PART THREE: THE LONG NINE [missing figure]
THE LONG NINE
SHORTLY after Lincoln returned to New Salem as an experienced legislator to greet his constituents, the Il|linois Advocate in Vandalia proudly announced on February 3 the end of its journalistic monopoly. Soon, said the Advocate, there would be two additional papers for the campaign of 1836, a Whig sheet, and the Illinois State Register and Vandalia Republican for Van Buren. The Democratic Register appeared on February 12, hailed by the Advocate as an "able assistant" in the fight to elect Jackson's chosen political heir. But by the end of March, John York Sawyer, public printer and editor of the Advocate, was dead of pneumonia, and his paper was swallowed by the Register, William Walters, editor and proprietor.^1 The Whig paper, dubbed Free Press and edited by an unsuccessful legislative aspirant named William Hodge, appeared in May, and fought through the campaign before changing its name to Free Press and Illinois Whig.
The presidential campaign, vigorously begun in Illinois by the cross fire between House and Senate over Van Buren and White, and by editorial give-and-take in the partisan press, waxed warmer throughout spring, summer, and autumn. Lincoln followed the Whig line as a confirmed White man. With his Whig colleagues, the young legislator campaigned so effectively that Van Buren lost Sangamon County by a heavy vote. But more important to the local Whigs than the presi|dential canvass was the legislative race. The two did not con|flict, for the legislative election came August 1, the presidential election November 7. And a good showing for White in No|vember was sought to enhance the prestige of the Sangamon Whigs.
Abraham Lincoln, politically confident, enlarged his non-political Page 72 activities. Again a working surveyor, in February he laid out the town of Petersburg, hard by New Salem; surveyed another town, Huron, in March, and a third, Albany, in June. New Salem residents moved steadily into the new village of Petersburg, and soon the New Salem post office was closed. In March Lincoln was certified in court as a person of good char|acter, a preliminary to admission to the practice of law; and he made a few cautious investments in land.^2
It was in March, also, that Lincoln announced his candidacy for re-election to the legislature, and in June wrote his cam|paign platform for publication in the Sangamo Journal. William Carpenter became postmaster of Springfield and did not run again, nor did Stuart, a candidate for Congress. Dawson, now openly a Whig, did enter the race. Thus, with seven seats to be filled, only two candidates sought re-election. Candidates ap|peared in such numbers that voters called for guidance, asking the aspirants to "show their hands." "Agreed," wrote Lincoln in a New Salem cabin. "Here's mine."
Nothing was easier for him than writing letters to the press. He favored universal adult suffrage, internal improvements paid for "by distributing the proceeds of the sales of the public lands," and Hugh L. White for president. As representative, he would carry out the will of Sangamon County. In matters on which the wishes of his constituents could not be known, he would do what his own judgment taught him would "best ad|vance their interests." Of more than a dozen announced candi|dates, only five wrote their principles, and Lincoln's letter was by far the ablest and most succinct.^3 Other candidates in|cluded William F. Elkin, former representative and unsuccess|ful senatorial aspirant; Ninian W. Edwards, recently attorney general of Illinois, resigned; Andrew McCormick, who finished sixth in 1834; Richard Quinton, Democrat, nosed out by Stuart in that year; John Calhoun, Democrat, former county surveyor and employer of Lincoln; and a host of newcomers.
Canards began to fly in June, and the whole of July was spent on the hustings. Serious candidates of both parties (not Page 73 including casuals like the individual known only as Yancy, who polled twelve votes on election day), arranged through the Springfield papers a series of political meetings which en|abled every candidate to be heard in all sections of the county. The politicians traveled on horseback from one grove or town to the next, and each made a speech. "Mr. Lincoln," wrote one of his colleagues, "took a leading part . . . , manifesting skill and tact in offensive and defensive debates, presenting his arguments with great force and ability, and boldly attacking the . . . positions taken by opposing candidates."^4
The Whigs were greatly assisted by an extensive revolt among milk-and-cider Democrats, who, disgusted with Van Buren as Jackson's heir, had begun kicking over the traces early in 1835. The canvass began at Springfield, then the caravan rode west, north, east, south, west, ending at Spring|field on July 30. A measure much discussed was the unpopular, "undemocratic" "Little Bull" law, passed at the last session. But Lincoln was safe; he had voted against it. On election day he ran highest among the seventeen who received votes, and the entire Whig slate won. A Whig was elected senator; and since the holdover senator, Archer Gray Herndon, was also a Whig, Sangamon County had a representation of nine Whigs in Senate and House, a group large enough to accomplish things if united and directed toward a common goal. Before the party of nine reached Vandalia in December, steps were taken to provide a common objective.
Meanwhile Lincoln was licensed to practice law in Illinois, and had tried and lost his first case in Springfield before the Sangamon County Circuit Court.
Vandalia, by law capital of Illinois until 1840, lay far to the north of Kaskaskia; but it was still in the southern part of the state. Population trends of the early 'thirties clearly indicated that central and northern Illinois were destined to be the populous areas, and agitation for a northerly movement of the capital was inevitable. The legislature in 1833, seeing an op|portunity Page 74 to placate public opinion at no cost and at the same time strike a blow at the expanding north, provided for a vote on capital relocation at the next general election, August, 1834.
When this measure became law Springfield advanced its claim, declaring that no other town could rival the central location of the seat of Sangamon County. Sangamon promoters prepared for the election by arranging a convention of northern counties which met at Rushville, northwest of Beardstown, near but not in Sangamon, in April, 1834. Twelve counties sent delegates, who resolved that citizens should vote for Springfield. Efforts to displace Springfield with Alton, Peoria, and "Geographical Centre" were defeated, and a long "Address to the People" recited the reasons for moving the capital from Vandalia to Springfield. The act providing for the election, alleged the address, was unfairly drawn. Northern voters could choose one of four sites, while southerners had but two choices. This effort to "divide and conquer" could be beaten only by united northern support of Springfield. A long Sangamo Journal editorial of two months later detailed Spring|field's qualifications, and pointed out why Alton and Peoria did not merit a second thought.^5
Letters to the editor in numerous newspapers kept the sub|ject warm. Springfield's champions directed their strongest blows at Alton, the Mississippi River town which thought itself destined to challenge St. Louis as a metropolis. But on election day Springfield ran third, narrowly nosed out by Vandalia and Alton. Only these three received sustained sup|port, and Springfield complained that if all counties had voted, and northern votes had not been diverted by the skulduggery of placing Peoria, Jacksonville, and Geographical Centre on the list, Springfield would have received twice the total given to Alton.^6 Nothing could be done about relocation during Lin|coln's first two sessions. The south was still too strong. Action must await reapportionment, after which northern counties like Cook would have more than one-sixth of a representative —in 1836 Cook County elected three men to the House.
Page 75A fortnight before the Sangamon delegation left for the seat of government, a public meeting on the subject of internal improvements was held in Springfield. Grandiose hopes of navigability of the Sangamon River having run aground in 1832, the county required a railroad to get its agricultural surplus to market. Efforts of 1835 to build a road by means of private capital came to nothing, and the county, perforce, placed its hopes on a railroad financed by the state treasury. The public meeting on internal improvements therefore evoked enthusiastic support. The Sangamo Journal admonished on the day of the Springfield meeting:
The meeting resolved that Illinois required and demanded broad internal improvements, to be financed by borrowed money, not by taxation; adopted a seven-point program to be submitted to the Vandalia convention; and appointed sixteen delegates. No representative or senator was named a delegate; the slate was bipartisan, including John T. Stuart and Colonel Thomas Mather, Whigs; George Forquer, John Calhoun, and Robert Allen, Democrats. Nothing was said at the meeting about capital relocation. The absence of the county's law|makers from the delegate list was strange. A week later a Journal editorial on the approaching legislative session spoke of the internal improvement need, of judicial reform, of a United States Senator to be elected, of better road laws, but ignored capital relocation.^8 Sangamon County viewed internal improvements as something to be sought for the sake of trans|portation and economic advance, and secretly, as a bargaining Page 76 instrument which might make Springfield the permanent capital of Illinois.
Abraham Lincoln, addressing his Springfield constituents as he opened his campaign for re-election, pointed to the last legislature as the one which pulled the state out of debt. The claim was well-founded. Legislative parsimony, coupled with that national prosperity which enabled the Jackson administra|tion to pay off all the national debt and pile up a surplus, had produced, "for once," a treasury surplus in Vandalia. And Illinois expected nearly a million dollars from Washington when the federal government "distributed" or "deposited" the national surplus.^9
Vandalia, like state and nation, was booming. Land specu|lation was so popular that any traveler from out of the state was automatically taken for a land agent and approached as such. One literary sojourner who passed through Vandalia in the summer of 1836 found the capital disappointing and un|prepossessing:
This traveler, despite his unflattering description of the village of 1836, saw Vandalia as a future metropolis with an imposing record of progress already to its credit. Commercial establishments, sharing the general optimism, were more numerous than ever. Charles Prentice, merchant, sold out at a profit early in 1836, opened a new store in April ("Dry Goods, Hard Ware, Queensware, Groceries, Cutlery, Glassware, tin|ware, etc. . . . , will be sold uncommonly low for cash, or in exchange for Wheat, live hogs, pork, bacon, butter, Beeswax, tallow, beefhides, deer skins, furs, etc."), moved into enlarged quarters in December, and ran an advertisement more than a column long. The number of physicians had doubled, and skilled laborers were in demand. A summer advertisement ran:
True, improvements were wanted almost anywhere one looked. The road across the Kaskaskia had been nearly im|passable in August. Bridge repairs, paid for by private sub|scription and the town trustees, were under way. A writer who signed himself "Vandalia" complained in September of the "infamous Stage carriages . . . tolerated on all lines" running to the capital. The Democratic newspaper ran out of paper in November, giving the Whigs a temporary monopoly.^1^2 Any one who doubted, however, that needed improvements were being carried forward had but to look at the public square, where a new capitol was rising.
The second state house, ruinous when the legislature ad|journed in January, threatened to fall down in June. The west Page 78 wall had sunk four inches, and the north wall bulged out al|most a foot. The floor of the Senate chamber, nine inches down at the center, somewhat resembled a modern indoor running track. A Methodist congregation accustomed to meet in the state house refused to return. The old bank building, which housed state offices, was almost as bad. A crisis in public build|ings was at hand. Governor Duncan hoped, as late as August, that the capitol could be repaired. But Secretary of State Field, Auditor Davis, and Treasurer Dement, assured by mechanics that repairs were impossible, convinced him that a new state house was necessary. The legislature had authorized no such building, but neither had they in 1824 when the now decrepit second state house was put up to replace the burned wooden capitol.^1^3
Vandalia citizens, intent on retaining the seat of govern|ment, with Alexander P. Field, Levi Davis, and James T. B. Stapp, former auditor, at the head of the movement, pledged $500 by individual subscriptions and induced Governor Duncan to assign $5,000 from the state contingent fund to get the work started. The two decrepit old buildings were torn down and salvaged materials were used in the new building or sold. Excavation began in the center of the public square, and a stone foundation was laid in late August.^1^4 A local joiner, John Taylor, assisted by William Hodge, editor of the Whig paper, hastily drew plans for a plain two-story brick building deemed large enough to house the legislature and most state officials for decades to come. The whole project, as in 1824, was based on faith that the state would pay for the completed capitol.
