Illinois History Minutes

February 3 Illinois History Minute


It’s February Third, and on this day in 1809, Congress voted to carve off the western portion of the Indiana Territory and create the Illinois Territory.  The area included modern-day Illinois and Wisconsin, plus parts of Michigan and Minnesota. Both white settlers and Native Americans lived in the region, which had been claimed earlier by France, then England, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and finally the United States. The capital was at the former French settlement of Kaskaskia, on the Mississippi River. President James Madison appointed Ninian Edwards to be the territory’s governor. He persuaded Congress to grant universal white male suffrage, which at the time, was pretty progressive for a U-S territory.  

In 1818, less than a decade after its formation, the southern portion of the Illinois Territory became the state of Illinois.