Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Illinois Governors Are an Interesting Study

The governor of Illinois writes:

"The internal improvement system, the banks, the great plenty of money, had made every one morally drunk. The failure of all these brought about a sobering process."

The governor who wrote this was speaking of Illinois in 1842, but you know what they say about those who don't learn from history being doomed to repeat it.

Thomas Ford was a one term governor who stepped into office knowing the job was going to be a tough one. Hostility toward Mormons settled in Nauvoo was growing and becoming violent. The state of Illinois was in debt to the tune of $14 million and building. The budget wasn't even close to being balanced and anyone holding currency issued by the state banks basically owned scrap paper.

The I&M Canal project was renewed by Ford and was instrumental in revitalizing the economy and getting the state back on track. It would take forty years, but those crippling debts would eventually be paid off, even with a Civil War interrupting things.

Ford was dying of tuberculosis when he wrote his "A History of Illinois." He hoped the proceeds would support his children after his death. Half of "A History" tells of the four years he served as governor and the other twenty nine years are jammed into the other half, so it's a personal sort of book rather than a impartial review.

You can buy a copy of Governor Ford's "History" on Amazon. An original leather-bound 1854 edition can be had for $1,500, but a new paperback version will only cost you $22.72.

Rod Blagojevich's "The Governor" is a bargain at $16.47, brand-new.

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