The Making of the 50 States: Illinois

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Part 2: The Rest of the Story

The Northwest Territory, formed in 1787, included Illinois. So did the Indiana Territory, formed in 1800. Three years later, Fort Dearborn was built near what is now Chicago. In 1809, the Illinois Territory was officially created, with Kaskaskia as its capital. Fur trappers and other settlers began to put down roots in the new territory, which included all of Wisconsin except the northern part of the Green Bay peninsula, a large part of Michigan, and all of Minnesota east of the Mississippi.

Illinois was also a battleground during the War of 1812. Native Americans killed many Americans at Fort Dearborn. With the American victory, in 1814, Illinois was secure.

More settlers moved to Illinois. The exploration party of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark stayed for a time at Camp River Dubois, in what is now Madison County, in 1804, before setting out on their journey west. The territory got its first newspaper, the Illinois Herald, in 1814 and its first bank, at Shawneetown, in 1816.

The territory had, with the permission of the U.S. Congress in 1812, chosen a representative assembly and elected a territorial delegate to Congress. Eager to keep Kaskaskia, Vincennes, and other important cities in American hands, the United States put Illinois statehood on the fast track.

On December 3, 1818, Illinois became the 21st state. Its capital was Kaskaskia.

First page > In the Beginning > Page 1, 2

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David White