Throughout autumn the public square was thronged with workers cleaning brick from the old buildings, hauling new brick from a local kiln, shoveling sand dug from the river, toiling day and night in fair weather and foul. Wagons from St. Louis hauled timbers, planks, flooring, glass, putty, hard|ware to be unloaded and installed.^1^5 By late November, when legislators began arriving by stage and registering at Robert Page 79 Blackwell's New White House, Abner Flack's Vandalia Hotel (formerly Charter's Tavern), or the "New Hotel" at the Sign of the Green Tree, the dignitaries peered with interest at the littered lot on the west side of the square where the old state house stood, and at the new capitol in the center, surrounded by apparatus of construction. Vandalia could congratulate itself that the building was erected by December 5, the opening date of the Tenth General Assembly, though much remained to be done within. Surely such industry would not be spurned, and such energy ignored, by moving the seat of government.
Innkeepers of Vandalia had no cause for complaint in De|cember, unless it was to regret that their establishments were not more commodious. Prices were up and customers numer|ous. An enlarged legislature was assembling for a session destined to be the longest yet held. Great measures would be before it, augmenting the crowd of lobbyists and hangers-on. So numerous were these that the social season began badly; few wives could find accommodations. Only three or four ap|peared during the whole month, and they became "heartily sick of the place."^1^6 Workmen would be needed all winter at the state house to finish the interior. The state internal im|provements convention brought a swarm of interested parties, many of whom would remain until the last word had been said on the subject in House, Senate, and Council of Revision. Government itself was a source of custom. Officials deprived of office space by the building program could not move into the new capitol, for the builders had concentrated on the second floor in order to finish in time for the legislative session, and had left the first floor interior to be completed while debate resounded upstairs.
Joseph Duncan was back from his Jacksonville home, angrier than ever at the public acts of his former friend Jack|son, and prepared to say so officially. Looking over the roster of the legislature, the governor found that the House contained a heavy majority of new faces—66 novice legislators—the re|sult Page 80 of reapportionment and popular detestation of the Little Bull law. Only sixteen veterans of the 1834 and '35 sessions re|turned, while nine who had been members in 1832 or earlier were back. In the Senate, to which twenty-eight had been elected in 1836, there were twelve new faces, five re-elected senators, and eleven new senators who had advanced from the House.
The arrival of so many new men made the lines of party alignment even more confused than usual. How would these novices vote? No one could be sure until the situation de|veloped, but Duncan could expect trouble, for Jackson's party had just won a presidential election, and floaters would gravi|tate in that direction. As legislation began, the House was discovered to contain 36 Democrats, 8 questionable Demo|crats, 19 Whigs, 4 questionable Whigs, and 24 members who might go either way. These last held the balance of power, and only four of them tended to vote Whig regularly. The Senate contained a nominal Democratic majority, but many who called themselves Democrats were old Jackson men in revolt against the new-fangled Douglass-convention, party-line system, and voted with the Whigs so often that the minority party controlled the Senate.^1^7
No less difficult than the task of distinguishing Whig from Democrat was that of picking out, among the stream of men who walked carefully through the debris of construction and entered the new capitol, the men of ability and promise from those who would never again hold a post of public trust. There were plenty of both varieties in Vandalia as December ar|rived. No Illinois legislature before or since contained so many men of future distinction.^1^8 Most of these were in the House.
Little Stephen Douglass, now twenty-three, stood at the head of Morgan County's six-man delegation, all Democrats but one. A first-termer, he was already a leader, prepared to play a major rôle in the session.
The lone Whig of the Morgan six was handsome, belligerent John J. Hardin, twenty-six, aristocratic Kentuckian, educated Page 81 lawyer, former prosecuting attorney, and an opponent of headlong internal improvements. Hardin had the ability and convictions of the successful politician, but lacked the wiles. A ready orator, he habitually spent the first fifteen minutes of a speech in a combination stammer and stumble, but plowed ahead regardless, and settled down to rugged eloquence.
Another youngster was Augustus Chaplin French, Demo|crat, New Hampshire native, lawyer of moderate abilities and no polish, without capacities for leadership, inveterate teller of Munchausen-like stories, who was to astonish his col|leagues by being elected, in 1846, the first Yankee governor of Illinois, and to surprise them again by becoming the first Illinois governor to win re-election.
James Shields, twenty-six, Democrat, born in Ireland, Kas|kaskia Page 82 lawyer, possessed more than his share of the pugnacity native to the "auld sod." A student of languages as well as of law, he was also a professional soldier who spared no pains to look the part. Handsome, erect, black-mustached, Shields had been seriously wounded in the Florida campaigns, was popular and extremely combative. He was later to come close to crossing swords, literally, with Abraham Lincoln, and still later to set an American record by being elected United States Senator from three states, Illinois, Minnesota, and Missouri.
A fifth newcomer was Usher Ferguson Linder of Coles County, of Whiggish persuasion, Kentuckian, lawyer, who had been in Illinois one year. Tall and gangling, dandified in dress, fond of the bottle, a witty and powerful speaker, Linder rapidly acquired influence and was elected attorney general at mid-session. His touchstone of conduct was to deliver a speech at every opportunity. In old age Linder was to write his reminiscences of his political colleagues, describing nearly all as paragons of oratory, while secretly believing that he could beat the lot.
Linder was not a Lincoln man. Nor was John Alexander McClernand of Shawneetown, twenty-four, lawyer, first-termer, Black Hawk War veteran, future Congressman and general, whose eloquence quickly brought him influence. A third vigorous opponent of Lincoln's program was little John Dement of Vandalia, recently treasurer, who entered the House to protect Vandalia's future.
Steadfastly on Lincoln's side was John Hogan, thirty-one, first-termer, native of County Cork, former itinerant Methodist preacher and cobbler, turned Belleville merchant. Short, red-faced, garrulous, companionable, his loud voice was often heard hymning the glories of internal improvements.
Edwin B. Webb of White County, thirty-four, lawyer, second-termer, was a Virginia gentleman and warm friend of Captain Lincoln. Called "Bat" because of his small figure, elegant garb and manners, Webb worked for caution and sanity in internal improvements.^1^9
Page 83Lincoln's really important support came from the Sangamon delegation of nine Whigs, seven in the House, two in the Senate. Dubbed "the Long Nine" on arrival in Vandalia, they attracted attention as the largest delegation, the most united, and the tallest. Some of the Long Nine were men of average height, while two, Lincoln and Andrew McCormick, were giants. The total height of the Sangamon nine was exactly fifty-four feet. The Long Nine stood out in political experience and ability as they did in altitude. Lincoln, their leader, was with one exception the youngest. He had stepped into the shoes of John T. Stuart and had not yet proved his capacity for political management. Among his Sangamon colleagues in the House were two men of greater experience, John Dawson and Dan Stone.
Dawson, forty-five, Virginian, veteran of the War of 1812, in which he was wounded, captured by Indians, and held prisoner in Canada until ransomed by friends, had come to Sangamon County in 1827, staked out a farm, begotten ten children, served as captain in the Black Hawk War, and been elected to the legislature in 1830 and 1834.
Dan Stone, thirty-six, Vermonter, had acquired a college education and come west to Cincinnati, where he practiced law, was a member of the city council, and served in the Ohio legislature. He arrived in Springfield in 1833, and quickly established himself as a man of parts. Stone was an enthusi|astic tree fancier, debater, and opponent of slavery.
William F. Elkin, oldest of the Long Nine, was forty-five and the father of fifteen children. Kentucky-born, he reached the Sangamon region in 1825 after stops in Ohio and Indiana, established a farm, and was elected to the legislature in 1828.
Youngest of the Long Nine—younger than Lincoln by two months—was Ninian W. Edwards. Vain and reserved, Ed|wards was not popular in the legislature, and hence did not ac|quire influence consistent with his merits. "Constitutionally an aristocrat," wrote a colleague of Edwards, "he hated democracy . . . as the devil is said to hate holy water."^2^0
Page 84Robert L. Wilson, thirty-one, Pennsylvanian, was a self-made lawyer who reached Sangamon County by way of Ohio and Kentucky in 1833, and practiced law in the village of Athens, ten miles north of Springfield. The 1836 campaign was Wilson's first political venture.
Only slightly more experienced was Andrew McCormick of Springfield, thirty-five, stonecutter, a man almost as tall as Lincoln and weighing nearly three hundred pounds. A native of Tennessee, McCormick was forced when only fourteen to be|come head of a family of nine. These dependents he supported successfully, brought them to Sangamon County in 1829, then went adventuring in the Galena lead region, fought in the Indian wars, came to Springfield in 1833, married, and begat the first of ten children. A candidate for the legislature in 1834, McCormick had finished in sixth place; in 1836 he was seventh, but was elected.
The Long Nine had two men in the Senate, Job Fletcher and Archer G. Herndon. Fletcher, forty-three, Virginian, War of 1812 veteran, farmer, father of seven, was among the earliest to plant in the rich Sangamon soil, arriving in 1819. Besides farming, Fletcher taught school and served as the county's first justice of the peace. He had served one term (1826-28) in the House, one session in the Senate (1835-36), and had been defeated in three campaigns (1822, 1828, 1830).
Archer G. Herndon, forty-one, Virginian, Springfield tavernkeeper, had reached Sangamon County in 1821, almost as early as Fletcher. His eldest son, William Henry Herndon, was nearly eighteen, and ready to enter Illinois College at Jacksonville. Strongly pro-slavery, Archer Herndon's political allegiance was a mystery to friend and foe. He was Whig or Democrat at will, but mostly Democrat. At the moment he was acting with the Whigs. Herndon's Senate seat marked his first success in politics; in 1830 and 1832 he had been de|feated.^2^1
Besides Herndon and Fletcher, and holdover senators like Cyrus Edwards, the Senate contained only two notables. Page 85 Orville Hickman Browning of Quincy, new member and staunch friend of Lincoln, was starting his long public career. Robert K. McLaughlin, one of the founders of Vandalia, former treasurer and member of both houses, was back in the Senate to assist John Dement in the fight against the capital removers.
