As Whitney was preparing to depart on his survey to the Pacific, those who represented the interests of the South, led by South Carolina’s Sen. Calhoun also reacted to Whitney’s “northern” route by calling for a convention in Memphis that, like St. Louis, was also situated on the Mississippi River but some two hundred and eighty miles farther south, to discuss the necessary improvements along the Mississippi River needed to allow ocean vessels to sail as far upriver as Memphis, that would allow ocean vessels to sail inland from New Orleans to vie for the business of the emerging NorthWest, at the expense of the Northern Erie Canal-Great Lakes route.  Such an inland port would also reinforce the argument for Calhoun’s proposed transcontinental railroad through a southern route.  The Convention was originally scheduled in July 1845 as an attempt to preempt the publicity its planners assumed that Whitney’s successful return from the west would generate, but they simply did not have the time needed in the pre-railroad South to gather the region’s leaders with such short notice and were forced to postpone the convention until November 12, 1845.  Calhoun’s associate, James Gadsden, the President of the South Carilina Railroad, proceeded to take charge of the convention and proposed the construction of a railroad, in response to Whitney’s northern Pacific railroad, along a southern route that started in Texas and ended at San Diego.  (This was one of the few times that Southerners actually argued in favor of Federal funding of ”internal improvements,” for Southernerns tended to be strict constructionists and doubted that the Federal government had the Constitutional authority to finance internal improvements in the individual states.)  There was one, significant impediment to such a route in 1845, however; the land through which such a railroad would traverse, including San Diego, was in Mexico.  


The postponement of the Memphis Convention was all that Illinois’ freshman Democrat Rep. Stephen A. Douglas needed in order to beat the Southerners to the punch.  Douglas was a self-taught lawyer who had been born and raised in Vermont.  He had travelled the West in search of a state whose regulations pertaining to the bar were less stringent than those of New York where he had begun his law career, and eventually found the climate of the legal profession in central Illinois to his liking. A prodigy with a keen memory and a vocabulary to match, and gifted with the ability to use both in a debate, he had quickly gravitated to the life of a career machine politician within the Van Buren Democratic party in Illinois. Van Buren was inaugurated as the country’s eighth President on March 4, 1837, the same day that Chicago voters had approved the city’s new charter.  By the time of Chicago’s first mayoral election in May in which Ogden, a Van Buren Democrat, had been elected mayor, Van Buren had already appointed on March 9, 1837, Douglas as the Register of Federal Land Office in Springfield (that also enabled him to better supplement his income through real estate speculation).  As Ogden rose to power in Chicago, Douglas (at the age of 27) along with Sidney Breese, were appointed in 1841 as justices to the Illinois Supreme Court. Douglas then moved onto the national stage when he was elected by Ilinois’ Fifth District to the House of Representatives on August 7, 1843.  Douglas, who proudly stated that he was a “Western man,” was committed to manifest destiny, Western expansion and development, national unity, and, of course, to his constituents in Illinois.  

He seemed to have captured this national mood in a speech he delivered in the House on January 6, 1845, some three weeeks before Whitney had proposed his Pacific Railroad scheme, in which he had laid out his vision for the country:

“The application of steam power to transportation and travel has brought the remotest limits of this confederacy, now comprising of twenty-six states… much nearer to the centre than when they were but thirteen… Our federal system is admirably adapted to the whole continent;.. [I] would extend the limits of the republic from ocean to ocean.  I would make this an ocean-bound republic…”

But Whitney’s jumping-off point for the proposed railroad, Milwaukee, did not sit well with the Congressman from Illinois, who, like Henry Clay, understood that the potential of the new, emerging technologies of the telegraph and the railroad could be used in the noble cause of holding the Union together by providing better opportunities for communication and economic intercourse with the hope that through these a better mutual understanding of and respect between the country’s sections might result.  Douglas believed that a transcontinental railroad could bind not only his party, but also his country in the face of contemporary divisive Sectional issues.  Douglas showed no shyness in being the only member of Congress to formally respond to Whitney’s proposal with his own to build a railroad not from Milwaukee, but from Chicago.  He published an open letter to Whitney on October 15, 1845, just as construction began to resume on the Chicago canal:

“SIR, I have no doubt the time will come, when there will be a continuous line of rail roads from the Atlantic to the Pacific.  Indeed, several links in the chain are already in operation… From Portland [ME] to Buffalo, via Boston and Albany, the cars have been running for some time.  It is in contemplation to continue this line through Upper Canada, to Detroit, where it will connect with the Central Rail Road of Michigan, across the penisula, in the direction of Chicago…  It is confidently expected that this road will be continued westward, along the southern shore of Lake Erie, and the southern point of Lake Michigan, to Chicago, and thence to the Mississippi… In view of these facts, I am unable to comprehend the reasons which induce you to fix your starting point at Milwaukie [sic]… It will not do to rely solely upon the lakes as links in the chain, for their navigation will be interrupted by ice about four months in the year… For these reasons, the route must run around the head of Lake Michigan, or on a line further south… which may be traversed at all seasons of the year… The route from New York to the Mississippi, at or near St. Louis, by way of Baltimore, is worhty of consideration.  This line of rail roads has been in successful operation, for sometime, as far as Cumberland, MD, and Winchester, VA, with the expectation of its speedy extension to the Ohio river at Wheeling or Parkersburgh; thence to Cincinnati and St. Louis.”

The Route of Stephen Douglas’ Proposed Pacific Railroad, 1845. (Online)

He proceeded to lay out his vision for a transcontinental railroad from Chicago to the east bank of the Missouri River, across from its confluence with the Platte River (Ironically, this area had been known as Caldwell’s Camp since 1838 because Chicago’s own Billy Caldwell, or “Sauganash,” who died in 1841, had led the Potawatomi’s displaced from Chicago to this location in 1836 in their search for a new home.  The town’s name would be changed to Council Bluffs in 1852.) where Omaha would be founded on the river’s west bank in 1854 following the signing of the Missouri Compromise, and then up the Platte to the South Pass.  But rather than following Redfield’s route down the Columbia River, Douglas favored a route to Yuerba Buena’s harbor (its name would be changed by American troops to San Francisco in 1847) similar to the route Frémont had just published after his second expedition.  As was the case with the southern route to the Pacific of Calhoun and Gadsden, however, Douglas’ northern route suffered from the same minor geopolitical inconvenience, the land through which it was to traverse was also not complete within the territorial confines of the United States in 1845.


Andreas, Alfred T. History of Chicago, 3 vols. Chicago, 1884-1886. Reprint, New York: Arno Press, 1975.

Johannsen, Robert W., The Letters of Stephen A. Douglas, Urbana: University of Illinois, 1961.

Johannsen, Robert W., Stephen A. Douglas, New York: Oxford, 1973.

Karamanski, Theodore J, Rally ‘Round the Flag: Chicago and the Civil War, Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1993.

Pierce, Bessie Louis. A History of Chicago- I. New York: Knopf.  1940.

(If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to eMail me at: thearchitectureprofessor@gmail.com)


While Chicago, as did the rest of the country, suffered through Tyler’s four years in the White House (1841-5), Martin Van Buren and his political machine (of which Ogden was the leader of the Chicago faction), ever since his defeat by Harrison in his reelection bid in 1840, had been planning his political resurrection in the 1844 Presidential election. (He had visited Chicago, the first President to have done so, and had given a lengthy speech on July 3, 1842.)  Meanwhile, Pres. Tyler’s ineffectual leadership had done little to improve the national economy and so Van Buren had opened the 1844 Democratic Convention as the favorite but was denied the nomination by Van Buren’s nemesis John C. Calhoun’s use of the Convention’s 2/3 majority voting rule that allowed the South to virtually control who would be the nominee.   A compromise between Van Buren and his chief opponent, Lewis Cass of Michigan, on the relatively unknown James K. Polk, the former governor of Tennessee and a protégée of Andrew Jackson, was hammered out in a gesture of party unity.  Meanwhile, the Whigs, having been completely disenchanted with Tyler, nominated Henry Clay, having misplayed his moment of glory in 1840, who lost to Polk in a tight election.  Polk was a disciplined, cagey, and ambitious politician, whose political skills were more than a match for Van Buren’s.  He was an unabashed nationalist expansionist who shared his mentor’s view of America’s “manifest destiny,” a phase coined following his election that is credited to John L. O’Sullivan, the editor of New York’s Democratic Review, that defined the country’s pursuit of one geographically contiuguous nation extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. 

