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Board of Public Works - RG 493 | Illinois State Archives

Name: Board of Public Works - RG 493

Historical Note:

The Board of Commissioners of Public Works was created in 1837 under an "Act to establish a general system of internal improvements" (L. 1837, p. 121). It consisted of seven members, one from each judicial circuit, elected biennially by the General Assembly. The board was primarily responsible for locating, superintending, and constructing all internal improvement projects authorized by the General Assembly except for the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Each of the seven commissioners superintended the operation of such works in his district. The board also was empowered to enter and purchase public land lying within five miles of the probable routes of the projects and to lay out and sell town sites along such routes (L. 1837, p. 143; L. 1839, p. 91).

In 1840 the original board was abolished and replaced by a three-member Board of Public Works, also elected biennially by the General Assembly (L. 1840, p. 93). This board was to dispose of such property belonging to the state as was not wanted for immediate use, protect the various public works of the state from dilapidation or decay, and manage, operate, and fix toll rates for completed railroads. The original board's accounts were to be audited and settled by the Fund Commissioner.

The Board of Public Works was abolished in 1841 and all its records and property were delivered to the State Treasurer (L. 1841, p. 166). The Auditor of Public Accounts, Secretary of State, and State Treasurer were constituted as a Board of Auditors to settle the accounts of contractors on public works (L. 1841, p. 38).

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