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new ministers, paying no regard to their declamations, settled themselves wherever a more refined style of preaching had become acceptable, and being satisfied with the salary offered to them, commenced building churches and organizing congregations. Success attended their enterprises, and their less erudite brethren were soon exiled from the towns into districts, where the people still believed the chief merits of an orator to consist in the power of his lungs, and the theatrical display of bis gesticulations. A large part of the people, however, continued to be prejudiced against the new ministers, whom they forbade to establish theological departments in any college or seminary, which had been built by them, and incorporated by an act of the Legislature.
During the years from 1820 to 1830, a great change took place in the appearance and modes of dressing of the people. The coon-skin cap, the hunting-shirt, and leather breeches, the moccasins, and the belt around the waist, to wbich the butcher-knife and tomahawk were appended, had entirely disappeared before the modern clothing apparel. The women had exchanged their cotton and woollen frocks, manufactured, and striped with blue dye, by themselves, for modern dresses of silk and calico; they had laid aside the cotton handkerchiefs, which formerly covered their heads, and adopted bonnets instead; they would not, as formerly, walk barefooted to church, but would often be seen riding on fine horses to the house of worship. They would go to church flattering themselves with a secret hope, that they would make the best figure in the whole assembly, and outshine their neighbors by the brilliancy of their dress. To be able to gratify their ambition for fine dresses, they were obliged to become industrious and enterprising in business. The desire for fine dress soon also superinduced a similar desire for polite society and knowledge, so that the old folks, who would have much preferred remaining undisturbed in their sluggish tranquillity and repose, thoroughly taken by surprise, everywhere uttered loud complaints, that the prodigalities, luxuries and innovations of the young; would speedily cause the ruin of the country.
At the time, that such a rapid improvement was taking place in the manners and customs of the people, commerce comparatively made but little progress. Of steamboats, which had been introduced in
the western country about the year 1816, the Illinoisians possessed but two small ones in 1830, which were running up the Illinois river as far as Peoria. A majority of the merchants of the country were retailers of dry-goods and groceries, who, with but a small amount of money and goods in their hands, sold only for cash, or notes payable on sight in cash, which they remitted to their Eastern creditors, so that they would have soon been drained of their last specie, had not the money of the newly-arrived immigrants supplied them again with the sinews of trade. Nothing was exported, save a few skins, bides, furs, with tallow and beeswax. The merchants of Illinois used to go to St. Louis to purchase Eastern exchange, but upon the suppression of the United States Bank in that city, these facilities of commerce no longer existed, and the traders of Illinois, when the high rates of premium had rendered it impossible for them to remit either money or bills of exchange to their Eastern creditors, were compelled to purchase the productions of the country, and to remit them to their creditors in place of cash. Most of the exports were shipped to New Orleans, at that time a place of inconsiderable importance. Since there were no merchants or express companies to forward the goods to market, the Illinoisian farmer would build his own boats, load them with his goods, and, with the assistance of a few men, sail down the river to New Orleans. After a long and troublesome voyage, he would arrive in New Orleans, only to fall an easy victim to the runners and sharpers, who abounded in that city, and to go home penniless. On his return home he would find his farm neglected, and yet, potwithstanding this wholesome lesson, undertake, perhaps, another expedition to New Orleans at the earliest possible period. Even after, in consequence of the great improvements in steamboat davigation, excellent opportunities bad been afforded to the people, not only to expand their commerce, but also their ideas about it, they still persevered in pursuing a narrow-minded, selfish commercial policy. They would, for instance, raise no surplus of produce, except when prices were high, and even then, perhaps, demand a higher price for their produce, than they could have sold it for in the market. They would never be in a hurry to sell, when prices were below their expectations, but rather wait, even for the space of a whole year, until they should be able to sell at the prices they had fixed upon; or they would even cease prodụcing altogether, when prices continued low. The necessary consequence of such a proceeding was, that by allowing their produce to waste away and rot, they would lose more money than they could have gained, even if they had sold it at the highest market price, and would incur still another loss by being obliged to borrow money at high rates of interest, in order to pay for many necessities of life, or to carry on their enterprises, since, having sold nothing, they were often entirely destitute of money. However evident the folly of their course might be to others, they could not be prevailed upon to abandon it, having, it appears, an unshaken confidence in the infallibility of their own judgment.
