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Thence we went to London by stage, afterward proceeding to Royston in Cambridgeshire to the house of our great uncle, Edward King Fordham.
“I remember what objects of interest we were to all in that little town. Our dear, handsome, half-French father, who had never been seen by any of his uncle's family; his two little girls, four and six, in their strange quilted hoods and felt socks drawn over their boots for warmth.
“Of my father I can say but little, as we never saw him again after his return to America within two years of bringing us over. Never having been educated in business methods he was never a successful man. He re-married after some years and had three children by his second wife. Of them we know but little. Communication was very uncertain. Letters occasionally came that had been a year on the way. More than once did he propose coming to see us, but could not do so. He fell into ill health, and going one day into his bed room, fell over a basin on the floor, a fragment of which severed an artery and he died before assistance could be called.”
Thus ends the reference to Charles de La Serre in the Memoirs. I think he was buried in Pittsburg or its neighborhood.
So you have now about all I know of my maternal grandfather, and I wish I could tell you more. If any points occur to you about Fordham's book that I could possibly make clearer, pray do me the favor of applying
It is impossible, although superfluous, for me to close this brief sketch without a word of reference to my mother, who, of all the good women I have known, came nearest to reaching the expression, "saint on earth.” She was absolutely sweet, dutiful and serene. In my thirty years of memory of her I cannot recall one frown nor angry word.
Believe me, Very sincerely yours,
HERBERT DE L. SPENCE. I do not know that Charles de La Serre again visited the English settlement in Illinois after his return from England. His brother, Octavius, mentioned as residing in Philadelphia in the year 1829, in its early colonial days, had been a resident of Edwards County and his name frequently appears in the records of the county for the early twenties.
In writing the history of the English settlement in Edwards County George Flower wasted but little ink relating the very important part performed by the Fordhams in establishing and maintaining the colony in its infancy. No reference whatever was made to the marriage of Miss Maria Fordham, nor was space so much as spared to mention the name La Serre nor to convey the slightest hint that any one of that family name resided in the community. There is a suspicion that these omissions were more than mere oversights. In that strenuous period of the early colony settlement might be unearthed an unwritten chapter, a goodly portion of which had better never appear in print. There were dissensions, strife, jealousies, bickerings, quarrels and almost ceaseless litigation extending through a series of years. On November 10, 1821, in the circuit court of Edwards County in a suit against the Proprietors of the Town of Albion, first brought against Richard Flower personally, Elias Pym Fordham was awarded judgment in the princely sum of $66.50 for his services in full for surveying and platting the new town of Albion, the said town being one mile square. In that same year at the June and November terms of circuit court suits were docketed on behalf of the People of the State of Illinois against Charles de La Serre on the charge of selling spirits without a license. These suits were dismissed by the prosecuting attorney, hence never came to trial. I will divert here a sufficient time to explain that while none today hut the oldest citizen can locate the year when the sale of spirits as a beverage was not prescribed in Little Britain, as the metropolis of the English settlement is yet facetiously nick-named, it was not always thus. Our sturdy grandfathers sold it much as they sold flour, vinegar or salt and frequently felt the need of a little for their stomach's sake. But the foretaste of a little lawing appeared to give the La Serres a liking for it. At any rate suits came thick and fast and they were generally pitted against the Flowers and other of the town proprietors. For instance, the purchase of a mill seat east of Albion on the Bonpas, together with a quarter section of land, by Charles and Octavius de La Serre from Richard Flower, led to a series of suits and counter suits in the years 1824 and 1825 between the two La Serres on one side and Richard and George Flower and certain other of the town proprietors on the other side, in which the honors appear to have been about equally shared. In some of this litigation the presiding judge was James O. Wattles
, famous as a man of inverted vision, being compelled to hold his books and papers upside down in order to read them. Judge Wattles then resided in a little log cabin in Albion, where his son, the well-known John D. Wattles, the founder and long time editor of the Sunday-School Times, was born.
In conclusion it may be said that the trivial matters presented in this paper can have value only to the extent that they contribute to the history of the peopling of the prairies by that courageous caravan of sturdy English who, during the period of disturbed social, political and industrial conditions in their native land, sought here that haven of freedom in thought and action denied them at home. It was of this great outpouring from the British Isles that Faux in his "Memorable Days in America," published in 1823, made this extravagant assertion, namely:
"It is true that no man since Columbus has done so much toward peopling America as Mr. Birkbeck, whose publications, and the authority of whose name, had effects truly prodigious; and if all could have settled in Illinois, whom he had tempted to cross the Atlantic and the mountains, it had now been the most populous state in the Union.”
The attempt has been made in this paper to show that though Birkbeck and Flower were active in the initiative of the English settlement, credit was largely due Elias Pym Fordham for its actual founding and early sustenance.
I close with a single quotation from an editorial comment found in the London Quarterly Review, page 91, Volume 27, printed in 1822, referring specifically to this movement toward the prairies of the Illinois country:
“There are thousands of our poor countrymen who have been seduced from their homes by these artificers of fraud; have embarked their little all in their journey to these gloomy wilds, that are at this moment pining in despair, and hastening to a strange grave with broken hearts. They cannot return, and the land of their birth will know them no more. Happily, their sufferings are not greatly protracted, for the climate is not congenial to their constitutions and they perish before the moth.'”