Important men were seen and heard also among the crowd of lobbyists. Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard, New Englander, former representative from Danville, now of Chicago, Indian trader and pioneer, master of Indian lore, Black Hawk War veteran, was in the capital "with some axes to grind." As a commissioner of the proposed Illinois and Michigan Canal, ap|pointed by Governor Duncan in 1835, Hubbard's interest was obvious; he hoped, however, to persuade the legislature to forget the canal and build a railroad. During the session he entertained the lawmakers by performing an authentic Win|nebago Indian war dance in costume.
John T. Stuart, internal improvements convention delegate, defeated for Congress in 1836, was present to aid the Long Nine in their ambitious projects and to enhance his Congres|sional prospects for 1838. "Cheerful, social and good-hu|mored," Stuart was popular and very influential. Sometimes he was referred to as the handsomest man in the state, some|times dubbed "Jerry Sly" because of his "great powers of sly management and intrigue."
Also a prominent supporter of the Sangamon County dele|gation was Archibald Williams of Quincy, former senator and in 1836 a candidate for the United States Senate. Tall, angular, awkward, he was considered the homeliest man in the state. A Kentuckian, self-made lawyer, clear thinker, he was politically a backsliding Democrat, and associated himself dur|ing the session with Lincoln. As a former senator, Williams had access to both houses, and spent so much time conferring with Lincoln in the House that some historians have taken him for a member. Visitors, seeing Williams and Lincoln near Lincoln's seat in a rear corner (from which the Sangamon Page 86 leader could watch the House carefully and get out quickly to mend a fence), heads together in earnest conversation, were moved to inquire, "Who in hell are those two ugly men?"^2^2
Looking over the new state house before the convening of the Tenth General Assembly, the honorable members from Sanga|mon were gratified, and Vandalia partisans were shocked, to find the unfinished building too small for the expanded mem|bership. The ambitious builders, never having dealt with a House of ninety-one, had not made the chamber large enough for 1836; much less would it do for 1856. Therefore the new building did not constitute a strong argument for keeping the government in Vandalia. Dodging workmen, Lincoln and Stuart examined the second floor. The House chamber occu|pied the west end, the Senate chamber the east, and between the two, at the end of a central hall, was a room for committees and clerks. Both chambers had a spectators' gallery built as a balcony at the rear, reached by an ascending staircase. Desks, tables, chairs, and sandbox spittoons were old friends. They had been moved from the old capitol, while chairs and a few tables had been bought from local merchants and crowded in for the twenty-six additional representatives.
Monday morning, December 5, the legislature began work, but under difficulties. "The plastering . . . is not yet dry," said a local paper, and the legislative chambers were "conse|quently most uncomfortable, if not unsafe, tenements."^2^3 Dawson called the House to order, temporary officers were chosen, and adjournment quickly agreed upon. In the after|noon a Speaker was elected. The candidates were the veteran James Semple, John Dement, favorite of Vandalia's partisans, and Newton Cloud, the Morgan County preacher. Putting up no candidate of their own, the Whigs supported Cloud, who failed to come within striking distance of victory. Semple won on the fourth ballot. After this unpropitious beginning, Lin|coln moved that a principal clerk be picked, and another veteran, David Prickett, was the unanimous choice. Another Page 87 clerk was selected, then the office of doorkeeper was acted upon, with fourteen candidates presented. Three ballots ac|complished nothing, and the House adjourned to make room for the internal improvements convention.
This convention, made up of internal improvements dele|gates chosen at county mass meetings, assembled to bring pres|sure on the legislature, and was so large that only the House chamber would hold it. Subsequently described by the House internal improvements committee as "highly talented and re|spectable . . . , composed of delegates fresh from the people, and convened under circumstances of privation, which argued much for their patriotism and devotion to the country," the convention occupied the seats of House members on the first three afternoons of the session. The delegates agreed on the need for internal improvements. But debate arose over how best to get them done, one group wanting the state to make all improvements, the other demanding that government merely assist chartered corporations. A compromise was reached, which recommended improvement of principal rivers only, a north-south and an east-west railroad, and state assistance for companies engaged "in constructing other works of a less general nature." Both Vandalia papers declined to publish news of the convention, rightly guessing that the movement might work against Vandalia's capital interests. But the adopted resolutions easily found their way into legislative hands.^2^4
Tuesday morning the House picked a doorkeeper in two more ballots. Preliminary organization completed, the mem|bers fled the clammy chamber and warmed themselves in taverns nearby. Nothing was done Wednesday beyond adopt|ing the rules of the last session, with minor changes, and on Thursday the House met only long enough to adjourn. Friday morning's session lasted five minutes. Many of the more inter|ested and less thirsty members spent their free time watching a battle in the Senate across the hall. Lieutenant Governor Jenkins had resigned to become president of the new Illinois Page 88 Central Railroad Company, and a presiding officer had to be chosen before the Senate was ready for legislative business. Democratic schism was revealed in full light, and a Whig, William H. Davidson of White County, was chosen president pro tempore after a three-day struggle.
Friday afternoon the Senate gave notice that they had organized, and were ready for the governor's message, which was long and full of dynamite. Few members remained to hear the clerk read it through; damp plaster made the room uncomfortable, and they could read it in print. The United States was at peace, affirmed the governor, and prosperous. So was the state. Health was excellent. Finances were also in good shape. He asked the legislature to take steps to receive Illinois' share of "the surplus revenue of the United States," and to place the money in an internal improvement fund. On the important subject of improvements, declared Duncan, his views "have underwent [sic] no change." He urged:
. . . a general law providing that the State take a certain amount of the capital stock in all canals and rail-roads, which may be authorized by law, wherever private individuals shall take the remainder. . . . Under such policy I have no doubt that many works of great value to the community would be im|mediately commenced, and carried into effect, which, if left to individual enterprize, unaided, would remain untouched for years to come.
Should the State be true to her own interest, and take one half, or one third, of the stock in all works of internal improvements, she will hasten the completion of the most important first, and secure to herself a lasting and abundant revenue . . . , until the whole country shall be intersected by canals and rail-roads, and our beautiful prairies enlivened by thousands of steam engines, drawing after them lengthened trains freighted with the abundant productions of our fertile soil.^2^5
The governor hoped the legislature would promptly pay for the new capitol building, indited an essay on the virtues of education, reported slight progress on the Illinois and Michi|gan Canal, and expressed his confidence in the state bank. Then he delivered an assault on President Jackson. The "Hero Page 89 of New Orleans" was declared guilty of violating the Constitu|tion, and of nepotism, autocracy, perversion of the principles of office-holding, extravagance, and other practices menacing to free government. These customs must not be allowed to be|come precedents. The legislatures of the states must face them "fearlessly and frown them down."
The message was laid on the table and 3,000 copies ordered printed. Democrats were enraged. But John Dement was not too angry to present a resolution (adopted) calling for a joint committee to investigate the new capitol and provide for pay|ment if they found the new building justified.
With little business to discuss during the first week-end of the session, members and interested observers concentrated on Duncan's diatribe and the impending selection of a United States Senator. Barroom and corridor opinion held that two judges, Richard M. Young and Samuel McRoberts, were the only candidates who had a chance. Whigs preferred Young, for McRoberts had "always gone with the administration, right or wrong."^2^6
Standing committees were named Saturday morning. Lin|coln's prominence caused him to be put on two committees, the important one on finance and the unimportant penitenti|ary committee. His six Sangamon colleagues were appointed to one committee each. Dawson, recently chairman of the committee on internal improvements, was reappointed, but not as chairman. Douglass, though a first-termer, was named chairman of the important, overworked committee on peti|tions. These appointments settled, the members did not linger. "The plaster is new and damp," admitted the Vandalia Register, "and it became necessary to the comfort and health of the members to have additional stoves put up. The workmen have been engaged with unwearied industry in finishing the rooms and putting up the stoves."^2^7
Before departure, a number of quick motions were heard, chiefly on internal improvements. Duncan's recommenda|tions were spurned. Had not private improvements been tried Page 90 already, by those corporations chartered at the recent special session, and with what result? Not an inch of track had been laid, not a spadeful of dirt turned. Dawson, paying no atten|tion to the governor's scheme, asked "That the committee on Internal Improvements be instructed to inquire into the ex|pediency of creating a loan of — millions of dollars, by pledging the faith of the State for payment of said loan to aid said State in carrying out a system of internal improvement." Nothing came of this, for on Wednesday of the second week, after two more days of waiting for the plaster to dry, Douglass took the initiative. This was satisfactory to the Sangamon dele|gation; the issue was thus made non-partisan. He introduced a resolution calling upon the internal improvements committee to report a bill providing for the Chicago canal, a north-south and an east-west railroad, river improvements, and "for sur|veys and estimates of such other works as may be considered of general utility."^2^8 All improvements were to be state owned and constructed, and financed by a loan. This proposal was referred to the committee of the whole House, and made the order of the day for the following Monday.
Lincoln and his followers now bestirred themselves. On Tuesday, December 13, when the House met for one minute, Lincoln had little to do, and wrote a personal letter to Miss Mary Owens, toward whom he entertained indecisive matri|monial ambitions. Working in the damp capitol had given him a cold. He began:
I have been sick ever since my arrival. . . . The new State House is not yet finished, and consequently the legislature is do|ing little or nothing. The Governor delivered an inflamitory political Message, and it is expected there will be some sparring between the parties about it as soon as the two Houses get to bussiness. . . .
Our chance to [take the] seat of Government to Springfield is better than I expected. An Internal Improvement Convention was held here since we met, which recommended a loan of sev|eral millions of dollars on the faith of the State to construct Rail Roads. Some of the legislature are for it and some against it; which has the majority I can not tell. There is great strife and Page 91 struggling for the office of U. S. Senator here at this time. It is probable we shall ease their pains in a few days. The opposition men have no candidate of their own, and consequently they smile as complacently at the angry snarls of the contending Van Buren candidates and their respective friends, as the christain [sic] does at Satan's rage. . . .^2^9
By the next day business was moving fast behind the scenes. Internal improvements, clearly, were the wish and demand of the people. Public meetings in all parts of the state had asked for them. The legislature had but to decide on what improve|ments, where they would be made, and how. Here was San|gamon's opportunity. Every county wanted a railroad, or canal, or improved roads, or waterway improvements, or all of them together. Legislators, mindful of election day in 1838, were anxious to do the best they could for the folks back home. The situation was ideal for well-planned logrolling, and the Long Nine set about it, promising to vote for a railroad here, a post road there, a waterway deepened elsewhere, in return for support of Springfield as the next capital. This began at once, lest the internal improvements bill be written before their ar|rangements had been made. Champions of Alton and Vandalia at once tried using the same method, but they had not the strength of the Sangamon nine.^3^0 Affirming his ambition of be|coming "the DeWitt Clinton of Illinois," Lincoln circulated among his colleagues in corridor, council chamber, and tap-room, an amiable, entertaining apostle of adequate transporta|tion for every county in the state.^3^1 Picking DeWitt Clinton as a model was apt, for Clinton was the New York politician behind the profitable Erie Canal, an internal improvement that was the envy of the West.