Maps of U.S. in 1845 and 1846. (Online)

Polk pledged to serve only one term and had four personal objectives for his Presidency, that he shared with no one before the election:

1. To resolve the Oregon boundary issue,

2. To take as much of northern Mexico as possible, by force if necessary, in order to connect the southern U.S. with a contiguous land route to the Pacific Ocean,

3. To reduce the National Tariff, and

4. To reinstitute the independent Treasury System.

Of these four, the one that represented the most serious threat to Chicago’s long-term success was the President’s commitment to forging an overland route to the Pacific in which a southern transcontinental railroad could be constructed.


Before Polk was innaugurated, however, New York City dry-goods merchant Asa Whitney, on January 28, presented a memorial to Congress that proposed to build a railroad from Lake Michigan to the Pacific Ocean (similar to the route first proposed by Judge Dexter In Ann Arbor in 1832), and thus, in combination with the Great Lakes and Erie Canal, would link the contested Oregon country to the Atlantic Coast.  Whitney, who had made a trip to China in 1842-4 and had gained an appreciation for the importance of the China trade, was simply building upon Redfield’s and Dexter’s earlier visions of a railroad to the Pacific.  Whitney, a New Yorker, was interested, of course, in the most direct route from New York City to the Pacific Ocean, that had to be located within the only land that the U.S. had any formal claim to that touched the Pacific: the belt of land that stretched between the 49° border with British Canada and the 42° border with Mexico.  Because he was proposing to use the railroad to do so, however, he was not limited to following the NorthWest’s natural waterways that all converged on St. Louis for his route.  His northern route was shorter to Canton than the southern routes, and it also was believed to pass through vacant, fertile land that would entice farmers whose purchase of said lands would help to pay for its construction.  Therefore, because the South Pass is located some 200 miles north of St. Louis, Whitney had proposed an all-land route that started not in St. Louis, but at some point directly east of the South Pass on the western shore of Lake Michigan, headed directly westward to the South Pass, and then descended the Columbia River Valley to its mouth on the Pacific.

Asa Whitney, Proposed Railroad to the Pacific via the South Pass. Whitney understood that the railroad was not dependent of the rivers so it could be built due west from Lake Michigan in a straight line, the shortest route, and thereby completely bypassing St. Louis. This is 1845 and Galena was planning a railroad to Chicago seen here. This map shows Whitney’s route starting in Prairie du Chien in Wisconsin, at the confluence of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers. (Online)

Whitney had also shrewdly coupled the economic advantage of his man-made short-cut to the Pacific with the military realities of the day: namely, the Oregon question with respect to concerns about the British in the Pacific Northwest (the Oregon treaty was not approved until June 18 of the following year), as well as the mounting tensions in the Southwest with Mexico (Pres. Polk would not declare war on Mexico until May 13 of the following year). In order to finance the railroad’s construction, Whitney requested that Congress authorize a landgrant of a 60-mile wide strip of land along the proposed route.  Following his presentation in Congress, he mounted a nationwide media campaign to promote and enlist support for his idea, in advance of the expedition he planned to lead to survey the eastern half of his proposed route.  

He left New York City on June 2, 1845, to start his westward trek at Milwaukee, whose harbor, being 100 miles closer to the tip of Lake Michigan than Chicago, at the time was still a serious competitor to Chicago’s.  Thus was launched what Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David M. Potter termed ”the Giant Lottery,” the contest among the cities along the trans-Mississippi Valley to become the central metropolis in the West by becoming the terminus of the railroads that would traverse the 3000 miles between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. 

