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1673, French explorers canoed down the Mississippi River, the western
boundary of what is now Illinois and eventually northward on the
Other expeditions followed and in 1675, Father Jacques Marquette
founded a mission at the Kaskaskia Indian Village near present-day
the first permanent settlement in Illinois, was a fur-trading post
established in 1699.
A few years later, the town of Kaskaskia was founded.
In 1717, France placed Illinois into the Louisiana Colony.
end of the French and Indian War gave all land east of the Mississippi
River to Great Britain in 1763.
Many of the French settlers in Illinois moved across the river
Only missionaries, fur traders, a few settlers, and English
soldiers remained in the Illinois region.
the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), George Rogers Clark of Virginia and a
group called the “Big Knives” raided English forts in Illinois.
They captured Kaskaskia and Cahokia and made Illinois part of the
county of Virginia.
The land was given to the U.S. government and later named part of
the Northwest Territory in 1787.
1809, the Illinois Territory was created.
Hundreds of settlers began moving to Illinois from Virginia,
Kentucky, and Maryland.
Indians, angry with the settlers for taking their lands, sided
with Britain in the War of 1812.
Many settlers were massacred as they attempted to leave Fort
Dearborn near the mouth of the Chicago River.
became the 21st state on December 3, 1818.
Construction of the Erie Canal in 1825 provided easy
transportation to the Midwest.
Hundreds of people from the eastern states and Europe rushed to
settle the new state.
The federal government forced Indians living in the state to
cross the Mississippi River into Iowa.
In 1832, the Sauk and Fox Indians fought state militias for their
Black Hawk War ended that same year, and all Indians were forced out of
In 1858, Abraham Lincoln ran against Stephen A. Douglas for the U.S. Senate. Lincoln’s stand against slavery during several debates in Illinois, gave him national attention. He lost the election, but became president of the United States two years later. Six southern states seceded from the Union and the Civil War (1861-1865) began after Lincoln’s inauguration.
S. Grant, general of the Union Army, and 250,000 soldiers fought from
Illinois during the war.
the war, industry boomed in Illinois.
Railroads were expanding, bringing immigrants to work factories
in Chicago, Joliet, and Rockford.
Chicago led the nation in grain and meatpacking production.
On Oct. 8, 1871 the city of Chicago was destroyed; the Great
Chicago Fire burned for almost two days killing over 300 people.
the late 1800s, unrest swept throughout the nation’s farmers and
Farmers were paying high prices for land and farm equipment while
receiving low prices for crops.
Factory workers were paid low salaries in unsafe working
In 1886, a riot occurred in Chicago’s Haymarket Square, killing
eight policemen and several bystanders.
early 1900s brought great reform in Illinois.
Laws were passed to help workers, especially women, and a state
board established to help settle strikes.
Laws were also passed banning the manufacturing and selling of
During the years of Prohibition (1920-1933), Al Capone’s mob
and other mafia gangs selling illegal liquor caused much violence and
killings while in gang warfare.
expansion greatly increased in Illinois until the beginning of the Great
Depression in 1929.
Manufacturing slowed and thousands lost their jobs.
The federal government began construction of roads and waterways.
This and the discovery of oil in southern Illinois provided many
with jobs and helped the economy begin to recover in the late 1930s.
produced hundreds of aircraft and ammunition during World War II
The first controlled nuclear chain reaction, a major step in the
development of the atomic bomb, also took place at the University of
Since the war, many new laboratory and research centers developed
nuclear technology in Illinois.
Other industries, such as chemical, steel, and auto production,
have also expanded.