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Apart from the brief visit of the Scandinavians in the early eleventh century, the Western Hemisphere remained unknown to Europe until Columbus's voyage in 1492. However, the native peoples of North and South America arrived from Asia long before, in a series of migrations that began perhaps as early as forty thousand years ago across the land bridge that connected Siberia and Alaska.
Illinois History Timeline
Important Dates, Events, and Milestones
Offers a chronological timeline of important dates, events, and milestones in Illinois history.
1673 -French explorers Jacques Marquette (1637-1675) and Louis Jolliet (1645-1700) descend the Mississippi to the Arkansas River and return to Wisconsin via the Illinois River - the first Europeans to reach the Illinois country.
1675 - Marquette founds a mission at the Great Village of the Illinois, near present Utica.
1682 - La Salle and Tonty build Fort St. Louis across the Illinois River from the Great Village of the Illinois site.
1696 - Jesuit priest Pierre François Pinet (1660-1704?) establishes the Guardian Angel mission at present Chicago.
1699 - Priests of the Quebec Seminary of Foreign Missions found the Holy Family mission at Cahokia, the first permanent settlement in the Illinois country.
1703 - Jesuit priest Gabriel Marest (1662-1714) moves the Immaculate Conception mission from present St. Louis to Kaskaskia.
1717 - Illinois becomes part of the French colony of Louisiana.
1718 - John Law (1671-1729) is granted a French charter for colonizing the Mississippi Valley; his "Mississippi Bubble" scheme bursts in 1720.
1720 - Fort de Chartres in Randolph County becomes the seat of military and civilian government in Illinois.
1730 - In a major battle, hostile Fox Indians are massacred in east-central Illinois by French troops and Indian allies.
1763 - French and Indian (Seven Years') War ends; Illinois country is ceded to Britain by the Treaty of Paris.
1769 - According to legend, northern tribes besiege and starve Illinois Indians tribes at Fort St. Louis, now known as Starved Rock.
1778 - George Rogers Clark (1752-1818) defeats the British at Kaskaskia, securing the Illinois country for Virginia.
1779 - Jean Baptiste Point du Sable (1745?-1818) establishes a trading post at present Chicago.
1783 - Treaty of Paris extends the United States boundary to include the Illinois country.
1784 - Virginia relinquishes its claim to Illinois.
1787 - Northwest Ordinance places Illinois in the Northwest Territory.
1788 - Arthur St. Clair (1734-1818) becomes the first governor of the Northwest Territory.
1800 - Congress creates the Indiana Territory, which includes Illinois.
1804 - William Clark (1770-1838) and his troops depart from Camp Dubois, Madison County, to join Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) for westward explorations.
1809 - Congress organizes the Illinois Territory, with Kaskaskia the capital, Ninian Edwards (1775-1833) the governor.
1812 - Potawatomi Indians massacre fifty-two troops and civilians in destroying Fort Dearborn.
1813 - Land offices are opened at Kaskaskia and Shawneetown.
1814 - The first newspaper in the state, the Illinois Herald, is published at Kaskaskia.
1818 - Illinois becomes the twenty-first state, with Kaskaskia the capital and Shadrach Bond (1773-1832) the first governor. Population of the state is 34,620.
1819 - Kickapoo Indians move west of the Mississippi, relinquishing most claims to central Illinois lands.
1820 - Vandalia becomes the state capital.
1821 - General Assembly charters a state bank at Vandalia, with branches at Shawneetown, Edwardsville, and Brownsville.
1823 - Galena becomes a center for lead mining.
1824 - Voters defeat a constitutional convention call to permit slavery in the state.
1827 - John Mason Peck (1789-1858) founds Rock Spring Seminary, the first college in the state.
1829 - Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi cede lands in northern Illinois by treaty at Prairie du Chien.
1832 - Black Hawk War ends with Sauk and Fox Indians leaving the Illinois lands they had ceded in 1804.
