Petition of R. C. Cowden and Others to U.S. Congress, 20 December 18481
Grant of Lands by Congress to aid Illinois in Building Railroads.
Fellow Citizens of Illinois:—
One of our Representatives, Hon. Robert Smith, has already introduced a bill in Congress for the object embraced in the annexed petition, and a similar bill has also been introduced by Judge Douglass in the Senate.2 It was lost in the House at the last session by a trifling majority, after having passed the Senate by a vote of 24 to 11, and it is thought a united effort of the friends of the measure, will secure its passage this session. Petitions are being circulated in Eastern and Southern States, which have a direct and great interest in the construction of these roads; and if united among ourselves, we shall surely succeed. The grant is liberal, being six sections of land for each mile of railroad built, to be selected along the routes within twenty miles; yet so important are they regarded by all sections of the Union, that the bill will be passed if it is not weighed down by other roads.
Now is it not the part of wisdom to make sure of this, than run any risk in attempting to get more? This we can get, and then a precedent is established, which will render it comparatively easy to procure donations in aid of other roads. Do not let us loose this most valuable gift by disunion among ourselves; or by grasping at too much.
These routes are more important to the State at large than any others, and were purposely left undefined by Senators Breese and Douglass that the whole people might favor the project, and then the Legislature will make the location.
Let us unite as one man and obtain the grant this present session; and before the best of the lands are gone, which are being fast taken with soldiers’ warrants.—We ought to be satisfied with asking in one bill for over two million acres.
JOHN S. WRIGHT.To the Hon. the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled:
The undersigned citizens of the State of Illinois, would respectfully pray your Honorable body that a grant of lands be made to our State, to aid in building a railroad from Upper and Lower Mississippi to Chicago, on the same general terms and conditions of the bill for the same object, which passed the Senate at the last session, by the large vote of twenty-four to eleven.
These routes being par excellence, great national thorough-fares, in the construction of which, all sections of the country have a direct interest, particularly the Northeast, the West, and Southwest, and being to ourselves the most important within our borders, so that an undivided and strong support will be obtained in Congress for them, if left unincumbered by other roads; we would respectfully pray that the passage of the bill be not endangered by amendments, and that the grant be made liberal to the State as in the former bill, so as to secure the completion of the roads, and that it be passed the present session, before the best lands have been absorbed by speculators in soldiers’ warrants. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.3
R C. Cowden
E. Adams A. Withers
A. P. Craig Wm Bishop
J W Craig
J keeran George Parke
George P Savidge George Weedman
Elias. H. Wall John Walker
John Price W. [&?] C. Temple
James Weaver A. J. Merriman
James McCain A. Curtis
James Duchett R. N McIntire
Hiram Buck Wm McKisson
Peter Buckles Phillip Miller
Sidney C Baker John [Dinmett?]
Henry Merrifield James T Walton
Wm P. A. Craig Wm. S. McIntire
Henry Marson Nelson Buck
John W. Baddeley G. B. Larison
William I Rutledge K H. Fell
E E. E. Greenman E. W. Swearingen
William. Weaver Chancy Horr
Zachariah. Blue Jas. F. Whitaker
Thomas. Adams Asa Lillie
G W Price W. H. Harrison
Chs E. Dodge Hiram Lillie
Alexander steele W. B. Henline
John Fuller. Mitchell. Josiah Aldrich
J. P. Whitaker T. J. Karr
Charles Leeper– A. W. Scogin
P Robert Fell John W Ross
Aaron Kitchell E. S. Hunt
Franklin Thompson
Harmon Osborn Runnion Hougham
G M. Hinshaw William Lindley
W. Curtis Fredrick Rhodes
James M Larison Henry Jacoby
Saml Aston Lee Larison
B. [H?]. Coffey Thomas Hotchkiss
S. S. Luce Lem Hotchkiss
Joel Depew A. Gridley
Z Lawrence Thomas Twining
Levi Dun W. M. C. Dunn
[?] Thompson David Watson
R. C. Baker J. A. Criswell
Wm McVevenburgh Hezekah Edwards
G W [Ashburn?]
Wm, F Flagg W. H. Allin
S. B. Brown E. Thomas
Lee. Allin James Allin Jr
Thomas D Cantrill A. Guthrie
Saml [Lands?] Sen Elias Edwards
J. H. Robinson Robert Dalgell
S. A. Aadams
Wm Haughton [James?] Depew
D. B. Robinson H. P. Merriman
W H Robinson A. McWilliams
John. G Foster Ira Putney
O. Curtis Wm Weyand
H Coleman [M, Wicking?]
Geo. W. Stipp John. D. Lander
John Owens
C. Enos No 15. William Barnett
M. A. E. Gridley Bedford Depew
James. B. Reeves Noah Hamack
James Alleson J. G. Young
John Alleson H. S. Stipp
M. W. Packard John Harman
M B. Rowan T. L. Howard
L. E. Hardy Wm Gillespie
C. Baker S S Adolph
L K Hammer Thomas Williams
Edw W. Parsells. G. W. Baige
W. Scantling C. [I?]. Brush
R. Jamison William [Liflese?]
J H Mannen Henry Ferre
Zera Patterson James Miller
J. E. McClung
John Magoun Stephen. Marson
J. B Watson Wm E Bay
Wm L Duncan W McClun
Abrm Brokaw P. C. Fell
G. D. [?] Jonathan Glimpse
Sanford Miller J. McMurry
Marcus Nelson A. C. Washburn
Oliver March Asa doughty
Ervin Green Roswell Munsell
M. C. Bake R. Parkhurst
Danl. Michals F. [Rum?]
