Imágenes de páginas

ment upon which the proposition was based was unique. Historically, the campact of 1787 had been broken when Indiana was admitted as a state. To secure a port of entry to the Great Lakes within the state was the desire of the territorial delegate. The argument was twofold: in the first place, it was assumed that great enterprises in internal improvements were confined to individual states, and the prospective connection of Lake Michigan with the Mississippi would be assured only in case the natural route came within the state. The second argument was based upon the first, and was the favorite argument of the period that lines of communication tended to stimulate and develop the spirit of nationalism. The stress placed upon this consideration, in the light of the subsequent development of Chicago and the controversy arising with Wisconsin in 1848,2 is best stated in the words of Judge Moses: "Had the line originally proposed (1818) by the committee been adopted, Chicago would not have grown into the imperial city she now is, because the building of the Michigan and Illinois canal and the Illinois Central railroad, which have contributed so largely to her progress and prosperity, and which were wholly the offepring of Illinois enterprise and statesmanship, would never have become accomplished facts."'3 Whatever historic truth may be attached to these strong words of Judge Moses, it seems fair to assume that the prospective building of the canal and presence of the port have conditioned largely the early growth and development of the city, but the most significant factor in its growth is its position at the head of the Great Lake system, and further its position as the principal center of an area of vast extent and resources, which includes many states with their network of rivers bordering on the state of Illinois. It is in the obliteration of state lines, commercially, that we are to seek the cause of the growth of the industrial importance of the city of Chicago, and not alone in the ‘accomplished facts' that the

*Ford, Illinois, pp. 22-23.
'Sanford, American Historical Association Report, 1891.
•Moses, Chicago, p. 278.


Michigan and Illinois canal and the Illinois Central railway systems were the results, in origin and construction, of Illinois capital.' Chicago has been the natural gateway for the trade between the East and the West. It unites in a special manner the elements of a port for lake traffic. The metropolitanism of Chicago can not be explained by provincial arguments.

The manifest commercial spirit of the growing village found expression as early as December 4, 1829, in a request for a Congressional appropriation for the conversion of Chicago river into a harbor. The appropriation did not follow till 1833, when the liberal sum of $25,000 was granted for the dredging of the river. The canal commissioners caused a survey of the village and its division into lots in 1830. It was the first attempt to introduce system and order into village improvement. After 1830 the carrying trade of the Chicago port grew with great rapidity.* The New England and New York stream of immigration had reached the Illinois and Wisconsin lands at this period.

The environs of Chicago were surveyed into government sections and county organization followed in 1823.5 The jurisdiction over the village was transferred from Fulton to Peoria county in 1825. In 1830, the Chicago precinct polled 31 votes within a radius of 21 miles, and the village proper possessed a population of 98. The rapidity of the influx of settlers from the east soon necessitated the reconstruction of county lines. The broad sweep of Peoria county was reduced on January 15, 1831, when the village of Chicago became the county seat of the newly organized county of Cook. In 1833, the village counted 350 inhabitants which was 200 more than was necessary to incorporate under the act of 1831, for the organization of villages. An intense rivalry had sprung up among the lake cities for the control of the lake trade, and this rivalry stimulated and developed the commercial spirit of their citizens. If we examine the internal structure of the village before 1833, we are confronted with a mere accumulation of lots and venturesome speculators and frontiersmen, attracted by a prospective rise in land values which would inevitably follow with the completion of the canal. The administrative control of the county did not weigh heavily upon the village. There was a demand for concentration. Corporate life had become a necessity. This followed in August, 1833, and on September 4, the town board had its first meeting and perfected its organization by the election of a president and a treasurer. The board soon appomted a street commissioner, tax collector and corporate counsel, while the offices of assessor and surveyor were united in one person. The town board was the repository of all powers, legislative and administrative. The president was a member of the board and possessed no independent powers, other than those delegated to a presiding officer. The territorial jurisdiction of the corporation did not include the lake front which was still possessed by the United States government. The limits were again extended in 1834. The population had rapidly increased from 350 in 1833, to 3,264 in 1835, and the town had suddenly become the center of a wild speculation in land and lots by the location of the government land office there in 1835.4 From 1835 to 1837 was the era of bogus or paper cities, and the traffic in lots with no corporate or prospective existence for the town. Chicago shared in this whirlwind of speculation. In 1830, lots sold at $25 to $100; in 1836-37 the prices ranged at as many thousands of dollars."

