In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Epilogue The 1870 constitution was Illinois’s third in fifty-two years. It remained in effect for one hundred and one years, and even then the voters ratifying the proposed 1970 constitution refused to change four key provisions of the 1870 constitution. State constitutions reflect the states of their time. The first constitution in 1818 reflected a state in which the white settlement occupied a small portion in the south of the state’s entire territory. The populace was much concerned with the ownership and control of slaves and servants held in bondage, and with the structuresandpowersofthebranchesofgovernmentafteryearsofauthoritarian territorial administration. Apart from dealing with occasional Indian troubles, they had little involvement with or interest in the state’s northern half. The area in the north added by the boundary amendment in the 1818 enabling act for the first constitution was basically irrelevant. By 1848 the constitution reflected a more modern society occupying, even if sparsely, the state’s entire land area. Black bondage was expiring and would be gone legally within a decade. The immigration and presence of free blacks had become a concern. The development of commerce, agriculture, and river, canal , and overland transportation, along with the immigration of easterners and foreigners, especially in the north, and the rapid growth of Chicago and Cook 214 Epilogue County were changing the character of the state. The boundary extension area was the base on which the substantial part of these changes were occurring. Twenty-one years later, by the time of the 1869 constitutional convention, continued rapid population increases, the economic growth of the Civil War years, increasing industrial growth in the 1860s, the expansion of railroads, with the beginning of rail commerce to the West Coast and rail and water commerce to the ocean in the East, made Illinois a leading state. The ongoing influx of immigrant populations, the growth of the Republican Party, Lincoln’s election, the effects of the war victory, and changes wrought to the society by the Lincoln legacy amendments to the U.S. Constitution made a state very different from that of 1848. These changes largely were grounded on the land area added by the 1818 boundary extension. Except for that land area and the foundation it created for thestateof1870,Illinoiswouldhavebeenamuchsmallerandlesssignificantpart of the Union. Despite the Chicago Fire of 1871, which devastated large portions of the city a year after the new constitution, Chicago’s geographical advantages remained, and its expansion and that of the north continued. Chicago’s population nearly doubled in the 1870s. By 1880 it had become the nation’s fourth-largest city. Ten years later, in 1890, it was second in size only to New York. The state, too, was growing rapidly, moving from fifth-largest in the nation in 1870 to second in population two decades later. Again, the much greater part of the growth was in the north boundary extension area.1 The essential qualities of the 1870 constitution contributed to its durability . The matter of treatment of blacks, the subject of detailed provisions in the earlier constitutions, was gone. Several measures hailed as forward looking at convention’s conclusion proved to be so. Among them were the provisions for minority representation in the legislature, the structure and jurisdiction of the courts, with the election of judges and a different organization of the courts in Cook County, the regulation of railroads and warehouses, and the purchase and lease of the Illinois and Michigan Canal.2 Notably,theprovisionsoftheconstitutionauthorizingregulationofrailroads werechallengedpromptlyinthecourts.Afterthelegislature’sfirstattemptin1870 to pass such regulations was invalidated, the general assembly in 1873 passed a new law empowering a commission to regulate rates. The U.S. Supreme Court Epilogue 215 upheld the law in 1877 in the landmark case of Munn v. Illinois. Soon, other states followed Illinois’s lead, passing similar laws.3 Other factors explain the durability of the 1870 constitution. Constitutional revisionischallengingtoaccomplishbecauseofdifficultymarshalingtherequisite numbers of votes to approve amendment proposals. This begins in the general assembly,whereunderthe1870constitutionatwo-thirdsvoteofallthemembers ofbothhouseswasrequired,somethingthatisdifficulttoobtain,especiallywith the minority representation system governing the election of representatives. Further,theobstacleoftenhasbeenapathyandfailureon thepart of theelectorate to vote on proposed revisions. Partisan fights and bitter animosities among Chicago, suburban Cook County, other “collar” counties around Chicago, and “Downstate” also have hampered efforts to achieve change.4 In the first twenty years to 1890, five proposed amendments to the 1870 constitutionwereadoptedwithout difficulty.Inthat period, political parties printed ballots that were cast at elections by their supporters. Parties printed on the ballots their position “for” or “against” constitutional amendments.5 After an official...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.