Illinois History

By | October 28, 2022

With a population of almost 40,000 between 1300 and 1400 AD. the city of Cahokia in the south of the state was the largest city in the United States at the time, until it was overtaken by New York after 1790. Gradually, Cahokia and the surrounding area was abandoned and at the time of the American Revolution, only 2,000 native hunters and a small number of French villagers (called “Habitants”) lived in the Illinois area. Migrant settlers from the United States began pouring in from Kentucky in the 1810s. Illinois joined the American Union as a state in 1818. Chicago as a cosmopolitan city was founded in the 1830s on the banks of the Chicago River with one of the few natural harbors in southern Lake Michigan. The railroads and self-cleaning plow (invention of John Deere) transformed the fertile prairies of central Illinois into some of the most productive and valuable farmland in the world. This ensured that immigrant farmers of German and Swedish descent were attracted.

According to watchtutorials, Illinois belonged to the Union during the American Civil War.

By 1900, job growth in the northern cities and coal mines in the central and southern parts attracted immigrants from Eastern Europe and Southern Europe. The industry made Illinois an important arsenal in both world wars. The Great African-American Migration from the rural Southern United States to Chicago created a large and important community that gave rise to the city’s well-known jazz and blues culture. Today, approximately 74% of Illinois’ population resides in the northeast part of the state, primarily in the city of Chicago and the city’s metropolitan area.

Three U.S. presidents were elected while still living in Illinois: Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Barack Obama. The only president who was actually born there was Ronald Reagan. He was born in Tampico and grew up in Dixon. Lincoln is the only president to be buried in Illinois (in Springfield). Lincoln’s legacy is still commemorated today, including in one of the state’s official nicknames: Land of Lincoln.

Origin of the name

“Illinois” is the current spelling for the name French missionaries and explorers used to give to the people of Illinois. It was written variously in the historical sources. The usual pronunciation is Illinois, without slots. The Frenchified pronunciation Illinwa is not correct.

The meaning of the name Illinois is usually translated as ‘man’ or ‘men’ in the Miami-Illinois language with the original iliniwek being transformed into Illinois via French. In any case, this etymological statement is not supported by the Illinois language itself in which the word for ‘man’ is in fact ireniwa and the plural ‘men’ becomes ireniwaki. It is also thought that the name Illiniwek also means “tribe of superior men”, but this is only a folk etymology. In fact, the name “Illinois” is derived from the verb irenwe·wa, which means “he speaks in the ordinary way” in Miami-Illinois. Subsequently, this was taken up in Ojibwe, perhaps also in Ottawa dialect, and transformed into ilinwe· (plural ilinwe·k). These forms were later borrowed by the French with the final ‘we’ being Frenchified to -ois. Present -day Illinois first appeared in the early 1670s. According to all three French missionary-era Illinois dictionaries, the name the Illinois gave to themselves was Inoka, the meaning of which is unknown.


There are many educational institutions in Illinois.

  • Augustana College
  • Aurora University
  • West College
  • Benedictine University
  • Blackburn College
  • Bradley University
  • The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
  • Chicago State University
  • College of DuPage
  • Columbia College
  • Concordia University, River Forest
  • DePaul University
  • DeVry University, DuPage
  • Dominican University
  • East-West University
  • Eastern Illinois University
  • Elmhurst College
  • Erikson Institute
  • Eureka College
  • Governors State University
  • Greenville College
  • Illinois College
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Illinois State University
  • Illinois Wesleyan University
  • Judson College
  • Kendall College
  • Knox College
  • Lake Forest College
  • Lakeview College of Nursing
  • Lewis University
  • Lincoln Christian College and Seminary
  • Loyola University Chicago
  • Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
  • McKendree College
  • McMurray College
  • Midwestern University
  • Millikin University
  • Monmouth College
  • Moody Bible Institute
  • National University of Health Sciences
  • National-Louis University
  • North Central College
  • North Park College and Theological Seminary
  • Northeastern Illinois University
  • Northern Illinois University
  • Northwestern University
  • Olivet Nazarene University
  • College principles
  • Quincy University
  • Robert Morris College
  • Rockford College
  • Roosevelt University
  • Rush University
  • Saint Anthony College of Nursing
  • St. Xavier University
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Shimer College
  • Southern Illinois University System
    • Southern Illinois University Carbondale
    • Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
  • Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies
  • Trinity Christian College
  • Trinity International University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Illinois System
    • University of Illinois at Chicago
    • University of Illinois at Springfield
    • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of St. Francis
  • Western Illinois University
  • Wheaton College

Illinois History