Whitney, following Frémont’s example, sent back regular reports to keep politicians and potential investors interested.  It was an achievement in and of itself simply because it was over relatively uncharted lands, without the certainty of drinking water.  Upon reaching his objective, the Great Bend in the Missouri River, where the Kansas River empties into it, where Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, KS are located, he found it easier to return via water transport that returned him to St. Louis on September 19.  While Whitney’s proposed route for a transcontinental railroad along the 42nd parallel would serve the economic and political interests of New York City, Boston, and the Northern states bordering the Great Lakes, it would, however, do little for the cities and states in the country’s mid-section along the 39th parallel such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and St. Louis, (that the builders of the Baltimore & Ohio were planning to ultimately connect with the construction of the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad) except to pose an economic threat to their current hegemony of the Westward movement of American settlement.  Whitney’s proposed railroad from Lake Michigan to the Pacific was a wake-up call to Benton, the Democratic leader in the Senate at this time who would constantly oppose Whitney’s proposals.


Andreas, Alfred T. History of Chicago, 3 vols. Chicago, 1884-1886. Reprint, New York: Arno Press, 1975.

Brown, Margaret L., “Asa Whitney and His Pacific Railraod Publicity Campaing,” The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, vol. 20. No. 2 (Sept. 1933

Galloway, John Debo. The First Transcontinental Railroad. New York: Simmons-Broadway, 1950.

Howe, Daniel Walker.  What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Potter, David M. The Impending Crisis: America Before the Civil War: 1848-1861, New York: Harper & Row, 1973.

Williams, John Hoyt. A Great and Shining Road-The Epic Story of the Transcontinental Railroad. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989.

(If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to eMail me at: thearchitectureprofessor@gmail.com)



The idea of linking the Atlantic Coast with the Pacific Coast by a transcontinetal railroad had been the subject of speculation throughout the U.S. since at least 1829 when New Yorker William C. Redfield made a proposal to build an interstate railroad from the Atlantic to the Mississippi River (see Chap. 2.3).  Then on February 6, 1832, the Ann Arbor (MI) Emigrant had published an article that proposed to extend Redfield’s interstate route (including Redfield’s bypassing the mouth of the Chicago River) into a full-fledged transcontinental railroad to the Pacific Coast. These early proposals help to establish the context of thirty year-old William Ogden’s 1835 speech in favor of the Erie Railroad (see Chap. 3.11 )before the New York state legislature in which he had predicted a rail system from the Atlantic to the Mississippi River.  By this time, fur traders and explorers had been making their way up the Platte River valley since the first train of trader wagons had struck out from Independence, MO, in 1832 to the Oregon Country (the Pacific Southwest was still Mexico).

The pre-railroad routes to the West. The Oregon and Santa Fe Trails converge at Independence, MO, and then on to St. Louis. (Online)

One the people most responsible for the continued exploration of the “West” beyond the Mississippi had been Missouri’s Sen. Benton, who had been championing Western internal improvement projects since his initial election in 1821. (see Chap. 1.12) Benton quite naturally argued that St. Louis, being in the center of the country at the confluence of the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, should be the starting point of the railroad to the Pacific.  But little was known about the geography that lay between Independence, MO, upriver along the Missouri River from St. Louis, the jumping off point for wagon trains to the the Oregon country.  Benton made sure he was current with the lastest information by inviting the region’s explorers to his house for dinner and drinks.  One such explorer was John C. Frémont, a young lieutenant in the Army’s Corps of Topographical Engineers who had explored and surveyed much of the territory between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. During one of Benton’s soirées, Frémont had fallen in love with Benton’s daughter, Jessie, whom he soon married, creating a very formitable threesome.  Benton would secure Federal funding that would enable Frémont to continue his explorations in search of the best route that started in St. Louis for the transcontinental railroad.  He had set out on his first trip during the summer of 1842 from St. Louis in the company of mountain man Kit Carson as his guide to the South Pass.  Returning successfully five months later, he proceeded to write with the able assistance of his wife his reflections on the experience that were soon published throughout the country’s newpapers under the title, A Report on an Exploration of the Country Lying between the Missouri River and the Rocky Mountains on the Line of the Kansas and Great Platte Rivers.  Frémont became an instant celebrity, familiarizing the American public with what great wonders awaited them in the trans-Mississippi West.

