Imágenes de páginas
[graphic][merged small]


BY WILLIAM A. MEESE. Nathaniel Pope was born January 5, 1784, at the Falls of the Ohio, now Louisville, Kentucky. He received for those times a liberal education, attending Transylvania University at Lexington, his native state, and graduating therefrom in 1806 with high honors. The law became his profession, he having studied in the office of his brother, John Pope, a United States Senator from Kentucky.

Soon after his admission to the bar he wended his way west, landing at St. Genevieve, Upper Louisiana, then a thriving town on the west bank of the Mississippi. At this time Kaskaskia, the seat of government of the Illinois, was the most important center of civilization in the Upper Mississippi Valley. The ablest lawyers of the west practiced in the Kaskaskia court, and here Pope met men like Thomas Benton, who came from Missouri to attend court. Not long thereafter young Pope moved to Kaskaskia.

On February 3, 1809, Congress authorized the organization of Illinois Territory, to take effect March 1st. This act separated Illinois from Indiana, and gave Illinois an independent government. Judge John Boyle of Kentucky was on February 23, 1809, appointed Governor of the new territory, and on the same day Nathaniel Pope was appointed Secretary Judge Boyle declined the appointment, and on April 24, Ninian Edwards, then chief justice of the Kentucky court of appeals, received the appointment from President Madison, both appointments being made upon the recommendation of Senator John Pope and Henry Clay of Kentucky. Alexander Stuart, Obadialı Jones and Jesse B. Thomas were appointed territorial judges and Benjamin H. Doyle attorney general.

* Mr. Meese will contribute to the Journal further articles on promi. nent Illinoisans under the title of Forgotten Statesmen of Illinois.

Under the ordinance of 1787 and the act of Congress of February 3, 1809, the governor and the judges constituted the law-making power. Governor Edwards was unable to start for the Illinois at the time of his appointment, being detained in Kentucky until June at closing up his personal affairs. Nathaniel Pope, on the 25th day of April, 1809, took the oath of office before Judge Schrader of St. Genevieve, and coming to Illinois, proceeded to organize our government. By proclamation of April 28th, he re-established the counties of St. Clair and Randolph; and also appointed and commissioned Elias Rector, adjutant general; John Hay, sheriff; Enoch Moore, coroner, and seventeen justices of the peace. The governor and judges met at Kaskaskia June 13, 1809, and resolved that the laws of Indiana Territory in force prior to March 1, 1809, which applied to the new territory, should remain in force. The session lasted seven days.

Nathaniel Pope continued to act as secretary of the territory until December, 1816. While filling that office he received a salary of $1,000 a year, which for those times was a large sum. During his incumbency in office, he and Governor Edwards were the best of friends, and perfect harmony existed.

On June 19, 1812, the United States declared war upon Great Britain. Previous to this time many of the Illinois Indians had taken sides with Great Britain and openly countenanced British rule. The depredations committed by these Indians upon Illinois inhabitants caused great alarm among our people, and Governor Edwards organized an expedition to teach the hostiles a lesson. On the expedition to Peoria Lake in 1812 Nathaniel Pope served as an officer on the governor's staff.

In January, 1816, the legislative council and house of representatives of the Illinois territory, by resolution, authorized Nathaniel Pope and Daniel P. Cook to superintend the printing of the laws and journals of the fourth session of the territorial legislature. For this work the committee was allowed the sum of twenty-five dollars. The laws were printed in 1816 in one small volume of eighty-four pages by Matthew Duncan, “Printer to the Territory."

IN CONGRESS-STATEHOOD. In the fall of 1816 Pope became a candidate for territorial delegate to Congress. He had several opponents, but “distanced all of the candidates and was triumphantly elected.” Just after his election he resigned his office of secretary of the territory, and on Monday, December 18, 1817, according to the records of the Fourteenth Congress, he “appeared before that body, produced his credentials, was qualified and took his seat.” He was reelected to the succeeding Congress and served until December 4, 1818. While in Congress he signally distinguished himself and gave evidence of great wisdom, foresight and statesmanship.

In the year 1816 the people of Illinois became anxious for statehood, and in January, 1817, both houses of the territorial legislature passed an act authorizing the taking of a census in fifteen counties. The work of enumeration was to commence on the first day of April of that year and end on the first day of June next.

The Ordinance of 1787 provided that each state formed from the Northwest Territory should have a population of 60,000 free inhabitants. Fearing that Illinois did not have that number, which proved to be the fact, the legislature in the same month (January), and within a few days after the passage and approval of the previously mentioned act, enacted another law, which provided that:

“And, whereas, a great increase of population may be expected between the first day of next June and December” * * * “Therefore” * * * we * * * "shall continue to take the census of all persons who may remove into their respective counties between the first day of June and the first day of December next.”

It is said the Commissioners enumerated all persons coming in as well as those going out of the state. There was at this time a large emigration to Missouri, most of which passed through Illinois. These emigrants were enumerated as they entered the territory, in every county they passed through, and as they went out of the state. and still the enumerators could count but thirty-four thousand, six hundred twenty.

Judge John Moses, in his “History of Illinois” (page 281), says: “Mr. Pope well knew that the territory did not contain the required 60,000, and he succeeded in fixing in the act the number of 40,000 as being sufficient.” Judge Moses' history refers to the “Abridgement of the Debates of Congress," Vol. VI, 173. An examination of Mr. Bentham's admirable work fails to disclose any mention of this reduction in the required population. I have also examined the “Annals of the Fifteenth Congress, First Session" (Gales and Seaton), and find no reference to this change.

Article V of the Ordinance of 1787 contained, however, the following:

“Provided, the constitution and government, so to be formed, shall be republican, and in conformity to the principles contained in these articles, and so far as it can be consistent with the general interest of the confederacy, such admission shall be allowed at an earlier period, and when there may be a less number of free inhabitants in the state than sixty thousand.”

The resolution passed by the senate and house of representatives of the United States on December 3, 1818, declaring Illinois to be one of the United States, does not mention 40,000 or 60,000 population, but is silent on that question. It was in the preparation and passage of this

« AnteriorContinuar »