Imágenes de páginas

stock of goods from St. Louis, at one load on horse-back. He prospered as a merchant, became an extensive trader, and accumulated a fortune. Firmly impressed with religious convictions, he early became a member of the baptist church, and afterward forcibly preached the faith of that denomination of christians. He frequently had the honor of a seat in the legislature where he was noted for close attention to business. He was of a social dis. position, and had gathered a wonderful store of pithy anecdotes, which served him a good purpose in electioneering. He was regarded as one of the best political canvassers in the State, possessing unbounded energy and great ambition. With his strong partisan bias he associated a rare jovial and witty pleasantry, which made him very acceptable in his intercourse with the people. Notwithstanding his clerical calling, which he did not lay aside while in quest of office, he availed himself fully of the worldly practice of those days in elections, by "treating with intoxicating liquors, as did all other candidates. It was wittily remarked of him that he was invincible, because he went forth to the contest “armed with the sword of the Lord and the spirit.” Yet with all these favorable traits, he was not sufficiently guarded during the canvass in his sarcastic utterances, which were caught up and distorted by his enemies, to his disadvantage. His strong denominational prejudices and clerical calling, induced him occasionally to berate other churches, which he discovered from the drift of things to be arrayed against him, often from no other than sectarian motives. He also arrayed himself in opposition to the canal, then much before the public, not on account of its intrinsic or public value, but because that great improvement would send a tide of “Yankee" emigrants to the State, which he and his ultra partisans affected to despise ever since the defeat of the proposi. tion to introduce slavery into the State six years before. These sentiments, inconsiderately expressed, did him much injury in the campaign.

His opponent, John Reynolds, was born in Pennsylvania, in 1788, of Irish parents, who removed to Tennessee while he was an infant, and to Illinois in 1800. In early manhood young Reynolds returned to Tennessee, where he received a "classical education," as he asserts in his “Life and Times,” but for this assertion no one would ever have suspected it, either from his conversation, public addresses, or writings. He was reared among a frontier people, and imbibed their characteristics of manners, customs, and speech-disliked polish, contemned fashion, and was addicted to inordinate profanity, all of which attached to him through life, of none of which he took any pains to divest himself, and much of which is said to have been affected, which we doubt. These, , garnished by his varied reading, a native shrewdness, and a wonderful faculty of garrulity, make him, considering the high offices to which he attained, one of the public oddities in the annals of Illinois. His imagination was fertile, but his ideas were poured forth regardless of logical sequence, evidencing his Milesian blood. He had an extraordinary, disconnected sort of memory, and possessed a large fund of detached facts relative to the early settlement of St. Clair and Randolph counties, which are embod. ied by him in a work entitled the “ Pioneer History of Illinois," and are in the main correct and valuable, though badly arranged. He was tall of stature; his face long, bóny and deeply furrowed, and under his high, narrow forehead rolled his eyes, large and liquid, expressive of volubility. His nose projected 'well down. ward to his ample mouth. He was kindly by nature, treasured few resentments, and was ever ready to do a favor. His thoroughly democratic manners, social disposition and talkative habit caused him to mingle readily with the people and enjoy their confidence. He was much in public life. We have noted him as a judge; he served three terms in congress, was afterward commissioned (most unwisely) one of the State financial agents to negotiate large loans to carry on the State internal improvements, visiting Europe in this capacity; still again we find him in the legislature. He always claimed the staunchest adhesion to the democratic party. In 1858, however, he refused to follow the lead of Douglas, but sided with President Buchanan in his effort to fasten slavery upon Kansas by the Lecompton constitution, and his hatred of Douglas was such that he preferred Mr. Lincoln for the senate. In 1860, old and infirm, he attended the Charleston convention as an anti-Douglas delegate. Owing to his age, his extreme pro-slavery views and loquaciousness, no man from the north received more attention from the southern delegates than he, He supported Breckinridge for the presidency. After the elections of October, in Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania, had foreshadowed the success of Mr. Lincoln, he however publisherl an address urging democrats to rally to the support of Douglas, that the election might be thrown into congress, where Breckinridge would succeerd. Immediately preceding, and during the war of the rebellion, his correspondence with extra-Billy Smith of Virginia, and his letter to his brother-in-law, J. L. Wilson of Alabama, which was widely circulated, evinced a clear sympathy for the treason of the south. About the 1st of March, 1861, he urged upon Buchanan officials the seizure of the treasure and arms in the custom-house and arsenal at St. Louis. He died at Belleville, May, 1865. He left no will, and his fine property descended to his wife, who survived him but a few months. He had no children by either of his wives.

