The state's first capitol, in Kaskaskia, was abandoned and fell into disrepair. Ultimately, it was swallowed by the Mississippi River when the river changed course.
Gov. Pat Quinn Monday officially started the planning for Illinois’ 200th birthday in 2018, a yearlong celebration that will engage residents and communities throughout the state and leave a lasting legacy for future generations.
The governor signed an executive order to create the 2018 Illinois Bicentennial Commission, a grass-roots organization that will plan a celebration that is meaningful to every resident and spur history-based tourism.
“Ever since becoming a state on December 3, 1818, Illinois has been a crossroads, a microcosm and a breadbasket for our nation,” Governor Quinn said. “We have cultivated such leaders as Presidents Lincoln, Grant, Reagan and Obama. The Bicentennial is an opportunity to remind everyone of our rich heritage and pave the way to a bright future.”
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate Illinois’ rich heritage,” Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) Board Chair Sunny Fischer said. “The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency will do everything it can to help the Bicentennial Commission get people talking, learning, traveling and exploring 200 years of Illinois history.”
The Bicentennial Commission will plan and coordinate events, activities, publications, digital media, and other developments and encourage citizen participation at all levels in every community in the state. It will use the highly successful 2009 Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial observance as a guide to make the state’s 2018 birthday party a creative, comprehensive and all-inclusive celebration.
The all-volunteer Bicentennial Commission, which will be named in the coming months, will represent the diversity of the state. The Governor, each constitutional officer and the four legislative leaders will each name a member, as will the directors of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency; Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity; Office of Tourism; Illinois Arts Council; and Departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Transportation.
The Governor will also name 40 members from academia, historic preservation, business, labor, military, civil rights, community development, education, philanthropy and the arts. The commission’s efforts will be coordinated by an executive director and support staff.
For Illinois’ 1918 Centennial, the U.S. Mint issued a commemorative 50-cent piece and the Illinois Centennial Monument in Chicago’s Logan Square was built, as was the Centennial Building in Springfield. A multi-volume history of Illinois was published, and the first re-creation of buildings began at Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site. Pageants and celebrations took place across the state.
The U.S. Congress passed the Illinois Enabling Act on April 18, 1818 that allowed for the organization of state government, fixed the northern boundary of Illinois, and established a permanent school fund from a portion of the proceeds of public land sales. On August 26, the Illinois Constitutional Convention adopted a constitution and selected Kaskaskia as the first state capital. The first Governor, Shadrach Bond, was inaugurated October 6. Illinois officially became the 21st state on December 3, 1818 when President James Monroe signed the congressional resolution admitting Illinois to the union.
For up to date information on the Illinois Bicentennial, visit www.facebook.com/Illinois200.