Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

PREFACE.

Although Illinois, whose grassy plains have been styled the Eden of the new world, contains the oldest permanent settlements in the Valley of the Mississippi, and in her strides to empire is destined to become the first State of the Union, her history has been strangely neglected. Fragments have been written at different times but only of detached periods and embracing but a small part of the two centuries, which have elapsed since the first explorations. To supply this deficiency and furnish a history commensurate with her present advancement in power and civilization is the object of the present work; whether it has been accomplished remains to be seen.

Not having taken any part in the shifting and instructive drama enacted by those who have directed the affairs of State, no rank. ling jealousies have been engendered to distort conclusions; no undue predelictions to warp the judgement. Measures have been estimated by their results; men by their public acts. While no disposition has existed to assail any one, it must be remembered that none are faultless, and to speak well of all is the worst of detraction, for it places the good and the bad on a common level.

A principal aim has been to render the the work complete. A large amount of matter has been inserted never before published in connection with the history of the State; yet important facts, though familiar, have always been preferred to new ones of minor significance. The main consideration, however, has been to render it truthful. In the wide field which has been gleaned, every available source of information has been carefully consulted, and it is believed a degree of accuracy has been secured, which will compare favorably with that of other similar efforts. Still there will always be room for improvement, and any corrections which may be offered by parties who have witnessed, or been connected with events described, will be thankfully received and inserted in future editions of the work, the object being to make it a complete repository of reliable facts for the general reader, the politician, the lawyer, and all who may wish to become acquainted with the history of our noble State.

[ocr errors]

To the many in different parts of the State, who have furnished information, or aided us by valuable suggestions, we return our thanks, especially to Messrs. Rummel and Harlow, Secretaries of State, for the use of public documents, and to the proprietors of the State Journal and State Register, for access to their valuable files.

SPRINGFIELD, Dec. 19th, 1873

CHAPTER I.

GEOLOGY OF ILLINOIS.

On the geological structure of a country depend the pursuits of its inhabitants and the genius of its civilization. Agriculture is the outgrowth of a fertile soil; mining results from mineral resources; and from navigable waters spring navies and commerce. Every great branch of industry requires, for its successful development, the cultivation of kindred arts and sciences. Phases of life and modes of thought are thus induced, which give to different communities and states characters as various as the diverse rocks that underlie them. In like manner it may be shown that their moral and intellectual qualities depend on material conditions. Where the soil and subjacent rocks are profuse in the bestowal of wealth, man is indolent and effeminate; where effort is required to live, he becomes enlightened and virtuous; and where, ou the sands of the desert, labor is unable to procure the necessaries and comforts of life, he lives a savage. The civilization of states and nations is, then, to a great extent, but the reflection of physical conditions, and hence the propriety of introducing their civil, political and military history with a sketch of the geological substructure from which they originate.

GEOLOGY traces the history of the earth back through successive stages of development to its rudimental condition in a state of fusion. Speculative astronomy extends it beyond this to a gaseous state, in which it and the other bodies of the solar system constituted a nebulous mass, without forin and motion. When, in the process of development, motion was communicated to the chaotic matter, huge fragments were detached from its circumference, which formed the primary planets. These retaining the rotary motion of the sun, or central mass, in turn threw off other and smaller fragments, thus forming the secondary planets, as in the case of the moon which attends the earth. All these bodies are similar in form, have a similar motion on their axes, move substantially in a common plain and in the same direction, the result of the projectile force which detached them from the parent mass. These facts are strong evidence that the sun, and the planetary system that revolves around it, were originally a common mass, and became separated in a gaseous state, as the want of cohesion among the particles would then favor the dissevering force. From the loss of heat they next passed into a fluid or plastic state, the point in the history of the earth where it comes within the range of geological investigation.