In regard to the state of politics, of the government, and the administration of justice, the following appears worthy of notice. The majority of the Illinoisians were new immigrants, who had come with the avowed purpose of bettering their own condition. Bearing this fact in our mind, we shall not be surprised to hear, that they evinced an utter indifference for all matters connected with government, confiding these entirely to the hands of cunning politicians, in whose rule they seemed to acquiesce, provided the latter would leave them undisturbed, and in possession of the largest personal freedom. The original pioneers, though now but a small minority of the people, easily to be distinguished by their linsey shirts, leather breeches, moccasins, and the large butcher-knives in their belts, which knives were an indispensable part of their dress, were apt to take a more active interest in politics, as appears from the predominating influence they exercised upon the elections, at which, by a mere parade of superior physical force and reckless spirit, they would frequently decide the contest in favor of the candidate identified with their own party and interests. Politicians were very careful not to offend this class of men, known as the Butcher-Knife Boys; but, for the rest, taking advantage of the want of regard paid to politics by the people at large, secured to themselves nearly all the offices and emoluments of the government; created others, the salaries of which they diligently pocketed; passed laws for their own benefit, and whilst hypocritically pretending to watch over the welfare of the people, in whose name they governed, were always ready to deceive them in the most shameful and barefaced manner. Nor were honest politicians and office-holders safe from
their intrigues, for they knew how to gain the confidence of such honorable folks, by the most cuuning devices and most artful manouyres, using them for their own purposes without their being aware of it. Thus it was, that Samuel Crozier, a man of most irreproachable honor, and a member of the Senate, whom the politicians had used, with great success, as an instrument for the accomplishment of their own ends, without the slightest suspicion on his part, after having been in the Senate for two sessions, was heard to say, at the close of the second, that he “really did believe, that some intrigue bad been going on.” Such politicians, as by their polished and winning manners bad gained the favors of credulous people, whom they afterwards imposed upon, in a slang phrase, were said to have “greased and swallowed their victims."
The elections in Illinois during that time were at first by ballot, but as nobody was willing to make known, whom he had voted for at the elections, since, to vote against a candidate was then considered as a personal insult, and as balloting, by opening a vast field for intrigue, fraud, and corruption, brought the system of voting thus into disgrace, the Legislature, at their session in the year 1828–9, made it unlawful to elect by ballot.
The judiciary system of those times appears to have been a very simple one. People then did not require judges to be possessed of profound learning and erudition, but would be satisfied with one reputed a man of sagacity and good common sense. The state of civilization then enjoyed by the country, and the small amount of business then transacted by the judges, not having yet rendered necessary the erection of large and splendid halls of justice, the judges would hold their courts in log-houses, or in the bar-rooms of inns, fitted up with temporary seats for the judges, lawyers, and jurors. It is related, that on the opening of the first Circuit Court held by Judge John Reynolds, the sheriff went into the court-yard and said to the people : “Boys, come in; our John is going to hold Court.” Judges seem to have been considered as very amiable, harmless men. In faot, the judges, whenever they could do so, would leave the decision of a case to the juries, lest they might give offence to any of the parties con. cerned, or expose their incompetence. They would tell the jury: “If the jury believe from the evidence, that such a matter is proved, then the law is so and so.” One of these judges used to say to the lawyers asking him for instructions: “Why, gentlemen, the jury understand the case; they want no instructions; no doubt they will do justice between the parties.” The same judge once had to pronounce sentence of death upon a man by the name of Green. He said to him: “Mr. Green, the jury in their verdict say you are guilty of murder, and the law says you are to be hung. Now, I want you and all your friends down on Indian Creek to know that it is not I, who condemns you, but it is the jury and the law.” He then asked him, what time he would like to be hung. The prisoner replied, he was ready to die at any time the Court would appoint. The judge then told the prisoner, that the Court would give him four weeks' time to prepare himself for death. The Attorney General of the State, who prosecuted the case, interposed here, and required the Court to state to the prisoner, the particular reasons of the judgment pronounced upon him, and solemnly to exhort him to repent and prepare for death. To this the Judge replied : “0, Mr. Green understands the whole matter as well as if I had preached to him a month. He knows he's got to be hung this day four weeks. You understand that, Mr. Green, don't you ?” “ Yes,” said the prisoner, whereupon he was taken back to prison to await the day on which he was to be hung.
Except during the period of the universal bankruptcy, the lawsuits were mostly small cases, actions for trespass, slander, indictments for assault and battery, riots, and unlicensed rum-selling; the latter occurring most frequently. Jurors were disposed to forgive minor offences, and would even discharge a murderer, when it could be shown, that an altercation and an ungovernable fury had driven him to murder; but would always convict the murderer, who had assassinated his victim in cold blood, and in a cowardly, clandestine manner. The character of the Illinoisians was in many respects violent and impetuous, which will account for the willingness on the part of jurors to dismiss indictments for assault and batteries, or even murder. This spirit of the Illinoisians is best shown in the following instance. In the year 1827, there was a very excited election for State Treasurer, in which the former occupant of the office was defeated. After the election the Legislature adjourned, but before they had left the hall,