History of Illinois

The first inhabitants of the region that is now occupied by the state of Illinois arrived 10,000 years ago. Important archaeological remains have been discovered, and they come from various prehistoric cultures, such as the Hopewell culture, 500 BC – 500 AD, and the Middle Mississippi culture, 900 BC. In Cahokia, in southeastern Illinois is the Monks Mound, considered one of the most important prehistoric remains in the United States. The territory of Illinois was occupied by several tribes, such as the Cahokia, Kaskaskia, Michigamea, Moingwena, Peoria, Tamarao, Chippewa, Ottawa, Potawatomi sac, Fox, Winnebago, Maxcouten, Kickapoo, Piankashaw and Sahwnee. Some of these tribes, from the Algonquin group, were part of the Illinois confederacy.

Illinois was first explored in 1673 by the French, (Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet), in their exploration of the Mississippi basin. The first settlement, (1699), of the Europeans was a French mission, in Cahokia, near St Louis. In 1717, Illinois was incorporated into the territory of Louisiana, administered by France, but after the Treaty of Paris of 1763, Illinois was ceded to Great Britain.

During the American Revolution, a group of Virginians, known as the ‘long knives’ and led by George Rogers Clark, took over the British detachments of Cakohia and Kaskaskia. Many French-born settlers who had pleaded loyal to the British moved to Missouri, and after the war Illinois became a county of Virginia. In 1784, this territory was administered by the federal government which reorganized the region to include the future state of Illinois in the Northwest Territory. A few years later Illinois was assigned to Indiana territory. In 1812, after a new reorganization of the American possessions, the territory of Illinois was created which included the current states of Illinois and Wisconsin.

  • See ejiaxing.org for Illinois state facts, including geography, climate, flora and fauna as well as major cities.

During the 1812 war against England, Illinois was a permanent battleground, as many Indian tribes allied with the British to destroy the settlements of the American settlers, who had usurped their lands. With the end of this war, and the annexation of Illinois as a state of the Union in 1818, settlers of European origin began to control most of the territory, since settlements had only been established in the southern part. With the Black Hawk War (1832), the conflict with the Indian tribes was resolved by confining them to the reserves west of the Mississippi River. From then began the great economic expansion of Illinois: the government, owner of the land, granted the property to the new settlers, systematic exploitation of mineral resources in the north began, especially lead, the Eire, (1835), Illinois and Michigan (1848) canals were built, and numerous railways were built between major cities. During the Civil War (1861-65), Illinois remained loyal to the Union, although supporters of the Confederacy abounded in this state, especially in the southern counties. During this war, it is estimated that Illinois contributed more than 260,000 troops to the cause of the Union, as well as playing a vital role in providing the army with large quantities of material.

After the war, Illinois grew rapidly thanks to the construction of communications works, new industries and the arrival of immigrants. Immigration was a fundamental factor in the development of the state: starting in 1865, the industries of Chicago, Joliet and Rockford used a large amount of manpower, which also came from European countries, including Ireland, Poland and Czechoslovakia. In 1893 Chicago hosted the World Columbian Exposition, 22 years after a fire completely destroyed the downtown area.

This fabulous industrial growth explains why this state was one of the centers of the American labor movement, is where the protest began, to obtain laws regulating child labor or limiting the working day to eight hours a day. At the end of the 19th century, the Progressive Movement was created in Chicago, which sought to revise working conditions and restore the political life of the United States.

Furthermore, the big cities experienced serious problems resulting from the contradictions of progress. During Prohibition, cities, especially Chicago and Joliet, became famous for the illegal activities of mafia groups run by gangsters, including Al Capone.

The Second World War allowed the revitalization of the economy of Illinois, as happened practically all over the country. In 1942, Illinois became the world center for nuclear research, when researchers from the University of Chicago, led by Enrico Fermi, carried out the first nuclear chain reaction.

A new milestone in communications, with effects on the economic development of Illinois, was reached in 1959 with the opening of the San Lorenzo Canal which allowed the navigation of merchant ships from the Atlantic Ocean to the city of Chicago. Alongside Chicago, other cities have participated in the industrial development of the state in recent decades, such as Moline, Springfield the capital, Peoria, Decatur and Rockford.

Illinois: what to see

Chicago is the state’s premier tourist attraction with its skyline many museums, restaurants and excellent music clubs. But venturing out of the metropolis you can discover (Just outside Chicago) the hometown of Hemingway (Oak Park), the areas where Lincoln lived, and some interesting places crossed by the end of the famous Route 66.

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Galena is a very attractive little village. Nestled in wooded hills near the Mississippi River, Galena is filled with Greek Revival and Gothic red brick buildings, built in the city’s heyday in the mid-1800s, when local lead mines were at their peak. ‘activities. Take a kayak trip, or a horseback ride along the winding back roads around the city.

Rockford – Called Forest City, Rockford has beautiful public and private gardens and large parks along the River Rock, which bisects the city. One of the most visited gardens, the Klehm Arboretum and Botanic. The other, Sinnissippi Gardens. extends south along the eastern bank of the Rock. It contains an aviary, a lagoon and a recreational path. Along the latter you can see the historic buildings of the center, including the restored Coronado Theater. In the eastern part of the city, the Midway Village and Museum Center houses a reconstruction of the past.

Southern Illinois– In southern Illinois, the great plains give way to rolling hills and woodlands that rise along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. 145km southwest of Springfield are the remains of the largest Native American city north of Mexico. The Cahokia Mounds State Historic and World Heritage Site contains more than 100 earth mounds dating from 1050-1250. Monks Mound, flat at the top, covers six hectares and its four terraces rise to a height of 30m, which offers a splendid view of the surrounding river valleys and the Gateway Ardi. Other traces of Native American settlements are evident in the rugged Illinois Ozarks region, also known as “little Egypt”. The ridges and valleys of the vast Shawnee National Forest are best seen from the Garden of the Gods.

Tourist and Cultural Places – Most of Illinois’ cultural institutions are concentrated in its main city, Chicago. The Museum of Contemporary Art, the Adler Planetarium, the Garfield Botanical Park, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Orient Institute Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Museum of Natural History, the State Museum of ‘Illinois, the Museum of Time, the Krannert Museum of Art, the Cantigny Museum and the Frank Lloyd Wright home studio.

There are many monuments in Illinois that commemorate Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War (1861-1865), such as the Lincoln House (a replica of the country where he lived in New Salem), and his mausoleum. Other points of interest are, the Fort Creve Coeur State Park, near Peoria, (built by the French in the 17th century), and the Fort Defiance State Park which houses a camp of General Grant’s troops during the Civil War, in Cairo. Chicago is known for its impressive skyscrapers, and fine buildings designed by, among others, HH Richardson, Louis Henry Sullivan, and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Main artistic institutions are: the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Ballet Company, the Chicago Opera Company, the Chicago Civic Orchestra, the Hubbard Street Dance Company, the Steppenwolf Theater Company and the Goodman Theater, all in the city of Chicago.

Fun Fact – The city of Chicago has teams in the major professional leagues in the United States: the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs, in baseball, the Chicago Bulls in basketball, the Chicago Bears in American football, and Chicago Black Hawks in ice hockey.

Illinois State Flag

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