18. Bond to Permanently Locate the State Capital in Springfield (1837)
Background: On February 25, 1837, the Illinois General Assembly authorized the removal of the state capital from Vandalia to a place nearer the state's geographical center. Several locations in Illinois sought the honor of becoming the new capital city, including Springfield, Alton and Jacksonville, with Vandalia hoping to remain the capital. Nine legislators from Sangamon County, including Abraham Lincoln, led the effort on behalf of Springfield. The competition to become the new capital was heated, with towns adding incentives to their bids. Springfield won the right to become the new capital with an understanding that its citizens would contribute $50,000 to help finance the move and construction of a new capitol building. The city also agreed to donate the town square as the location of a new capitol.
The Document: On March, 22, 1837, 51 leading citizens of Springfield signed a bond agreeing to donate $50,000 to help pay to permanently locate the state capital in Springfield. The bond required them to make three equal installments over a period of 18 months. Three dates are significant in the authorization of this bond. Written on March 22, 1837, the 51 signers of the bond sealed their obligation in payment for the capital to be moved to Springfield. Five days later, on March 28, Governor Joseph Duncan certified the bond, and on April 22, 1837, the bond was filed with State Treasurer John D. Whiteside. Although Abraham Lincoln played an instrumental role as a state legislator in getting the capital relocated to Springfield, he did not sign the bond. However, the signers of the bond are a who's who of Lincoln associates and early Springfield settlers.
Note: The cornerstone of the State's fifth capitol was laid on July 4, 1837. State government began functioning in Springfield in December 1839. The original bond is available at the Illinois State Archives as part of Secretary of State Record Series 103.068, "Executive Section. Bonds of State Officials."