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ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES


Abraham Lincoln in Illinois

A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives


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DOCUMENT 3
A BILL FOR AN ACT TO LOCATE A STATE ROAD BETWEEN SPRINGFIELD AND GEORGE C. MILLER'S FERRY
February 2, 1835




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Explanation

Illinois in 1835 had a population of 269,974, forty percent of whom had arrived since 1830. It was still a frontier state in need of a transportation network. Abraham Lincoln spent a large part of his life helping to settle and develop central Illinois. As a young man on his father's farm near Decatur, he plowed the prairie, felled trees and split rails for fences. In New Salem, he worked for a time as a surveyor, helping develop land for sale. As a state representative, he sponsored and voted for many pieces of legislation designed to improve Illinois' infrastructure.

This document is similar to many bills Lincoln sponsored in the House. It called for the hiring of commissioners to lay out part of a state road in Sangamon County between Springfield, the largest city in Lincoln's district, and George C. Miller's ferry, about twelve miles northwest of New Salem. A year later, in March, Lincoln surveyed the area near the ferry and platted out the proposed town of Huron. He and several other Springfield investors bought lots in this area hoping that people would want to develop a community along a main road. However, the town was never built and in 1848 Lincoln and his friend Gersham Jayne sold their land near "Huron" for $100.

Points to Consider

What things determine whether or not a town prospers?

How can government help or hinder the prosperity or growth of a community?

Why do you think Lincoln purchased some of the land he surveyed?


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