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Robert Allerton Estate, Monticello, IL

Photo: Robert Allerton Estate, 515 Old Timber Road, Monticello, IL. The reflecting pond is meant to recreate the Thames River's reflection of Ham House. Photographed by D Finnegan, 2010, (own work) [cc-by-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed September, 2012.

Beginnings [1]

  • Capitol: Springfield
  • Largest City: Chicago
  • Nickname: Prairie State
  • State Bird: Cardinal
  • State Tree: White Oak
  • State Flower: Purple Violet
  • Land Area: 57,900 square miles
  • Motto: State Sovereignty, National Union
  • Name derived from "Illini" a confederation of six Indian tribes.

In the month of January, 1818, a petition was received from the territorial Legislature of Illinois by Nathaniel Pope, the delegate in Congress, (now district judge,) praying for the admission of the territory into the Union as an independent State. Judge Pope immediately brought the subject before Congress; and at an early day thereafter was instructed, by the proper committee, to report a bill in pursuance of the petition. Owing to the great amount of business which had matured, this bill was not acted on until the month of April, when it became a law, with certain amendments proposed by Judge Pope. The amendments were, 1st, to extend the northern boundary of the new State to the parallel of 42° 30' north latitude; and, 2nd, to apply the three per cent, fund, arising from the sales of the public lands, to the encouragement of learning, instead of the making of roads leading to the State, as had been the case on the admission of Ohio and Indiana. These important changes were proposed and carried through both houses of Congress by Judge Pope, upon his own responsibility. The territorial Legislature had not petitioned for them; no one at that time having suggested or requested the making of them; but they met the unqualified approbation of the people of Illinois.

By the Ordinance of 1787, there were to be not less than three, nor more than five States in the territory north-west of the Ohio River. The boundaries of these States were defined by that law. The three States of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois were to include the whole territory, and were to be bounded by the British possessions in Canada on the north. But Congress reserved the power, if they thereafter should find it expedient, to form one or two States in that part of the territory which lies north of an east and west line drawn through the southerly bend of Lake Michigan. That line, it was generally supposed, was to be the north boundary of Illinois. Judge Pope, seeing that the port of Chicago was north of that line, and would be excluded by it from the State; and that the Illinois and Michigan canal (which was then contemplated) would issue from Chicago, to connect the great northern lakes with the Mississippi, and thus be partly within and partly without the State of Illinois, was thereby led to a critical examination of the Ordinance, which resulted in a clear and satisfactory conviction, that it was competent for Congress to extend the boundaries of the new State as far north as they pleased; and he found no difficulty in convincing others of the correctness of his views.

  1. Governor Thomas Ford, A History of Illinois from its Commencement as a State in 1818 to 1847, S.C. Griggs & Co., 1854, Chicago.

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