While in this condition it became flattened at the poles, a form due to its diurnal rotation and the mobility of its particles. Ata further reduction of temperature its melted disk was transformed into a crust of igneous rock. A great many facts render it almost certain that the vast nucleus within this enveloping crust is still an incandescent mass. Compared with its enormous bulk, the external covering is of only filmy thiekness, the ratio of the two being as the pulp and peel of an orange. In this world-crucible are held in solution the 61 elementary substances, which, variously combining, produce the great variety of forms, energies and modes of being, which diversify and enliven terrestrial nature. From the same source the precious metals have been forced into the fissures of the superincumbent rocks, whither the miner descends and brings them to the surface. Volcanoes are outlets for the tremendous forces generated in these deep-seated fires. As an evidence of their eruptive power, Vesuvius sometimes throws jets of lava, resembling columns of flame, 10,000 feet in hight. The amount of lava ejected at a single eruption from one of the volcanoes of Iceland, has been estimated at 40,000,000,000 tons, a quantity sufiicient to cover a large city with a mountain as high as the tallest Alps. By the process of congelation, which has never ceased, the rocky crust which rests on this internal sea of fire, is now supposed to be from thirty to forty miles in thickness. The outer or upper portion of it was the most universal geological formation, and constituted the floors of the primitive oceans. The rocks composing it are designated unstratified, because they occur in irregular masses, and igneous from having originally been melted by intense heat. The vast cycle of time extending through their formation and reaching down to the introduction of life on the globe, constitutes the Azoic age. The earth's surface, consisting of arid wastes, and boiling waters, and its atmosphere reeking with poisonous gases, were wholly incompatible with the existence of plants and animals. By the continued radiation of heat the nucleus within the hardened crust contracted, and the latter, to adapt itself to the diminished bulk, folded into huge corrugations, forming the primitive mountain chains and the first land that appeared above the face of the waters. The upheaval of these vast plications was attended with depressions in other parts of the surface constituting the valleys and basins of the original rivers and oceans. Through the agency of water the uplifted masses were disintegrated and the resulting sediment swept into the extended depressions. Here it settled in parallel layers and constitutes the stratified rocks. In some localities these are entirely wanting, in others many miles in depth, while their average thickness is supposed to be from six to eight miles.

The plain, separating the stratified from the unstratified rocks, runs parallel with the oldest part of the earth's crust. When solidification commenced it was the surface, and as induration advanced toward the centre the crust thickened by increments on the inside, and, therefore, the most recently formed igneous rocks are the farthest below the surface. Stratification commenced at the same plain and extended in an upward direction, and hence the most recent deposits are nearest the surface, when not displaced by disturbing causes.

In the silent depths of the stratified rocks are the former creations of plants and animals, which lived and died during the slowdragging centuries of their formation. These fossil remains are fragments of history, which enable the geologist to extend his researches far back into the realms of the past, and not only determine their former modes of life, but study the contemporaneous history of their rocky beds, and group them into systems. The fossiliferons rocks are not only of great thickness but frequently their entire structure is an aggregation of cemented shells, so numerous that millions of them occur in a single cubic foot. Such has been the profusion of life that the great limestone formations of the globe consist mostly of animal remains, cemented by the infusion of mineral matter. A large part of the soil spread over the earth's surface has been elaborated in animal organisms. First, as nourishment, it enters the structure of plants and forms vegetable tissue. Passing thence as food into the animal, it becomes endowed with life, and when death occurs it returns to the soil and imparts to it additional elements of fertility. The different systems of stratified rocks, as determined by their organic remains, are usually denominated Ages or Systems.

The Laurentian System or Age is the lowest, and therefore the oldest, of the stratified series. From the effects of great heat it has assumed, to some extent, the character of the igneous rocks below, but still retains its original lines of stratification. A principal effect of the great heat to which its rocks were exposed is crystalization. Crystals are frequently formed by art, but the most beautiful specimens are the products of nature's laboratories, deep-seated in the crust of the earth. The Laurentian system was formerly supposed to be destitute of organic remains, but recent investigations have lead to the discovery of animals so low in the scale of organization as to be regarded as the first appearance of sentient existence. This discovery, as it extends the origin of life backward through 30,000 feet of strata, may be regarded as one of the most important advances made in American geology. Its supposed beginning, in a considerable degree of advancement in the Silurian system, was regarded by geologists as too abrupt to correspond with the gradual development of types in subsequent strata. The discovery, however, of these incipient forms in the Laurentian beds, renders the descending scale of life complete, and verifies the conjectures of physicists that in its earliest dawn it should commence with the most simple organisms.

The Huronian System, like the one that precedes it, and on which it rests, is highly crystalline. Although fossils have not been found in it, yet from its position the inference is they once existed, and if they do not now, the great transforming power of heat has caused their obliteration. This, and the subjacent system, extend from Labrador southwesterly to the great lakes, and thence northwesterly toward the Arctic Ocean. They derive their names from the St. Lawrence and Lake Huron, on the banks of which are found their principal outcrops. Their emergence from the ocean was the birth of the North American continent. One face of the uplift looked toward the Atlantic, and the other towarı the Pacific, thus prefiguring the future shores of this great division of the globe, of which they are the germ. Eruptive forces have not operated with sufficient power to bring them to the surface in Illinois, and therefore the vast stores of mineral wealth, which they contain in other places, if they exist here, are too deep below the surface to be made available.

« AnteriorContinuar »