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the Democratic Party, adopted resolutions that condemned the suspension of the writ of Habeas Corpus, endorsed the doctrine of state sovereignty, demanded a national assembly to determine terms of peace, and asked President Lincoln to withdraw the proclamation that emancipated the slaves, and so to permit the people of Illinois to fight only for “Union, the Constitution and the enforcement of the laws.” The Knights of the Golden Circle, and other secret societies, whose aims were the promulgation of state sovereignty and the extension of aid to the Confederate states, began to flourish, and it is said that in 1864 there were 50,000 members of the Sons of Liberty in the state. Captain T. Henry Hines, of the Confederate army, was appointed by Jefferson Davis to co-operate with these societies. For a time his headquarters were in Chicago, and an elaborate attempt to liberate Confederate prisoners in Chicago (known as the Camp Douglas Conspiracy) was thwarted by a discovery of the plans. In the elections of 1864 the Republicans and Union Democrats united, and after an exciting campaign they were successful. The new legislature was the first among the legislatures of the states to ratify (on the 1st of February 1865) the Thirteenth Amendment.

From the close of the Civil War until the end of the 19th century the Republican Party was generally dominant, but the trend of political development was not without interest. In 1872 many prominent men of the state joined the Liberal Republican Party, among them Governor John M. Palmer, Senator Lyman Trumbull and Gustavus Koerner (1809-1896), one of the most prominent representatives of the German element in Illinois. The organization united locally, as in national politics, with the Democratic Party, with equally ineffective results. Economic depression gave the Granger Movement considerable popularity, and an outgrowth of the Granger organization was the Independent Reform Party, of 1874, which advocated retrenchment of expenses, the state regulation of railways and a tariff for revenue only. A Democratic Liberal Party was organized in the same year, one of its leaders being Governor Palmer; consequently no party had a majority in the legislature elected in 1874. In 1876 the Greenback Party, the successor in Illinois of the Independent Reform Party, secured a strong following; although its candidate for governor was endorsed by the Democrats, the Republicans regained control of the state administration.

The relations between capital and labour have resulted in serious conditions, the number of strikes from 1880-1901 having been 2640, and the number of lock-outs 95. In 1885 the governor found it necessary to use the state militia to suppress riots in Will and Cook counties occasioned by the strikes of quarrymen, and the following year the militia was again called out to suppress riots in St Clair and Cook counties caused by the widespread strike of railway employees. The most noted instance of military interference was in 1894, when President Grover Cleveland sent United States troops to Chicago to prevent strikers and rioters from interfering with the transmission of the United States mails.

Municipal problems have also reacted upon state politics. From 1897 to 1903 the efforts of the Street Railway Companies of Chicago to extend their franchise, and of the city of Chicago to secure municipal control of its street railway system, resulted in the statute of 1903, which provided for municipal ownership. But the proposed issue under this law of bonds with which Chicago was to purchase or construct railways would have increased the city’s bonded indebtedness beyond its constitutional limit, and was therefore declared unconstitutional in April 1907 by the supreme court of the state.

A law of 1901 provided for a system of initiative whereby any question of public policy might be submitted to popular vote upon the signature of a written petition therefor by one-tenth of the registered voters of the state; such a petition must be filed at least 60 days before the election day when it is to be voted upon, and not more than three questions by initiative may be voted on at the same election; to become operative a measure must receive a majority of all votes cast in the election. Under this act, in 1902, there was a favourable vote (451,319 to 76,975) for the adoption of measures requisite to securing the election of United States senators by popular and direct vote, and in 1903 the legislature of the state (which in 1891 had asked Congress to submit such an amendment) adopted a joint resolution asking Congress to call a convention to propose such an amendment to the Federal Constitution; in 1904 there was a majority of all the votes cast in the election for an amendment to the primary laws providing that voters may vote at state primaries under the Australian ballot. The direct primary law, however, which was passed immediately afterwards by the legislature, was declared unconstitutional by the supreme court of the state, as were a second law of the same sort passed soon afterwards and a third law of 1908, which provided for direct nominations of all officers and an “advisory” nomination of United States senators.

American Governors of Illinois
Ninian Edwards 1809-1818
Shadrach Bond 1818-1822  Democrat
Edward Coles 1822-1826
Ninian Edwards 1826-1830
John Reynolds 1830-1834
Wm. L. D. Ewing (acting) 1834
Joseph Duncan 1834-1838
Thomas Carlin 1838-1842
Thomas Ford 1842-1846
Augustus C. French 1846-1853[1]
Joel A. Matteson 1853-1857
William H. Bissell 1857-1860  Republican
John Wood (acting) 1860-1861
Richard Yates 1861-1865
Richard J. Oglesby 1865-1869
John M. Palmer 1869-1873
Richard J. Oglesby 1873
John L. Beveridge (acting)  1873-1877
Shelby M. Cullom 1877-1883
John M. Hamilton (acting)  1883-1885
Richard J. Oglesby 1885-1889
Joseph W. Fifer 1889-1893
John P. Altgeld 1893-1897  Democrat
John R. Tanner 1897-1901  Republican
Richard Yates 1901-1905
Charles S. Deneen 1905-

Bibliography.—There is no complete bibliography of the varied and extensive literature relating to Illinois; but Richard Bowker’s State Publications, part ii. (New York, 1902), and the chapters of E. B. Greene’s The Government of Illinois (New York, 1904) contain useful lists of documents, monographs and books. Physiography is well described in The Illinois Glacial Lobe (U.S. Geological Survey, Monograph, xxxviii.) and The Water Resources of Illinois (U.S. Geological Survey, Annual Report, xviii.). The Illinois State Laboratory of Natural History, connected with the State University, has published S. A. Forbes and R. E. Richardson’s Fishes of Illinois (Urbana, 1909). Information concerning economic conditions may be derived from the volumes of the Twelfth Census of the United States, which treat of Agriculture, Manufactures and Mines and Quarries: a summary of agricultural conditions may be found in Census Bulletin No. 213. Constitutional and administrative problems are discussed in Elliott Anthony’s Constitutional History of Illinois; Greene’s The Government of Illinois, and H. P. Judson’s The Government of Illinois (New York, 1900). Among the reports of the state officials, those of the Railroad and Ware House Commission, of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and of the Commissioners of Charity are especially valuable. There is an historical study of the problem of taxation, entitled, “History of the Struggle in Illinois to realize Equality in Taxation,” by H. B. Hurd, in the Publications of the Michigan Political Science Association (1901). Local government is described by Albert Shaw, Local Government in Illinois (Johns Hopkins University Studies, vol. i. No. 10). The Blue Book of the State of Illinois (Springfield, 1903); H. B. Hurd’s Revised Statutes of Illinois (Chicago, 1903), and Starr and Curtis, Annotated Statutes of the State of Illinois (Chicago, 1896), are also of value.

The standard histories of the state are J. Moses, Illinois, Historical and Statistical (2 vols., Chicago, 1889); and H. Davidson and B. Stuvé, Complete History of Illinois (Springfield, 1874). Edward G. Mason’s Chapters from Illinois History (Chicago, 1901) is of interest

  1. Mr French’s service of seven years is due to the fact that the Constitutional Convention of 1848 ordered a new election of state officials. French was re-elected Governor, beginning his new term in 1849.