Wednesday afternoon, December 14, as Sangamon's mis|sionary work began, the Senate joined the House to elect a United States Senator. Most of the Long Nine voted for Archi|bald Williams, who finished third on three ballots. The winner was Richard M. Young, independent Democrat, former representative, and circuit judge. Young's election gave Whigs Page 92 some comfort, for he defeated, with Whig assistance, Judge McRoberts of the Supreme Court, a whole-hog Jacksonian. Young's victory evoked a banquet of celebration at one of the public houses. Food and refreshments were the best available. The customary supper of wild game, which the solons en|countered so often that they hated the sight of cooked duck and wild turkey, gave way to civilized fare. Douglass and Shields, having generously sampled the liquid refreshments, astonished the assemblage by climbing on the loaded table and executing a lively dance. The crowd roared as the two unin|hibited Democrats pirouetted the length of the table through clouds of smoke, singing, shouting ribaldries, sending dishes and goblets in every direction. At the end of an allnight spree the landlord billed Judge Young six hundred dollars for sup|plies and breakage. "This is now a Terrible place," wrote a visiting minister. "Greate Room for Reforme." Observations at the capital convinced him that church members did not pay enough attention to elections. Something ought to be done about it.^3^2
With the senatorial election out of the way, wrote the Sangamo Journal's Vandalia correspondent,
Monday afternoon, December 19, as scheduled, the House metamorphosed itself into a large committee and discussed the Douglass internal improvement program. A long debate made it clear that a moderate schedule of improvements, such as recommended by the convention, would not be approved. As the legislature actually began work both houses were flooded with memorials praying establishment of railroads, bridges, canals, turnpikes; and more were to come. These regularly went to internal improvements committees of both Page 93 houses, to whom fell the task of pressing the manifold appeals into a bill and enacting it. Clearly nothing short of a program imperial in its proportions would satisfy the voters.^3^3
Opponents of lavish expenditures labored along two lines to stem the tide. Were Illinois voters, after years of watching every penny, prepared to spend millions? This was not neces|sary, proponents of improvements replied as they painted a roseate picture of canals and railroads paying for themselves and, ere long, even returning annual operating profits to the treasury. The Erie Canal had done so, and Illinois projects could do likewise. But there were legislators who did not be|lieve railroads and canals could be built for nothing, and they attempted early to interest the legislature in a general land tax law.^3^4 In addition, reprisals were undertaken against the two largest delegations, Morgan and Sangamon. Morgan County favored capital relocation because Jacksonville might be chosen, and was strong for internal improvements as a means to that end. If the two big counties could be cut down, the strong and ambitious delegations from Morgan and Sangamon would perceptibly suffer. A bill marking off a new county from Mor|gan and Sangamon appeared on the calendar at the end of the second week.
This was embarrassing to the Long Nine, and doubly so to Lincoln. Sangamon County, twice the size of Rhode Island, was too large for the convenience of citizens living far from Springfield. Residents around New Salem had been trying since 1830 to induce the legislature to create a new county in the northwestern part of Sangamon. John Taylor of Spring|field, internal improvements convention delegate, land specu|lator, receiver of the land office, and promoter of Petersburg, hard by New Salem, appeared in Vandalia with a formidable petition asking a new county. If this were ignored, Lincoln might be defeated in 1838, and so might others of the Long Nine. But if the Sangamon delegation were to put through the new county, a delegation of seven representatives would shrink, in 1838, to five or less. Lincoln's course was cautious Page 94 and astute. Taylor gave the dangerous petition to McCormick for introduction. The Long Nine revised it; the prayer now asked that part of Morgan County be lopped off also, thus in|suring the opposition of members from Morgan. McCormick presented the doctored petition December 15. Dawson moved to lay it on the table but lost, and the petition went to Doug|lass' committee on petitions. Dawson then presented a re|monstrance, which went to the same committee.^3^5
Ordinarily, the next step would have been a great coming and going of envoys between Springfield and Vandalia. But the capital was completely cut off by bad roads, and communi|cation with Springfield was impossible until after Christmas. A sudden freeze and heavy snow followed days of steady rain. Before travel was restored the division bill had been successfully dealt with. Douglass' committee reported, December 20, that signers of the division petition outnumbered signers of the re|monstrance, that Morgan County petitioners totaled "a very small number." Therefore the prayer for a new county af|fected Sangamon only. Petitioners appeared to comprise a majority of Sangamon voters. "Anxious to conform," said Douglass, "as near as possible to the wishes of a majority of the citizens of Sangamon county, a majority of the committee have directed me to report a bill for the establishment of a new county." The Long Nine had no member on the Douglass committee, but they had not been idle while the petition was being discussed there. Some of them had appeared in person at its meetings. Douglass concluded, "for the purpose of avoiding all difficulties that might possibly arise, they have inserted a provision referring it to the voters of Sangamon county for their approval or disapproval." This seemed satisfactory. A referendum would stave off division until 1839. But that pro|vision might have been put in as strategy, to be removed be|fore passage. To make sure, Lincoln moved that the bill be re|ferred to a select committee, and was made its chairman.
When the House was called to order the next morning, De|cember 21, Lincoln obtained the floor and moved that a Page 95 minority report of the petitions committee, made by Robert Stuart of Tazewell, which opposed division of Sangamon County, "be spread upon the Journal." Lincoln was the real author of this minority report. It denied that the petition car|ried signatures of a legal majority, reminded the House that the petition called for a new county in Sangamon and Morgan, and hinted that "private speculation" was the motive for di|vision. Stuart had not been able to present his dissent. The Speaker was not sure how to handle it. But Semple investi|gated the question of minority reports that night, in Jefferson's Manual of legislative procedure, and concluded they had no standing. Congress, however, generally printed minority along with majority reports, and a motion might therefore be entertained to print it as a protest. Lincoln so moved. Linder of Coles, the orator, objected. Needless printing expense, he de|clared. There were other ways in which the gentleman from Sangamon could put the report before his constituents.
Lincoln replied in kind. He thought he knew as much about the rights of Sangamon citizens as did someone not their representative. He also thought it "uncourteous, and a de|parture from the rules of etiquette, for the gentleman from Coles to meddle in the matter at all." Linder's real objective, hinted the aroused speaker, was not to save printing but to injure Sangamon County.
Debate thundered on. No, said Linder, he intended no injury, and he knew as much about courtesy as some others he could mention. If Sangamon wanted the minority report printed, let them do it "out of their own pockets. They are rich enough, God knows; they hold the bag, like Judas"—an al|lusion to the state bank at Springfield, object of Linder's in|tense dislike. "Mr. Speaker," he went on, "I have but little love for Sangamo. It has as little claim upon the generosity of the Democracy of this state, as any portion of God's heritage," having gone Whig. How would the House benefit by printing the report? But Lincoln wanted it to go home to his con|stituents. The House Journal, pointed out Linder in tones of Page 96 disgust, could not reach them for months. "Mr. Speaker," he declaimed, driving home his point, "I would advise the gentleman to move for the printing of 3,000 copies of this re|port for the especial benefit of his constituents! Will not you gentlemen of the House, go to the expense of printing 3,000 copies for the benefit of Sangamo? But before you do, consider awhile whether your constituents may not teach you another sort of courtesy."
Bested, Lincoln managed to reply "that it was marvelous what talents some gentlemen possessed, and how determined they were that the House and the world should have the benefit of them." Lincoln's motion to print was then voted down, 44 to 24. He sent the report to Simeon Francis, the Springfield Whig editor, who printed it in the Sangamo Journal.^3^6
An hour after his defeat at Linder's hands Lincoln reported the division bill with amendments. Further amendments were argued, Dawson, Lincoln, Stone, and Douglass participating. Lincoln frankly described the bill as a compromise; voters of Sangamon should themselves be allowed to decide. All the next day the House debated the bill. Linder tried to amend further, to remove the plebiscite provision entirely; defeated, he tried another amendment limiting the referendum to voters of the new county, to be named Van Buren, and lost again. Lincoln, Stone, Douglass, Webb, and Hardin took part, be|sides Linder, in an argument carried on "with great anima|tion." As night fell the bill was referred to a second special committee, with Ninian W. Edwards as chairman. Next morn|ing Edwards reported the bill, again amended, and it moved ahead toward passage, an event of December 24. The Long Nine had beaten down a determined attack upon their prestige and unity.^3^7
These events occurred before news of them reached Spring|field, thanks to bad roads. Nevertheless, in the town which in|tended to be capital a lively debate sprang up between di|visionists and anti-divisionists, calculated to influence the Page 97 Senate. John Taylor had obtained signatures to the division petition, it was charged, by employing men to get signers at ten cents each. These employees had circulated road petitions, which everyone signed by habit, then snipped off the road pe|titions and attached the signatures to the division petition. Names were listed and affidavits collected. Of actual division petition signers, more than a hundred had signed twice, and many three times. "Barefaced corruption," charged Archer G. Herndon in a letter to the Whig editor. Ninian W. Edwards cried "FRAUD" in another. "Villainous proceedings have taken place TO DECEIVE THE PEOPLE."^3^8 But the divisionists did not give up. If northern speculative management could not suc|ceed, identical interests in east and south might unite and fare better. Sangamon could be cut up into four counties. A new division petition was circulated. A new remonstrance, carrying an unprecedented number of signatures, was made up and taken to the capital.
