« AnteriorContinuar »
relled with the leaders of his party. He lost the credit he had gained by being the democratic champion on the bench, and failed to be elected to the United States Senate; and was put back to the laborious duty of holding circuit courts."
The judiciary bill produced much excitement and party animosity at the capital, both among members and the goading, insatiate lobby vultures. It was no easy task for the dominant party to rally its force to the blind support of a measure so purely ove of revenge. A great deal of opposition came from the friends and interests of the 9 circuit court judges, every one of whom would be repealed out of office and the majarity of whom were democrats. However, the bill finally passed both houses. The council of revision returned it with their objections, urged at length.
The council regarded the requirement that the supreme court. with five additional judges, hold circuit courts in all the counties of the State; attend at the seat of government, and act as council of revision during the sessions of the legislature, and preside in the supreme court until all the business of that tribunal was disposed of, as physically impossible. Owing to the magnitude of the circuit court business, the nine circuit judges, for no fault of theirs, had been unable to attend to it and fully subserve the interests of the public. To thrust all this business upon the hands of the supreme judges, in addition to their other duties, would result in such delay in the administration of justice as to be equivalent to a denial of it. The law would prejudice the rights of citizens and the character of the State.
The bill, however, was re-passed, notwithstanding the objections of the council, in the senate, by a large majority, but in the house by barely one. A solemn protest by the undersigned members, many of whom have since attained imperishable renown, was spread upon the journal, February 26, 1841. After stating their objections at length, they sum up as follows:
1st. The bill violates the great principles of government by subjecting the judiciary to the legislature.
20. It is a fatal blow at the independence of the judges, and the constitutional term of their office.
3d. It is a measure not asked for, or wished by the people.
4th. It will greatly increase the expenses of our courts or greatly diminish their utility.
5th. It will give the courts a political and partisan character, thereby impairing public confidence in their decisions.
6th. It will impair our standing in the opinion of other States and the world.
7th. It is a party measure for party purposes, from which no practical good to the people can possibly
arise, but which may be the source of innumerable evils. The blow had already fallen, but they felt impelled to point out the danger of the measure, its im policy and its usurpation, in order at least that the despotism of a momentary majority may not become a precedent for succeeding enormities, or future crimes. We have struggled ineffectually to guard the principles of our government from unhallowed innovation, and contended for the supremacy of the constitution.
(Signed): Joseph Gillespie, John J. Brown, Leander Munsell, William B. Archer, John F. Charles, Isaac Funk, Alden Hull, John Darnielle, Geo. W. Waters, Cyrus Edwards, James T. Cunningham. John Bennett, Thos. Threlkeld. A. Lincoln, J. M. McLean, H. W. Thornton, Wm. A. Marshal, James M. Bradford, John J. Hardin, Jeremiah Cox, Peter Menard, jr., W. H. Henderson, James Reynolds, W. W. Bailey,
D. M. Woodson, E. B. Webb, John Denny, Isaac Froman, Jas. A. Beal, Josiah Francis, Daniel Gray, James Parkinson, John Canady, Alexander Phillips, James N. Brown.