During the political campaign, Reynolds professed great admi. ration for the character of Jackson, though he was not accounted ultra enough by the real Jackson men who denounced him as an "outsider.” He and his competitor made a thorough canvass of the State, and party excitement ran exceedingly high. Much personality entered into it, and bitter reproaches were indulged by the partisans of the respective candidates. The press was loaded with abusive articles on both sides, and hand-bills were scattered broadcast, containing distorted reports of the speeches of the candidates, and all sorts of scandalons charges. After a wearisomo campaign of near 18 months, Reynolds was elected governor.

But with regard to the election for lieutenant governor, the same result did not obtain; it was the same as four years before. Rigdon B. Slocumb was on the ticket with Reynolds, and Zadock Casey with Mr. Kinney. Both candidates for lieutenant governor were gentlemen of sterling worth, character and ability.

"He writes : "In the year 1794, the Morrison family emigrated to Illinois. They were

talented, industrious, and became very wealthy. In the same year the horse Aies were very bad, and of these the green headed fly was the worst.

Slocuinb was unused to the not uncommon accomplishment of the American politician, public speaking; nor did he electioneer much, it is said, in any other manner. Not so however with Casey; he was gifted with the power of charming oratory, Although lacking in thorough early education, by comprehensive reading he had stored his mind, naturally strong, with varied knowledge. He had frequently been a member of the legislature, and his fine personal appearance and large public experience gave him distinction throughout the State. Like his colleague, he, too, occupied the pulpit occasionally. The clerical ticket was somewhat injured by the fact that the people could not brook the worldly aspirations of men engaged in a calling so militant to honors that perish; but this objection did not extend to both gentlemen, for Casey was elected. Governor Casey possessed in an eminent degree the commanding tact of presiding over a deliberative body.

In his message, Governor Reynolds invited attention to the snb. ject of education, internal improvement and the canal; urged that congress be memorialized to improve Chicago harbor; recommended three public highways, commencing respectively at Cairo, Shawneetown, and on the lower Wabash, all to terminate at the lead mines; the completion of the penitentiary; winding up of the old State bank; and, inocculated with his predecessor's theory, stated he was "satisfied that this State, in right of its sovereignty and independence, (was] the rightful owner of the soil within its limits.” But His Excellency advocated no hobby, and his administration was not strongly personal.

The governor was not in political accord with a majority of the senate, and the usual conflicts between that body and the executive obtained. The senate desired the removal of A. P. Field, secretary of State, and with that view passed a resolution requesting his renomination—that they might reject him.* But the governor refused compliance, and would neither remove nor renominate him. He renominated Henry Eddy, Sidney Breese, Thomas Ford, and Alfred Cowles, who had been efficient and acceptable prosecuting attorneys, but as they had opposed the election of Kinney, the senate rejected them and turned all out of office, except Thomas Ford. They were again nominated and again rejected; but after the adjournment of the legislature, the governor reappointed them. He succeeded in having his choice of treasurer, John Dement, confirmed by the senate. Dement was an ultra Jackson man, but had supported Reynolds. The incumbent Judge James Hall, desired to be retained in the office; and although an antiJackson man, he had, as editor of the Illinois Intelligencer, with much power, supported Kinney; but this failed to avail him. That curious political posture would indicate both aspirants to the treasurership to have been governed in their course more by the hope of office than by party principles. But that is a weakness not peculiar to those days alone.t

Among the measures passed at the first legislative session of Reynolds' administration may be noted the adaptation of the crim. inal code to the penitentiary system. But the most notable measure of this session was the passage of the act providing for the "Reynolds' Life and Times. +Hall, as Treasurer, was in arrears with the State.

redemption of the notes of the old State bank, which would mature during the current year. The notorious "Wiggins loan" of $100,000 was authorized, and if that proved insufficient to redeem the out-standing notes, the residue was to be refunded by issuing State stocks bearing 6 per centum annual interest. This speedily raised the credit of the State and advanced its currency to par. But while the financial standing of the State was thus preserved, the honorable members who actively authorized it, it is said, sunk beneath the waves of popular indignation, never to rise again as politicians. The value of a financial character for the young State, or the disgrace of repudiation, was not duly appreciated by the people. Demogogues availed themselves of this and proclaimed to the people that their representatives had corruptly betrayed their interests, and sold out them and the State to Wiggins for generations to come. The members quailed before the first onset of public indignation as if stricken with the enormity of their wrong. Truth was crushed to earth never to rise again, in the case of these politicians. A blight swept over the State and laid low many promising buds of incipient statesmen. It is left for us at this day, who look back with swelling pride to the fact that our State has emerged from every impending financial crisis with her garments unsullied, to appreciate the merits of their act, only regretting that theý did not boldly defend their course and hold up to public scorn the unprincipled demagogues who inflamed the people to the contrary.*

