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than one field, an ardent patriot and able administrator. His official doings are not before the reader as yet, but there have been enough to foreshadow a wise and patriotic administration. In Richard J. Oglesby, Illinois has a trustworthy leader.
At the termination of four years of war, is Illinois exhausted and desponding? Can it afford to go on? It has given answer as to what it meant to do in the popular elections of the autumn of 1864 ! The purpose of the people is unalterable to restore the authority of the general government and to maintain the federal Union. As to “exhaustion,” a few facts presented in Governor Yates's last message should be conclusive answer.
“Notwithstanding the war, we have prospered beyond all former precedents. Notwithstanding nearly two hundred thousand of the most athletic and vigorous of our population have been withdrawn from the field of production, the area of land now under cultivation is greater than at any former period, and the census of 1865 will exhibit an astounding increase in every department of material industry and advancement; in a great increase of agricultural, manufacturing and mechanical wealth, in new and improved modes for production of every kind; in the substitution of machinery for the manual labor withdrawn by the war; in the universal activity of business in all its branches; in the rapid growth of our cities and villages; in the bountiful harvests, and in unexampled material prosperity, prevailing on every hand; while at the same time the educational institutions have in no way declined. Our colleges and schools of every class and grade are in the most flourishing condition; our benevolent institutions, State and private, are maintained; and, in a word, our prosperity is as complete and ample as though no tread of armies or beat of drum had been heard in our borders.”
Surely these are not the ordinary indices of exhaustion! As to resources for the future struggle the resources of the State will meet each legitimate call. Illustrative of this are some additional paragraphs from the same document:
“The physical resources of a State are the foundation of all others. They make it great or little. They shape its destiny. They even affect its moral and religious character. History teaches this truth. All the great nations of ancient and modern times demonstrate it.
Egypt, Syria, Greece, Rome; Great Britain, France, the United States, are so many proofs that favorable physical situations and resources are absolutely necessary to material and moral development. Illinois, in this respect, stands pre-eminent among the States of the Union. She is the heart of the Northwest. In agricultural resources she is unsurpassed. In manufacturing and commercial facilities she has no superior. On the east, south and west, the great river of the continent and its tributaries water her border counties, while their branches penetrate to every part of the State, irrigating her soil, draining her low lands, and affording water power for her manufactures. The Illinois River runs for over two hundred miles through the State, from northeast to southwest, forming a natural highway between the Lakes and the Mississippi, the key of which is entirely in our possession. This highway is one of the most important of the physical resources of the State; while, in a military point of view, it enables us to dominate the Lakes on the one hand, and the Father of Waters on the other. A State, holding this great waterway, must always be a power on the continent, as well as in the Union. Then, we have, on the northeast, an outlet to the ocean through the great Lakes, those inland seas of the continent; while that one of them, Michigan, which laves our northeastern border, is almost land-locked, and thus the least liable to hostile incursions from foreign powers. This secures to us the site for a naval depot, for dock-yards, for the building and repair of vessels, for foundries for cannon, for workshops for all descriptions of war material, at some point on Lake Michigan, between the Wisconsin and Indiana State lines. Our State is also on the direct route of the Pacific Railroad, which must intersect it from east to west; thus making it a portion of the great highway between Europe and the Indies. Then, again, all our lines of communication, from the interior of the State to shipping points connected with tide-water, at which bulky articles of merchandise or agricultural products can be received or delivered, are short. This saves the cost of lengthy transportation of such articles by railway, which must always be expensive. At present, in some of the States to the west and northwest of us, large quantities of grain have been stored on the navigable rivers for the last two seasons.
On account of low water it cannot be sent to market
by steamboat, while the cost of railway transportation would eat up its value. This can never be the case in Illinois, as long as water runs in the Mississippi, and that of the great Lakes flows unobstructed to the sea. But not alone do we possess agricultural resources of an almost unlimited character: we have also within the limits of our State, facilities for manufactures, which equal those of nearly all the other States of the Union combined. Beneath the surface of our blooming prairies and beautiful woodlands are millions of tons of coal, easy of access, close to the great centers of commerce and manufactures, on great navigable rivers, and intersected by railway facilities of the best description.
Illinois, in 1860, was the fourth State in the Union in the number of tons of coal produced. But what has been produced bears no comparison to what may be. Our State geologist assures me that in a single county in this State there are a thousand millions tons of coal awaiting the various uses to which the civilization of the future will apply it. It will thus be seen that Illinois possesses within itself the physical resources of not only a great State but a great nation."
