Illinois History Minutes

February 24 Illinois History Minute


It’s February 24th. And on this day in 1823, the Illinois General Assembly appointed a panel of commissioners to make plans for the Illinois and Michigan Canal. The idea was to link the Chicago River with the Illinois River, and ultimately, the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River. The Illinois and Michigan Canal finally opened to boat traffic in 1848 and remained in use until 1933.

Former Illinois Governor George Ryan was born on this day in 1934. Ryan spent five years in federal prison on a corruption conviction dating back to his time as Illinois secretary of state. He would rather be remembered for his opposition to the death penalty as governor, which led him to declare a moratorium on state executions and to commute death sentences to life imprisonment.