Petition of John Rogers and Others to U.S. Congress, [14 February 1848]1
For the construction and completion of the Central Railroad from Cairo to Chicago and Galena, connecting the Upper Mississippi with the great lakes, and both with the waters of the Lower Mississippi which are navigable at all seasons of the year, and providing means for the payment of the Internal Improvement debt of this State.
first. The work which has been done by the State upon the Central Railroad, and the lands
owned by the State
(consisting of the unsold lands entered by the Commissioners of Internal Improvements, and the lands which
were donated to the State under the distribution act) are now worth
Second. Congress will grant the State to aid in the construction of said Railroad a quantity of land
every alternate section for a space of five miles wide on each side of said road amounting to about 1,600,000
acres. This land will be worth when the road is completed at least three dollars an acre,
|acres. This land willTotal,||$6,300,000|
Third. Obtain from the Legislature of this State an act transferring to three Trustees (to be elected as hereinafter mentioned) the right of way for the said railroad and all the work which has been done on the same, and all the said lands owned by the State, and all the lands which have been or hereafter may be donated by Congress to aid in the construction of said road—the said Trustees to be a body corporate.
Fourth. Books shall be opened in New York and in London for a subscription of, say five and a half million dollars for the construction of said railroad to be paid in instalments as required. The holders of Illinois Internal Improvement Bonds shall in the flrst place have the right to subscribe the amount, and as an inducement so to do, after the re-payment of the loan thus subscribed from the revenues of the said Railroad and lands, the bonds held by the said subscribing bondholders and the interest thereon shall be next paid by the said Trustees from the revenues of the said Railroad and lands in proportion to the amount subscribed by the said bondholders respectively.
Fifth. After a sufficient amount shall be subscribed as aforesaid for the completion of said road, the said subscribers hall elect three Trustees who shall hold their office for three years and until their successors shall be elected. And the Governor shall convey by deed the said Railroad and lands to the said Trustees, who shall receive the money thus subscribed and complete the said Railroad, and manage the same, impose and collect the toll, sell and dispose of the lands and out of the revenues thus derived shall first re-pay the said loan and interest: and secondly, pay off the State Bonds held by the subscribing bondholders.
Sixth. After all the aforesaid debts have been paid off with the interest thereon and all costs of construction and repairs, and all incidental expenses the said railroad shall revert to the State.
1st. As an inducement to Congress to make the donation of land, the troops of the U.S. and munitions of war shall at all times be transported upon the road free of expense to the U.S., and the U.S. mail shall be carried upon the said road at as low a rate as they may be contracted to be carried on other railroads.
2d. The inducement to the State is sufficient to grant the road and lands to Trustees, as it secures a provision for paying off all the Internal Improvement debt of the State, which amounted on the 1st of July 1847, to $8,164,948, including all arrears of interest.
3d. The inducement to the Bondholders to subscribe the amount to complete the road is sufficient, as the value of the lands and work done on the road will be ample security, it will raise their bonds (which are now depressed) to nearly par value and secure their payment.
4th. New York and all the Eastern cities will have a great inducement to aid in this scheme, as by running their railroad to Chicago, it will connect them with a railroad running through the most productive valley of the Upper and Lower Mississippi, and unites them with Illinois, Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin.
The first step to be taken is to petition Congress for the donation of lands equal to every alternate section for a space of five miles wide upon each side of the said road from one end to the other. It is believed that there will be no difficulty in obtaining this grant at the ensuing session of Congress. This railroad running through the State from the Southern to the Northern extreme, and uniting both with the lakes, will unite all the people of the State and our whole delegation in Congress in its support; we can calculate upon the support of this measure from the delegates in Congress, from all the Western and Eastern States. It will be in fact a great National work, uniting the Mississippi with the Atlantic cities. Persons to whom the annexed Petitions are sent, are respectfully requested to circulate the same for signatures, without delay, and forward the same to the Representatives in Congress from their District, or Senators from their State at Washington.Chicago, Oct. 20th, 1847.J. BUTTERFIELD.
PETITIONTo the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress:
The undersigned, inhabitants of the State of respectfnlly petition your honorable body for their aid, by granting to the State of Illinois, the right of way and a donation of public lands, for the making of a Rail Road connecting the Upper and Lower Mississippi with the great Lakes at Chicago. The said Rail Road will commence at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi river at Cairo, from whence there is an uninterrupted navigation at all seasons of the year, to the Gulf of Mexico; from thence the said road will proceed by the way of Chicago. the head of Lake navigation. to Galena, situated in the midst of the productive and inexhaustible lead mines of the Upper Mississippi. The said road will be about five hundred miles in length, traversing the most rich and fertile lands from one extreme of the State to the other, a large portion of which, espeeially in the southern part of the State, are owned by the United States. This road will furnish facilities for travel and transportation for Iilinois, Galena. Wisconsin. and the vast territory yet to be settled on the West of the Mississippi, it will connect the great grain producing valley of the Mississippi when our lakes and rivers are locked up by ice, with the Gulf of Mexico, and with our Atlantic cities by means of connecting Rail Roads, which are now stretching out and extending Westward from the Atlamic sea board it will encourage agriculture, promote commerce and manufactures, enhance the value and expedite the sale of the public lands, tend to the improvement and prosperity of the country, and the strengthening the bond of our Union.
Your petitioners therefore pray that your honorable body to aid in the construction of the said road, will grant to the State of Illinois, the right of way and a quantity of the public lands equal to every alternate section for five miles wide on each side of the said road, from one end to the other; and where in consequence of sales having been made by the United States, it is not practicable to locate the whole of the said lands by alternate sections on the line of the said road, that the State may have the right to locate the residue on any of the unsold lands in market within the State:—your petitioners are willing that conditions should be attached to the grant, for the free transportation of the troops and munitions of war of the United States, upon said road, and for just provisions in relation to transporting the mails, and to ensure a faithful application of the lands by the State, to the completion of the said road, that the State shall be restrained from selling or disposing of the said lands faster than and in proportion to such parts of the said road as shall from time to time be completed, and that the State shall grant no pre-emption rights to any of said lands. And your petitioners will ever pray.2
|J L Hovey|
|E W B Williams|
|Richd J Hamilton|
|John R Mills|
|J. H Foster|
|L. C. P. Freer|
|Asa F. Bradly|
|[T?] A Stewart|
|Daniel [ Brainard?].|
Petition from Citizens of Illinois for a grant of Lands to aid in the construction of a rail road to connect the Upper & Lower Mississippi with the Great Lakes
February 14, 1848 Referred to the Committee on Public Lands.
1On the back side of this printed petition, Abraham Lincoln wrote two instances of docketing. Lincoln presented the petition in the House of Representatives on February 14, 1848, and the House referred it to the Committee on Public Lands.
U.S. House Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 408.
2The House of Representatives considered two bills relating to this object during the Thirtieth Congress. The first was introduced in the Senate on January 20, 1848, and passed the Senate on May 3. On August 12, the House of Representatives refused to read the bill a third time by a vote of 73 yeas to 79 nays, with Lincoln voting yea. A similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on December 11, 1848, and the House referred it to the Committee on Public Lands, where no further action was taken.
U.S. Senate Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 125, 129, 290, 314, 592; U.S. House Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 1270; Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., 214, 230, 723 (1848); U.S. House Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 2nd sess., 73.
Printed Document Signed, 2 page(s), RG 233, Entry 367: Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, Thirtieth Congress, 1847-1849, Records of Legislative Proceedings, Petitions and Memorials, Resolutions of State Legislatures, and Related Documents Which Were Referred to Committees, 1847-1849, NAB.