Summary of Legislative Debate on Bill to Create a Board of Auditors, 4 February 18411
A bill to provide for a Board of Auditors, to settle with contractors, &c.[etc], was taken up for consideration...2
The Sergeant-at-arms having made his return under the call, the consideration of the bill to create a Board of Auditors, was resumed.
Mr. Ormsbee moved to strike out that portion of the bill, authorising the Board to issue drafts upon the Fund Commissioners, upon settlement with contractors. 3
Mr. Archer moved an amendment to the bill prohibiting any settlement on payment for work hereafter done.4
After some discussion between Mr. Ormsbee against, and Mr. Archer in favor of the bill the amendment of Mr. Ormsbee, was lost—ayes 39, noes 44.5
Mr. Dollins moved an amendment; making it a criminal offence for any person to alter or pass any such drafts or scrip as money which was laid upon the table.6
The bill was further discussed by Messrs.[Messieurs] Trumbull and Kitchell, in opposition, and by Messrs. Archer, Lincoln, and Gillespie, in favor of the bill.
1The bill being considered was part of the Illinois General Assembly’s moves, which began in the special session of 1839-40, to dismantle the Internal Improvement System, which had floundered under the economic conditions accompanying the Panic of 1837 and left the state on the verge of bankruptcy.
On December 16, 1840, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution instructing the Committee on Public Accounts and Expenditures to investigate the wisdom of establishing a board of auditors to settle the accounts of contractors involved in public works. In response to this resolution, Joseph W. Ormsbee of the Committee on Public Accounts and Expenditures introduced HB 45 in the House on December 21. On December 22, the House amended the first section, referring the bill as amended to the Committee on the Judiciary. The Committee on the Judiciary reported back the bill on January 13, 1841, with amendments. The House refused to table the bill and proposed amendments by a vote of 31 yeas to 42 nays, with Abraham Lincoln not voting. On January 14, the House referred the bill and proposed amendments to the Committee on Finance, on which sat Lincoln. The Committee on Finance reported back the bill on January 22 with a substitute. The House tabled a motion to amend the fifth section by a vote of 64 yeas to 23 nays, with Lincoln voting yea. On January 23, the House amended the substitute by adding a proviso, but refused to strike out the fifth section by a vote of 29 yeas to 58 nays, with Lincoln voting nay. The House further tabled an amendment to the fifth section by a vote of 46 yeas to 39 nays, with Lincoln voting yea. The House agreed to add an additional section by a vote of 44 yeas to 41 nays, with Lincoln voting yea. The House then rejected the Committee of Finance’s substitute as amended, referring the bill and proposed amendments to a select committee. The select committee reported back the bill on January 28 with amendments, in which the House concurred. Consideration of the bill resumed on February 4.
Illinois House Journal. 1840. 12th G. A., 123, 138, 148, 149, 219, 223, 264, 267-69, 293, 299, 324-25; John H. Krenkel, Illinois Internal Improvements 1818-1848 (Cedar Rapids, IA: Torch, 1958), 99-102.
2The House suspended debate pending the call of the House.
Illinois House Journal. 1840. 12th G. A., 325.
3Ormsbee moved to strike out the third and fourth sections of the bill.
Illinois House Journal. 1840. 12th G. A., 324.
4The House adopted Archer’s amendment, which added a proviso to the third section as follows: “Provided, further, That no account or estimate, for work done on any public work after the passage of this act, shall be audited or passed upon by said Board.”
Illinois House Journal. 1840. 12th G. A., 326.
6The House tabled the amendment by a vote of 48 yeas to 32 nays, with Lincoln voting yea.
Illinois House Journal. 1840. 12th G. A., 327.
8Hardin’s amendment added a fifth section to the bill. The House Journal recorded the vote for passage as 46 yeas to 34 nays, with Lincoln voting yea.
On February 23, The Senate amended the bill by adding an additional section. The Senate passed the bill as amended by a vote of 17 yeas to 15 nays. The House concurred with the Senate amendments on or before February 25. On February 26, the Council of Revision approved the bill and the act became law.
Illinois House Journal. 1840. 12th G. A., 328, 487, 507, 514, 531; Illinois Senate Journal. 1840. 12th G. A., 242, 250, 355, 379, 379-80.
Printed Document, 1 page(s), Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 9 February 1841, 2:4-5.