E. [Haitry?] C. Bonley
[G?] Elkin Reece Babb
Wm Matthews Pond Curtis
Joseph Peck J. E. Parke
O W. Hardy L. Z. Russell
G. W. Funk Harrison Barnett
George Henshaw A. H. Luce
Jonathan peirce Thomas Macon
J M Scott William T. Macon
H. F. Miller J. H. [Henlan?]
O. N. Hodge Daniel Wilcox
Augt Augustus Macon B. W. Gray
[Wm?] Anderson A. Denman
E Harlan D. D. Haggard
J. N. Underwood W Bobbitt
Hiram D Ward A Kress
A M Wells
W S Depew G. W. Knootts
W H. Hanna A. Harley
W. H. Holmes A. Myres
W H Scudder. John Ross
Ed Fell
Wm T Elkin [?] Wilson
J. W. Haggard A Barnett
H R Cornell John Foster
Wm H. Hodge W. McClure
J. B. Clark
Isaac Pancake John Vesey
Edwin. Parke John Mayers
Jesse Stretch John Dalzell
W. C Hobbs. [?] [?]
E W Bakewell John. D. Clark
George Espey
C. T. Gildersleeve Henry Lattimer
John [Poluson?] Henry Stumpff
John Carter S. T. Richardson
John W Allin J. H. S. Rhodes
Ethan McAferty
Charles Hildreth W. P. Withers
William G. Smith
R. Edwards L D Hains
John Dawson L. E. Rucker
F. W. Hardy Abijah Westover
W. H. Harvey Saml Woodson
E. C. Mathews David Fenner
F. Hains James Hodge
J. S. Fenner J. N. Fenner
J. C. Kiger J. R. Fell
Lyman Ferre Goodman Ferre
H. H. Painter George, W. Michael
Green B Campbell John Ketchum
J M. Gates E [D?]
James White Lewis [Bunn?]
Robert White John [Candlbays?]
Wiliam Alen A Payne
Edward Doughty Isaac Strain
O Ellsworth Cambell Jones
Geo. W. Minier John Lillie
Milton Dollaham Wm M McCord
Benjamin S Beeler William Walker
Wm O. Viney Robert Willson
Isaac Strain Stephen Henthorn
Fletcher Wilson B. P. Depew
Cyrel Thrasher C. F. Barr–
George Winchester Benjd [Kimbler?]
Thomas Hicks Geo Walker
Chester Winchester Geo. Dietrich
J. N. Ward F. F. Locke
E. Hay– S. S. Hayes
Richard Ross Levi Hite
L A Sampson Jas. Shoaff.
Daniel Beaty John Harly
Elias Harley
Abrm Harley Lewis Harley
J W Ewing Oliver Peese
Thomas S. Harry David [Trimmer?]
John Dunlap J. A. Parkes
Henry C. Dickeson Elijah Ellis
Arthur Harlen
Michael [Winn?] N. A. Downing
John A Helman Levi Keener
Henry [Givens?] [Fral. Raver?]–
Absalom funk Jacob Funk
Esaw Groves Charles Hotchkiss
S. Ashton William Walker
N. Morrison George Hardy
Augs Hardy C. Surdam
John Blanchard Peter Wied
Theodore. P. Rogers Michael Cotrell
Lorenzo Brown James. Allin
W. E. Harberd Simon Mason
Thomas Alberry Richard Gross
A. M Cecil Albert Welch
John Hougham
Henry Keeson John Benson Ser
Amos Barnard Samuel [?]
Thomas Goforth Jno. B. Hughes
Jackson Lucas Robert Stewart
Saml C Deal Wm C. Harlow
Peter Sommer R A Harlow
Daniel Tordin B H Harlow
John Beaty Jno C Vockrodt
J. Dodson Osborn Barnard
John Enlow Bailey Harbert
Dudley Door
Richmond Lucas G W Thompson
Richard [Albery?] [Calvann?] Thompson
H Taylor Drury Thompson
James Depew John Rockhold
C Baker Henry Michals
E L Hardy Elias Casey
David Ross Wm G Thompson
[F?]. Nichols Thos Orendorff
Isaac W Morris John Lindley
Hiram Baker
David A [Garbert?] B. F. Hart
William Wilcox Lamon Hougham
Levi Keeran
Henry Miller Wm Wallace
Joel Simmons A. [J?]. Downing
John Ferdice Henry Little
N. Maxon

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[ docketing ]
Petition of Allen Withers & others, citizens of McLean county, Illinois, asking a grant of land to aid in constructing a Rail road from the Upper & Lower Mississippi to Chicago in said state4
[ docketing ]
Refer to Committee on Public Lands–
A Lincoln5
[ docketing ]
30th - 95
1This petition was printed in an Illinois newspaper, prefixed by a message from John S. Wright, editor of the Prairie Farmer periodical. Sheets of signatures were affixed to the cutting from the newspaper. Abraham Lincoln penned two instances of docketing on the back page, and signed one.
2Representative Robert Smith introduced a bill in the House of Representatives on December 11, 1848. The bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on Public Lands, which took no further action on the bill.
Senator Stephen A. Douglas introduced the bill-- S. 95--in the Senate on January 20, 1848, and the Senate referred it to the Committee on Public Lands. The committee reported back the bill on January 24 without amendment. The Senate passed the bill on May 4. 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.
U.S. Senate Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 125, 129, 290, 314, 592; U.S. House Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 1270; U.S. House Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 2nd sess., 73.; Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., 214, 230, 723 (1848).
3Lincoln presented six petitions on this topic on January 29 and February 13, 1849. Many more petitions on this topic were presented by Illinois congressmen between January 29 and February 24, but it does not appear that the House of Representatives acted upon them.
4Lincoln wrote this docketing.
5Lincoln wrote and signed this docketing.

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.