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the flush times of 1836, was somewhat overdone, and through subsequent mismanagement and the revulsion of the next year, matters were eventually made still worse. The voice of the people was overwhelmingly in favor of the legislation which was granted. Even Whigs like Mr. Lincoln, were outstripped by some ardent Democrats—Mr. Douglas among them—in zeal for these improvements; they having unfortunately, as noticed in the case of bank-legislation, in appropriating the principle, failed to understand its most skillful and safe application in practice.
At the first session of 1836–7, about 1,300 miles of railroad were provided for, in various quarters, the completion of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, from Chicago to Peru, and the improvement of the navigation of the Kaskaskia, Illinois, Rock, and Grent and Little Wabash rivers ; requiring in all a loan of $8,000,000. This included the novel appropriation of $2,000,000 to be distributed among those counties through which none of the proposed improvements were to be made. The system voted by the Legislature was on a most magnificent scale, such as New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio or Indiana had not surpassed. This system of internal improvement, with Democratic variations, having scarcely been inaugurated when the crash of 1837 came, did not entirely correspond in practice with what it had promised in theory.
There was also a considerable addition made to the banking capital of the State at this session.
During the winter, resolutions of an extreme Southern character on the slavery question, were introduced, and, after discussion, adopted by the Democratic majority. The attempt was, of course, made to affix a character of abolitionism to all those who refused assent to these extreme views. At that time, the public sentiment of the North was not aroused on the subject, as it became a few years later, in consequence of pro-slavery aggressions. Yet Mr. Lincoln refused to vote for these resolutions, and exercised his Constitutional privilege, along with one of his colleagues from Sangamon county, of entering upon the Journal of the House his reasons for thus acting. As showing his sentiments twenty-three years ago,
on this now so prominent national question, the protest referred to, as it appears on the journal, is here appended in fall:
MARCH 3, 1837. The following protest was presented to the House, which was read and ordered to be spread on the journals, to wit:
" Resolutions upon the subject of domestic slavery having passed both branches of the General Assembly, at its present session, the undersigned hereby protest against the passage of the same.
“They believe that the institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy; but that the promulgation of abolition doctrines tend rather to increase than abate its evils.
" They believe that the Congress of the United States has no power, under the Constitution, to interfere with the institu. tion of slavery in the different States.
* They believe that the Congress of the United States has the power, under the Constitution, to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia ; but that the power ought not to be exercised, unless at the request of the people of said District.
" The difference between these opinions and those contained in the said resolutions, is their reason for entering this protest. (Signed)
“ A. LINCOLN, "Representatives from the County of Sangamon." On the formation of the separate territory of Illinois, in 1809, Kaskaskia, perhaps the oldest town in all the Western country, had been designated as the capital. Such it continued to be until Illinois was admitted into the Union as a State, in 1818, when Vandalia, far up the Kaskaskia river, was laid out as the new capital. For some time it continued to be relatively a central location. But during several years immediately preceding 1837, the middle and northern portions of the State had filled so rapidly that the removal of the capital to a point nearer the geographical center had become manifestly expedient. At this session, accordingly, an act was passed changing the seat of government to Springfield, the principal town in the interior of the State, from and after the 4th day of July, 1839. To the people of Sangamon county, whom Mr. Lincoln represented, this was of course a
most satisfactory measure, and by the State at large it was received with general approbation. Vandalia, which had reached a population of about two thousand, dwindled away for a time, until it had but about one-fourth that number of inhabitants, though of late years it has revived. Springfield has steadily advanced, since this period, and is one of the most beautiful interior towns of the West. The prairie country for scores of miles around is as charming in appearance and as fertile in its productions as any tract of like extent on the face of the earth. It is greatly to the credit of Mr. Lincoln's good taste and sagacity that, when he came to his majority, he fixed upon such a locality for his home, foreseeing for this spot a successful future, to which (altogether beyond his anticipations) his influence, in 1836, added a material advantage, and his presence, in 1860, gave a national luster of renown.
