Illinois

By | Dec 3, 2007

The State of Illinois became the 21st state when it was admitted to the union on December 3, 1818 .  It is the most populous and demographically diverse Midwestern state and the fifth most populous in the nation.  The capital of the state is Springfield.

The state is named for the French adaptation of an Algonquian language  word apparently meaning “s/he speaks normally”.   The name has also been associated with the indigenous Illiniwek people, a group of Algonquian tribes that thrived in the area. The name Illiniwek is frequently  and incorrectly said to mean “tribe of superior men”.  It actually only means “men”.

French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet explored the Illinois River in 1673 with the area being part of the French empire until 1763, when it passed to the British as a result of the French/Indian War.  Between 1763 and 1778 a few British soldiers were in the area along with small French settlements.  In 1778 George Rogers Clark claimed the Illinois Country for Virginia. The area was ceded by Virginia to the new United States in 1783 and became part of the Northwest Territory.

The City of Chicago is the largest city in the State and is also the 3rd largest in the United States behind New York and Los Angeles.  Located at the site of a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed, Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837.

Near Collinsville, Illinois, archeolist have discovered the remains of an ancient American City.  With no written records known, the name of the city is unknown.  However it is being called Cahokia.  Archaeologists estimate the city’s population was between 8,000 and 40,000 at its peak.  Philadelphia was the first European based city in America to reach that population.

Illinois is the 5th largest state in population but is only the 25th in area.   The highest point in the state is at 1,235 ft with a mean elevation of 600 ft.


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