853 to the spring of 1855, an immense excitement prevailed throughout the State, concerning the temperance question : which resulted in the repudiation, by 15,000 majority, of the Prohibitory Liquor Law, previously passed by the Legislature, on February 12th, 1855.