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interest, and a ruinous competition to the Terre Haute and Alton road, then building. Col. John Brough, a leading public citizen of Indiana, was at its head, and showed much determination to accomplish' it. When he was denied a special charter by the leg. islature of 1851, a company was organized under the general laws of 1849 ; subscription books to the capital stock were opened in New York city, capital $2,000,000, shares $50 each ; $470,000 were speedily subscribed, and Col. Brough, the president, issued his bulletin, announcing his intention to build a road from Terre Haute to St. Louis, not only without, but against, legislation. The idea that St. Louis should have two railroad bighways across the State of Illinois was simply monstrous to Alton. An Alton news. paper of November, 1852, says:
"At the close of the last session of our legislature we expressed the opinion that Col. John Brough, of Indiana, would be satisfied with the explicit refusal of our State to grant a charter of incorporation to his pet project *
and that he would abide by the several times repeated decision. The citizens of Illinois had reason to suppose that they were rid, for all time to come, of this pretended friend, but real enemy, to their best interests. It seems, however, that this valiant Indiana colonel is determined, notwithstanding his former repulses, to continue his unsolicited and officious intermeddling with the domestic policy of this State.”
But it was found impracticable to build the road under the law of 1849, and application was again made to the general assembly of 1853 for a special charter. Col. Brough was personally present and labored earnestly to succeed, but the State policy party, after strenuous opposition, led by Messrs. Wynn, Kuykendal and others, were again enabled to defeat the bill. Another bill look- . ing to the accomplishment of the same result, perhaps, was for a charter of the Terre Haute and Vandalia railroad, but the jealous and watchful State policy party, regarding this as a piece. meal resurrection of the “ Brough road,” promptly defeated it. The extension of the Belleville and Illinoistown charter eastward across the State, the Terre Haute and Marshall branch, and several others, which looked to approach the Mississippi at St. Louis, all met with signal defeat. The triumph of the State policy party was complete, and the press in its interest boldly proclaimed that it had waxed stronger than ever.
About this time, too, Chicago was greatly exercised over the Joliet Cut-off grievance, a road which would save to the public from the east, west or south-not desiring to make the detour to Chicago, 60 miles in transportation or travel, going and coming. Yet Chicago, for some fancied benefit, was anxious that that circuit should be maintained and enforced, nolens volens, upon all freight and passenger transportation. It is but just to say, however, that in this there was not entire unanimity, Notably the Chicago Democrat became all at once the most ardent advocate of State policy, and strongly urged this enforced deviation upon the public, denouncing Joliet and her citizens prominently connected with the steps taken to build a short railroad directly east, in unmeasured terms of abuse.
It was at the session of 1853, that Joseph Gillespie, champion of the Alton interest, introduced into the senate a bili by which all these existing chartered railroad corporations were to be protected for ten years against the building of any competing roads withiu 25 miles distance, unless existing corporations first consented thereto. This amazing proposition was a fit climax to all the monstrous, absurd and pernicious schemes of the State policy party. While many of the other States of the Union, ani. mated by a noble spirit of enterprise, were removing legal obstructions and instead adopting broad and liberal railroad incor. poration laws, throwing wide open their borders, and inviting capital from abroad to build railroads and create competition wherever it inclined, it was cooly proposed in the great State of Illinois, which needed development very badly, to draw a cor. don of exclusiveness around her borders, and within to combine with soulless corporations in the monopoly of all improvements, and hand over to them, bound by the strong chords of the law, the people of the Staté to be fleeced without stint. The bili failed to become a law.
The Salem railroad convention of 1849 having ultimately proved successful in obtaining a charter for the Ohio and Mississippi rail. road, another convention pow met at the same place, Nov. 25, 1853, to urge upon the governor the calling together of the general assembly in extraordinary session. The counties of Clark, Cumberland, Effingham, Crawford, Fayette, Jasper, Edwards, Bond, St. Clair, Jackson, Monroe, Williainson, Randolph, Clinton, Jefferson, Perry, Marion, Clay, some 19, all south of the Terre Haute and Alton railroad, whose best and most accessable market would be St. Louis, were ably represented by their most public spirited and enterprising men. The Hon. Zadock Casey was unanimously chosen chairman. A committee was appointed of which the Hon. Sidney Breese was chairman, to draft an address, setting forth their grievances and urging the governor to convene the legislature. Action upon seven measures was de. manded, but the railroad grievance was the main one. The com
“The special acts and the general law, so-called, for railroad incorporation demand action that would alone justify an extra session. Restrictions upon the accomplishment of useful enterprises might be removed by an act of ten lines, opening the way to immediate construction of works that would bring in capital from abroad and enhance the value of real estate to the amount of several millions of dollars. That Southern Illinois has a peculiar interest in this important measure, she has no disposition to deny. Look at the single fact that in the vast and increasing railroad enterprises, which is giving new life to the State, and which already exceed 2,000 miles in extent, less than 300 are permitted to Southern Illinois."
