Illinois history begins with the ancient Mississippian culture, whose main urban center was Cahokia, near present day Collinsville IL. This civilization vanished for unknown reasons about 1500 C.E. It was replaced by the Illiniwek Confederation, an alliance of several tribes which gave the state of Illinois its name. During the 1600’s, Iroquois expansion into Illini territory which was caused by the settlement of the eastern U.S. by Europeans forced a competition between tribes in which the Illini were replaced by the Miami, Potawatomi, and Sauk tribes. The first Europeans in the area were Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette in 1673, who were French explorers following the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. As a consequence of their explorations, Illinois was annexed to the French empire until it passed to the British in 1763. The region was ceded to the United States in 1783.
Illinois Territory was created in 1809, and a great many forts were constructed at the time of the War of 1812. Illinois was admitted as the 21st state of the Union in 1818. Early pioneers assisted living Illinois settlements, which were first established in the south and spread northwards, forcing out the natives. This led to the Black Hawk War of 1832, in which the militia defeated the natives and forced their tribes to move westwards. In 1839 Mormons fleeing persecution in the east established the settlement of Nauvoo on a bend in the Mississippi River.
The town quickly expanded to 12,000 residents and was for a time the largest city in the state. However, when church founder Joseph Smith was assassinated in 1844, the Mormons left Illinois for Utah which at that time was still Mexican territory. The city of Chicago began to grow after 1848 as a lake and later canal port and it also became a railroad hub after the Civil War. Chicago had become the largest city in the state by 1857.
During the Civil War, when Illinois native Abraham Lincoln called for troops, over a quarter million Illinoisans served in the Union Army in 150 infantry and 17 cavalry regiments. Unfortunately, Illinois and particularly Chicago politics has not always been so upstanding. The 1960 U.S. presidential election was thrown to John F. Kennedy by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, which established a precedent of manipulated and falsified presidential elections for all time with disastrous consequences forty years later.
Also in 1960 Otto Kerner entered the governor’s mansion; in 1973 he was convicted on seventeen counts of giving bribes during his term as well as other charges. In 1972 Dan Walker became governor and in 1987 he was convicted of business crimes. George H. Ryan was governor in the 90’s and his administration was marred by scandals and he was put on trial in 2005. Rod Blagojevich became governor in 2003, and while he was immensely successful in increasing funding for Illinois healthcare and Chicagoland assisted living programs, nonetheless in 2008 he was arrested on charges of solicitation to commit bribery and conspiracy, and he was impeached in 2009 and removed from office.