The financial disasters of the spring of 1837 were the occasion of an extra session of the Legislature of Illinois, in July of that year. The Governor asked for the legalization of the suspension of specie payments by the banks of the State, which a majority of both Houses granted. He also asked a repeal or modification of the internal improvement system, which was refused. The condition of affairs was deemed critical, and particularly so to the prospects of the Democratic party, which had just been congratulating itself on the election and inauguration of the successor of Gen. Jackson, Martin Van Buren, as President. In Illinois, that party had held unbroken and decisive sway, from the days of the younger Adams down. Whatever looseness of legislation had contributed to these evils at home, they were responsible for. And in the nation, the political dangers were felt to be imminent—so much so that the President had called an extra session of Congress. There was a want of Democratic harmony, however, at Washington and at Vandalia. The doctors of the party sat in council at the latter place, during the special session, but in the Legislature they only accomplished what has been stated. It now required the most desperate exertions to save the Democracy from defeat, and the
Whigs actively followed up their advantages. So overwhelming had been the strength of their opponents, however, from the time that Mr. Lincoln first appeared on the political stage, and long before, that while a great change was visible in the results of the next election, the revolution was not yet to be completed.
In 1838, Mr. Lincoln was for the third time elected a representative in the Legislature, for the two years ensuing. Among the other six representatives of Sangamon county was John Calhoun, since notorious for his connection with the Lecompton Constitution. Availing himself of some local issue or other, and being a man of conceded ability, of highly respectable Whig antecedents and connections, he had slipped in by a small majority, crowding out the lowest candidate on the Whig ticket. The remaining five were Whigs, including E. D. Baker, Ninian W. Edwards, and A. McCormick. The strength of the two parties in the House was nearly evenly balanced, the Democrats having only three or four majority, rendering this unexpected gain particularly acceptable.
So well recognized was now the position of Mr. Lincoln in his party that, by general consent, he received the Whig vote for the Speakership. There was a close contest, his Democratic competitors being Col. William Lee D. Ewing, who had served with Lincoln in the Black Hawk war. On the fourth ballot, Ewing had a majority of one over all others, two Whigs (including Mr. Lincoln) and two Democrats having scattered their votes.
At the State election, in August, 1838, the Whig candidate for Governor made an excellent run, but was defeated by Thomas Carlin, Democrat. State affairs were hardly brought in issue in the general canvass. A majority of the Legislature, at the first session, was opposed to the repeal or modification of the public works system, but voted additional expenditures thereon, to the amount of $800,000. At a special session, however, this body repealed the system, and made provisions for its gradual winding up. Mr. Lincoln, as the Whig leader, had his position on the Committee on Finance, and exerted his influence in favor of wise counsels,
and such a determination of affairs as would best remedy the evils resulting from this loose Democratic tampering with measures of Whig policy.
Aside from these financial questions, there were few matters of any general interest before this Legislature. This session of 1838–9 was the last held at Vandalia. A special session in 1839, inaugurated the new state-house at Springfield. The great contest of 1840 was already casting its shadow before, and began chiefly to engross the attention of persons in political life. Whig candidates for electors were nominated in November of this year, and discussions commenced in earnest. Mr. Lincoln, who was deemed one of the strongest champions of the cause before the people, was repeatedly called on to encounter the foremost advocates of the Democratic partywhat no man in Illinois, it was now manifest, could do more successfully
For the fourth time in succession, Mr. Lincoln was elected to the Legislature in 1840—the last election to that position which he would consent to accept from his strongly attached constituents of Sangamon county. In this Legislature, like all previous ones in which he had served, the Democrats had a majority in both branches, and the responsibility of all legislation was with them. It was at this session that, to overrule a decision unacceptable to Democrats, and for political and personal reasons of common notoriety in Illinois, the judicial system of the State was changed, as desired by Mr. Douglas, against the judgment of many leading Democrats, and five new judges, of whom Mr. Douglas was one, were added to the Supreme Court of the State. This is now generally felt to be a measure conferring little credit upon those concerned in concocting the scheme, and was never heartily approved by the people.
There was but onc session during the two years for which this Legislature was chosen. Mr. Lincoln, as in the last, was the acknowledged Whig leader, and the candidate of his party for Speaker. First elected at twenty-five, he had continued in office without interruption so long as his inclination allowed, and until, by his uniform courtesy and kindness of manners,