Illinois History Minutes

December 16 Illinois History Minute


It’s December 16th, and before dawn on this day in 1811, the first of the three New Madrid earthquakes struck the Midwest, with an epicenter near New Madrid (MAD-drid) in present-day Missouri. For a time, the Mississippi River appeared to flow backwards from the quake’s impact. John Reynolds, later an Illinois governor, wrote in his memoir that the quake sent his family’s cattle running home in fear, and caused his father to jump out of bed, thinking Indians were attacking.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn was born in Chicago on this day in 1948. Quinn was a lieutenant governor who became governor in 2009, when Rod Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office on corruption charges. Quinn first gained attention years earlier, by leading a successful drive to reduce the size of the Illinois House, after a controversial pay hike vote.