1833 - Treaty of Chicago provides for United States acquisition and settlement of the last remaining Indian lands in Illinois.
1835 - General Assembly grants a charter for the Jacksonville Female Academy, the first institution in the state for women's education.
1838 - Northern Cross Railroad construction is begun between Meredosia and Springfield; the line is completed in 1842.
1839 - Joseph Smith (1805-1844) chooses Nauvoo as headquarters for the Mormon church.
1841 - Chicagoan John S. Wright (1815-1874) begins publishing Prairie Farmer magazine.
1842 - British author Charles Dickens (1812-1870) visits southern Illinois, described in his American Notes (1842).
1844 - Anti-Mormons assassinate Mormon leaders Joseph and Hyrum (b. 1800) Smith at Carthage.
1848 - Chicago Board of Trade is organized; it is now the largest and oldest commodity futures exchange in the world.
1849 - Ètienne Cabet (1788-1856) establishes a French Icarian communal settlement at Nauvoo.
1855 - General Assembly adopts a free public school system.
1858 - Republican Abraham Lincoln and Democrat Stephen A. Douglas (1813-1861) hold seven debates in the United States Senate contest; Douglas wins the election.
1861 - Civil War begins; Cairo becomes a troop and supply center for the Union Army.
1862 - Union League of America is founded in Pekin for the promotion of patriotism and Union loyalty.
1864 - Lincoln is reelected President.
1866 - Grand Army of the Republic is established in Decatur; the first GAR convention is held in Springfield.
1871 - Chicago Fire destroys eighteen thousand downtown buildings, with losses estimated at $200 million.
1876 - United States Supreme Court establishes in Munn v. Illinois the principle that business of a public nature is subject to state regulation.
1877 - General Assembly establishes the Illinois National Guard.
1878 - Bell Telephone Company of Illinois begins service in Chicago.
1880 - Leslie E. Keeley (1832-1900) and John R. Oughton (1858-1925) establish the Keeley Institute in Dwight for treatment of alcoholism; by 1900 franchised sanitoriums are operating in many states.
1886 - Haymarket Square bombing and riot in Chicago during a labor rally cause several deaths; eight anarchists are convicted, four are hanged, and one dies in prison.
1888 - Chicago attorney Melville W. Fuller (1833-1910) is named Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
1896 - Salem native William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) wins the first of three presidential nominations; is defeated each time.
1898 -United Mine Workers win labor disputes at Pana and Virden, after eleven miners and guards are killed.
1899 - General Assembly creates the first juvenile court system in the nation.
1901 - Joliet Junior College, established in 1901, is generally recognized as the oldest continuously operating community college.
1906 - Chicago White Sox defeat crosstown rival Chicago Cubs in the baseball World Series.
1908 - Springfield race riot leads to formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.
1911- Chicago sculptor Lorado Taft (1860-1936) completes his most famous work, "The Indian" (later called "Black Hawk"), a massive statue overlooking Rock River in Ogle County.
1912 - Harriet Monroe (1860-1936) launches Poetry: A Magazine of Verse in Chicago; includes writings of Springfield poet Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931).
1913 - General Assembly grants women the right to vote for presidential electors and provides state aid for county road construction.
1921 - George Halas's (1895-1983) football team, the Staleys, moves from Decatur to Chicago, and wins the national championship; in 1922 the Staleys become the Chicago Bears.
1924 - At the University of Illinois' new Memorial Stadium, Harold "Red" Grange (1904-1991), the "Galloping Ghost," scores four touchdowns in twelve minutes against the University of Michigan.
1926 - Aviator Charles Lindbergh (1902-1974) begins daily mail delivery flights between Chicago and St. Louis.
1929 - Gunmen of Alphonse Capone (1899-1947) murder seven rival Chicago mobsters in the "St. Valentine's Day Massacre."
1934 - Chicago Black Hawks win the National Hockey League championship (Stanley Cup); repeat in 1938 and 1961.
