Beardstown and Sangamon Canal

City: Beardstown, Springfield

County: Cass, Sangamon

State: Illinois

The Beardstown and Sangamon Canal was a proposed canal designed to make the Sangamon River navigable between Springfield and Beardstown, Illinois. On December 11, 1835, Abraham Lincoln, in the Illinois House of Representatives, introduced a resolution calling for the appointment of a five-person select committee to investigate the expediency of building a canal in the Sangamon River valley. The House adopted the resolution and appointed the select committee, of which Lincoln was a member. On December 12, Lincoln reported the committee's findings and introduced a bill to charter a company to construct a canal. On December 28, the Illinois General Assembly enacted legislation incorporating the Beardstown and Sangamon Canal Company. Capitalized at $300,000, the company was charged with constructing a canal from Beardstown to a point on the Sangamon River of their designation, improving the Sangamon River's channel to the Illinois River. The act of incorporation gave the company three years to commence construction and six years to complete it.

Lincoln became an ardent backer of the project. In February 1836, he promoted the canal in an address before a crowd in Petersburg, Illinois, and he purchased stock in the company. Economic condition rising out of the Panic of 1837, however, made it difficult for company directors to secure subscriptions to stock, delaying the start of construction. In March 1839, the Illinois General Assembly extended the deadline for the commencement of construction to January 1841, and it increased the company's capitalization to $500,000, giving the directors the right to negotiate loans to the amount of its capital stock. Delays in construction continued, nonetheless, forcing the General Assembly in February 1841 to extend the deadline for another four years. Backers eventually abandoned the project when the engineering survey estimated the cost at over $800,000.

Resolution regarding the Incorporation of a Canal Company; A Bill to Incorporate the Beardstown and Sangamon Canal Company; An Act to Incorporate the Beardstown and Sangamon Canal Company; An Act Supplemental to An Act Incorporating the Beardstown and Sangamon Canal Company; An Act to Amend the Several Acts Incorporating the Beardstown and Sangamon Canal Company; The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 13 February 1836,; 27 February 1836,; Robert P. Howard, "New Eden: The Pioneer Era of Sangamon County," Sangamon County Historical Society, accessed 25 June 2020,