Taylor retaliated, charging that signatures on the new re|monstrance were obtained "on false and deceitful pretences." He insisted that a majority of Sangamon voters were for di|vision. But to no avail. When the House bill reached the Senate, Herndon effectively killed it. The quartering petition and remonstrance came up in the House on February 9, as the battle on the omnibus internal improvements bill was about to be joined, and Lincoln made short work of it.^3^9
While the House considered the division bill, matters of more general importance developed. The Senate passed a bill accepting Illinois' share of the federal surplus, but could not resist the opportunity to stab Jackson's fiscal policy. The money must be "in specie;" no other kind, the Whig Senate implied, would be worth having. This raised a storm in the Democratic House. Democrats debated the specie demand all one after|noon. It was impudent; it would require Illinois' collecting agent "to roll the specie from Washington to Illinois, in kegs;" it would cause bank failures. After the specie provision was re|moved Page 98 by a strict party vote, the bill passed the House unani|mously, and the Senate, having made its point, backed down and concurred.^4^0
For two days before the Christmas recess the House got nothing accomplished beyond heated discussion of national politics from a fresh angle. Governor Duncan's strictures on Jackson had gone to a special committee of seven, all Demo|crats. When they reported, December 23, "a true jesuitical cant party report," in the words of the Sangamo Journal's Van|dalia correspondent, "every thing like sober and legitimate legislation" ended for two days. "It had the effect, as no doubt was intended, to blow up the smouldering embers of party heat and violence." A long report covered the "Hero of New Orleans" with a coat of shining whitewash. The committee offered resolutions approving Jackson's administration and disavowing Duncan's charges. Hardin of Morgan moved a substitute which resolved that, since the legislature was occu|pied with internal improvements, education, "and other sub|jects of vital importance," it was not expedient to waste time and money "acting upon any resolutions which merely involve national politics." This was defeated more than two to one, and the committee resolutions were approved by votes even more one-sided, in spite of the best Whig efforts.^4^1
Attendance was low around the Christmas holiday, and little legislative progress was made until the new year. The anony|mous capital correspondent spent Christmas day writing two long letters to the Sangamo Journal. On January 7, the first Saturday of 1837, as preliminaries to the internal improve|ments drive were mostly out of the way and the main battle over what each county was to get seemed imminent, Linder jolted the House with another attack on Sangamon County, in the form of resolutions asking an investigation of the Illinois State Bank at Springfield. Old Theophilus W. Smith, the im|peached, acquitted judge, was the brain behind this move. Smith had written the bill establishing the bank, a service for which he naturally expected favors. Getting none from the Page 99 managers, Smith decided that these ingrates must be made to squirm, and while baiting them he could also strike a blow at the northerly shift of power in Illinois, which threatened the control of old southern Illinoisans like himself.
The judge boarded at a private house which had two other lodgers, Usher F. Linder and Mrs. Linder. Attracted by Linder's aggressive instincts and hostility to the Long Nine, Smith asked him one December evening if he would like to be|come a great man. Linder would. Very well, replied the former student of Aaron Burr, "I will put you on the high road to be|come such, if you will follow my advice and instructions." Smith sat down and wrote a series of resolutions calling for a bank investigation. Linder introduced them. They were long, hostile in tone, and asked that a committee of seven investigate all details of the bank's business. The Democratic House, suspicious of all banks, was interested. The resolutions were ordered printed, for careful study.
On Wednesday and Thursday afternoons of the next week the subject was vigorously debated. Linder, attacker, and Lincoln, defender, held the spotlight. Primed by Smith, who stood at his elbow, Linder made a powerful speech supporting the resolutions and attacking the bank's money practices. Lincoln, armed with facts and arguments supplied by friends of the bank who arrived posthaste from Springfield, replied with an equally powerful defense. His speech was extremely able. Published in the Vandalia Whig paper and reprinted in the Sangamo Journal, it was his first published address. "Our friend carries the true Kentucky rifle," remarked Simeon Francis by way of comment on the speech, "and when he fires he seldom fails of sending the shot home." Other speakers at|tacked Linder's resolutions, and he was finally forced to sub|stitute a new one calling for a limited investigation only, which was adopted, then sidetracked in favor of a similar Senate resolution. Linder's anti-Sangamon eloquence had again been put down.^4^2
One more problem remained in the way of the internal im|provements Page 100 denouement—slavery. Alarmed by abolitionist verbal violence, southern legislatures sought assurances from their northern counterparts. On December 29 Governor Dun|can laid before the Vandalia lawgivers resolutions and memorials from several southern states on the subject of abolition agitation and its evils. After committee considera|tion, the matter came before the House on January 12, in the midst of the bank squabble. Illinois, according to the com|mittee, deplored abolition societies, affirmed the "sacred" right of slave property under the Constitution, and declared that the national government had no right to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia without the consent of residents. Lincoln wanted to add a mild amendment implying the right of District citizens to petition for abolition, but did not press it. After moderate debate and maneuver the resolutions were adopted, 77 to 6. The six dissenters were Lincoln, McCormick, and Stone of Sangamon, Gideon Minor of Edgar, John H. Murphy of Vermilion, and Parvin Paullen of Pike.^4^3 Lincoln had further action in mind on the slavery resolutions, but held his peace until after more important current business, internal improvements and capital relocation, had been dispatched.
Immediately after the slavery vote on January 20, Lincoln's friend Hogan of Belleville moved that a bill entitled "An act to establish and maintain a general system of Internal Improve|ments" be taken from the table. It was read a second time, by title, under suspension of the rules. Hogan then moved suc|cessfully that the bill be referred to the internal improvements committee, of which he was an enthusiastic member. He wanted another look at the complex arrangements before the bill was subjected to concentrated fire of opponents and amenders. Florid, voluble John Hogan had concerned himself primarily, since arrival, with preaching the improvements gospel. The picture he painted to anyone who would listen was a broad network of enterprises financed by fifteen or twenty million borrowed dollars. Illinois bonds "would go like hot cakes." The Rothschilds and Baring Brothers would Page 101 scramble for them; the price would rise from fifty to a hundred percent above par. This premium alone would pay for most of the works; the principal would go into the treasury and make taxes unnecessary for years.^4^4 While these extreme views were exceptional, only a few legislators doubted that the idea would work out on a smaller scale.
The House internal improvements committee, after absorb|ing scores of petitions and resolutions for three weeks, had re|ported on January 9. Four thousand copies of the report, with an accompanying bill, were printed. The committee, admitting its views to be "limited and imperfect," was positive that a general program must be undertaken. On all sides sister states were "adopting and prosecuting gigantic schemes of improve|ment," and "the patriot and enlightened statesman of Illi|nois" must decide "whether he will sit still and witness his adopted State sleeping over all her means of wealth, social comforts and happiness; or whether he will step forward in the support of a system of Internal Improvements, and by his energies and example, calm the apprehensions of the timorous, and oppose the attack of calculating opposers." Immigration would slow down and population would decline, if Illinois did not improve. A loan of eight millions was proposed. Choosing the works to be improved "from amongst the variety, which . . . were presented to your committee by honorable mem|bers, formed one of the most delicate and embarrassing" of the committee's duties. They had decided on a general, rather than a universal schedule, to cost approximately seven and a half millions: seven millions for one north-south and two east-west railroads; a hundred thousand for road improvements; and four hundred thousand for improvement of five rivers.^4^5 This was the Douglass program, somewhat altered.
Pressure was immediately exerted to enlarge the schedule. One lobby orator proclaimed that a hundred million would not be too much to borrow and spend. Meeting nightly in the capitol, as usual, the lobby held lively sessions attended by large numbers of interested parties. So many appeared each Page 102 evening to argue by candlelight that a full unofficial roster of officers had to be chosen to expedite business. The fabulous "Lord Coke," president, published the list of officers in the Vandalia Free Press, describing Theophilus Washington Smith as a leading light in terms which aroused the noted Smith temper. Confronted with a demand for satisfaction, the ragged "Lord" hastily declared that he had not written the paragraph which offended the bellicose jurist.^4^6
The improvements bill went back to committee January 20, and amendments were considered. This meant hard work for the Long Nine. Counties left out must somehow be included, so that the grateful beneficiaries would vote for Springfield as the next capital. "Our Correspondent" could not find time to re|port legislative progress to the Sangamo Journal. After a hard week-end of laborious amending, the bill was returned to the House Monday morning, January 23, and energetically de|bated for two days.
The amended bill showed the results of intensive pressure. Access to the committee was simple for the Long Nine; Daw|son was the leading minority member. Lincoln spent so much time with the committee that Robert L. Wilson, thirty years later, erroneously remembered him as a member. The bill now provided ten millions for improvements. The three trunk railroads became two (Cairo to Galena; and Northern Cross, connecting Jacksonville and Danville via Springfield), plus six spurs connecting with the Cairo-to-Galena line. Road appropriations more than doubled, while for unfortunate counties getting neither railroad, river improvements, nor canal there was a grab-bag fund of two hundred thousand for roads. The Chicago canal, already provided for by laws of the Ninth General Assembly, was not included. Crippling amend|ments were moved in the House and voted down by heavy majorities as Dement bobbed up and sat down again like a diminutive jack-in-the-box. A series of amendments further increasing expenditures were also defeated. Logrolling with abandon, Sangamon's seven representatives voted together Page 103 steadily in favor of a still wider program, gathering new friends by supporting expansive amendments which were not ap|proved. A week later, on third reading, two afternoons were spent voting down amendments, and on January 31 the bill was passed, 61 to 25.^4^7
The bill passed the Senate on Washington's birthday, giving double cause for celebration. The swarm of lobbyists con|gratulated one another with such spirit that Vandalia resi|dents caught the enthusiasm and joined in the jollification. That evening "the huzzas and acclamations of the people were unprecedented. All Vandalia was illuminated. Bonfires were built, and fire balls were thrown, in every direction."^4^8 Even the Democratic Register, by dint of calling the law a Van Buren measure, waxed enthusiastic:
While the improvements bill was progressing through the House, the Wolf bill, providing a fifty-cent bounty for wolf "scalps with the ears thereon," established itself as a vehicle of humorous oratory. The lawmakers sensed the inappropri|ateness of wolf bounty discussions in a state thought to be on the threshold of greatness. One day in late January William Lane of Greene County spoke against the bill. A wolf scalp was not, said he, worth a half dollar. Peter Green of Clay County replied. He was for the bill. Painting a picture of gory nocturnal destruction by fiendish, slinking lupine "varmints," Green said he would gladly pay five dollars per scalp. Mr. Lane of Greene rose to reply to Mr. Green of Clay. "Why is it, Sir," Page 104 he addressed the Speaker, "that the gentleman from Clay has been found advocating this bill, and myself opposing it?"
Simply, Sir, because my county is densely populated with human beings and his with wolves. . . .
