This Ozymandias in boilerplate was most likely a relic of the Illinois Internal Improvements Bill of 1836 (Goodrich, 1974, pp. 139–43). A product of the exaggerated hopes of prosperity vested in the railroads by isolated rural communities and the ‘noble lobbying’ of politicians who owned land in the region, the bill envisaged the creation of over 13,000 miles of railroad at cost of $10.25m, despite the fact that there were no cities in the state at the time and the population numbered only a few thousand. Only a few miles of track were laid before the panic of 1837 wiped the project out, but by then large amounts had been paid into the pockets of ‘swindling officials’ who had made jobs for themselves as ‘surveyors’, ‘Iand-buyers’ and ‘estimators’. The state was left crippled by debt and the consequent high taxes discouraged immigration and left it underdeveloped for many years (Holbrook, 1947, pp. 45–6).
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