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PREFACE In1969,Illinoisvotersapprovedacallfor Illinois’sSixth Constitutional Convention . I could not resist: I stood for election as a delegate. I had not run for public office before, and I knew much more about the United States Constitution than I did about the Constitution of Illinois. Since high school, however, I had been interested in politics and government. Constitutional law in particular had been a highlight of my studies in those fields in college and graduate schools. I joined a law firm in 1965 and embarked on what would be a long career in litigation. When the rare opportunity arose in 1969 to participate in rewriting Illinois’s constitution, I was eager to join in. A sense of history was prevalent when 115 other elected delegates and I took our seats on December 8, 1969, for the first session of the convention. We met temporarily in the State House, the present state capitol in Springfield, because renovationofthehistoricOldStateCapitolhadnotbeencompleted.TheawarenessofhistoryincreasedmanifoldwhentheconventionmovedintotheOldState Capitol on March 20, 1970. As I climbed the magnificent central staircase and took my seat in the restored House of Representatives chamber on the second floor, feelings of anticipation, excitement, and awe came in a rush. ThebuildingwastheIllinoiscapitolfrom1839until1876.Itwasthesiteofthree previousconstitutionalconventions,in1847,1862,and1869,andnumerousother xii Preface historic events. The House of Representatives chamber in which we met was the sitein1858ofAbrahamLincoln’sfamousHouseDividedspeech,andwherehelay in state in May 1865. The Senate chamber across the hall, and the broad staircase in between where everyone mingled, had seen many of the great men of Illinois history,andsomeofthegreatscoundrels.Wewerewalkingwheretheyhadwalked. Theconventionwas,ofcourse,aworthwhileexperience.Imadegoodfriends of many delegates, learned much from them, and gained substantial knowledge aboutthestate.Wesharedthesatisfactionatthefavorableresponseofthepeople ofIllinoistotheconvention’sworkandtheirvoteratifying the1970IllinoisConstitution , which went into effect on July 1, 1971. I spent little time thinking about state history and constitutions in later years as I pursued an active law practice. That changed a few years ago when I cut back on my legal work to devote time to historical research and writing. Following publication of a book I had written about Chicago immigrant history and my ancestors’ experiences as part of it, I was looking for a new project. A friend suggested that I find something of interest to write about Illinois history. The Illinois and Michigan Canal came to mind immediately. Growing up near the route of the historic hundred-mile-long canal, I knew that extensive water-filledportionsofthechannel,withitsovergrowntowpaths,locks,andlockkeepers ’houses,stillcut through theIllinoislandscape. I soon learned, however, thatmuchhadbeenwrittenaboutthecanal,includingexcellentbookspublished atthetimeofCongress’s1984creationoftheIllinois&MichiganCanalNational Heritage Corridor. There clearly was no need for me to write another. I was profoundly affected, however, by an almost offhand sentence in Professor James Putnam’s landmark work, The Illinois and Michigan Canal: A Study in Economic History, published for the Illinois centennial in 1918. Discussing the debates in the 1818 Congress about the law to enable Illinois to write a constitution and become a state, Putnam mentions that “the bill for the admission of Illinois into the Union was so amended as to place the port of Chicago within the boundaries of the State.”1 Iwasastounded.IhadlivedinIllinoismyentirelife.Ineverhadheardofsuch an occurrence. The “what ifs” immediately flooded my mind. If the northern boundary had remainedwhereitwas,southofwhatbecameChicago,thecitywouldneverhave developedasitdid.Thepopulationgrowthandeconomicdevelopmentofawide Preface xiii swath of northern Illinois either would not have occurred at all or would not have been within the state’s borders. Illinois would have been largely a rural and small-town state, oriented to the South as it was at the time of statehood in 1818. The new Republican Party formed in 1854 would not have rested on the favorable conditions in northern Illinois that enabled it to elect all the state officers in 1856, win all the popularly elected state offices in 1858, and win the popular vote for state offices and the popular vote and Electoral College votes for Abraham Lincoln in 1860. I soon confirmed in the voting data that my instincts were correct. The votes togivethemarginsofvictorytoIllinoisRepublicansinthosethreeelectionyears andtoAbrahamLincolnin1860camefromthefourteencountiesandeighty-five hundred square miles added to Illinois at the time of statehood. I also learned that the momentous legislative action extending the new state northwardwasinitiatedandachievedbyoneman,NathanielPope.Popewasthe nonvoting delegate of the Territory of Illinois in Congress. When the bill to enable Illinois to write a constitution and become a state came before Congress in April1818,Popegainedthevotesfor achangeintheconstitutional specifications ofthestate’sboundariesthatmovedthenorthernboundaryofIllinoissomesixty milesfarthernorth.Pope’savowedpurposewasspecificallytoincludewithinthe new state the area of the future city of Chicago and its advantageous site for a canal connection to the Illinois River. The boundary amendment Pope attained waspivotal,butasremarkablewerethereasonsheargued in support of it, which history proved to be true. His prescience was...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780252050343
Related ISBN
9780252041679
MARC Record
OCLC
1028553078
Pages
264
Launched on MUSE
2018-03-18
Language
English
Open Access
No
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