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re-chartered, with a capital of three hundred thousand dollars. It is to be noticed, however, that this bank legislation, just like that of many other States, similarly circumstanced, while it fully indorsed the Whig policy, in its fundamental principle, was by no means so skillfully done or so safely guarded as it should have been, and habitually was done in those States where the Whigs were in the ascendant. Whatever troubles have accrued in Illinois, under this head, have been chiefly due to the fact that Whig measures were not rightly shaped and executed by Democratic hands. Whig measures, framed and carried out by Democrats, have too often ended in a mere botch. At the same time, it is observable that these imperfect, yet plausible concessions to the public welfare, have often saved the Democratic party, at the expense of the real interest involved. The State bank charter passed the House of Representatives by one majority.
This Legislature also gave some attention to what are technically called internal improvements within the State. In behalf of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, the company for constructing which had been incorporated in 1825, a loan was agitated at the first session. Congress had granted for this work, in 1826, about 300,000 acres of land on the proposed route of the canal. But for a special message of Gov. Duncan, maintaining that the desired loan could be effected on a pledge of these canal lands alone, it is probable that the loan bill, reported by a Senator from Sangamon county, named George Forquer, would have passed. At the next session, in 1835, this measure was carried, a bill pledging the credit of the State in behalf of the Canal Company, to the amount originally proposed, having become a law. The loan was negotiated by Gov. Duncan the next year, and the work on this important canal was commenced in June, 1836. At the same special session, a large number of railroads, without State aid, were chartered, including the Illinois Central and the Galena and Chicago routes.
It is hardly necessary to state more distinctly that these measures, securing, with all the defects of their origin, immense benefits to the people of Illinois, and in their spirit accordant. with the great principles of the "American system," were sup
ported by Mr. Lincoln and his Whig associates. Not all they desired, these measures were yet the nearest approach to their wishes that could be obtained of the majority.
It was during the regular session of this Legislature, that Stephen A. Douglas, not himself a member, became first known to Mr. Lincoln. Late in the year 1833, Mr. Douglas, then in his twenty-first year, had migrated to Illinois (Vermont being his native State), and commenced teaching a district school in Winchester, Scott county. During the succeeding year, he gave a portion of his time to the study of law, taking part also in the political affairs of his locality. The Legislature, at this session, had taken from the Governor the power of appointing State's attorneys for the several judicial districts, and provided that these officers should be elected by the Legislature, in joint convention. Though he had been but a little more than a year in the State, and was scarcely to be regarded as an expert in the profession of the law, Mr. Douglas presented himself before the Legislature as a candidate for State's attorney for the first. judicial district, against Mr. Hardin, a distinguished lawyer, then in office. The movement was so adroit, that the youthful advocate distanced his unsuspecting competitor, receiving thirty-eight votes to thirty-six cast against him. Mr. Lincoln had not only preceded Mr. Douglas as a resident of Illinois, but, also, as thus seen, in gaining a political standing in the State.
In 1836, Mr. Lincoln was elected for a second term, as one of the seven representatives from Sangamon county. Among his associates were Mr. Dawson, re-elected, and Ninian W. Edwards. Mr. Douglas was one of the representatives from Morgan county (to which he had recently removed), and along with him Mr. Hardin, whom he had managed to supersede as State's attorney in 1835. The latter (who was subsequently in Congress, and who fell at Buena Vista) was the only Whig elected from that county, the other five representatives being Democrats. This canvass in Morgan county is memorable for introducing in Illinois, through the aid of Douglas, the convention system, the benefit of which he was subsequently
to reap in the local contests of that State. He had been put on the representative ticket to fill a vacancy occasioned by the declinature of one of the candidates, having failed himself in this instance to secure a nomination from the convention. He was never again elected to the Legislature, having in fact vacated his seat after the first session, and accepted the federal appointment of Register in the land office at Springfield.
In this House, as in that which immediately preceded, the Democrats had a decided majority. Gen. Semple was re-elected Speaker. Mr. Lincoln was assigned a place on the Committee on Finance. In addition to those we have already named, the House included many men of ability, who have been distinguished in the politics of the State or of the nation, among whom were James Shields, Augustus C. French, Robert Smith, John Dougherty, W. A. Richardson, and John A. McClernand. At the two sessions of this Legislature, in 1836 and '37, Mr. Lincoln came forward more prominently in debate gradually, becoming recognized as the leading man on the Whig side.
