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On motion of Michael Jones, the report was concurred in. A minorty report was made by Risden Moore and John Emmett, strongly and ably urging the abolition of slavery, the amelioration of the black laws, and greater stringency regarding the punishment of kidnapping. Mr. Will made a separate report, of a milk and water character.
In the senate, it was speedily ascertained that the requisite twothirds vote to pass the resolution for the call of a convention to amend the constitutiou, could be obtained, and to spare; but in the house the case stood otherwise-they needed one yote. At first it was strenuously argued that the two-thirds vote required by the constitution to pass the convention resolution, meant twothirds of the two houses in joint session. But the opponents were too powerful in argument upon this point. The majority was not to be foiled in their purpose, however. Another mode presented itself—all that was required was courage to perpetrate a gross outrage upon a recalcitrant member.
There had been a contested election case from Pike county, which then included all the country between the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, north to the boundary of the State. The sitting member, decided by the house to be entitled to the seat, was Nicholas Hanson, and the contestant, John Shaw. Hanson's vote had been obtained for the re-election of Jesse B. Thomas, strongly pro-slavery, to the United States senate, but further than this he would not go. Shaw, who favored the convention project, was now discovered to be justly entitled to the seat! A motion was thereupon made to reconsider the admission of Hanson, which prevailed. It was next further moved to strike out the name of Hanson and insert that of Shaw. During the pendency of the resolution, a tumultuous crowd assembled in the evening at the state house, and after the delivery of a number of incendiary speeches, inflaming the minds of the people against Hanson, they proceeded through the town with his effigy in a blaze, accompanied by the beating of drums, the sounds of bugles, and shouts of “ Convention or death."
The motion to expel Hanson and admit Shaw was adopted, and the latter rewarded the majority by voting for the convention resolution, which thus barely passed by his aid on the night following. A number of the members of both houses entered their solemn protest against this glaring outrage of unseating Hanson, both as to the object intended and the manner of perpetrating it. Many reflecting men, earnest in their support of the convention question, condemned it; and it proved a powerful lever before the people in the defeat of the slavery scheme.
The passage of the convention resolution was regarded as tantamount to its carriage at the polls. The pro-slavery party cele. brated their triumph by an illumination of the town and a procession, accompanied by all the horrid paraphernalia and discordant music of a chivarai, marched to the residence of Governor Coles and the quarters of the chief opponents of the measure, where they performed their demoniac music to annoy and insult them. The procession is said to have been headed by such digna taries as ex-judge and late gubernatorial candidate, Joseph Phil. lips; the newly chosen chief-justice, Thomas Reynolds, afterwards governor of Missouri; associate supreme judge, Smith; pros
pective lieutenant-governor Kinney, etc., followed by many of the honorable members of the legislature, the lobbyists—some of them strangers from adjoining slave States-the rabble, etc. The rejoicings of the convention party also found expression in pub. lic dinners, and of the toasts there given we subjoin a few: The convention : The means of introducing and spreading the African family—three cheers. The enemies of the convention : May they ride a porcupine saddle on a hard trotting horse, a long journey without money or friends. May those individuals who are opposed to our cause, before the next election, abandon the State of Illinois. The State of Illinois : the ground is good-prairies in abundance; give us plenty of negroes, a little industry and she will distribute her treasure
But these brutal proceedings, intended to intimidate, only recoiled upon the perpetrators. The anti-convention party inspired with renewed courage and determination to defeat the call before the people. That indeed was the only hope for the liberty of all men in Illinois. At this period, the apportionment of the State into representative and senatorial districts was peculiarly unequal, the strongholds of the convention advocates being in the counties near the Ohio and the old French settlements, while the rapid progress of population north ward was numerically far in advance of its just ratio of representation. If the convention should be ordered by the prople, it was demonstrated that by reason of this unequal representation, one-fourth of the voters could, in a certain contingency, (that of the delegates being made to correspond to the number of representatives), elect a majority of the members, who might fasten slavery upon the State. It became, therefore, the paramount object of the friends of freedom to defeat the convention call before the people.
The canvass now opened and for nearly 18 months raged with unequaled violence throughout the State. Never was such canvass made in the State before. The young and old, without regard to sex entered the arena of party strife ; families and neighborhoods became divided and surrendered themselves up to the bitter warfare. Detraction and personal abuse reigned supreme, while combats were not infrequent. The whole country seemed on the verge of a resort to physical force to settle the angry question.* The press, both for and against, teemed with incendiary publications on the subject. Both anti and pro-convention newspapers were established: of the former "The Spectator," at Edwardsville, edited by Hooper Warren; one at Shawneetown, edited by Henry Eddy; the Illinois Intelligencer, located at Vandalia, which, at first pro-convention, was subsequently purchased by David Blackwell, secretary of State, and then ably conducted in opposition to the convention scheme. To these papers there were also a number of able and steady contributors, principal among whom may be mentioned, bis excellency the governor; Morris Birbeck, the able Eng. lish colonist, in Edwards county ; Judge Lockwood, Thomas Lippincott, George Churchill, &c. Pamphlets were published and ex. tensively circulated, containing statistics and observations regarding the working of slavery in other countries. Gov. Coles freely resigned the salary of bis entire term, $1000, as a contribution to the cause. Through the efforts mainly of the Rev. Dr. J. M.
"Reynold's "Own Times."