A committee of some 20 was appointed to present the address in person to the governor. It had the desired effect. The governor issued his proclamation, convening the legislature in Feb., 1954.
This special session was a very busy, and in many respects, a most important one for the State. But we now can only notice the subject in hand. The State policy was narrowed down to the one object of again defeating the “ Brough road," for which pur. pose a great effort was made, aided by foreign lobbyists interested in the Terre Haute and Alton road. But their efforts failed ; the liberal policy triumphed, the charter "recognizing and authorizing the construction of the Mississippi and Atlantic railroad" passed in both houses by decisive majorities. Exit "State policy-a policy which has done much to binder and retard the growth and development of the southern portion of the State, and whose blight has lingered more or less to this day.
THE ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD.
Congressional Grant of Land-Holbrook Charters--Bondholders'
Schemes—The 7 per cent. of its Gross Earnings—Passage of its Charter-Benefits to the Company, the State and Individuals Note : Jealousy of Politicians on Account of its Glory-Correspondence of Messrs. Breese and Douglas.
The subject of this chapter marks an era in the progress of the State. The grand scheme of connecting, by means of iron bands of commerce, Lake Michigan with the great watery highway of the Mississippi Valley at the confluence of the Ohio, had long been a desideratum with our people. It had constituted part of the State internal improvement system of 1837, and some work on the line was actually done, but was abandoned with the general collapse of that system. The Central Railroad, from the southern terminus of the canal to Cairo, was subsequently revived by legislation, procured by scheming brains with an eye to the future, but the whole subject lacked vitality until the passage of the act of congress of September, 1850, granting to the State a munificent donation of near 3,000,000 acres of land through the heart of Illinois in aid of its completion. This noble tribute by the nation had its birth simultaneously with and amidst the throes of the great adjustment measures of 1850, which, during that long and extraordinary session of Congress, shook the Union from center to circumference. Twice before had a similar bill passed the senate, and twice had it failed in the house, but now it was a law, and the State possessed the means to complete the great work. The final passage of the measure was bailed with demonstrations of great joy by the people and press of our State.* Illinois internal improvement bonds made a bound forward of 10 per cent. in the New York market. At this time the amount of railroad completed in the State consisted of a section of the Northern Cross Railroad, from Meredosia and Naples, on the Illinois river, to Springfield ; the Chicago & Galena, from the former city as far as Elgin; and a 6 mile coal track across the American bottom from opposite St. Louis to the mines in the bluffs.
*After the adjournment of congress, Senators Douglas and Shields, on their return home, were tendered a public dinner at Chicago in honor of the occasion, but for reasons of delicacy they declined becoming the exclusive recipients of such attentions, awarding to their colleagues of the house-where the final battle was fought and won-Messrs. McClernand, Harris, Wentworth, Young, Richardson. Bissell and Baker, the principal merit of its passage. The honors for the success of the measure were å fruitful source of jealousy among our public men.
