Medlar Flower

Short History of Illinois

The Illinois, Sac and Fox, and other Native American peoples lived in the area when French explorers, including Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet, explored the region during the late 17th cent. It passed from France to Britain in 1763, but it was ceded to the U.S. at the end of the American Revolution and was part of the Northwest Territory before becoming (1809) a separate territory. The Black Hawk War (1832) virtually ended the tenure of Native Americans in Illinois. During the mid-19th cent. Abraham Lincoln launched his political career in Illinois, which was just becoming a major industrial state. Chicago, with its huge steel mills and stock yards, attracted thousands of European immigrants. The late 19th cent. saw the growth of the Granger Movement among farmers and violent labor strife in industry. In 1937 new oil fields were discovered, further enhancing industrial growth. In the 1980s much of Illinois's heavy industry suffered a serious decline, although the state continued to benefit from industrialization of its downstate area. In 1980 the first U.S. president born in Illinois, Ronald Reagan, was elected. Flooding along the Mississippi inundated large areas of West Illinois in 1993.