92. Senate Joint Resolution to make Chicago and Cook County the 51st State (1981)

Background: Illinois stretches almost 400 miles from the Wisconsin border to the Ohio River and is a very diverse state. While diversity is typically thought of in a positive way, it has also led to some intrastate conflicts. In the 1840s, several northern counties considered joining Wisconsin as it prepared for statehood in 1848. Early in the Civil War, southern Illinois considered joining the Confederacy. In the 1970s, residents of western Illinois, upset at what they perceived as a lack of services and attention from state government, jokingly created a separate Republic of Forgottonia. But nowhere is intrastate conflict more evident than between the urbanized Chicago and more-rural downstate. In 1925, the Chicago City Council, upset by the lack of a legislative redistricting plan, approved a resolution to look into secession from Illinois. In 2011, State Representative Bill Mitchell of Decatur introduced a Joint House Resolution urging Congress to make Cook County, home of Chicago, a separate state. Perhaps at no time did the division between Chicago and downstate become as serious as in 1981, when Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko advocated secession using particularly harsh language to describe the areas of the state outside of Chicago.

The Document: Senate Joint Resolution Number 48, sponsored by State Senator Howard Carroll of Chicago, calls on Congress to admit Cook County as the 51st state, named "New Illinois." Although considered a tongue-in-cheek response to the refusal of downstate legislators to provide funding to help mass transit in the Chicago area, the resolution passed the Senate by a voice vote on the last day of the spring legislative session. The resolution was tabled in the House.

Note: This resolution is available at the Illinois State Archives as part of General Assembly Record Series 600.001, "Bills, Resolutions, and Related General Assembly Records."