The act granted the right of way for the railroad through tbe public lands of the width of 200 feet, from the southeru terminus of the Illinois and Michigan Canal to a point at or near the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and for branches to Chicago and Galena; also the privilege to take from them materials of earth, stone and timber for its construction. But the main grant to the State was the alternate sections of land desig. nated by even numbers for 6 sections deep on each side of its trunk and branches; for the lands sold or pre-empted within this 12 mile belt or area, enough might be selected from even numbered sections to the distance of 15 miles on either side of the tracks equal in quantity to them. The construction of the road was to be simultaneously commenced at its northern and southern termini, and when completed the branches were to be constructed. It was to be completed within ten years, in default of which the unsold lands were to revert to the United States, and for those sold the State was to pay the government price. The minimum price of the alternate or odd numbered sections of the government land was raised from $1 25 to $2 50 per acre. While the public lands were thus by the prospect of the building of this road rendered more saleable at double price, it followed that the general government not only lost nothing in dollars and cents, but in point of time was actually the gainer by this splendid gift. The land was taken out of market for two years, and when restored, in the fall of 1852, it in fact brought an aver. age of $5 per acre. The grant was subject to the disposal of the legislature for the purpose specified, and the road and branches were to be and remain a public highway for the use of the gov. ernment of the United States, free from all tolls or other charges for the transportation of any troops, munitions or other property of the general government. This provision, had it applied to the rolling stock as well as the use of the rails, would doubtless have saved the general government during the rebellion many hurwreds of thousands of dollars; but it has been construed adversely to the rights of the government in this particular. For the purpose of continuing the road south to Mobile, all the rights, privileges and liabilities, with regard to the grant of the public lands and in every respect as conferred on this State, were es. tended to Alabama and Mississippi. Such is a synopsis of the important provisions contained in this, the first land subsidy made by congress in aid of railroads, latterly so lamentably frequent as to well nigh despoil the country of its public domain.
Upon the passage of the bill, Mr. Douglas immediately prepared a petition, signed by the congressional delegations of all the States along the route of the road from Mobile vorth, describing the probable location of the road and its branches through Illinois, and requesting the president to order the suspension of land sales along the lives designated, which was immediately done.
The act of congress threw upon the legislature of Illinois the entire duty of making a prudent, wise and satisfactory disposi
"At the same session congress passed an act granting to the State of Akansas the swamp and overflowed lands unfit for cultivation, and remaining unsold within her borders, the benefits whereof were extended by section 4 to each of the other States in which there might be such landssituated. By this act the State of Ulinois received 1,500,000 acres more. These lands were subsequently turned over to the respective counties where located, with the condition that they be drained, and for school purposes.
tion of the magnificent grant. The point of departure of the Chicago branch from the main trunk was not fixed by the act, and this delicate duty the legislature, it was generally expected, would take in hand. Before the meeting of that body, in January, 1851, much contention pervaded the press of the State regarding the location of the main trunk, and particularly the routes of the branches. Many worthy and ambitious towns were arrayed against each other. The LaSalle interest wanted the Chicago branch taken off at that point. Bloomington, looking to a continuation of the Alton & Sangamon road (now the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis) to that place, wanted the Chicago branch to connect her with the lake. Shelbyville, which was a point on the old line of the Illi. pois Central, not dreaming but that she would have the main trunk, was grasping for the departure thence of the Chicago branch also, and lost both. Another route, which ought to have commanded great strength, was proposed on the most direct line from Cairo, making the point of connection with the main trunk in Pulaski county, and taking off the Galena branch at Mt. Vernon, thence through Carlyle, Greenville, Hillsboro, Springfield, Peoria, Galena and on to Dubuque. But of course it was to the interest of any company to make the location where there was the largest amount of vacant laud that could be brought within the belt of 15 miles on either side of the road. And this proved the controlling influence ultimately, both in the location of the main stem and the branches.
The disastrous failure of only a dozen short years before, as connected with the Utopia of the internal improvement system by the State, was not forgotten; and now when the means of achieving great good for developing the State were in hand, the stump and press teemed with advice as to the best mode of disposing of the grant of land, which, it may be added, was seldom free from bias or a look to local advantages. Swarms of land speculators and town site owners, it was anticipated, would infest the lobby at the next session of the legislature. The people were very properly advised that to guard against the influences and intrigues of these sharks they must select their best and ablest men to represent them.
The Holbrook Charters. One of the phantoms which loomed into public recognition, casting its shadow across the path of bright promise for the State, was what was known as the “Holbrook Charters," whose incorporators, it was feared, would step in and swallow up the congressional grant of land under the broad terms of their franchises.
The Cairo City and Canal Company was originally incorporated for the purpose of constructing dikes, levees or embankments to secure and preserve Cairo city and adjacent lands against the freshets of the rivers. The cutting of a canal to unite the Mississippi with the Ohio through Cash river, was also authorized. In the fall of 1835 the Hon. Sydney Breese, through a well-considered published letter, had first called attention to the plan of a central railroad, connecting the southern terminus of the Illinois and Michigau canal at Peru with the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers at Cairo. An effort was made at the special session of 1835-6 to unite this project with the canal, for which an appropri