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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 4
A BILL FOR AN ACT TO RELOCATE A PART OF THE STATE ROAD LEADING FROM SPRINGFIELD TO LEWISTON
December 15, 1835




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Explanation

In the early 1830s, rivers constituted the major transportation network in Illinois, with railroads and canals still a thing of the future for the new state. Although located near the Sangamon River, Springfield, the largest town in Abraham Lincoln's legislative district, was essentially landlocked. As such, it needed good roads to connect it to the outside world.

This document, written in Lincoln's hand, calls for the relocating of a state road in Sangamon County. The road connected Springfield to Lewiston (actually Lewistown), which was located approximately sixty miles northwest of Springfield on the opposite side of the Illinois River.

Like today, the location of a major road or highway was important to an area's trade and commerce. As such, Lincoln was attempting to take care of his constituents with this bill. However, not everyone was pleased with how this bill laid out the road. Lincoln passed this bill during the ninth session of the General Assembly. He then received a petition from John Jones and other citizens living near where the road was to be relocated that expressed dissatisfaction with Lincoln's bill. In response, Lincoln introduced a new bill on the road's relocation during the Tenth General Assembly. That bill, which also passed, created a committee charged with the responsibility of deciding where the relocated road should go. The committee consisted of Jones and other signers of the petition.

Points to Consider

Why is the location of a road important to trade and commerce?

How were roads constructed and what materials were used in the 1830s?

Why would Lincoln revisit this issue, even after passing the bill?


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