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Congress having passed this act, a Convention, of which Elias K. Kane, a lawyer, was the leading member, was convoked during the summer of 1818 in Illinois, to form its Constitution. By this Constitution the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor were required to have been citizens of the United States for 30 years previous to their election. The qualifications for' the office of Lieutenant-Governor were afterwards in so far modified, that any citizen of the United States who had resided in the State for two years, could be elected to that office. Power was vested in the Governor to nominate, and in the Senate to confirm all officers, except those, whose appointments had already been provided for by the Constitution, including also the Judges of the Supreme and Inferior Courts, State Treasurer, and Public Printer. The Convention, however, in order to please a favorite of theirs, inserted a schedule in the Constitution, declaring “that an Auditor, Attorney-General, and other officers of the State, may be appointed by the General Assembly.” This schedule was productive of innumerable intrigues and quarrels between the Governors and the Legislature, which ended in the Legislature, who had at first contented themselves with electing an Auditor and Attorney-General, depriving the Governor, as was the case with Gov. Duncan, of the power of appointing any public officers, save notaries public and public administrators.
Shadrach Bond, a farmer by occupation, and a man of plain common sense, without pretensions to a refined education, who had already been several times elected to the Territorial Legislature, and once as a delegate of the Territory to Congress, was elected the first Governor, and entered upon the discharge of his duties in October, 1818. At the same time, the Legislature assembled in Kaskaskia. In his first message to the Legislature, he earnestly recommends the construction of the canal, which was to run through Illinois, and to connect the Mississippi with Lake Michigan. He died in the year 1834.
The Legislature convened in Kaskaskia elected Joseph Philips, a lawyer by profession, who had been a captain in the United States Army, and afterwards Secretary of State to the Territory, as Chief Justice; and John Reynolds, Thomas C. Brown, and William P. Foster, a great rascal, who soon resigned his office, as Associate Justices of the Supreme Court. Ninian Edwards, and Jesse B. Thomas, who had been chosen President of the Convention, were elected first Senators. Daniel P. Cook was appointed first Attorney-General, Elias K. Kane, Secretary of State, John Thomas, State Treasurer, and Elijah C. Berry, Auditor of public accounts.
Having thus organized the State Government, the Legislature adjourned to meet again in winter, at which adjourned session they elaborated and adopted a Code of Statute Law, mostly collected and made up from the Statutes of Kentucky and Virginia. This first Code was altered and amended several times, till in 1827 a revised copy was published. It contained a most important act concerning negroes and mulattoes. The early Legislatures of Indiana and Illinois had not been hostile to the introduction of slavery, but had allowed emigrants to bring their slaves with them; these, if they voluntarily consented to serve their master for a term of years, were then held to perform their contract, but if they refused to consent, might be removed by their masters out of the territories in sixty days. Children of such slaves were registered, and bound to serve their masters, until they were 32 years old. This first Legislature of the State of Illinois, enacted laws as severe and stringent as could be found in a Slave State, where the number of negroes is equal to, or greater than that of the whites; though, in fact, the negroes constituted but a very small portion of the population of Illinois. These laws, which were passed by men from the Slave States, and were intended to preserve the purity of the white race, by discouraging free negroes from settling in Illinois (wbich they effectually did), have now become a dead letter, having never been carried into effect within the memory of the present generation.
The Legislature and Government removed to another place on the Kaskaskia River, which was afterwards called Vandalia, owing to the information imparted by some wag to the Commissioners who were surveying the ground for the new seat of government, that the name of Vandalia would not only sound very agreeably, but at the same time perpetuate the memory of the Vandals, once a powerful and warlike, but now extinct Indian nation; on the strength of which information the Commissioners, believing the same to be correct, and not troubling themselves much about matters of history, adopted the
name proposed to them, which has ever since inflicted some slight stigma upon the character of the people inhabiting the place.