Map of John C. Frémont’s 1842 and 1843-4 Expeditions. (Online)

Benton used his son-in-law’s newly found fame to garner support for the funding of a second expedition the following year.  Frémont took off in the summer of 1843 with the objective of mapping the route west of the South Pass to the contested land of Oregon.  His route also took him down into the Mexican provinces of Alta California and Nuevo Méxicobefore he made the way back to St. Louis. Upon his return, he produced a map even more detailed than his 1843 map, that Congress published and distributed throughout the country in 1845.  “By 1845, magazines and newspapers had become imbued with [through the efforts of Frémont and his father-in-law] and convinced of the need of a Pacific Railroad.”  The U.S. had elected Southerner James Polk as President in Nov. 1844, and he was committed to making the Pacific Railroad a reality.  He just disagreed on the route it should take.

1845 Map of the West, by John C. Frémont. (Online)


Borneman, Walter R. Iron Horses: America’s Race to Bring the Railroad West.  New York: Back Bay, 2010.

Galloway, John Debo. The First Transcontinental Railroad. New York: Simmons-Broadway, 1950.

Williams, John Hoyt. A Great and Shining Road-The Epic Story of the Transcontinental Railroad. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989.

(If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to eMail me at: thearchitectureprofessor@gmail.com)


Baring Brothers believed the depression had bottomed out during the summer of 1842, and anticipated an economic rebound following the signing of the Treaty of Nanking on September 27, 1842, that ended the First Opium War and opened five ports in China to British merchants. This event had been preceded by the signing of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty in August 9, 1842, (Daniel Webster, then Secretary of State, as a Senator from Massachusetts had always kept a close watch on trade issues) settling U.S. and British border claims in the northeast as well as establishing the 49th parallel as the boundary between the U.S. and Canada from Lake Superior to the Rocky Mountains (while the Oregon boundry was still left unresolved).  In addition, it initiated a new tariff agreement that promised to stabilize customs duties and thus encourage commercial trade. With Anglo-American relations being the least confrontational since the 1837 Panic, the Barings mounted a quiet campaign to help restore the credit of the U.S. in Europe by raising the issue of fiscal responsibility to a moral argument throughout the legislatures and newspapers of America.  Ward, the Baring’s top American representative, was to be responsible for the improvements in Illinois’ affairs.  In contrast to many of the states, Ward’s efforts paid off as Illinois took early steps to avoid repudiation of its debts and eventually to re-establish the State’s credit.  When Ogden had been Chicago’s Mayor, he had personally thwarted early repudiation efforts, while other Ogden associates were also engaged in early attempts to preserve the State’s credit.  One such person was Isaac Arnold, Mahlon Ogden’s law partner, who was one of the callers for a public meeting in Chicago held on January 18, 1841, (he was also the chairman of the resolution committee) to promote direct taxation in order to raise sufficient revenue to pay the interest on the state debt and insure continued construction (by Ogden, among other contractors) of the canal. Arnold also succeeded in the U.S. Supreme Court in having declared unconstitutional a new bankruptcy law which had been passed in February 1841 by the Illinois legislature that would also have, in effect, suspended the collection of debts in defaulted mortgages.

Nonetheless, these efforts had failed to prevent the inevitable collapse of Illinois’ finances in June 1842:

“As if by magic the right man seemed to spring up at the right time; for it was in June of that year [1842] that Arthur Bronson, of New York, and a large owner of real estate in Chicago, came West to look after his property… While Mr. Bronson was being interviewed by leading citizens as to the best means to procure funds for the completion of the canal, various plans were being proposed [by] such men as William B. Ogden, Justin Butterfield, Michael Ryan, and the Hon. Isaac N. Arnold.”

