Louis Jolliet and Father Marquette arrived in Illinois in 1673 as explorers for the French empire. They claimed the region for France and it remained a French territory until 1763, when it passed to the British. The area was then ceded to the United States in 1783 and became part of the Northwest Territory acquisition.
The word Illinois comes from the prevailing Native American tribal group living in the area, called the Illiniwek Confederation. Known as the Illini, they were later replaced in Illinois by the Pottawatomie, Miami, Sauk, and other tribes by the time of its acceptance into the US.
Illinois lays claim to being the home state of our 16th, and one of our finest, presidents Abraham Lincoln. Born in Kentucky and reared in Kentucky and Indiana, Lincoln spent many of his adult years working in Illinois, eventually as a lawyer and politician.
It was Abraham Lincoln’s job in history to preside over the Union during the Civil War. Illinois remained with the Northern states during this “war between brothers”. At the time of the Civil War, the Republican party had been formed in 1854 around the idea of supporting our government as a Republic, the way that it was founded. Republicans also were anti-slavery and rallied around the election of Abraham Lincoln as President with strong Republican roots in Illinois.
Illinois became the 21st state of the Union of the United States of American on December 3, 1818.