As already mentioned, upon the conclusion of the war of 1812, emigrants began to arrive from the Eastern States, and settle in Illinois; they brought money with them, which soon superseded the skins of the deer and of the raccoon as a circulating medium, and brought about a radical change in the material condition of the people, by creating new desires, and especially a mad desire for speculating in lots and lands. At that time the United States sold land at two dollars per acre, eighty dollars on the quarter section, to be paid · cash down on the purchase, and the residue payable in five years. Everybody was eager to buy at that price, confidently expecting to be able to sell the lands, with the houses and other improvements thereon, at a large profit, to the immigrants who were sure to arrive. This proceeding was proudly styled “developing the infant resources of a new country.” Several banks were incorporated, and speculation ran high, being favored by the circumstance, that money was then very abundant, and in consequence, every man's credit very good. Lots were purchased on credit, and towns laid out, all over the country; if money could not be had, notes were taken in place of, and considered as good as cash, until, two years afterwards, in the year 1820, the entire population had become indebted to a vast amount. The immigrants, whose arrival had been so anxiously looked for, did not come, the lots and houses could not be sold, and the price of the lands purchased of the United States remained unpaid. Bank notes, and paper of every kind and description, had long since driven the specie out of circulation, since it could be far more easily supplied to any amount wanted by notes, and nobody was willing to pay in cash, what he could pay for in paper. Commerce being then utterly insignificant, nothing was exported; and the people, being left to settle their debts among themselves, began to sue one another, though without any prospect of recovering their amounts, since, in consequence of the total absence of money, even the richest man would have found it im. possible to satisfy his creditors.
To put an end to these crying evils, a State Bank, with several branches, was created by the Legislature of 1821; which bank, being wholly supported by the credit of the State, was to issue one, two,
three, five, tep and twenty dollar notes, bearing two per cent. per annum, and payable by the State in ten years. It was the duty of the bank to advance, upon personal property, money to the amount of $100, and a larger amount upon real estate mortgages, to anybody, who should require such a loan. All taxes and public salaries could be paid in such bills, and if a creditor refused to take them, he had to wait three years longer before he could collect his debt. The people imagined, that simply because government had issued the notes, they would remain at par, and although this could evidently not be the case, were yet so infatuated with their project as actually to request the United States Government to receive them in payment for the public lands. Although there were not wanting men who, like John McLean, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, foresaw the danger and evils likely to arise from the creation of such a bank, by far the greater part of the people were in favor of it; the new bank was therefore started, and began to transact business in the summer of 1821. The new issues of bills by the bank, of course, only aggravated the evil, heretofore so grievously felt, of the absence of specie, so that the people were soon compelled to cut their bills in halves and quarters, in order to make small change in the trade. And further, most persons tried to borrow as much money from the bank as they could, considering whatever they got as clear gain, never pretending to pay it afterwards. And finally, the paper currency so rapidly depreciated, that three dollars in these bills were only considered worth ope dollar in specie, so that the State not only did not increase its revenues, but lost full two-thirds of them, and expended three times the amount required to pay the expenses of the State Government.
In the year 1822, the term of office of the first governor, Shadrach Bond, expired. The question, which then agitated the whole Union, whether Missouri was to be admitted into the Union as a Slave State or not, had resulted in starting two parties in Illinois, one favorable, the other hostile to the introduction of slavery, each proposing a candidate of their own for governor. Although the slave party did everything in their power to secure the election of their candidate, and could boast of many of the most influential men in the State as belonging to their party, the people at large being decided, as they ever since have been, in favor of a Free State, Edward Coles, an antislavery man, was elected.
The Legislature, at their next session (1824-1825), ordered that the Supreme Court, consisting of four judges, should be held twice a year at the seat of government, and created five judges to hold all the Circuit Courts in the State, each of whom was maintained at a yearly salary of $600, while each of the Supreme Court Judges received $800 per annum. Considering this to be an extravagant outlay of the public money, the people were so clamorous for a reduction of it, that the Legislature of 1826–7 annulled and repealed the act passed by their predecessors, discharged the Circuit Judges, and ordered the Judges of the Supreme Court to hold the Circuit Courts instead of them.
The same Legislature of 1824-1825 appointed, by another law, the Judges of the Supreme Court to revise the laws, and to present the new revision to the Legislature at their next session.
Senator Duncan, afterwards governor, presented to the Legislature a bill for the support of schools by a public tax; and William S. Hamilton presented another bill, requiring a tax in proportion to property, to be used for the purpose of constructing and repairing the roads; both of which bills passed the Legislature and became laws. But although these laws conferred an incalculable benefit upon the public, by highly improving both the condition of the schools and the roads, the very name of a tax was so odious to the people, that rather than pay a tax of even the smallest possible amount, they preferred working as they formerly did, five days during the year on the roads, and would allow their children to grow up without any instruction at all. Consequently both laws were abolished, and the former system restored, by the Legislature, at their session of 1826–1827.
In the year 1826 the office of Governor became again vacant. Ninian Edwards and Adolphus Frederick Hubbard, were the principal candidates for it. Ninian Edwards, a lawyer by profession, and Governor of Illinois Territory for the nine years previous to its admission into the Union as a sovereign State, had made himself many enemies by urging strict inquiries to be made into the corruption of the State Bank, so that, had it not been for his talents and noble personal appearance, he would most probably not have been elected. In a con