Illinois History - the history of Illinois
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Vacation 2 USA   >   Illinois   >   History
Vacation 2 USA   >   History   >   Illinois History


Illinois History

Cahokia, the center of the Native American Mississippian culture was located in southern Illinois near present-day Collinsville. When the Mississippian culture disappeared, a political alliance of several tribes, the Illinwek Confederation dominated the region, until they in turn were replaced by the Potawatomi, Miami and Sauk tribes.

Probably the first Europeans to visit the area were the French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, in 1673. As a result, Illinois was part of the French empire until 1763. However, following the Seven Years' War (generally known in the US as the "French and Indian War"), control of the area passed to Britain. In 1783, after the American Revolution, the area became part of the United States' Northwest Territory.

The Illinois Territory was created in 1809, and in 1818 Illinois was admitted to the United States as the 21st state, the last Native American tribes being driven out in 1832.

Illinois served an important part in the American Civil War (1861 to 1865), and contributed over 250,000 men to the Union Army, more than any other northern state except New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio. These men in total mustered 150 infantry regiments, 17 cavalry regiments, and 2 light artillery regiments.

The state was struck by disaster in 1871 when fire broke out in Chicago. This fire, known as the "Great Chicago Fire" killed hundreds and destroyed about 4 square miles (10 km2). Even today, this event is remembered: the second star of the city's municipal flag commemorates the event.

Illinois was continued to grow in the 20th century, and among other things is notable as the site of the first nuclear power generating reactor (Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago in 1957), and the first McDonald's franchise (Des Plaines in 1960).

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Illinois: A History in Pictures

By Gerald A. Danzer

University of Illinois Press
Paperback (264 pages)

Illinois: A History in Pictures
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Offering a rich and expansive history that extends far beyond the familiar anecdotes about Abraham Lincoln and the Great Chicago Fire, Illinois: A History in Pictures gathers drawings, engravings, photographs, maps, and other illustrations to inspire imaginations young and old to envision the history of Illinois in all its depth and breadth. Gerald A. Danzer distills the story of Illinois from these visual artifacts, exploring the state's history from its earliest peoples and their encounters with European settlers, through territorial struggles and the strife of the Civil War, and into the modern era of industry and urbanization. More than one hundred images capture dramatic moments and illustrate the growth and changes in the Prairie State's history, from the settlement of its territories to the construction of homes, factories, and statehouses. Danzer pays special attention to the maps of Illinois, showing how the state's character and prosperity have been shaped by the Great Lakes and great rivers at its borders and by the roads and railroads built to connect its people. Attending closely to the details of daily life, Illinois: A History in Pictures also focuses on notable people throughout the state's history, including the Ottawa Chief Pontiac and the Sauk Chief Black Hawk, pioneers of social justice Jane Addams and Mother Jones, sports heroes such as Red Grange, and of course American leaders Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. Danzer connects personal and local experiences to national affairs and global perspectives, pointing to Illinois's diverse populations and culture in the new millennium.

Illinois: A History of the Land and Its People

By Roger Biles

Brand: Northern Illinois University Press
Paperback (351 pages)

Illinois: A History of the Land and Its People
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Crossroads of the continent, Land of Lincoln, hub of commerce—or, as Charles Dickens viewed it, a landscape "oppressive in its barren monotony"—Illinois boasts a rich and varied past. In this far-reaching but compact history, Roger Biles provides a much-needed, up-to-date account of the state’s development, from the early native settlements to the present. Focusing on Illinois’s demographic changes over time, he highlights the key figures who contributed to the state’s government, economy, culture, and the arts.

While devoting attention to the touchstones of history, Illinois illuminates also the achievements of ordinary people, including the women, the African Americans, and the other minorities who—along with the politicians, the captains of industry, and the military heroes—contributed to the state’s growth and prosperity. National events shaped the state as well, and Biles explores the impact of such crises as the Civil War and World War II on the people of Illinois.

