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Illinois History

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Early Illinois Statehood

1895 IL MapsEarly statehood problems engulfed Illinois. The state population in 1830 was 157,445. By then the state was near bankruptcy because of government financing of canals and railroad construction. The Black Hawk War in 1832 was fought by the Indians and newly arrived settlers over possession of Illinois land.

In 1833 Chicago was founded, and the final Indian treaty pertaining to Illinois land, the Treaty of Chicago, was concluded with the Potawatomi, Chippewa, and Ottawa tribes. Also, the first higher education institution for women in Illinois, the Jacksonville Female Seminary, was opened.

In 1839, the state capital was moved to Springfield, while the population in Illinois had grown to nearly 500,000. The first railroad, The Northern Cross, started running from the Illinois River to Springfield. Later in 1844, the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were killed by a mob at Carthage, prompting the Mormons to move out of Illinois by 1848. The Illinois and Michigan Canal opened the same year. By that time, the population was nearly one million.

By 1860, debates were held in seven Illinois communities. The state's population was 1,711,951. In 1861, Abraham Lincoln of Springfield is inaugurated as president. The Civil War caused mixed loyalties among Illinoisans, many of whom were first- or second-generation Southerners; however, many took pride in the fact that the Union was led by a native son, Lincoln, and the state provided 250,000 soldiers to the Union army. Illinois also was the weapons manufacturer, supplier of iron products, and major grain and meat supplier for the North. The Civil War ended in 1865, and Lincoln was assassinated.

In 1867, the Illinois Industrial University (later the University of Illinois) was established. In 1868, a new statehouse was authorized and construction began, but would not be completed for 20 years. By 1870, the state's population is 2,539,891.

By 1880, Illinois had become the fourth most populous state. It was a leader in grain production and manufacturing. Large-scale European immigration provided labor to mine coal, run steel mills, and enhance the economy and culture of the state. Its leadership was achieved despite the economic slumps of the 1880s, 1890s, and early 1900s; the labor disputes in coal mining and railroading; the Chicago fire of 1871. By 1890, the state's population was 3,836,352, and Chicago became a metropolis of 1,099,850.

By 1910, the state's population was 5,638,591. In 1911, Starved Rock State park became the first state park in Illinois. In 1912, Poetry magazine was founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe, and it helped to launch the careers of Vachel Lindsay, Carl Sandburg, and other notable poets. In 1913, the Women's Suffrage Act was passed, extending voting rights for Illinois women. In 1917, the United States entered World War I, in which 314,504 Illinois men participated. In 1918, Illinois celebrated its centennial. Also, an influenza epidemic killed thousands of Illinois residents and more than 600,000 people nationwide.


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