Page images
PDF
EPUB

1837.
Michigan becomes a State.

573 The towns and villages along the river banks were flooded in some instances so deeply as to force the inhabitants to take refuge on the neighboring hills;—and the value of the property injured and destroyed must have been very great, though its amount could not, of course, be ascertained. The water continued to rise from the 7th to the 19th of February, when it had attained the height of 63 feet above low water mark at Cincinnati.*

1837.

In April, 1834, a census had shown that Michigan possessed a population sufficient to entitle her to admission into the Union. In May, 1835, a convention, held at Detroit, prepared a State constitution, and asked to it the assent of Congress. This Congress refused, but passed a conditional act, by which the applicant might become a State should certain stipulations be assented to; this assent was to be signified through a convention, and one met for the purpose in September, 1836: this body declined acceding to the conditions. Thereupon a second convention was chosen which in the following December accepted the terms offered, and after some discussion in Congress in relation to the legality of this acceptance, Michigan was recognised as a Sovereign State of the Union.

The question which caused the difficulty above referred to, and which at one time threatened civil war, was this; What is the true southern boundary of Michigan? The ordinance of 1787, provided for the formation in the North West Territory of three States, and also provided that Congress might form one or two others north of an east and west line drawn through the head, or southern extremity of Lake Michigan. This, at the time Ohio had been admitted, was construed to mean that the two northern States, the offspring of the will of Congress, must not come south. of the east and west line specified, but might by Congress be limited to a line north of that. In accordance with this view,

| See Papers of the time.-A letter from Morgan Neville, in the introduction to Flint's Geography: Cincinnati, 1832.

574

Riots at Alton.

1837.

Ohio, as already related,* was made to extend northward so as to include the Maumee Bay. This construction of the ordinance Michigan disputed, and when Ohio sent surveyors to mark out the boundary as defined by Congress, the territorial authorities of Michigan drove them away by an armed force; and placed a military party in the disputed district. At this time commissioners were sent by the President, who prevailed upon the parties so far to recede, as to allow the people of the district to acknowledge either jurisdiction until the question was settled by the proper authority; and thus matters stood stood until, when she asked for admission among the States, Michigan was told that she could be admitted only on condition she recognized the boundary as claimed by Ohio; this at length she did, as we have seen, and then became one of the federal sisterhood.

During this year occurred the riots at Alton, Illinois, which resulted in the death of Elijah P. Lovejoy. Mr. L. was a clergyman, who had been engaged in editing a paper at St. Louis. His strong anti-slavery views, as avowed in his papers, aroused the enmity of the Missouri people, and he was forced to leave the State. He then established himself at Alton, but there also his sentiments caused excitement, and his press was destroyed. A second press was procured, and destroyed: but, nothing daunted, Mr. Lovejoy determined upon procuring a third. At this time great excitement existed in Alton, in consequence of a claim put forward by some opponents to instant abolition, to sit in a convention called upon the subject of slavery: this excitement went so far as to threaten a riott but it was prevented. In this convention it was resolved to re-establish the “ Observer,” Mr. Lovejoy's paper, at Alton, || which resolution was agreed in by one meeting of citizens,ß while another advised Mr. Lovejoy to “be no longer identified with any newspaper establishment” in their city. His answer to that advice, in which he avowed his intention to go on cost what it would, will rank hereafter high among the records of earnest, soul-felt, eloquence, ** but at the time it was unable to prevent the adoption of a course which was a passive sanction of

Ante, p. 480. + See on this subject Lanman, 241 to 244. Burnet's Letters, 76. Papers of the day. Congress Documents. * Beecher on Alton Riots, 36.

| Beecher on Alton Riots, 44. & Beecher on Alton Riots, 46 to 49, 50. I Beecher on Alton Riots, 73. ** Beecher on Alton Riots, 85 to 91.

1837.
Death of Lovejoy.

575 mob-law.* And the occasion for mob-law soon came.

