What do you know about the history of your state? The following is a fun exercise for both adults and kids. Research and write the answers to the following questions and share the responses on social media with an attached copy of your state’s flag. I bet you will find something fascinating about your state that will make you proud. Patriotism begins at home.
- What does the name of your state mean?
- When did your state officially join the Union?
- What was the name of your first governor?
- How many constitutions has your state had? List the years.
- How many capitals have your state had?
- What is your state’s theme song?
- Find a picture of your state’s flag.
Sheridan’s Illinois – by Daniel Sheridan
—What Does “Illinois” Mean?
The Illinois Natives consisted of a confederacy of the Peorias, Kaskaskias, Cohokias, Tomawas, and the Witchigamis; all these were part of the Algonquin family. They occupied lands covering the whole state of Illinois, as well as portions of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Missouri. They called themselves “Illini.”
As far as we can tell, it was the French explorer and Jesuit missionary, Father Marquette, who in the 1600s first explained the meaning of”Illini.” “The Illini” indicates “The Men,” our Jesuit Missionary explains. They were proudly boasting that they were THE MEN, while the other tribes were animals in comparison.
The French, who were very friendly with the Algonquin, were the first Europeans to settle in Illinois. It was the French who changed the plural ending of Illini and replaced it with their termination “ois.” Thus we get “Illinois.”
The Illinois Territory was organized in 1809, and Ninian Edwards was appointed its first Governor.
The population grew rapidly, and by 1816 the Bank of Illinois was established in Shawneetown. The people of Illinois, seeing their fast-developing greatness, began calling for statehood, but they didn’t have the 60,000 inhabitants required by the Ordinance of 1787. Congress, making an accommodation, passed an “Enabling Act,” which lowered the population requirement to 40,000. Illinois then reported a census that met the demands of the act.
Illinois now needed a form of government, so in July 1818, 33 delegates met in Kaskaskia to draft a State Constitution, and they finished their work on August 26. The Preamble reads as follows:
“THE people of the Illinois territory, having the right of admission into the general government as a member of the Union, consistent with the constitution of the United States, the ordinance of congress of 1787, and the law of congress approved April 18th , 1818, entitled ‘An act to enable the people of the Illinois territory to form a constitution and state government, and for the admission of such state into the Union, on an equal footing with the original states, and for other purposes;’ in order to establish justice, promote the welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity, do by their representatives in convention, ordain and establish the following constitution or form of government; and do mutually agree with each other to form themselves into a free and independent state, by the name of the State of Illinois.”
On December 3, 1818, Illinois officially became the 21st state in the Union, and Shadrach Bond was elected our first Governor.
—Constitutions and Capitals
Illinois has had four Constitutions:
Illinois has had three State Capitals:
1. Kaskaskia – 1818
2. Vandalia – 1820
3. Springfield – 1839
—Our Song: Illinois, Illinois!
Not without thy wondrous story, Illinois, Illinois,
Can be writ the nation’s glory, Illinois, Illinois,
On the record of thy years,
Abraham Lincoln’s name appears, Grant and Logan, and our tears, Illinois, Illinois,
Grant and Logan, and our tears, Illinois.
Let us pledge in final chorus, Illinois, Illinois
That in struggles still before us, Illinois, Illinois
To our heroes we’ll be true,
As their vision we pursue. In abiding love for you, Illinois, Illinois.
In abiding love for you, Illinois.