On December 3, 1818, President James Monroe signed the bill to admit Illinois as the 21st state in the Union. Before it was a state, it was a territory where Europeans first arrived when the French fur traders came down the Mississippi.
The population of Illinois first grew along the Mississippi, and along with the French fur traders, came French missionaries, carrying the Catholic faith to the tribes that lived in the area. Today, Ilinois is sprinkled still with the names, of a trapper and a priest, Louis Joliet, and Father Jacques Marquette, “Pere Marquette” they mapped the flow of the Mississippi that made up Illinois’ western border.
From Wikipedia: In 1818, Illinois achieved statehood. After construction of the Erie Canal increased traffic and trade through the Great Lakes, Chicago was founded in the 1830s on the banks of the Chicago River, at one of the few natural harbors on southern Lake Michigan. John Deere‘s invention of the self-scouring steel plow turned Illinois’s rich prairie into some of the world’s most productive and valuable farmland, attracting immigrant farmers from Germany and Sweden. The Illinois and Michigan Canal (1848) made transportation between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River valley faster and cheaper. New railroads carried immigrants to new homes, as well as being used to ship commodity crops to Eastern markets. The state became a transportation hub for the nation.
By 1900, the growth of industrial jobs in the northern cities and coal mining in the central and southern areas attracted immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe. Illinois was an important manufacturing center during both world wars. The Great Migration from the South established a large community of African Americans in the state, including Chicago, who created the city’s famous jazz and blues cultures. Chicago, the center of the Chicago Metropolitan Area, became a global alpha-level city.