Illinois Statehood Day 2022 FBLet’s blow out the candles and wish a happy birthday to Illinois! Illinois turns 204 on Dec. 3, after becoming the 21st official state of America in 1818. Illinois is a unique state with a robust history. Containing both farmlands and major cities, Illinois is a staple of the Midwest where one can find breathtaking hiking trails or go to the top of a tall skyscraper. Illinois holds many wonders and those who live in the state or those who visit can find something amazing anywhere they go, from Lake Shore Drive in Chicago to Route 66 in Springfield.

Before Illinois became a state it was inhabited for generations by the Illinois nation, a confederation of Algonquian-speaking Native American tribes. The first Europeans to visit Illinois were French explorers Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette in 1673. Illinois became a part of Britain after the French and Indian War. However, after the American Revolution, Illinois became a territory of the United States and achieved statehood in 1818.

At first, settlers were unsure what to make of the flat, treeless prairie lands. Settlers initially believed the lack of trees meant the land would be difficult for farming. This lack of enthusiasm led the state to have a small population when it first came into statehood, only having a population of about 35,000. Soon enough, however, farmers took their plows to the soil and found it to be far richer than expected. Sturdier plows were developed for Illinois soil, and soon the population boomed. Chicago rapidly became a bustling city and Illinois became increasingly recognized as one of the nation’s most fertile agricultural areas. The combination of agriculture and city life sets Illinois apart from other states and today we celebrate the state’s birthday for becoming a part of America’s great union!