Sir, I have not . . . the honor of representing so many prairie wolves upon this floor, as has the gentleman from Clay, and should things remain as they are, this bill would create no sources of revenue to my people. But, Mr. Speaker, there is an|other proposition before this honorable body, which if carried into effect, will produce a great change. . . . I have reference sir, to the stupendous and gigantic system of Internal Improve|ment proposed by the bill now pending in this House, and so ably advocated by that gentleman. Sir, that bill provides for the construction of a number of rail roads through the thinly settled section of country in which the gentleman resides, while the county of Greene and the country thereabouts are entirely overlooked. . . . When those roads go into operation, when the long trains of cars, laden with all sorts of notions, and drawn by the mighty power of steam are seen daily running thro' the dense settlements of wolves represented on this floor by the gentleman, . . . those settlements [will] be broken up. . . . The wolves will inevitably be scared away. They now roam abroad unmolested, the sole occupants of the best portions of the gentleman's county, and when they lie down to rest after the close of their daily or rather nocturnal toils, they fear no intru|sions upon their repose. . . . But the days of their quiet are numbered. The fiat has gone forth, and they are to be driven from their Eden of repose. When operations are commenced on these rail roads, . . . the puffing of the engines, the clattering of the wheels, and the ringing of the 35 lb. bells, will be mighty certain to force these voracious animals to break for "high tim|ber." I tell you, Sir, they cannot stand the racket. They will leave Clay county, and seek refuge in Greene, where the friends of the mammoth bill have taken special care that the puffing of steam engines shall not annoy them, as it is almost the only county unprovided with one or more rail roads, and the conse|quence will be, Sir, that my constituents will be able to make money by wolf scalps. Under these considerations, I am almost tempted to take the bounty and vote for the bill.^5^0
The passage of internal improvements cleared the track for capital relocation, a battle far more difficult. First a bill must Page 105 be passed moving the capital from Vandalia; then the legis|lature would meet in joint session and vote on a new location. Long Nine strategy determined to start the relocation bill in the Whig Senate, for the House passed Senate bills more readily than new ones. It reached the House without difficulty February 8, and was discussed three days later. During the ten-day interval between internal improvements and reloca|tion battles Lincoln was often absent from the House, working on political fences, serving on two special committees, and struggling with figures as a finance committee member. In the latter capacity he managed to broaden his influence by re|porting on February 10 a committee road bill which pleased several members. To Vandalia from Springfield had come for the final drive, charged an opponent, "the president and directors of the State Bank . . . , [who] with the aid of the United States land officers from Springfield, were touching every interest and every cord that could secure a vote for their town."^5^1
The next afternoon "An act to permanently locate the seat of Government of the State of Illinois" became House business. Opponents, led by John Dement, employed the usual ob|structive weapons, without success. Lincoln, in contrast to his quiet conduct during internal improvements discussions on the floor of the House, played an active rôle in pushing the bill past first and second readings. Four days later the bill came up for third reading. Fortune at first seemed to smile. Linder of Coles resigned. Elected attorney general on January 16—an honor he attributed to oratorical brilliance—Linder remained an active House member for three weeks, apparently deter|mined to resist Springfield to the end. But his seat was vacant February 14. Even so, difficulties arose. A move of Dement to table the bill until December, 1839, was defeated by the narrow margin of 42 to 38. An afternoon of debate failed to surmount the third reading.^5^2
Another afternoon of argument, three days later, was still worse. An amendment requiring the new capital to raise fifty Page 106 thousand dollars and donate it to the state, matching a sum appropriated by the removal bill, was accepted. Sundry crip|pling amendments were defeated. The hour grew late and candles were lit. Members gazing idly out of the windows saw the panes heavily crosshatched by driving snow. A few at once left the hall, emerging into a violent storm. Suddenly a move to table the bill until July 4 was made, and sustained 39 to 38, with all seven Sangamon members present and voting Nay. This usually meant the end, but Lincoln did not give up. He called his six colleagues into conference at his lodgings, and gave each an assignment.^5^3 They went out into pelting snow to spend the night persuading five tablers to vote next morning to take the bill off the table, and urging absentees who favored relocation to disregard the weather and be in the House to vote. Thomas Atwater of Putnam, Thomas Hunt of Edwards, Edward Smith of Wabash, and Francis Voris of Peoria were sought out and pointedly asked if they had no gratitude for the railroad which ran (on legislative documents) through their respective constituencies. It was pointed out to Benjamin Enloe of Johnson that a railroad, the longest in the state, ran virtually along the western boundary of his county. Had he no grate|fulness in his soul? Threats were employed. The internal im|provement bill was not yet through the Whig Senate. Perhaps the Sangamon seven might be obliged to ask their Senate col|leagues to erase some of those railways. Enloe agreed to move that the bill be taken up. The opposition, seeing the Long Nine in action, prevailed upon some of those who had voted against tabling, to vote the next morning to keep the bill on the table.
Saturday morning, February 18, Enloe of Johnson moved that the bill be taken off the table. Douglass demanded a roll call: affirmative 42, negative 40. A shift of one member from Yea to Nay would have left the bill on the table. Lincoln needed all his friends and influence to revive it. A counter-move to table again failed by a nine-vote margin. The amend|ing game was resumed. Fearful that his margin of victory Page 107 would collapse, Lincoln moved that the bill be tabled until Monday. He left the House to plan a week-end of strategy, returning in mid-afternoon while three of his Sangamon as|sociates departed to build fences.
The relocation bill did not come up again until Tuesday afternoon, when renewed amending attacks were defeated by comfortable margins. Lincoln's persuasive representations and threats of Senate reprisals had been effective. "Shall the bill be read a third time?" intoned Speaker Semple at dusk. Every Sangamon representative was in his place. The House voted affirmatively, 48 to 34.
Third reading came Friday afternoon, February 24. Only Dement was still moving amendments of a crippling variety. Two minor amendments were moved, accepted by Lincoln; and then he moved one of his own. This looked like a con|cession but was really meaningless: "The General Assembly reserves the right to repeal this act at any time hereafter." Then the bill was passed, 46 to 37.^5^4 The Long Nine were not yet ready to celebrate. Their work was only two-thirds done until Springfield was actually chosen as the new capital, and now there were evening sessions to attend. A hundred minor bills remained to be dealt with, and a few major ones.
The improvements act required more attention next day. The Council of Revision disapproved it, chiefly for technical reasons. Governor Duncan was against it in principle. Instead of using the usual method of overriding the veto, which the House could easily have done, the lawmakers chose the more cautious method of quickly amending the bill to meet the ob|jections, and the Council then approved it. Council approval of the capital relocation bill reached the House Monday evening, and members agreed to admit the Senate the next morning and select the site. There was little time for strategy planning and execution; the House sat until after midnight, discussing the general appropriation bill for 1837 and '38.
The first thing next morning John Taylor, the speculator, was heard from. Newton Cloud, acting Speaker (Semple hav|ing Page 108 been absent because of severe illness since the day before— a stroke of luck for the Lincoln cause), presented a communica|tion from E. C. Blankenship, enclosing a memorial from him|self and John Taylor offering the paper town of Illiopolis, in eastern Sangamon County, to the state as a capital site. The House was not interested, Lincoln having done his work well.
The Senate marched in and roll was called. On the first ballot the voting was chiefly geographical. Fully half the mem|bers voted to give the capital to the folks back home. Spring|field ran far ahead of the field with 35; Vandalia 16; Peoria 16; Alton 15; Jacksonville 14. Decatur had 4; five towns received 3 or 2 votes; and nine could do no better than one vote each. Of Springfield's 35 votes, 23 were cast chiefly for reasons of geography, 9 because the counties involved were to get a rail|road, and only 3 for other reasons. Dubois and Webb were neither close to Springfield nor in possession of a paper rail|road, but they voted for Lincoln's choice. William H. David|son of White County, Whig president pro tempore of the Senate, chose Springfield for political reasons. Alton and Vandalia, strong competitors in the 1834 election, were entirely de|pendent on the motive of geographical proximity. The power of internal improvement bargains was thus demonstrated on the first ballot, indicating that a Springfield victory was only a matter of time.
On the second ballot Springfield gained nine votes and reached 44 (incorrectly announced as 43), every accession coming from a railroad district at the expense of Alton, Peoria, Decatur, and Jacksonville. Lincoln had not neglected mem|bers who, unable to help him on the first ballot, could on the next. This gain was the only important change on ballot two. The third vote saw Springfield gain nine more, reaching 53. Five of these accessions came from railroad considerations, four from votes set free by the decline of frivolous candidates. Henry Mills of Edwards County, veteran senator, disgustedly cast one vote for Purgatory, a place not found on the Illinois Page 109 map. Ballot four was the last, for the trend continued, Spring|field gaining twenty votes for a total of 73, a strong majority. Only the supporters of Vandalia held together on the fourth division, and they were never a serious threat. The Long Nine dominated the situation throughout, forming a solid center of Springfield strength, with accretions certain as member after member paid off a legislative debt.^5^5
On the eve of victory the efficacy of Lincoln's arrangements was not realized even by high officials. Justice Lockwood of the Supreme Court told a relative about passage of the relocation law:
Springfield's victory was a great personal triumph for Lincoln, proof of his capacities for leadership, and also a con|siderable surprise. Vandalia consoled itself with the thought that the law would be repealed next session, and forthwith be|gan to lavish insults on the choice of the legislature:
How to populate a town!—Let the roads be so bad . . . that, if a stranger succeeds in getting in . . . , he will abandon any notion of getting out!
Directions.—In locating the town, select a large wet prairie or field, full of bogs and springs; so much so, that it will bear to be called Swamp-field, Spring-field, or the like.
In the future capital, the news which sounded too good to be true was soberly reported. While the result was "hailed . . . with universal enthusiasm," the victory was described, with an eye to future sessions, not as an example of astute political Page 110 management, but as an instance of the legislature deciding the question "with exclusive reference to the interests of the State, and the convenience of its citizens. . . . We cannot but exult that the Representatives of the people have been just enough to determine the question on its merits." Justice, merit, wisdom—such motives were surely more permanent than political bargains.^5^8
The victorious Long Nine immediately staged, at Ebenezer Capps' tavern near the state house, a celebration to which the entire legislature was invited. Most of the members came and partook generously of free champagne, cigars, oysters, al|monds, raisins. Eighty-one bottles of champagne were tossed off, an imposing quantity for a legislature now numbering a hundred and ten effectives. But a good many non-members attended also. The bill, paid by Ninian W. Edwards, came to $223.50.
The lawmakers had already been in Vandalia longer than usual, and they remained one more week. Unfinished business was wound up as quickly as possible. Evening sessions became standard. Attendance was low; some had gone home already. Others remained in town for relaxation after the strain of legislative labor, and were seen on the floor only when im|portant elections were held, such as those for internal improve|ments commissioners, Canal Board members, and judicial officers. A final triumph went to the Long Nine. A late bill re|quired the state government to take a hundred thousand dol|lars' worth of stock in the state bank at Springfield.^5^9
During this week, his constructive work safely out of the way, Lincoln drafted a statement on the slavery issue. He protested the position officially taken by Illinois, had it read in the House and printed in the House Journal, March 3, 1837. He could find only one supporter, Dan Stone. Lincoln and Stone believed slavery "founded on both injustice and bad policy," but thought abolition agitation tended "rather to increase than to abate its evils." They believed further that Congress had no power to interfere with slavery in the states, but did Page 111 have power "to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia."^6^0 This protest aroused no public interest whatever.
When final adjournment was voted Monday morning, March 6, nearly four hundred bills having been enacted, the Sangamon delegation boarded the next stage north and entered Springfield in triumph. Lincoln went on to New Salem, but only to prepare to move to Springfield, the future capital, where he was the current political hero. A full-fledged lawyer since his name was enrolled by the clerk of the Supreme Court in Vandalia, March 1, 1837, he now became the partner of John T. Stuart. The Sangamo Journal of April 15 notified the public that "J. T. Stuart and A. Lincoln, Attorneys and Counsellors at Law, will practice, conjointly, in the courts of this Judicial Circuit.—Office No. 4 Hoffman's Row, up stairs."