Guiding all these is the intelligent purpose of the people, and Illinois will continue to demand the vigorous prosecution of the war, until the authority of the Government of the United States is acknowledged over every State and Territory of the Republic.
It were ungrateful for rendered service, and untrue to facts were, not mention made of the devoted patriotism of the women of the State. They have not their record in the organization and marching of regiments, but theirs was nevertheless real and a noble work. They inspired the love of country by their own spirit. They would hear nothing of cowardice, or worldly prudence. They threw the halo of love of country over all social life. They gave their best loved to the altar of the State. They organized sewing circles, aid societies, etc., in every neighborhood; they organized and managed fairs; they opened and sustained Homes or Rests for the weary and wounded soldier. This record is a meager one, and does scanty justice to the devoted women of Illinois. Many a soldier has said “God bless them."
The people of this State have seen, in common with their fellow
citizens elsewhere, that God is in this contest. They have heard His speech and were afraid; they have seen His hand and have trusted. They have believed that He was leading the nation through the Red Sea and the desert to the Canaan of liberty. They have steadily believed that ere their ABRAHAM should return to dwell in his Springfield home; the Isaac of Freedom should be born! So they still believe, and they are sanguine that the day cometh !
In these notes the author must mention two facts with peculiar satisfaction, which did not come within the scope of the text of the first volume, facts which are to the honor of the State.
The first is the repeal, by the Legislature, of the odious black laws. They were passed when prejudice against the colored race was at its hight. The African was a pariah, an outlaw, and only by ostracizing him could there be safety for the State. The cry of “ Amalgamation was raised, forgetting that it is slavery that mingles the races; slavery that makes each plantation as many colored in its population as Joseph's famed coat of ancient days; slavery that bleaches African slavery out by bleaching Anglo-Saxon slavery in !
And so a code unchristian and inhuman crept into the statutebooks. It made Illinois virtually a slave state. Fortunately its most odions features were decided by the Supreme Court to be at variance with the constitution of the State. The remnant had come to be a dead letter, and so little attention was directed to it that it might have gone unrepealed but that certain “sons of Belial” in whom was little of the love of God or country saw fit to prosecute Union officers, who, on temporary return from the field, brought with them each his servant, “confiscated” by the sword, made free perhaps for service rendered the army. No matter-bringing him into the State was illegal, and prosecution followed. It was mean and dastardly as the selling of Joseph into Egypt, but like that event was overruled for good. A demand swept from Cairo to Waukegan from Quincy to Paris, from Old Kaskaskia to Galena that the code should be repealed. Governor Yates urged the popular demand with fiery vehemence; Governor Oglesby threw his influence in its favor, and the 1st day of February 1865, the General Assembly voted the repeal. The Governor promptly appended his signature,
and the black laws of Illinois were consigned to the tomb of dead monstrosities!
The other was the prompt approval of the proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States, rendering human slavery forever impossible in all the States and Territories of the Union. After a protracted debate on it in Congress it received the constitutional majority, and of course the signature of the President.
The telegraph flashed the news over the country, and immediately Gov. Oglesby sent a special message to the Legislature, recommending its concurrence. In spite of parliamentary strategy, a joint resolution was put upon its passage, and within twenty-four hours of the Congressional vote, Illinois had given, first of all the States, her approval! The capitol at Springfield rang with cheer after cheer when the result was announced, and throughout the State there was most intense rejoicing. Bonfires blazed, cannon roared and people shouted. Illinois had placed herself in the van of the States in demanding freedom for man as man. It is an honor the Prairie State may justly place upon her crest and proudly
These two events merit record in the volumes which chronicle the Patriotism of Illinois.
It is amazing to contemplate the imperial contributions the State has made in this war. With the completion of the call now pending, more than one quarter of a million of men will have gone from her homes. They were not her pauper population sent away that she might find for them cheap burial and cheaper graves, but the sons of the hearths and homes of the State of broad prairies. They went with the blessing of wives, mothers, sisters and betrothed
The Sanitary Commission at Chicago credits the citizens of Chicago with contributions anounting to $40,331.13, and the citizens of the State outside of Chicago with $55,541.68, and nine thousand five hundred and thirty-nine packages of various kinds, while immense amounts of stores have gone forward from other centers.
The Christian Commission has received and expended $145,844; a single farmer, Jacob Strawn, giving his check, and one that would be honored anywhere, for ten thousand dollars, the citizens of Morgan county sending with it an equal amount! And this to provide