Illinois History Minutes

January 11 Illinois History Minute


It’s January 11th, and on this day in 2003, as his term in office was ending, Governor George Ryan told an audience at Northwestern University’s law school that he was clearing out Illinois’ Death Row. 

Ryan cited his doubts about the justice system’s ability to avoid putting innocent men to death. Illinois lawmakers would vote to abolish capital punishment for good in 2011. 

Also on this day, in 1989, president and Illinois native Ronald Reagan defended his policies in a farewell address. He said he saw an increase in free markets and free speech in other countries. In Reagan’s words, “We meant to change a nation, and instead, we changed a world”.