*Bross, Chicago, pp. 1-2.
*Dresbach, Illinois, p. 174.
*Blanchard, Illinois, p. 90.

'In 1831, four vessels discharged their cargoes, and in 1835 the number increased to 276.

*Blanchard, Illinois, p. 89; also, Andreas, Chicago, p. 147. The county tax levy in 1823 was $11.42 upon personal property. In 1825 there were 14 dwellings and a tax list of $79.72. ‘Bennet, Politics, p. 26.


* Andreas, Chicago, I., p. 174.
*Bennet, Politics, p. 29.
* Andreas, Chicago, I., p. 175.

*The statistics of the office will illustrate the feeling of period. Its sales were in 1835, 370,000 acres; 1836, 202,000 acres; 1837, 15,000 acres. The office was discontinued in 1846. *Davidson and Struvé, History of Illinois, p. 434.

The simple privileges of the act of 1831 were not modified till 1835. With this act a series of special laws upon every conceivable urban subject were directed toward the city of Chicago, and it may well be said of the period that it has scarcely a parallel in the history of municipal legislation. Exorbitant claims were made upon the time and energy of the state legislature. The consideration of special laws crowded important business from the legislature, and filled its committee rooms with municipal lobbyists. It is readily conceded that the unprecedented growth of Chicago demanded summary treatment at the hands of legislative authority. Special legislation is further in harmony with the extreme statement of the principle that municipal problems are state problems, and as such are subject to detailed regulation on the part of the legislature.2

By the first amendment to the charter of 1833, the board of trustees was increased from five to nine. The powers of the board under the charter of 1833 were limited and were little more than those of supervision. By the amending act of 1835, it was given full power to manage the corporate real and personal property. The board was renewed annually with only freeholders as eligible electors. The powers of the board were greatly enlarged over the general administration of the town, and were in most respects commensurate with an expanding municipal life and included the main powers of internal control and regulation."

*Chicago American, August 15, 1835.

*Chicago American, January 31, 1837: “The interests of our town required a charter. The constant example of the Eastern cities will justify us in altering it at every session until it meets the wants of a large commercial town. However much we may have neglected our privileges under our charter, we certainly have availed ourselves of that of altering it at every session, until it has become like the old lady's stocking, ‘darned so much that none of the original remains.''

* Act of February 11, 1835. *Act of 1835. Sec. 6.


The taxing power of the board was limited to one-half of one mill on assessed values for general municipal purposes, but the principle of special assessments was an early feature of the Chicago financial system. The principle of special assessments was applied to the raising of funds for the grading of streets and construction of sidewalks, but was modified by requiring a petition of two-thirds of the lot owners before constructions were begun. The levying and collection of revenues and their expenditure are further modified by the peculiar physiographic features of the city, and show plainly how these in fluences may assert themselves in dividing the interests of a population which is otherwise compact. An examination of the map of Chicago will reveal the basis of this geographic division of the city into its natural districts.

At the period of incorporation as a town, Chicago was separated into two divisions by the Chicago river. The expansion of the city followed the canal to the west, until the two branches of the Chicago river furnished a third division. By the act of 1835, these three natural divisions afterwards known as the north, south and west divisions, were made the basis of the financial administration. The taxes of each division must be expended in the same district in which they were levied, thus creating a triple tax system within the corporate limits. These natural divisions have been prominent in the whole administrative history of Chicago, and have furnished a basis for the organization of the municipal machinery. This system has furnished the basis upon different occasions of an intense sectionalism, rivalry and jealousy.

The element of financial sectionalism was weakened by the election of the municipal officers on a general ticket. The administration of the city was conducted as a unit as far as the peculiar financial arrangement would permit. The administrative officers were appointed by the board of trustees by the charter of 1833, but the more important were made elective by the amending act of 1835. Act of 1835. Sec. 7.

« AnteriorContinuar »