Peck, anti-slavery societies were organized by the friends of freedom,” which ramified more or less throughout the State, to the number of 14, with headquarters in St. Clair county, and which were active during the canvass. The ministers of the gospel were enlisted in the cause, and they met together in large numbers to devise ways to avert the impending evil. Denominational ques. tions, ordinarily much more bitter in those times than at the present, were laid aside for the time, and the pulpit now thundered its anathemas against spreading the great sin. All the means known to civilization to impart ideas of the enormity of slavery were made available. To the distribution of pamphlets and newspaper writings, were added tracts and handbills of a most incendiary tone. The Rev. Dr. Peck, who, in his vocation of distributing bibles, had the opportunity to observe the management of the campaign on the part of the opposition, shaped his ends with the tact and skill of a general, to meet them at every hand. Political meetings were called, and almost every stump resounded with the declamations of indignant orators, both pro and con. The rank and file of the people, no less excited, wrangled and argued with each other wherever they met. Much time was consumed, and industry was at a stand.
In the meantime, the pro-slavery party was not idle, and adopted the same means to reach the public mind. Elias Kent Kane; Thomas Reynolds, the chief justice; Judge Theophilus W. Smith, of the supreme court; Judge Samuel McRoberts, Emanuel J. West, A. P. Field, Joseph A. Baird, George Forquer and others, were their prominent writers; while among their chief orators, besides some of these, may be mentioned R M. Young, John McLean, Jesse B. Thomas, ex Gov. Bond, (running for congress against D. P. Cook, at this time), Judge Phillips, and many others. The members of the legislature in favor of the conren. tion, before they dispersed in the spring of 1823, levied a contribution upon each other by which they raised about $1000 for their side of the cause. William Kinney, afterward lieutenant governor, to his vocation as a pro-slavery politician added that of a baptist preacher, mingling the two with much freedom, traveleil constantly over the State, acting with zeal and energy in arousing the people to the blessings of the institution of slavery. Emissaries of both parties ranged the State in every direction during the canvass, with bitter partisan tracts, and all manner of inflamatory appeals, to arouse the passions of the people, and awaken them to the duty of the hour. The principal newspapers of the pro. slavery party were located at Kaskaskia and Edwardsville.
In looking over the array of prominent names, it has been thought the most talented and influential public men were on the side of the convention party,* but in energy and zeal, which grew with the progress of the campaign, the opposition were better or ganized. Their attacks were, besides, direct upon the subject involving the merits of slavery, while the other side showed signs of avoiding the direct issue. The latter argued that the constitution needed amendment in many particulars; that the convention would not probably interfere in behalf of slavery, and if it did, it would establish it only for a limited period, or provide for indenturing and gradual emancipation. But the opponents were not to *Ford's History.
be hoodwinked in this manner; indeed as the people took a very absorbing interest in the subject, and as the canvass was extended for a period of 18 months, they came to thoroughly appreciate all there was in it by the day of election. The contest was not devoid of extraneous pro-slavery influences from beyond the borders of the State, as might well be expected, but such imperti. nence was promptly met as it deserved.
When the day of election finally arrived, the utmost exertions at the polls throughout the State were used by both sides to bring out a full vote. The aged, the crippled, the chronic invalids, all that could be conveyed with their bodily infirmities, were brought out and cast their votes, either for or against the call. The result was that the convention scheme was defeated by some 1800 majority. This was a wonderful victory to achieve, showing a gain for the anti-slavery cause, exceeding 3500 votes since the gubernatorial contest of two years before. The aggregate vote was 11,612; 4,972 for, and 6,640 against. This was a large vote; at the presidential election in November following, the aggregate vote of the State was 4,707.
And thus ended the most important, excited, and angry election that took place at that early day in Illinois. All feeling, however, speedily subsided, and in 6 months after, is it said, a politician who favored the introduction of slavery was a rara avis. The victory was decisive of the question for all time.
1824-6-MISCELLANEOUS MATTERS. Legislation—Re-organization of the Judiciary—Chief Justice Wil
80n—Hubbard as Governor ad interim-Population of 1825— Visit of La Fayette.
The convention struggle over, other affairs claim our attention. And first as to the legislature, which was anti-convention in its political sentiments. The members chosen simultaneously with the defeat of the convention call, constituted in a sense the first ever elected in Illinois upon other than personal considerations. Permanent party principles and organizations had been, as yet, foreign to the virgin soil of Illinois. To laud one and defame the other candidate was, up to that time, the only recognized mode of conducting a political canvass, and the campaigns were usually short. Governor Coles, in his message, congratulated the people upon the result over the slavery question, and again recommended the abolition of the remnant of African slavery still exist. ing, as an anomaly in this free State. But the legislature, notwithstanding its anti-convention majority, was not abolition, and it paid little heed to his recommendation. Two United States senators, four supreme judges, and five circuit judges, besides a crowd of other officials, were to be elected at this session; but the majority proved itself of quite a forgiving disposition toward its recent bitter opponents, and the convention question was not made a test in the choice of the numerous officers during the session. John McLean, a leading pro-convention orator, was elected United States senator over Governor Edwards, who was not closely identified with the angry contest, being absent in Wash: ington. It was at this time that he became involved in his unfortunate quarrel with Mr. Crawford, secretary of the treasury, which caused him to give up the Mexican mission to which he had been appointed. One week later, Elias Kent Kane was also elected to the United States senate. Hedefeated for the position such prominent anti-convention men as Governor Coles and Samuel D. Lockwood. Kane was perhaps the ablest writer that the convention party had during the contest, although a northern man by birth and education. Two leading pro-convention men were thus honored by an anti-convention legislature with the two highest offices in its gift.
By the constitution, the terms of office of supreme judges were to expire with the close of the year 1824. The legislature re-or. ganized the judiciary by creating both circuit and supreme courts. The State was divided into five judicial circuits, providing two terms of court annually in each county. The salaries of the cir.