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Letter to Governor Joseph Duncan Accompanying A Memorial From Citizens of Cook County

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Chicago Nov. 29. 1834

His Excellency Joseph Duncan
Governor Elect of the State of Illinois

Sir- I take the liberty of transmitting to you a printed copy of the memorial of the citizens of Cook County, asking for the construction of a canal to unite the Illinois river with Lake Michigan by the State. -- The memorial was adopted with great unanimity and speaks the sentiments of the people in this quarter of the State upon this important Subject, except, that all would prefer a Steam-boat Canal to one of ordinary dimension - We should have petitioned for one had we supposed it possible to induce the Legislature to go for it: But believing it impossible to obtain an act to construct a St. Boat Communication, the citizens deemed it policy to ask for a Common Canal, well knowing, that when its usefulness should be tested & the wants of the State should require it, an act could be obtained to enlarge it to the requisite size for Steam Boats -- Our citizens are for a canal of some kind & they believe that it should be undertaken by the State -Rail Roads are out of the question with us, except, in those places where canals cannot be obtained for want of water to feed them or some other insurmountable obstacle -- I doubt whether we have Twenty rail road men among us & some of these are influenced by interest -- They hope to get stock & then canal lands as a bonus-- I trust they will be disappointed: For one I should regret to see the commercial prosperity and agricultural of the people of this State & manufacturing interests of the people of this state subjected to the Control of a rail road monopoly

I hope I shall not be deemed guilty of impertinence when I say that, the people rely with great confidence upon your wisdom & firmness in recommending and enforcing upon the general Assembly the necessity of immediately adopting efficient measures for the opening of a canal between the Illinois & the Lake -- no improvement, of the same extent & cost, can be undertaken by the state which will confer such substantial advantages or secure so large commercial facilities as this canal -- The state will incur no responsibility by the undertaking for I have not the least doubt but that the canal lands will provide abundantly for the whole cost. This may seem singular to your excellency -- It is nevertheless my firm conviction, and the opinion is entertained by gentlemen of acknowledged competency & judgment -- Let these lands be withheld until the canal is completed and they will bring $2.500.000 -- &this is half a million more than the canal will actually cost, Mr. Bucklin's report to the contrary, notwithstanding.

Upon you sir, will devolve the arduous but noble duty of carrying into effect a System of internal improvement which will produce results, beneficial and grand, almost beyond conception -- virtuous ambition could not desire a more ample theatre for its exercise than the one which is presented to the chief magistrate elect of this State -- a liberal canal System will meet with the support of the people in this section of the State

I am with great respect Your obt.servt.

James H. Collins