World History

Illinois State History – War, Facts, Capital

Illinois has been inhabited by humans for thousands of years. The ancient cultures that lived in this area included Paleo-Native American, Woodland, and Mississippian cultures. These people are sometimes called “hill people” because they built large mounds for temples and cemeteries. One such mound is Monks his mound near Collinsville, Illinois. This is the largest ancient site in northern Mesoamerica, probably he was built over 1000 years ago. It is 100 feet high, 955 feet long and 775 feet wide.

Information about Illinois State:

Capital Springfield
Population 12,582,032 (Source: 2022 U.S. Census)
Major Cities Chicago, Aurora, Rockford, Joliet, Naperville, Springfield, Peoria
Borders Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) $1,033,310.1 million (2022 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)
Key Industries Agriculture including corn, soybeans, wheat, cattle, and dairy products
Chemicals, machinery, food processing, electronic products, publishing, and tourism

Flag of Illinois State:

Native Americans

Before Europeans arrived in Illinois, the land was inhabited by many Native American tribes, including the Illini, a coalition of about a dozen different tribes. Other tribes such as the Iroquois, Chippewa, Potawatomi, and Miami migrated to the area in the 18th century.

Europeans Arrive

In 1673, French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet became the first Europeans to reach Illinois. They traveled along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers and made contact with native Indian tribes. They claimed French lands and soon the French emigrated and started a fur trade with the local population.

Over the next few years, the French built many forts and small settlements in the area. They mostly traded and had no desire to conquer the country, so they got along with the locals.

Illinois State Symbols

  • Illinois State Nickname: Prairie State
  • Illinois State Slogan: Mile After Magnificent Mile; Right Here. Right Now.
  • Illinois State Motto: State sovereignty, national union
  • Illinois State flower: Violet
  • Illinois State bird: Cardinal aka Northern Cardinal
  • Illinois State fish: Bluegill
  • Illinois State tree: White Oak
  • Illinois State mammal: White-tailed deer
  • Illinois State foods: Popcorn

Britain and the United States

After winning the French and Indian War in 1763, Britain gained control of Illinois. However, just 20 years after her in 1783, after the Revolutionary War, the country became part of the United States, and in 1787 became part of the Northwest Territories.

Becoming a State

As Illinois grew, it became more important to the United States. In 1809 the Illinois Territory was established with its own governor and capital at Kaskaskia. On December 3, 1818, Illinois became her 21st state to join the Union. The capital was moved to Vandalia in 1819 and to Springfield (now the capital) in 1839.

The Geography of Illinois State:

  • Total Size of Illinois: 55,584 sq. miles (source: 2003 Census)
  • Geographical Low Point of Illinois: Mississippi River at 279 feet, located in the county/subdivision of Alexander (source: U.S. Geological Survey)
  • Geographical High Point of Illinois: Charles Mound at 1,235 feet, located in the county/subdivision of Jo Daviess (source: U.S. Geological Survey)
  • Central Point of Illinois: Located in Logan County approx. 28 miles northeast of Springfield (source: U.S. Geological Survey)
  • Counties of Illinois: 102 (source: National Association of Counties)
  • Bodies of Water of Illinois: Lake Michigan, Rend Lake, Illinois River, Mississippi River, Ohio River, Wabash River.

Black Hawk War

As more and more settlers migrated to Illinois, Native American tribes were forced to move further west. Some tribes were determined to reclaim their land. In 1832, a group of Indians led by Sauk Chief Blackhawk returned to Illinois to reclaim the land. Blackhawk and his warriors were defeated by U.S. forces at the Battle of the Badax and forced to return to Iowa.

Civil War

Illinois remained loyal to the Union Army throughout the Civil War. Although there were no major battles in Illinois, over 250,000 Illinois served as Union soldiers. The war ended with the Confederate surrender in 1865.

Chicago Fire

One of the worst fire disasters in US history was the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. It all started with a small fire in a barn in south Chicago. Many buildings at that time were made of wood, and once a fire broke out, it was difficult to stop it. Over 20,000 buildings were completely destroyed.

Famous People of Illinois State:

Hillary Clinton First Lady and U.S. Secretary of State
Cindy Crawford Model
Michael Crichton Author and movie producer
Walt Disney Founder of Walt Disney Company
Wyatt Earp Lawman of the wild west
Enrico Fermi Nuclear scientist
Harrison Ford Actor
Ernest Hemingway Author
Jackie Joyner-Kersee Track and field athlete
Abraham Lincoln The 16th President of the United States and Illinois congressman
Bill Murray  Actor and comedian
Michelle Obama First Lady of the U.S.
Ronald Reagan The 40th President of the United States

Interesting Facts of Illinois State:

The Willis Tower (Sears Tower) in Chicago, Illinois, is the tallest building in the United States.

Chicago is her third largest city in the United States.

McDonald’s headquarters are located in Oak Brook, Illinois.

The dance of Illinois is the square dance.

The Chicago River turns green on St. Patrick’s Day.

Illinois-born celebrities include Walt Disney, Harrison Ford, Ernest Hemingway, and President Ronald Reagan.

Illinois was the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment and abolish slavery.

Illinois has more than 6,000 of her governmental units (cities, townships, counties, etc.).

The largest public library in the world is the Chicago Public Library. Over 2 million books in stock!

Abraham Lincoln was an Illinois congressman.

Timeline Overview:

1673 – French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet arrive in Illinois and claim French territory.
1763 – Britain occupies the country after winning the French and Indian War.
1783 – Illinois becomes part of the United States after the Revolutionary War.
1787 – The Northwest Territories are established. In addition to Illinois, many states are included.
1809 – Illinois Territory separated from Northwest Territories.
1818 – Illinois becomes the 21st state.
1832 – The Blackhawk War breaks out, forcing Native Americans to return to Iowa.
1839 – Capital moved to Springfield.
1844 – Mormon leader Joseph Smith is murdered. Mormons leave Illinois for Utah.
1861 – Congressman Abraham Lincoln from Illinois becomes President of the United States. A civil war begins.
1871 – Much of Chicago is destroyed by fire.
1889 – Hull His House opened by Jane Adams to help recently arrived immigrants. 1955 – McDonald’s Corporation is founded in Des Plaines, Illinois.
1973 – Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) is completed. It was the tallest building in the world until 1998.