The United States census returns of 1830 showed a population for Illinois of 157,445, and in accordance therewith the State was apportioned into three congressional districts. Up to this time the State had had but one representative in the lower house of congress. A special election for one congressman was ordered for August 1831, at which Joseph Duncan was elected; but for the general election of August 1832, and every two years thereafter-it being provided that congressmen should be elected one year and over prior to taking their seats—three members were to be elected. Joseph Duncan, Zadock Casey (the lieutenant governor,) and Charles Slade were elected.

In his message to the session of the general assembly of 1832-3, governor Reynolds stated the ordinary receipts into the treasury for the two years ending November 30th, 1832, to be in round numbers, $102,000; the current expenses of the State government for the same period, were, in round numbers, $90,000. This indi. cated a healthy condition of the State finances, when it is considered that the Black Hawk war occurred during this period. The expenses of that war amounting to some two million dollars,t were however assumed by. the general government. At this session the first earnest efforts were made to build railroads; several charters were granted incorporating railroad companies, but no stock, it is said, was ever subscribed to any of them. It was proposed to build a railroad from Lake Michigan to the Illinois river in place of the canal ; surveys for the Northern Cross road (now the T. W. & W.,) and for the Central, from Peru to Cairo, were also proposed.

*Ford's History. +Brown's Minois, 855

But the most absorbing topic of this session was the impeachment trial of Theophilus W. Smith, one of the associate judges of the supreme court. Petitions numerously signed were receivel by the house charging him with misolemeanors in office. The house voted seven articles of impeachment, which were transmitted to the senate for trial. The first three related to the corrupt sales of circuit clerkships; he had authorized his son, a minor, to bargain off the office in Madison county, by hiring one George Kelly at $25 per month, reserving the fees and emoluments to himself; he did the samé-reserving the fees and emolumentstill his son became of age; and to subject said office to his will, he had made appointments three several times without requiring bonds from the appointees. He was also charged with being a co-plaintiff in several vexatious suits for an alleged trespass, commenced by affidavit in a court where he himself preside, holding the defendants illegally to excessive bail upon a trifling pretest, to oppress and injure them, and continuing the suits from term to term to harrass and persecute them. The 5th article charged him with arbitrarily suspending John S. Greathouse, a lawyer, from practice for advising his client to apply for a change of venue to a circuit where his bonor did not preside; 6th, for tyranically com. mitting to jail, in Montgomery county, á Quaker who entertained conscientious scruples against removing his hat in open court; 7th, for deciding an agreed case between the sheriff and treasurer of Madison county without process or plearling, to the prejudice of the county, rendering appeal to the supreme court necessary. The senate resolved itself into a high court of impeachment and a solemn trial was had, which lasted from January 9th to February 7th, 1833. The prosecution was conducted by a committee of managers from the house, consisting of Benjamin Mills, Murray McConnel, John T. Stuart, James Semple, and John Dougherty. The defendant was represented by Sidney Breese, R. M. Young, and Thomas Ford, subsequently governor. The array of talent on both sides, the exalted position of the accused, and the excitement thereby caused in political circles, gave to the trial unusual public attraction throughout the State, and during its protracted pendency little else was transacted by the legislature.

The trial was conducted throughout by marked ability and learn. ing. A great number of witnesses were examined and much documentary evidence introduced. The arguments of counsel were of the highest order; and in the final summing up for the prosecution, the chairman of the house committee, Mr. Mills, one of the most brilliant orators of the time, spoke for three days in a strain of unsurpassed eloquence. Pending the trial, the defendant, after each adjournment, had the desks of senators carefully searched for scraps of paper containing scribbling concerning their status upon the respective charges. Being thus advised, his counsel enjoyed peculiar advantages in the management of the defence. The constitution required that “no person shall be con. victed without the concurrence of two-thirds of all the senators present.” When the vote was finally taken upon each article separately, 22 senators were present, 4 absent or excused. It required 15 to convict, 12 voted guilty” on some of the charges, 10 were in favor of acquittal, and 15 "voted him guilty of one or other of the specifications, but as 12 was the highest vote on any

« AnteriorContinuar »