No history of Illinois can ignore the state’s largest city, the dynamic metropolis on Lake Michigan—Chicago. Drawing on extensive research, Biles illuminates Chicago’s past—its outbursts of labor unrest and racial tensions as well as the splendors of two world’s fairs and an artistic renaissance—while at the same time relating Chicago to the larger story of Illinois and its people.

Connecting lesser-known stories with the main events of the state’s past, Biles writes in an accessible style that is at once entertaining and enlightening. Featuring 67 illustrations, Illinois will captivate readers of all ages and interests.

Bicentennial History of Greenville, Illinois Volume 1

By Will C Carson

Greenville Illinois Bicentennial Board
Paperback (184 pages)

Bicentennial History of Greenville, Illinois Volume 1
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This book is a reprint of "Historical Souvenir of Greenville, Illinois" by Will C. Carson, originally published in 1905. It details the first 90 years of Greenville's history; including its founding, early residents, and Bond County's contribution to the U.S. Civil War. Also contained inside are hundreds of pictures of people, buildings, and events around Greenville from those first 90 years. Many of the original photographs have since been lost, making this a rare glimpse at how Greenville used to look. The last part of the book focuses on details and pictures of then current businesses, homes, and community leaders. This reprint was published in commemoration of Greenville, Illinois' Bicentennial in 2015 and is the first of a three volume set. It updates the historic 1905 book with an index of all the buildings shown in photos and indicates their exact location in town, if they are still standing, or what happened to them. There is also a name index to aid in researching.

Frontier Illinois (History of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier)

By James Edward Davis

Indiana University Press
Hardcover (432 pages)

Frontier Illinois (History of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier)
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""O, this is a delightful country!"" one newly arrived settler wrote to a friend back East. Indeed, as James E. Davis shows, many newcomers found Illinois a hospitable and relatively peaceful place in which to start a new life. In this sweeping history of the making of the state, Davis tells the story of Illinois from the Ice Age to the eve of the Civil War. He describes the earliest Native American civilizations, the coming of LaSalle and Joliet and the founding of the French colony, the brief history of British Illinois, and the complex history of subsequent settlement that brought distinct cultural traditions to Illinois.

A major theme of this book is the relative absence of violence, at least after the Blackhawk War of 1832, even over explosive issues such as slavery. Davis treats these developments in careful detail, while keeping the reader mindful of the experiences of Illinois' ordinary people.

The Conquest of the Illinois

By George Rogers Clark

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Paperback (90 pages)

The Conquest of the Illinois
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The Conquest of the Illinois, also known as "Clark's Memoir", is one of the most noteworthy of the books on American history: it's a first-hand account by the chief participant, and thus a key primary source for the early history of the United States.

The History of Company A, Second Illinois Cavalry: Civil War Classic Library

By Samuel H. Fletcher

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Paperback (100 pages)

The History of Company A, Second Illinois Cavalry: Civil War Classic Library
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The purpose of this sketch is to keep green the memory of that little band of men known as Company A, of the Second Illinois Cavalry, who fought in the Civil War. It is to be regretted that no record has been preserved and no attempt made to write a history of the company while the incidents involved were fresh in the minds of its members. As a result, the essential features of the story are based directly upon the memory of one of them and that without any memoranda made at the time. It is not strange therefore, if errors should occur after the lapse of fifty years. This little book does not pretend to be an accurate history but rather a fragmentary and imperfect sketch in which the aim has been to recount some of the worthy deeds and to recall some of the hardships endured by those who risked all and suffered much in an effort to do their part towards the preservation of freedom and right and justice among men. No apology is offered for its meagerness or fragmentary character. Should it meet the approval of the few comrades now living or receive a sympathetic response from others, the time and care expended upon it will have been rewarded. The writers desire to acknowledge their indebtedness to the Association of the Survivors of the Second Regiment, Illinois Veteran Cavalry Volunteers, from whose report of "Reunion Proceedings," published in 1907, the biographical sketches of Colonels Noble, Hogg, Mudd and Marsh have been prepared. They also desire to show their appreciation of the interest and sympathy manifested by Mr. James O. McConaughy, of Rochelle, Illinois, who was one of the first, if not the first, to suggest the writing of the book, and whose generous aid, rendered in every way, has made its publication possible.

