Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 1.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
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Remarks in the Illinois Legislature
Concerning the Illinois and Michigan Canal [1]

January 22, 23, 1840

Mr. LINCOLN, from the select committee to which was referred the Canal bill, [2] reported the same back to the House, with the following amendment: ``the scrip hereby authorized to be issued, shall be applied to existing contracts.''

Mr. LINCOLN said that although he voted for its engrossment before, yet he did it somewhat reluctantly. He was under the impression that the scrip would be paid out for less than its nominal value; but as it was to be paid out for contracts made in view of money, and if paid with scrip at its nominal value, no loss would result therefrom; but on the contrary, the State would make something. Upon the scrip which is now propos[ed, to be issued, . . . would be . . .] [3] whereas, we would have to pay interest upon money. Contracts had been made when the prices for labor, provisions, &c., were high; and hence contractors were willing to take scrip, as they would not thereby sustain as much loss as they would, were they to abandon entirely their contracts. He thought that we should lose much by stopping the work on the Canal---that a mutual injury would result to the State by suspending all operations there. It would be, continued Mr. L., very much like stopping a skift in the middle of a river---if it was not going up, it would go down. The embankments upon the Canal would be washing away, and the excavations filling up. He, for these reasons, was for the bill as amended; and, in conclusion, would humbly express the hope that it might pass.

Mr. LINCOLN [4] said he had not examined to see what amount of scrip would probably be needed. The principal point in his mind was this, that no body was obliged to take these certificates. It is altogether voluntary on their part, and if they apprehend it will fall on their hands, they will not take it.

Further---the loss, if any there be, will fall on the citizens of thatPage  197 section of the country. This scrip is not going to circulate over an extensive range of country, but will be confined chiefly to the vicinity of the canal. Now we find the representatives of that section of the country are all in favor of the bill. When we propose to protect their interests, they say to us, leave us to take care of ourselves---we are willing to run this risk. And this is reasonable; we must suppose they are competent to protect their own interests, and it is only fair to let them do it.

Annotation

[1]   Sangamo Journal, January 28, 1840, and Illinois State Register, January 29, 1840.

[2]   A bill providing for the continuation of the Illinois and Michigan Canal.

[3]   Practically all of one line is cut off top of newspaper at this point.

[4]   The report continues from the Illinois State Register. Daniel T. Moore, Democrat from St. Clair County, had expressed fear that holders of the scrip would lose. Joseph Naper, Democrat from Cook County, thought there was no danger of this.

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