1939 - Chicago author Richard Wright (1908-1960) publishes Native Son, set in Chicago and the first major novel about the black experience in America.
1940 - Chicago theater-chain owner John Balaban (1894-1957) establishes WBKB, the first television station in Illinois.
1942 - University of Chicago scientists, led by Nobel Prize winner (1938) Enrico Fermi (1901-1954), achieve the first self-sustaining nuclear reaction.
1949 - Orchard Place Airport in Chicago is renamed O'Hare Field, Chicago International Airport in honor of Lieutenant Commander Edward H. O'Hare (1914-1943), Congressional Medal of Honor recipient killed in World War II.
1951 - Illinois and Mississippi Canal is closed to river traffic.
1952 - Governor Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965) is the Democratic nominee for president; defeated by Republican Dwight Eisenhower (1890-1969).
1953 - State Auditor Orville Hodge (1904-1986) is convicted of $1.5 million theft of state funds.
1954 - In Des Plaines, Raymond A. Kroc (1902-1984) opens the first in a chain of McDonald's fast-food restaurants.
1955 -Richard J. Daley (1902-1976) is elected to the first of six terms as Chicago mayor.
1957 -The nation's first nuclear power generating station is activated at Argonne National Laboratory in DuPage County.
1959 - Chicago native Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) wins the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for A Raisin in the Sun, the first play by an African-American woman to be presented on Broadway.
1964 - General Assembly approves an at-large election of 177 representatives after the 1963 veto of a reapportionment bill.
1966 - Illinois for the first time leads the nation in exports of agricultural and manufactured products.
1968 - Civil disorder erupts during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago; police report 650 arrests.
1971 - Chicago political and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson (b. 1941) founds Operation PUSH - People United to Save (later Serve) Humanity.
1973 -Otto Kerner is convicted on charges involving the sale of racetrack stock while governor.
1980 - Ronald Reagan (b. 1911) in Tampico, is elected United States President; John B. Anderson (b. 1922) of Rockford is defeated as an Independent candidate.
1982 - General Assembly fails to ratify the proposed equal rights amendment to the United States Constitution.
1983 - Harold Washington (1922-1987) is elected the first African-American mayor of Chicago.
1984 - Seventeen Chicago attorneys, police officers, and judges are indicted in Operation Greylord on charges of improperly influencing court cases; convictions include the first for a sitting state court judge in Illinois.
1988 - Diamond-Star Motors, an automobile manufacturing venture between Mitsubishi Motors of Japan and the Chrysler Corporation, opens in Bloomington.
1989 - Clarence Page (b. 1947) of the Chicago Tribune is the first African-American columnist to win a Pulitzer Prize.
1990 - Population of the state is 11,430,602.
1991- Chicago Bulls win the first of three consecutive National Basketball Association championships.
1992 - Carol Moseley-Braun (b. 1947) of Chicago becomes the first African-American women elected to the United States Senate.
1993 - The worst floods in the state's history ravage western and southern Illinois.
1994 - Bonnie Blair (b. 1964) speed skater from Champaign, wins her fifth Olympic Games gold medal, the most by an American woman.
1996 - Chicago Bulls post a 72-10 season, best in league history, then wins the National Basketball Association championship. Guard Michael Jordan (b. 1963) sets NBA records with his eighth scoring title and fourth Most Valuable Player designation.
1997 - The Field Museum of Natural History, outbidding museums throughout the United States, pays $8.4 million for Sue, the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil yet discovered.
1999 - Fourteenth District Congressman J. Dennis Hastert (b. 1942) is elected Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
State History Timelines
State History Timelines
Chronological timeline of important dates, events, and milestones in United States history from discovery to present
What is the past, and why is it important? How do we learn about events in the past?
Study history will allow students to gain a frame of reference for understanding history and for recognizing that the past is different depending on who is remembering and retelling it.