A Bill to Vacate Part of the Town Plat of Bennett’s Addition to the Town of Petersburg, [27 December 1839]1
A Bill for an act to vacate a part of the town plat of Bennett's addition to the town of the Petersburg:2
Be it enacted by the people of the state of Illinois represented in the General Assembly that Blocks number the town plat for Blocks numbered two, three, four, and five in Bennett's Addition to the town of Petersburg, be vacated; Provided that this act shall be null and void as against any individual proprietors or proprietors, of (if any such there be) of the part of said town hereby proposed to be vacated—3
A Bill for an act to vacate a part of the town plat of the Bennett's Addition to the town of Petersburg—
Ord[Ordered] to be Engrossed
2On December 17, 1839, Abraham Lincoln in the House of Representatives presented the petition of John Bennett, requesting vacation of the plat of part of Bennett’s addition in Petersburg. The House referred the petition to a three-person select committee that included Lincoln. In response to this petition, Lincoln of the aforesaid select committee introduced HB 58 in the House on December 27. The House passed the engrossed bill on January 13, 1840. On January 30, the Senate amended the bill by an additional section relating to tax assessment in Greene and Jersey counties. The Senate passed the bill as amended, amending the title by adding the words “and for the assessment and collection of taxes in certain counties.” The Senate informed the House of the bill’s passage and amendment, but the House did not take up the Senate amendments.
Illinois House Journal. 1839. 11th G. A., special sess., 44, 92, 114, 161, 306; Illinois Senate Journal. 1839. 11th G. A., special sess., 109-10, 216-17.
3Illinois experienced a time of intense land speculation in the 1830s that resulted in a number of “paper towns,” settlements that were platted and available for sale but where few or no people actually lived. Many of the proprietors of these settlements abandoned them during and after the Panic of 1837. As a result, the General Assembly received a large number of petitions for vacation during their sessions from 1838 to 1841. In 1841, the legislature passed an act setting parameters for proprietors to vacate town plats themselves. Vacating a plat gave owners greater flexibility in the use, fencing, and sale of the property.
An Act to Vacate Town Plats; Alasdair Roberts, America’s First Great Depression: Economic Crisis and Political Disorder after the Panic of 1837 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012), 19, 33, 38; James E. Davis, Frontier Illinois (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998), 210-12; Robert P. Howard, Illinois: A History of the Prairie State (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1972), 196.
Handwritten Document, 2 page(s), Lincoln Collection, HB 58, GA Session 11-S, Illinois State Archives (Springfield, IL)