Despite this dire prediction we find that the great majority of those early immigrants survived and prospered. It is true that today no one of the name Fordham, La Serre nor Birkbeck resides in Edwards County; yet it is true that a very large part of the present population of the county are either grandchildren or greatgrandchildren of those early English colonists of the first quarter of the last century.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATE CONSTITUTIONS.
Christopher B. Coleman, Butler College, Indianapolis. Under this heading I want to present a few considerations of a rather general character brought home to me casually during work involving some incidental study of State Constitutions, chiefly in the old Northwest Territory.
I was at the outset rather pleasantly surprised to find these Constitutions an interesting study. Ambassador Bryce in his American Commonwealth long ago (1888) observed (c XXXVII, vol. II, p. 434) that “the State Constitutions furnish invaluable materials for history. Their interest is all the greater because the succession of Constitution and amendments to Constitution from 1776 till today enables the annals of legislation and political sentiment to be read in these documents more easily and succinctly than in any similar series of laws in any other country. They are a mine of instruction for the natural history of democratic communities. Their fullness and minuteness make them, so to speak, more pictorial than the Federal Constitution. They tell us more about the actual methods and conduct of the government than it does.”
There is not only interest, there is room for humor also in the study of the State Constitutions. Mr. Bryce is somewhat surprised at times; he exhibits many provisions, especially in the bills of rights, as objects of curiosity and occasionally jokes at them, as in the observation that “twenty-six States declare that 'all men have a natural, inherent, and inalienable right to enjoy and defend life and liberty,' and all of these, except the melancholy Missouri, add, the ‘natural right to pursue happiness. (Chap. XXXVII, vol. II, p. 424.) He refers to them as (documents whose clauses, while they attempt to solve the latest problems of democratic commonwealths, often recall the earliest efforts of our English forefathers to restrain the excesses of medieval tyranny.” (Chap. XXXVIII, vol. II, p. 442.)
Other things besides Mr. Bryce's amused complacency throw a cheerful ray across the path of the student of State Constitutions. The innovations in new State Constitutions cause Eastern writers to make the most mournful and pessimistic comparisons with the time-honored Massachusetts instrument. Professor Stimson of Harvard University, in his very convenient compilation of “The Law of the Federal and State Constitutions of the United States” (1908), deplores the inaccessibility
of State Constitutions. "In Georgia it is not procurable. Some States like New Hampshire and Ohio do not print them at all with their general laws. Oregon and other States entirely omit constitutional amendments, while hardly any State follows the example of Massachusetts in printing the Constitution in its correct form every year,
while the usual compilation of the laws of New York and the official compilation of Georgia and several other States commit the last inanity of printing the State Constitution alphabetically under C, as if it were an ordinary law.” (P. XXI.) His exasperation finally reached the height of exclamation points. "Owing to the negligence or stupidity of the State authorities in not printing these (amendments) with the annual laws, this (a complete list of constitutional amendments) is a difficult matter to ascertain. In Oregon, indeed, where laws and constitutional amendments are adopted by popular initiative, the Secretary of State complains that they are ‘full of bad spelling, punctuation, omissions and repeated words.' ” (P. 123.)
There are many things to tax one's patience in the study of the (approximately) 125 State Constitutions in force at one time or another since 1776. For instance, the official and supposedly complete collection of State Constitutions in F. N. Thorpe's American Charters, Constitutions and Organic Laws (otherwise entitled Federal and State Constitutions ) published by the Government Printing Office, in the section devoted to Illinois omits entirely the Constitution of 1848, and though published in 1909, has amendments only down to 1900, thus omitting the amendments of 1904 and 1908.
Nevertheless enough material is easily accessible and enough good work has been done to make it possible for any one to go into the subject as far as he wants to, and to get considerable enlightenment. The official seven-volume compilation of Federal and State Constitutions edited by F. N. Thorpe, just referred to, though imperfect and not well indexed, contains most of the official documents one needs, and can easily be supplemented so as to give one a collection complete to within the last two years. Then beginning with Judge J. A. Jameson's, The Constitutional Convention, a great work, though written to prove the untenable proposition that the State constitutional convention is legally under the direction of and subject to the authority of the State Legislature, with Bryce's luminous study in chapters XXXVII-XXXVIII of his American Commonwealth, and Cooley's Constitutional Limitations, there are a number of books and articles which not only incorporate an enormous amount of work and so save the time of the investigator, but are well. worth reading. Among these I can only make mention of Borglau: Adoption and Amendment of Constitutions; Prof. Dealey's, Our State Constitution (supplement to the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Mass., 1907; Prof. Garner's article upon the Amendment of State Constitutions in the American Political Science Review, February, 1907; Lobingier, The People's Law; Stimson, Law of the Federal and State Constitution of the United States, 1908, and the Year-book of Legislation issued by the New York State Library. New York has been given an exhaustive treatise in the four-volume Consti