It was not by magic, but rather the increased involvement of the Barings, reinforced by the new Boston interest in the canal, that had brought Bronson, once again, to Chicago not so coincidentally in the same month that the State went bankrupt.  Encouraged by both the ending of the Opium War (that would further lessen their control of America’s China trade) and the imminent completion of the through railroad network to Buffalo, the Boston owners of the B&W and Western Railroads were now joining the Barings once again to capitalize on a public financial crisis to expand their private investment in the West.  Boston money had begun its substantial investment in Chicago.

Prior to his trip to Chicago in June, Bronson had forwarded the initial proposal of the canal bondholders to Arnold.  Arnold, having just been “coincidentally” elected to the Illinois’ General Assembly, had become, without any advantage of seniority, the Chairman of the Committee on Finance, that had primary control over the canal operations.  During Bronson’s visit, he conferred with Ogden, Arnold, and Justin Butterfield, Illinois’ U.S. District Attorney, in putting together a financial package that would be acceptable to the canal’s bondholders.  Butterfield, like Arnold, was also an attorney originally from New York, who had relocated to Chicago in 1835 and had formed a practice with James H. Collins. All three of Bronson’s conferees were, therefore, former New Yorkers and allied to his interests via their relationships with Ogden.  In order to get something built to validate the bondholders’ real estate investments, the group of four developed a cheaper, but unproven “shallow-cut” plan as an alternative to the original deep, through-cut canal that still required over $3 million to complete. The canal’s dimensions were changed from 60’ wide by 6’ deep to 40’ wide and 4’ deep. This reduction in the overall depth of the canal brought concern among the canal’s engineers about the ability of the Des Plaines and Calumet Rivers’ feeders to supply sufficient water at the summit between the two river systems for usable navigation, now that the deeper, through-cut canal had been abandoned.  A committee of three engineers from the Chicago Mechanics’ Institute proposed to solve this problem with a design that involved using steam-powered pumps to supply water from the South Branch to the summit via the Des Plaines River.

In essence, the bondholders would be asked to loan an additional estimated $1.6 million needed to complete the shallow-cut project.  Repayment of the loan would be secured by the proceeds from all sales of canal lots as well as by the income from the canal’s operation.  In addition, the bondholders were also to be given more control in the canal’s construction and finances, for these were to be placed under the control of a new three-man Board of Trustees, two of whom were to be named by the bondholders, while the remaining one was to be appointed by the state.  In effect, although Illinois was to surrender control of all canal operations and revenues to the canal bondholders until all secured loans and interest had been met, the state realized it had no alternative.  With over $5 million already poured into the stalled project, the difference between a finished and unfinished canal was the salvation of the state’s finances.  In addition to the revenues to be generated by the canal’s eventual operation, a completed canal would increase property values and corresponding tax income, while encouraging further investment and settlement within Illinois.

Butterfield drafted the bill which Arnold proceeded to introduce in the General Assembly that fall.  He was persistently forced to defend the giveaway nature of the bill and was never more articulate in his support than at Chicago’s Mechanics’ Institute on November 16, 1842, in his speech titled, “The Legal and Moral Obligations of the State to Pay Its Debts, the Resources of Illinois, and the Means By Which the Credit of the State May Be Restored.”  Neither Ward nor Barings could have asked for a better performance.  As Chairman of the Finance Committee, Arnold “rendered most efficient service” and eventually succeeded in gaining a small majority to pass the Canal Bill on February 21, 1843.     The law authorized the Governor to negotiate a $1.6 million loan following the exact guidelines originally established by the Barings/Boston/Bronson group.  Upon the signing of the loan agreement, all canal revenues and lands were to be placed under the control of the three member Board of Trustees, who would be authorized to make “such changes and alterations in the original plan of said canal as they may deem advisable, having due regard for economics, etc.”  Of special interest to Ogden, Section 17 of the Act provided that the old contractors would be given priority to the new contracts once construction resumed.