News being received that the third press was coming from St. Louis, those who wished its destruction waited its arrival, but that being purposely delayed by its friends, it did not arrive until three in the morning of the 7th of September. It was then placed, without opposition, in the store of Messrs. Godfrey & Gilman, where thirty or more of Lovejoy's friends, organized as a legal volunteer company, were waiting its reception. When it was known the next day (the 7th,) that the press had been stored, such threats of vengeance were uttered as induced the mayor to lay the matter before the common council, but no steps were taken to prevent an outbreak. About ten o'clock at night, a number 'of Mr. Lovejoy's friends being at the store where the press was, armed and authorized by the mayor to defend themselves if attacked, t-a body of men, also with arms, demanded the press. Mr. Gilman, the owner of the store, refused to give it up. The store was then attacked and guns fired on both sides by which one without was killed. The mob then prepared to set fire to the roof by ascending a ladder placed against the side of the store where there were no windows or doors. At this moment the mayor came upon the ground but he could do nothing. Being requested by the leaders of the mob to enter the building and again demand the press, he did so, but the demand was again refused. At this time he once more authorized the besieged to defend themselves. The rioters finding the press withheld, recommenced the attack upon the roof, and those within found their only hope to lie in going out of the store to the corner of the building, and firing upon those persons upon the ladder. This was done once successfully, and the mob driven back; but upon a second attempt, while Mr. Lovejoy, standing without the store at the corner, was looking round for his foes, he was fired upon from some place of concealment: five balls entered his body, and in a few moments he died. His friends were forced soon after to escape as they best could, and the press was destroyed. The conflict lasted from one hour and a half to two hours; the bells were rung, and the streets were crowded, the night being a moonlight one. Indictments were afterwards found both against the assailants and the defendants of the store; both were tried, and both acquitted. I

* The meeting declined to pass a resolution pledging themselves to aid the mayor in case of violence.--Beecher, 96.

+ Beecher on Alton Riots, 105.
#Beecher's Narrative. Brown's History, 460 to 463.

Among the events of this year, deserving notice, was the liquidation of the Illinois State Bank; and we shall here say what we have to say in relation to banking in Illinois.

In 1816, the bank of Shawanee-town was chartered for twenty years, with a capital of $300,000, one third of which was to be subscribed by the State. In 1821 this institution closed its doors, “ and remained dormant,” till 1835, when its charter was extended to 1857, and it resumed business. Two years later, in March, 1837, the capital was increased by 1,400,000 dollars, all subscribed by the State. But the great crash which soon prostrated business throughout the United States, involved this with other institutions of a like kind in difficulties too great to be surmounted ; and though the State, in 1841, offered to relieve the bank from a forfeiture of its charter provided it would pay $200,000 of the State debt, in 1843 it was found necessary to close its concerns once more.

The State Banks were not more fortunate. The constitution of Illinois like that of Indiana, provided that no other than a State bank and its branches should be allowed. In March, 1819, a State bank was accordingly chartered, with a nominal capital of four millions, but its stock was not sold. In 1821, another State bank, with a capital of half a million was chartered, to be managed by the Legislature. This went into operation, but with little or no real capital, so that its bills were soon at an enormous discount, and it failed. In February, 1835, a third State bank was formed, with a capital of a million and a half, which in 1837, was increased to three and a half millions of dollars : this institution survived till January, 1843, when the Legislature were forced to close its doors ;—its bills being worth about fifty cents on the dollar. *

See on Illinois banks, Brown's History, 428 to 441.

upon which

On the 27th of June the Mormon leader, Joseph Smith, was killed at Carthage, Illinois, by “ an armed mob.”*

The history of Mormonism cannot yet be written; its votaries are even now (October, 1846) struggling and starving among the vast plains and mountains of the immense country beyond the Mississippi ; the news of the conquest of Nauvoo are but a few weeks old. Still we are bound to present some outlines of the rise and progress of this remarkable system. Smith, its reputed founder, was born in Vermont, about 1807, and reared in New-York; his education was imperfect, f and his family are said to have been superstitious. When about fifteen or sixteen years old he began to see visions, || which continued through some seven years. At length on the 22d of September, 1827, the records" Mormonism rests, were delivered to the prophet.

6. These records,” says Cowdrey,

Were engraved on plates which had the appearance of gold, Each plate was not far from seven by eight inches in width and length, being not quite as thick as common tin. They were filled on both sides with engravings, in Egyptian characters, and bound together in a volume, as the leaves of a book, and fastened at the edge with three rings running through the whole. This volume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The characters or letters upon the unsealed part, were small and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction, as well as much skill in the art of engraving. With the records was found a curi. ous instrument, called by the ancients, Urim and Thummim, which consisted of two transparent stones, clear as crystal, set in two rims of a bow—this was in use in ancient times by persons called Seers—it was an instrument, by the use of which they received revelations of things distant, or of things past or future."

The story of his gold plates getting abroad, the holder was waylaid by robbers and persecuted by fanatics, until he was forced to flee into Pennsylvania to his father-in-law:— there he began the * Brown's Illinois, 488. + Brown's Illinois, 386. Hunt's Mormon War, 5.

Smith's own account in Brown's Illinois, 388 to 390, and Cowdrey's 390 to 392. As to Cowdrey, see Hunt's Mormon War. 10.

« PreviousContinue »