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CHAPTER 5 Two T ransformative Decades 1848–1868 Thetwodecadesbetweenratificationofthe1848constitutionandthevoters’call in1868forthepost–CivilWarconventionsawatransformationofthenationand the state of Illinois. Population, transportation, technology, manufacturing, and tradeandcommerceallchangedmarkedly.Byalmosteverymeasure,thegreatest part of these changes in Illinois was in the north, on the land area added to the state in 1818 by the Pope amendment, fulfilling the promise Pope articulated in advocating for it in the Congress. Therelationshipofthestatetoitspeople,particularlyitsblackpersons,changed aswell.Blackbondagewasgone,butissuesrelatingtotheircivilrightsandtreatment remained. Divisions between the north and south of the state sharpened, leading to unique voting provisions adopted in the 1869 constitutional convention. State and national politics changed markedly as the amendment-added area supplied the votes for the new Republican Party to win state elections in the 1850s and 1860s, enabling Abraham Lincoln to win the party nomination and the presidency in 1860. The Lincoln-era Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth AmendmentstotheUnitedStatesConstitutionreinforcedmovementinthe1869 Illinois constitutional convention toward progressive civil rights provisions. Nathaniel Pope lived long enough to see a glimpse of the changes his foresight enabled. In 1848 he traveled to Chicago to preside over the first U.S. fed- Two Transformative Decades 137 eral court to sit in that city. With the growth in multistate commercial activity and Board of Trade contracts, federal court business in northern Illinois had grown to the point that the U.S. Congress had specified that one term of the district and circuit courts should be held at Chicago on the first Monday of July each year.1 Pope had served as U.S. judge for Illinois for nearly three decades, from the time his appointment was confirmed in 1819. After a brief initial federal court session in Kaskaskia in December 1819, Pope moved the court to the new capital at Vandalia. For the next eighteen years he traveled from his home in Kaskaskia to Vandalia twice a year, normally needing at most three days in Vandalia to complete the little business that came before the court. When the state capital was transferred to Springfield in 1839, Pope’s federal court also moved its base to Springfield. By the late 1830s, Pope’s court experienced increases in work from throughout the state.2 In the summer of 1849 Pope again held court in Springfield and Chicago. These sessions, which would be his last, were the busiest ever for the federal courts in Illinois. Pope presided alone in Springfield, clearing a trial docket of someseventycases.HethenproceededtoChicagofortheannualsession,which Fig. 9. Shipping crowded into Chicago Harbor on March 12, 1849, due to flooding in Des Plaines River near I&M Canal.* * Fort Dearborn is shown at the right. Putnam, Illinois and Michigan Canal, 109. 138 Chapter 5 lasted five weeks, during which he disposed of more than twenty-five important cases.3 Pope relished what he saw in his Chicago visits. During the 1849 Chicago term, Pope described the excitement and importance of the city and the sight of the ships that carried commerce and passengers across the Great Lakes and through the canal and Illinois waterway. In a letter to one of his granddaughters he wrote, Thisisaveryimprovingcityofabout24,000inhabitants...situatedonLake Michigan and on both sides of the Chicago River, that is always full of ships, steamboatsandcanalboats—someofthesteamboatsaremoremagnificent thananyIhaveeverseen.TheycarrypassengersfromheretoBuffalo,passing through Lakes Michigan, Huron, the Detroit river & Lake Erie a thousand milesforfiveDollarsandgivefineaccommodations.TheShipscarryproduce such as beef, pork & wheat &c &c and among other things bring lumber in great quantity such as plank, shingles, and scantling—much of which goes down the Illinois River through the Canal.4 Toward the end of the Chicago term, on August 1, 1849, Pope was stricken during the night with a cerebral attack that affected his memory. The incident passed. He finished the court session and returned to Springfield, where four months later he held the winter term of court. In early January 1850, he was stricken again, at his daughter Elizabeth’s home in Alton. He rallied briefly, traveled to another daughter’s home in St. Louis, and died there on the morning of January 23, 1850.5 NathanialPopehadservedIllinoiswith distinction for morethan fortyyears. While not well known to many, he deserves recognition among the greatest of the state’s founding fathers. Development of the North Illinois’s population doubled, from 851,470 in 1850 to 1,711,951 in 1860, making it the fourth-largest state, and increased almost 50 percent to 2,539,891 in 1870. Increases in the northern part of the state greatly outpaced those in the south. Chicago’s population almost quadrupled, from 29,964 in 1850 to 112,172 in 1860, and more than doubled by 1870, to...


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