In March 1843, Governor Ford authorized Charles Oakley and Michael Ryan, State Senator from La Salle (the other terminus of the canal) and Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Canal and Canal Lands, to negotiate the loan with the representatives of the bondholders.  While they found Bronson and David Leavitt, president of New York City’s American Exchange Bank, to be understandably amenable to these provisions, the European representatives, Barings and Magniac, Jardine, & Co., expressed severe reservations about their ability to market any further American issues in Europe and approached the endeavor with extreme caution.  In addition to a number of additional and clearly specified guarantees, the European representatives required complete verification by their own agents of the present state of the canal, its finance, and the plans for its completion. Lawrence, Sturgis, and Ward, therefore, chose two other Boston men, Captain William H. Swift, the resident engineer of the Western Railroad, and John Davies, former Governor of Massachusetts, to inspect the canal and substantiate its financial condition.  To this end, they traveled to Chicago in November 1842, the trip from Boston to Buffalo being expedited by the recent completion of the chain of railraods in upper New York. On March 1, 1844, they submitted their final report to Ward confirming the information presented initially by Oakley and Ryan.

While Bronson and Leavitt achieved the necessary loan commitments from Eastern investors, it took Barings more than nine months to overcome the hesitancy among the Europeans who no longer trusted American securities following the 1837 Crash.  This distrust had been aggravated in 1843 when Illinois’ General Assembly finally bowed to public pressure and repealed the interest tax that had been originally passed to generate sufficient income to pay the interest on the bonded foreign debt. A sign of fiscal responsibility from Illinois was needed to reassure European investors, and was initiated by Chicago’s new Democrat Congressman John Wentworth who had been elected in the 1842 November election.  Following the 1840 census, two new Congressional districts had been formed in Illinois, one that contained the northwest portion of the state, centered around Galena, and the other comprised of the northeast portion, centered around Chicago.  Therefore, Wentworth was the first resident north of Springfield to be elected to Congress. While Wentworth sent to Springfield a petition signed by prominent Chicago landowners requesting the legislature to reinstate the interest tax, Ward had Leavitt, Davies, and Oakley travel to Springfield in the fall of 1844 to help Arnold and Governor Ford convince the legislature to pass the taxation bill.  Ward’s pressure on Illinois to restore its credit rating also included orchestrating a meeting called by 500 of Chicago’s leading citizens on the Public Square on February 12, 1845, at which resolutions supporting Governor Ford’s tax bill were passed, so that construction of the canal could resume. 

These combined pressures eventually succeeded in getting the tax bill and a supplementary canal bill passed on March 1, 1845, allowing the canal loan agreement finally to be signed on March 10, 1845, handing complete control of canal construction, operations, and any income over to the Boston/Barings/Butler (Arthur Bronson died from pnuemonia in November 1844) interests. They now had control over a contiguous route from Boston to Chicago and that, once the canal was completed, continued on to New Orleans.  Thus, having succeeded in his sole objective of resolving the canal issue, Arnold had no reason to run for re-election following the March 3 adjournment of the General Assembly, and so returned to his Chicago law practice with Mahlon Ogden.  The Board of Trustees who assumed control over all canal operations consisted of Leavitt, representing the New York interests, Swift, agent for the Barings and representing the Boston parties, and Jacob Fry, the State-appointed trustee.  Soon after their appointment, the Board retained Ogden’s good friend Arnold, having just returned from Springfield, as their attorney. Everything had gone according to the plan.  Construction on the canal had resumed in October 1845, and with it, Chicago’s economic future had brightened accordingly.  Anticipating this upswing in the city’s business community, Ogden had brought William E. Jones from Charles Butler’s New York American Land Company to be his partner in his real estate firm, now named Ogden & Jones.  That same year Jones married Ogden’s younger sister, Caroline, who had also moved to Chicago.  “All in the family” continued to be the preferred business practice among the Butler/Ogden clan.