History of the Illinois Central Railroad (Railroads of America)

By John F Stover

Hardcover (575 pages)

History of the Illinois Central Railroad (Railroads of America)
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G/G, 575 PAGES

Out of the Basement: From Cheap Trick to DIY Punk in Rockford, Illinois, 1973-2005 (Scene History)

By David Ensminger

Microcosm Publishing
Paperback (96 pages)

Out of the Basement: From Cheap Trick to DIY Punk in Rockford, Illinois, 1973-2005 (Scene History)
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Out of the Basement tells the story of underground music (and mainstream rock that sometimes rose out of it) in post-industrial Rockford, Illinois. This is a bracing, candid, democratic, and cutting edge portrayal of a rust belt city full of rebel kids making DIY music despite the odds. It combines oral history, brutally honest memoir, music history, and a sense of blunt poetics to capture the ethos of life in the 1970s-2000s, long before the Internet made punk accessible to small towners. From dusty used record stores and frenetic skating rinks to dank basements and sweat-piled gigs to the radical forebears like the local IWW chapter, the book follows the stories of rebels struggling to find spaces and a sense of community and their place in underground history.

Roadside History of Illinois (Roadside History Series)

By Stan Banash

Brand: Mountain Press Publishing Company
Paperback (496 pages)

Roadside History of Illinois (Roadside History Series)
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Did you know that Chicago was named for a wild onion? Or that the only president born in Illinois was Ronald Reagan? Or that the Ferris Wheel, processed cheese, the game of softball, the fly swatter, and the automatic dishwasher were all invented by Illinoisans? You'll find these stories and hundreds more in Roadside History of Illinois, an entertaining and revealing tour of the Prairie State's historical places.
Native Illinoisan Stan Banash describes the state s diverse history as he guides readers along its highways and byways, sometimes tracing routes with a history of their own (the Old Cumberland Road, the Trail of Tears, the Lincoln Highway, and U.S. Route 66, for example). The engaging text is enhanced with 120 historical and modern photos, along with a map for each region. Old-timers, newcomers, and visitors alike will love this info-packed history.

Corn Kings and One-Horse Thieves: A Plain-Spoken History of Mid-Illinois

By James Krohe Jr

Southern Illinois University Press
Paperback (360 pages)

Corn Kings and One-Horse Thieves: A Plain-Spoken History of Mid-Illinois
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In Corn Kings and One-Horse Thieves, James Krohe Jr. presents an engaging history of an often overlooked region, filled with fascinating stories and surprising facts about Illinois’s midsection.
Krohe describes in lively prose the history of mid-Illinois from the Woodland period of prehistory until roughly 1960, covering the settlement of the region by peoples of disparate races and religions; the exploitation by Euro-Americans of forest, fish, and waterfowl; the transformation of farming into a high-tech industry; and the founding and deaths of towns. The economic, cultural, and racial factors that led to antagonism and accommodation between various people of different backgrounds are explored, as are the roles of education and religion in this part of the state. The book examines remarkable utopian experiments, social and moral reform movements, and innovations in transportation and food processing. It also offers fresh accounts of labor union warfare and social violence directed against Native Americans, immigrants, and African Americans and profiles three generations of political and government leaders, sometimes extraordinary and sometimes corrupt (the “one-horse thieves” of the title). A concluding chapter examines history’s roles as product, recreation, and civic bond in today’s mid-Illinois.
Accessible and entertaining yet well-researched and informative, Corn Kings and One-Horse Thieves draws on a wide range of sources to explore a surprisingly diverse section of Illinois whose history is America in microcosm.

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