Springfield swiftly worked out the preliminaries for receiving the state government. The $50,000 donation was pledged by leading citizens, and one of them, Dr. Anson G. Henry, con|veyed the bond of pledge to Vandalia. Dr. Henry went armed with a letter from Lincoln to Levi Davis, auditor. On de|livering the bond, wrote Lincoln, Henry was to collect a small sum from the treasurer, so that work on a new state house could begin. "We have," concluded Lincoln, "generally in this country, peace, health, and plenty, and no news."^6^1
Soon, however, there was news, mostly bad. The panic of 1837 struck with astonishing force. Bank failures became gen|eral. The Illinois State Bank suspended specie payments in May, a step which violated the charter and automatically suspended the bank in sixty days. So Governor Duncan, early in June, called a special session, to assemble in Vandalia on July 10.
The capital, although under sentence of death, had found merchants disinclined to move out. The legislature, spender of millions, had paid for the new Vandalia state house, and au|thorized Page 112 "A. & H. Lee, of the town of Vandalia" to finish the building. By summer the pride of Vandalia began to look more like a seat of government; about the yard the debris of construction had diminished but not disappeared. The Cumberland Road was about to reach the Kaskaskia, and the chief engineer employed by the internal improvements board had been surveying the line of the central railroad from Van|dalia south. Store and tavern keepers, their custom unex|pectedly aided by the hot-weather session, were not at all sure the capital would really move. Could not the removal law be repealed at any time? The panic had exploded before actual internal improvements could be undertaken, and those rail|roads by means of which removal was purchased might never be built. The Vandalia Register alleged that $700 of state money had been paid to take down the Sangamon County courthouse, clearing a capitol site on which a foot of mud and water was said to stand. "Why," exclaimed the outraged editor, "this sum, paid to take down a house, would build a very good one." Fayette County's delegation was prepared for a drive to repeal the relocation act. John Dement had moved north, but in his place was William L. D. Ewing, recently acting governor and United States Senator, a man not to be discounted.^6^2
The Long Nine was also changed. Stone had become a judge; a special election had chosen for his seat young Edward Dickinson Baker, London-born orator, self-made lawyer, partner of Stephen Trigg Logan. A Whig, Baker had been orator at Springfield on July 4, 1837, when the cornerstone of the newest capitol had been laid. He could now help defend that move. Popular, homely Archibald Williams of Quincy could now assist his friend Lincoln as a member; he had been elected representative from Adams County vice George Gal|breath, deceased. Douglass had resigned to be register of the land office at Springfield, but was in Vandalia to keep an eye on developments.
While the Long Nine could look forward to making good political use of the panic of 1837 in the elections of 1838 and Page 113 1840, the summer of 1837 promised nothing but danger. The cry of "economy" was bound to be heard again, and Spring|field might not become the seat of government after all. Anx|ious for a session as brief as possible, not one of the Long Nine had a personal bill to introduce.
On Monday, July 10, opening day, only three of Sangamon's representatives—Dawson, Elkin, and Baker—answered roll call. Lincoln and Edwards were in their seats Tuesday morn|ing. McCormick and Wilson of Sangamon did not arrive until Friday and Saturday, respectively, when the session was nearly half over. Governor Duncan's message, "read in part" Tues|day morning, was full of "I told you so." He blamed Jackson for the panic, recommended relief for the State Bank, and urged repeal of the internal improvements act.
A bank relief bill was put under way at once. Bank and panic, rather than repeal, were topics of paramount interest. Ewing announced his intention to introduce "An act to repeal certain laws relative to the permanent location of the seat of Government of the State of Illinois." This repealer was amended to death and finally passed by the House in a harm|less form. Nor was there any disposition to repeal the improve|ments act. The Senate, on the contrary, moved to expedite actual construction, requiring of the board of public works a list of employees, with their salaries and duties.
The division of Sangamon County was again vainly at|tempted.^6^3 Lincoln managed to make himself sponsor (and executioner) of the division petition. A bank relief act was passed, as were dozens of local bills. Lincoln, according to his campaign promise to carry out the will of Sangamon County, introduced several such, and was a constant active participant in debate. On important matters his concern was defensive. Lest some surprise anti-Springfield move be made, he was present at every voting roll call, save one on the next to the last day.
Usher F. Linder, in Vandalia as an anti-bank lobbyist, Page 114 watched with keen interest the debate between Lincoln and Ewing over repeal of Lincoln's masterpiece. Ewing castigated the Long Nine, charging them with "chicanery and trickery," with selling out to "the internal improvement men" to obtain the capital. Lincoln replied with such vigor that Ewing was re|duced to taking a stand upon his personal record. Anyone could see, declared the whilom colleague of Clay, Webster, and Calhoun, that Lincoln was a statesman of no account, a parvenu. The House declined to agree, and Linder later wrote that he first conceived an admiration for Lincoln by watching him defeat the redoubtable Ewing.^6^4
A crowd of homeward-bound legislators reached Springfield Sunday and Monday, and a public dinner in their honor was quickly arranged. Begun at two o'clock Tuesday, July 25, at Spottswood's Rural Hotel, it lasted all afternoon. "Some sixty or seventy gentlemen" drank off upwards of forty toasts. O. H. Browning, the speaker of longest wind, said he had sup|ported Springfield in the best interests of the state. But victory was really due, he declared, to the Sangamon delegation, to "their judicious management, their ability, their gentlemanly deportment, . . . their constant and untiring labor." A. Lin|coln modestly toasted "All our friends.—They are too nu|merous to be now named individually, while there is no one of them who is not too dear to be forgotten or neglected."^6^5
On the Springfield public square, now state property, piles of stone accumulated and the new capitol slowly took shape. A few steps distant the partners of the firm of Stuart & Lincoln busily practiced law and politics. On February 24, 1838, Lincoln announced that he would run for re-election. Stuart was ready to try for Congress again, and this time he would be successful. Active campaigning began with warm weather.
On August 6 Lincoln received the highest vote of sixteen candidates. The Long Nine, second edition, was returned in|tact, with one exception. Robert L. Wilson of Athens, realiz|ing Page 115 that his course on Sangamon County division was un|popular in his vicinity, did not run. Elected in his place was a Democrat, John Calhoun, former surveyor, ally of John Taylor in the 1834-35 fight to divide Sangamon, who finished fourth. Archer G. Herndon was opposed for the Senate by Bowling Green of the New Salem area, a close friend of Lin|coln and a vigorous divisionist. Herndon barely defeated Green. Division was the chief issue of the campaign in San|gamon, and the election result was a moderate rebuff of the Long Nine's anti-division position. No matter. They were now prepared to divide the county, for their legislative strength would not be reduced until 1840, by which time the capital would be firmly located at Springfield.
The regular session of the Eleventh General Assembly, De|cember 3, 1838 to March 4, 1839, was destined to be the last held in the community located in the wilderness two decades earlier by Thomas Cox, Samuel Whiteside, Levi Compton, and William Alexander. But Vandalia's champions had not lost faith. Ewing, re-elected, was ready to fight again, aided, as John Dement had been, by William J. Hankins, the other representative from Fayette and Effingham counties. But Springfield would be more difficult than ever to defeat. The elections of 1838 had produced striking Whig gains. Morgan County, once represented by five Democrats and one Whig, had returned four Whigs and two Democrats. With luck, the Whigs might organize the House; the membership included 39 Whigs, 38 Democrats, 1 questionable Whig, 3 questionable Democrats, 3 who called themselves "Conservatives," and 7 of unknown persuasion. The Senate was more Whig than in 1836. A Whig senator, Robert Blackwell, was elected from the district comprising Fayette, Effingham, and Clay counties.
Outwardly the capital had not suffered by Springfield's triumph. Population had climbed to the thousand mark and a bit beyond. Vandalia's reputation as an unhealthy spot, born Page 116 of the Kaskaskia's swampy bottom and spread by rivals, died hard. In the spring of 1838 the river embarrassingly filled the west bottom and overflowed a mile to the east. Yet, more store and tavern keepers bought licenses to do business in 1838 than in any previous year. Physicians continued to locate in town. In the summer a corps of engineers worked, with predictions of success, at the job of making the Kaskaskia navigable. By 1840, it was predicted, the great central railroad would be running through town.^6^6
Despite adverse political winds, Vandalia still fought to re|tain the government. New stratagems were employed. Whigs, should they gain power in 1838, charged the Illinois State Register, would scuttle the internal improvements program. This tactic did not work, so the relocation law was attacked as unconstitutional. Did not the Illinois constitution locate the new state's capital for twenty years? Therefore the seat could not legally be moved until 1840! A public indignation meeting was held in the state house July 7, and a committee of thirteen drew up and published a three thousand word protest. This document reviewed (somewhat erroneously) the entire history of capital location, and pointed out that if the seat were not restored to Vandalia by the 1838-39 session, it never would be.^6^7
When the House assembled Monday morning, December 3, the members were no longer troubled by damp plaster and in|dustrious workmen. Edwin B. Webb was back, as were Jesse K. Dubois, Augustus C. French, Newton Cloud, John J. Hardin, Archibald Williams, William L. D. Ewing, and a surprising number of others. For once, former members were more numerous than new ones like Jesse Wilson Gouge of Macon County, and Germanicus Kent and Gholson Kercheval of the semi-inhabited northern region, who were having their only fling at holding office. The voters, not having thrown out in|cumbents en masse, had approved the conduct of the Tenth General Assembly. This was especially remarkable, for in the Page 117 1837 appropriations act the legislators had risked public wrath by voting themselves a one-third increase in per diem salary.^6^8
The Whig Sangamo Journal, reviewing the election results, declared that Whigs had in the House 46 members, against 36 "loco-focos" and 9 conservatives, and would certainly elect a Speaker. This was over-optimistic. Six members were absent on opening day, three Whigs and three Democrats. Putting up the first candidate for Speaker ever proposed by the party, the Whigs picked the logical choice, Abraham Lincoln. Demo|crats backed Ewing. One freshman Whig, uninitiated in party discipline, voted for Ewing, giving him a first ballot margin of 41 votes to 38 for Lincoln. Six votes were scattered, making four ballots necessary before Ewing eked out a majority. Whigs again organized the Senate. Their initial defeat in the House was not important except as a failure to use strength won at the polls. Had they organized the House, their control would not have been used to carry out any definite legislative program, for the 1838-39 session dealt with routine legislation. Broad policy had been marked out two years earlier.^6^9
And marked out disastrously, said Governor Duncan in his final message on December 4. Again he attacked the national administration and denounced internal improvements. Two millions had been spent to no purpose. Cassandra then gave way to Pollyanna as the new governor, Thomas Carlin, promised to do the legislature's bidding. A middle-aged, unim|pressive Irishman of limited political experience, Carlin had been dragged out of political semi-retirement as land office re|ceiver at Quincy, to run for governor against Cyrus Edwards, Whig, after the first Democratic choice, James W. Stephenson, land office receiver at Galena, was alleged to have retained for his own uses a good share of the money paid in by purchasers of federal land. Carlin's victory had been extremely narrow. Nation and state, said the new governor on December 7, were prosperous. "Pecuniary embarrassments" had been overcome "in a much shorter period than could have been expected." Page 118 Carlin made no important proposals. His address was well written and innocuous. Whigs were certain that stronger party leaders had actually composed it.
