Early Chicago, 1833–1871
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
DOCUMENT 45RESOLUTIONS DONATING LAND AND MONEY IF THE STATE CAPITOL BE REMOVED TO CHICAGO
January 28, 1865
In 1818, when Illinois became a state its Capitol was located at Kaskaskia. In 1820, Vandalia became the site. Twenty years later Springfield, which was more centrally located, was chosen. By the early 1860s, state legislators were expressing a desire for a new Capitol building both to house expanding state government and to express the state's status and aspirations. Several Illinois cities, including Chicago, Peoria, Jacksonville, and Decatur, as well as Springfield, vied for the new site. The eastern part of the state was appeased with a state university at Champaign and the southern part received a new state prison at Chester. In the end Springfield boosters, who offered an attractive package of land and money, won out. In February 1867, an act designating Springfield was signed into law by Governor Oglesby after it had narrowly passed in both houses. Construction began in 1868 but was not completed until 1888 due to cost overruns and several failures of the electorate to approve additional funds.
Points to Consider
What was Chicago willing to provide in order to have the State Capitol located there?
What advantages would Chicago have enjoyed by being the site of the State Capitol?
What role did state government play relative to Chicago?
How might the interests of rural Illinois have differed from those of Chicago?