The subject of internal improvements became one of the most prominent ones before this Legislature, as had happened with the last. Of this policy, in a judiciously guarded form, Mr. Lincoln had been from the first a stanch and efficient advocate. He held it to be the duty of Government to extend its fostering aid, in every Constitutional way, and to a reasonable extent, to whatever enterprise of public utility required such assistance, in order to the fullest development of the natural resources, and to the most rapid healthful growth of the State. The Democratic party, while professing the letalone (laissez faire) principle in general, was compelled to follow pretty closely in the wake of its adversary, in some of its most distinctive features of public policy. The question of internal improvements was one of these. And while the Democrats had a decided majority of the members of each House, it was understood that, by the aid of pledges made contrary to Democratic teaching in general, a majority for liberal legislation in regard to internal improvements had likewise been secured. The business, in fact, under the grand excitement of
the flush times of 1836, was somewhat overdone, and through subsequent mismanagement and the revulsion of the next year, matters were eventually made still worse. The voice of the people was overwhelmingly in favor of the legislation which was granted. Even Whigs like Mr. Lincoln, were outstripped by some ardent Democrats-Mr. Douglas among them-in zeal for these improvements; they having unfortunately, as noticed in the case of bank-legislation, in appropriating the principle, failed to understand its most skillful and safe application in practice.
At the first session of 1836-7, about 1,300 miles of railroad were provided for, in various quarters, the completion of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, from Chicago to Peru, and the improvement of the navigation of the Kaskaskia, Illinois, Rock, and Great and Little Wabash rivers; requiring in all a loan of $8,000,000. This included the novel appropriation of $2,000,000 to be distributed among those counties through which none of the proposed improvements were to be made. The system voted by the Legislature was on a most magnificent scale, such as New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio or Indiana had not surpassed. This system of internal improvement, with Democratic variations, having scarcely been inaugurated when the crash of 1837 came, did not entirely correspond in practice with what it had promised in theory.
There was also a considerable addition made to the banking capital of the State at this session.
During the winter, resolutions of an extreme Southern character on the slavery question, were introduced, and, after discussion, adopted by the Democratic majority. The attempt was, of course, made to affix a character of abolitionism to all those who refused assent to these extreme views. At that time, the public sentiment of the North was not aroused on the subject, as it became a few years later, in consequence of pro-slavery aggressions. Yet Mr. Lincoln refused to vote for these resolutions, and exercised his Constitutional privilege, along with one of his colleagues from Sangamon county, of entering upon the Journal of the House his reasons for thus acting. As showing his sentiments twenty-three years ago,
on this now so prominent national question, the protest referred to, as it appears on the journal, is here appended in full:
MARCH 3, 1837.
The following protest was presented to the House, which was read and ordered to be spread on the journals, to wit: "Resolutions upon the subject of domestic slavery having passed both branches of the General Assembly, at its present session, the undersigned hereby protest against the passage of the same.
They believe that the institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy; but that the promulgation. of abolition doctrines tend rather to increase than abate its evils.
They believe that the Congress of the United States has no power, under the Constitution, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the different States.
They believe that the Congress of the United States has the power, under the Constitution, to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia; but that the power ought not to be exercised, unless at the request of the people of said District. "The difference between these opinions and those contained in the said resolutions, is their reason for entering this protest. "(Signed) "DAN STONE, "A. LINCOLN,
"Representatives from the County of Sangamon.'
On the formation of the separate territory of Illinois, in 1809, Kaskaskia, perhaps the oldest town in all the Western country, had been designated as the capital. Such it continued to be until Illinois was admitted into the Union as a State, in 1818, when Vandalia, far up the Kaskaskia river, was laid out as the new capital. For some time it continued to be relatively a central location. But during several years immediately preceding 1837, the middle and northern portions of the State had filled so rapidly that the removal of the capital to a point nearer the geographical center had become manifestly expedient. At this session, accordingly, an act was passed changing the seat of government to Springfield, the principal town in the interior of the State, from and after the 4th day of July, 1839. To the people of Sangamon county, whom Mr. Lincoln represented, this was of course a