The selection of Ewing as Speaker (Semple having taken a diplomatic post) did not mean that the House was ready to adopt Ewing's views on capital relocation. The post of honor placed him on the sidelines and required Hankins of Vandalia to lead the fight against Springfield. Shortly before Christmas Hankins induced the House to adopt a resolution requiring a full report, detailing expenditures, from the Springfield state house commissioners. It was his last victory. The Springfield builders reported expenditures of less than $6,000. Spring|field's donated $50,000, plus the same amount from the state, would not, it was now clear, pay the cost of the new state house, and a Senate bill appropriating $128,300 (to be borrowed through bond issue) was before the House. Hankins hoped to kill it. But efforts to amend the appropriation bill to death were beaten by margins of two to one or more.^7^0
Also concluded was the Sangamon division controversy. Lincoln made this his own concern, after repelling Vandalia's attack. He wrote and brought to passage on January 21 a law creating three new counties, Menard, Logan, and Dane (later Christian), but still leaving Sangamon large and powerful.
Internal improvements also fared well. Nearly a million more was appropriated. Times were improving, and voters wanted railroads and the rest of the works. The money ex|pended had come, not from taxes, but from school fund and federal surplus money. Few state improvement bonds had been sold, except to state banks. But the financing plan had not yet failed. The panic ruined the bond market, and no special effort had yet been made to sell in the East and in Europe. Lawmakers thought the rosy dream could yet be achieved. If not, the state, under a law just passed, was now prepared to collect a general property tax for state expenses, a measure from which legislatures had for two decades held off as from a plague. Voters sent up immediate complaints. The internal Page 119 improvements system was blamed, and a change of tune was discernible in the voice of the people.^7^1
In June Governor Carlin proclaimed that, as of July 4, 1839, Springfield would become the capital of Illinois. Vandalia suffered an immediate loss of population as state officers and offices moved north without delay. Wagons loaded with fur|niture and public papers moved off through a deluge of rain. William Walters, public printer, followed in early August with his Illinois State Register, leaving Vandalia with one news|paper, William Hodge's Free Press and Illinois Whig. "The hospitable, generous, moral, and courteous community from which we part," wrote the departing editor, "will long remain as a green spot upon our memory. Your prosperity, which is marching rapidly forward, cannot outstrip our wishes; and we are only sorry that we can no longer be the constant witness of it."^7^2
Walters was regularly accused by the Whig press of loose dealings with the truth. When he wrote in his valedictory of Vandalia's prosperity marching rapidly forward, he was clearly guilty of the charge. The march was rapid in the op|posite direction. Stage transportation from Springfield ceased at once. Travelers from the north could reach Vandalia, by public conveyance, only by way of Jacksonville. A Chicago editor arrived in August by riding with A. P. Field, secretary of state, as Field pursued his criminal law practice. The desolate appearance of "the old Capital" reminded this Chi|cago visitor of a Latin phrase—Ilium fuit—Troy has existed, but exists no longer. Though Vandalia did not quite deserve to have that motto "inscribed on its ruins," it did bear, "on a small scale, . . . something of a melancholy appearance of departed greatness." Population had fallen off to 600 or less. The former state house, unoccupied, looked more like a dilapidated fortress than a temple of law. Slots in the brick walls, used for scaffolding, had never been filled, and re|sembled small portholes placed there for defense against a Page 120
By an act of 1839 the state conveyed the new $16,000 build|ing to the county of Fayette and the town of Vandalia, for use as a courthouse and school. Unsold land of the four sections granted to Illinois by Congress for a capital was given to the county to be sold, the money to be used for roads and bridges. Two decades later only the old capitol's outer shell of brick stood intact. Floors had been stolen, and the ruin was in|habited intermittently by "horses, cattle, mules and sheep . . . , and perhaps a few fleas and other varmints."^7^4
But in 1857 the county bought out the school district and remodeled the building into one of the finest courthouses in Illinois. Large porticoes supported by massive brick pillars were built over north and south doors. In 1919 the building and grounds were purchased by the state for $60,000 for preservation as a historic memorial. Architectural restoration, begun in 1933, was completed a century after the capital moved north.
Appropriately for a place of dead hopes, the legislature in 1839 commissioned Robert Blackwell, Vandalia politician and merchant, to fence the graveyard where lay five assembly members who died "whilst absent from their families and homes, in the discharge of their official duties," and to pro|vide tombstones. Turnover of mercantile establishments con|tinued rapid, but on a declining scale. Partnerships gave way to single proprietors. Flack & Hogue, general store, was con|tinued by Milton Flack as Hogue left town. William Hodge, editor of the Free Press and Illinois Whig, soon found that even a newspaper monopoly did not pay. He gradually withdrew from publishing and became an innkeeper, operating the Mansion House on the west side of the square. Two years later he sold the hotel and left town.^7^5
The last forlorn hope, navigation of the Kaskaskia, died hard. Two prominent citizens, William C. Greenup, surveyor Page 122 and speculator, and James Black, merchant, formed a navi|gation company in 1838. They contracted for a boat to be con|structed at Cincinnati, to carry sixty tons of freight, drawing, loaded, thirty-six inches of water, and hired a boat captain. River improvements to be carried out by the state, thought
By 1850 Vandalia's population had fallen to three hundred, and the town seemed to have reached a permanent low level when the Illinois Central Railroad, from Galena to Cairo, was built through Vandalia in 1852. The town slowly re|covered, elected its first mayor in 1869, and by 1900 had a Page 123 population more than double that of its heyday as the seat of government.^7^7
With the capital actually gone, any effort to recapture it was bound to be futile. Removal might be viewed philosophically as a work of Providence, abetted by a good deal of prodding from the Long Nine and their colleagues. The northward trend of population had been responsible for Vandalia in the first place, and the shift had not halted but accelerated, carry|ing away the good fortune it had brought. Nevertheless, Ewing and Hankins made a last effort when the Twelfth Gen|eral Assembly met in another unfinished new capitol late in 1840. Ewing again defeated Lincoln for Speaker, this time by a wider margin. Hankins, hoping for better treatment from members elected in 1840, vainly proposed that the capital be returned to Vandalia until the state debt was paid. That would have been a long time. Uncompleted improvements were devouring state funds so rapidly that interest payments on early improvement loans came due faster than new loans could be floated to pay interest on the old.^7^8
As Vandalia the victim waned, Springfield the victor waxed. Despite the collapse of internal improvements,^7^9 Illinois be|came in less than a generation a state of wealth and promi|nence in national councils. Its capital city prospered and crossed the threshold of fame.
The original Long Nine, engineers of these fortunes, went on to varied fates. William F. Elkin became sheriff of Sangamon County and died in 1878, in his eighty-seventh year. John Dawson's public career soon ended and, weakened by his battle wound, he died in 1850. Dan Stone, his judicial post legislated out of existence in 1841, moved back to Ohio. Robert L. Wil|son moved to northern Illinois in 1840, became probate judge, toured Europe after the Civil War, and returned to write a history of Whiteside County. This he did not complete, but his work was taken over by a later historian of the county.^8^0 An|drew McCormick became mayor of Springfield in 1843, then Page 124 retired from public life, and died in 1857. Job Fletcher's public career ended with a term in the House, 1844-46. Archer G. Herndon's was longer by virtue of his political agility. Re|ceiving a federal appointment from the Tyler administration as receiver of public moneys at Springfield, he was able to represent himself as a lifelong Democrat so successfully that he kept the post throughout the Polk administration, losing out only when the Whigs returned to power in 1849.
On the leader of the Long Nine the weeks spent in Vandalia exerted a far more important influence. Though he was a transient resident of the west bank of the Kaskaskia for no more than forty-four weeks, only Springfield, where he lived twenty-four years, and Washington, where he spent five years as Congressman and President, exerted a larger influence. In the political struggle of the fittest, he survived and triumphed. Unknown on arrival, his political skill was apparent even to opponents when the capital moved north to Springfield. The novice had found himself, discovered the dual career of lawyer and politician, and made friends to assist him toward success in both. Confidence made him bold, facile, and clear in ex|pression. His literary style was molded and developed in Van|dalia political conflicts; the legislative custom of splitting in|finitives in the titles of bills established a permanent stylistic tendency. By his statement on slavery the young lawmaker showed that he could think deeply as well as clearly, and had the courage to support a principle even against united op|position. And Lincoln learned, as perhaps his most valuable single lesson, the technique and political value of successful compromise. Throughout his public career Lincoln was to be faced, like all statesmen, by opposite forces which blocked de|cisive action. When he dealt with the Sangamon County di|vision issue, compromising, taking the middle of the road, and thereby avoiding a disastrous split among his supporters, he foreshadowed his success as president in resolving the mightier conflicts between abolitionists and conservatives, on a dozen different issues of "a great civil war."
Page 126Re-elected to the legislature for the last time in 1840, Lin|coln remained prominent in Whig affairs, went to the House of Representatives in Washington for one term, became a Re|publican when the Whig party expired, and achieved a na|tional name when he debated, in 1858, with his old Vandalia opponent, Stephen A. Douglass, who had become Senator Douglas, leading Democrat of the North. An unexpected nominee for president in 1860, Lincoln won the election and was inaugurated as the sixteenth president of the United States of America.
When he lived in the Executive Mansion on Pennsylvania Avenue and dealt with complex problems of patronage, dis|loyalty, graft, incompetence, party control, war aims, inter|national affairs, military strategy, only six of the Long Nine were alive. Dawson, Stone, and McCormick were dead. Fletcher and Herndon, the two senators, were old and in re|tirement. Of the remaining four, one was president, and he be|stowed a lucrative federal appointment upon each of the re|maining three. Elkin became register of the land office at Springfield; Ninian W. Edwards was appointed Captain Commissary of Subsistence; and Wilson was made a United States Army paymaster.
The Civil War president had good reason to remember his old colleagues of the House in Vandalia. They had assisted in the winning of his first political triumph. Politics and poli|ticians were not essentially different on the Potomac and on the Kaskaskia. In Washington, as in Vandalia, he won his vic|tory, using in his handling of national affairs a skill in prac|tical politics which he had begun to develop three decades earlier, back in the frontier capital.