The five additional supreme judges elected by the legislature under this law were, Thomas Ford, (subsequently gov.) Sidney Breese, Walter B. Scates, Samuel H. Treat, and Stephen A. Douglas, * all democrats. By this means all apprehension was allayed in the democratic breast regarding the continued support of the alien vote, so far as any interference from the supreme court was concerned. Nor did the majority of that court now question the right of the executive to appoint his own secretary of State; and had the question been now presented to the court, the McClernand-Field decision would have been overruled. Such is party influence upon the judiciary. One of the newly appointed judges, writing of this reorganization of the court says: The highest courts are but indifferent tribunals for the settlement of great political question; when any great political question on which parties are are arrayed comes up for decision, the utmost which can be expected of them is, an able and learned argument in favor of their own party, whose views they must naturally favor. The court, however, as newly organized, proved not entirely acceptable to the dominant party; the judges generally enjoyed great personal popularity, but the bench became the subject of frequent malevolent assaults by the legislature. That body, fresh from an exultant constituency, imbued often with extreme partisan views, could illy brook any independence in the other departments of government. I
At this session of 1844-5, the legislature, ostensibly as a measure of retrenchment, passed resolutions drafted by Mr. Trumbull, who was not a member though an aspirant for the ermine, calling
*The last named gentleman had been of counsel for the aliens, had derived bis information of how the case was going to be decided in June preceding from Judge Smith, bad obtained the continuance then on the defect in the record as pointed out by him, had made a violent attack upon the old judges by a characteristic speech in the lobby, and had furnished McClernand the data upon which the latter denounced the court ; in view of all of which, it seems strange that he had sought and obtained a position side by side with the gentleman he had traduced and attempted so much to bring into disrepute. Partisan scheming and the cravings of office could not well go further,
The new judges were charged with partisan conduct, by the whig press of the period, in the secret appointment of a clerk of the supreme court: Ebenezer Peck, It seems, as a member of the legislature had originally opposed the judiciary bill; but his position became suddenly changed, and the bill passed the House by one majority over the objections of the council. After taking their seats, the new members of the court had no consultation with the old judges on the subject of the clerkship, and not a word was said in open court about removing the incumbant, Duncan. Indeed, one of them had given out that to avoid the imputation of being a partisan court, the clerkship was not to be disturbed. The public astonishment was not inconsiderable, therefore, when shortly after its adjourement, Peck announced himself as the clerk by appointment of the majority of the court.-Sanyamon Journal. +Ford's History.
At the session of 1842-43, there was an effort made to remove Judge Brown, on the ground of incompetency. This gentleman, whose bome was at Sbawneetown, upon the reorganization of that court, bad been assigned to the remote Galena circuit, with the view to render his position uncomfortable and irksoire, and worry him into a resignation. This failing, four lawyers from bis circuit, viz: C. S. Hempstead, Thomas Drummond. Thompson Campbell, and A. L. Holmes, filed their specifications charging that he had not that natural strength of intellect, and lacked the legal and literary learning, requisite and indispensable to a proper discharge of the high and responsible duties devolving upon him as a judge of the supreme court; that his opinions delivered ia that couit were written and revieed by others, and that his decisions upon the circuit had been the mere echo of some favorite attorney ; and that by nature, education and babit, he was wholly unfit for his high position. Their stinging language indicated something more than a purpose to solely subserve the public good. The senate declined to participate in the examination of the charges. The house in committee of the whrle went several times into the investigation of them, but finally asked to be discharged from their further consideration and so the matter ended and Judge Brown retained bis seat.-House Journal, session 1842-43.
on the judges and governor to relinquish a portion of their salaries. This was refused, on the ground of the principle involved as to the right of the legislature to make such a request. It implied a control to a certain extent, of a co-ordinate department of government, however the request coupled with it the consent of the incumbents. Although their salaries were fixed, coercion was in this manner sought through the fear of losing public favor, interest, and popularity. It was an unworthy means, and destructive of the first great principle of free constitutional government -the independence of the co-ordinate branches to each oth
The supreme court, as constituted under the act of Feb. 10th, 1841, was finally dissolved by operation of the constitution of 1848, the judges going out of office December 4th, that year.
1842-1846-ADMINISTRATION OF GOVERNOR FORD.
The Campaign-Life and Character of Gov. Ford-Lieut. Goc.
Moore-Means of Relief from the Financial EmbarrassmentsThe State at the Turning Point-Restoration of her Credit.
As early as December, 1841, the State democratic convention met at Springfield, and nominated Adam W. Snyder, of St. Clair, and John Moore, of McLean, as their candidates for governor and lieutenant governor at the election of August 1842. In the spring following, ex-Gov. Joseph Duncan and W. H. Henderson became the candidates of the whig party for the same offices. Charles W. Hunter and Frederick Collins were also, respectively, candidates for the same positions. Mr. Snyder was an effective speaker and possessed an ostentatious and plausable address. He had been a member of congress and state senator, and in the latter capacity, to gain the favor of the Mormons, who were looming up in the State as a considerable political power by reason of their unity, had been largely instrumental in the passage of the obnoxious “ Mormon charters," by which that modern sect were placed above and beyond the laws of the State-constituted a petty sovereignty within their corporate limits, whence they issued forth, committed their depredations upon the neighborhoods outside, retired to their legal citadel of Nauvoo, and detied the process of any court of the county to follow them.
The Mormons, driven from Missouri by a democratic governor, denied protection by a democratic president, but in congress countenanced by Messrs. Clay and John T. Stuart, in 1840 had given their support to the whigs. But now Joe Smith, their prophet, issued his proclamation exhorting his followers in favor of Mr. Snyder, and “ declaring Judge Douglas to be a master spirit." This mandate showed the whigs that the democracy bad, by the extension of these very liberal charters, woed the Mormons with
But the odium of this sect was already rapidly spreading over the entire State; and of this circumstance, Gov. Duncan as the whig candidate, who was not concerned in the passage of the obnoxious charters, sought to take advantage, and more than retriere from the people the whig loss by the Mormon defection. Indeed things bore a very promising look in that direction. But at this juncture Mr. Snyder sickened and died, and the new choice as the standard bearer of the democracy for governor, fell upon the Hon. Thomas Ford, who, although well known as a jurist, was in no wise prominently connected with politics,
and certainly not with the passage of the obnoxious Mormon charters. The democracy apprehending the drift of public opinion, placed Judge Ford in the position made vacant by by the death of Mr. Snyder, because of his availability. It is doubtful whether any of the democratic leaders, in the then temper of the people toward the Mormons, could have been elected over so adroit and courageous a competitor as Duncan. The death of Snyder proved the triumph of the democracy.
Besides the odious Mormon charters and the alleged intrigues and corrupt bargains between certain politicians and the prophet, the other public questions of the day were, a revival of the work on the canal, repeal of the bank charters, and the claim of Wisconsin to 14 of our northern counties. The position of the new democratic candidate upon the questions was variously and oppositely reported in the public press of different sections of the State, to be everywhere in harmony with the varying, but prevailing, sentiments of the people. Much allowance ought to be made, however, for the statements of the press during a heated political campaign. Duncan charged Ford during the canvass with concealing his opinions on all these questions.
The following are the number of votes cast for governor in 1842: For Thomas Ford, 46,901; Joseph Duncan, 38,584; Charles W. Hunter, 909. For lieutenant governor: John Moore, 45,567; W. H. Henderson, 38,426; Frederick Collins, 905.
Thomas Ford was born at Uniontown, Pa., in the year 1800. He was a half-brother to George Forquer, his senior by six years. Their mother, after the death of her first husband, married Robt. Ford, who, in 1802 was killed in the mountains of Pennsylvania by Indians. She was left in indigent circumstances, with a large family, mostly girls. With a view to better her condition, she, in 1804, removed to Missouri, where it had been customary by the Spanish government to give land to actual settlers, but upon her arrival at St. Louis she found the country ceded to the United States, and this liberal policy, unlike as at present, changed by the new ownership. After some sickness to herself and family she finally removed to Illinois, and settled some three miles south of Waterloo, but the following year moved closer to the Mississippi bluffs. Here the boys received their first schooling under the instructions of Mr. Humphrey, for which they walked three miles.
Their mother, though lacking in a thorough education, was a woman of superior mental endowments, joined to energy and determination of character. She inculcated in her children those high-toned moral principles which distinguished her sons in public life. She exercised a rigid economy to provide her children an education, but George Forquer, her oldest son, at an early age had to quit school, to aid by his labor in the support of the family. He acquired the trade of a house-joiner, afterwards became a merchant, failed, and studied law, which his vigorous intellect enabled him to readily master in spite of a defective early education. He was determined and ambitious, had a good voice and became a fluent and elegant speaker. He filled many public offices; was a member of the legislature from Monroe, secretary of state under Gov. Coles, attorney general, senator from Sangamon, subsequently register of the land office at Springfield, and