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One of the United States of America, bounded on the north by Wisconsin, on the west by the Mississippi, which separates it from Iowa and Missouri, on the south by the confluent waters of the Mississippi and the Ohio, which separate it from Kentucky, on the east by Indiana and Lake Michigan. Note: A small part of Illinois — including the town of Kaskaskia — is actually located west of the Mississippi.

It extends from 36 deg. 56 min. to 42 deg. 30 min. N lat., and 87 deg. 35 min. to 91 deg. 40 min. W long. The extreme length of Illinois is 388 miles and its extreme width is 212 miles. Its area, not including any part of Lake Michigan, is 56,650 square miles. Its total area, including that part of Lake Michigan within its boundaries, is 58,354 square miles. Illinois is the most level state in the union, except Louisiana and Delaware. It is the lower part of a plain, of which Lake Michigan is the higher. Lake Michigan is 582 feet and the southern part of the state is about 300 feet above sea-level. The slope is from the north to the south, and is gradual, except in the south, where there is a hilly range, which rises to the height of a thousand feet. The surface of the state is slightly rolling, except along the rivers, where it is broken. Beautifully undulating prairies, without forests, characterize the northern and central parts of the state, and these prairies sometimes terminate in well-wooded lateral ridges, especially near the river courses, which give to the landscape a sylvan beauty.

All the large rivers of Illinois flow southward. The Kankakee and Desplaines Rivers meet and form the Illinois, which flows into the Mississippi. The Chicago River, which formerly flowed into Lake Michigan, is made by a unique engineering feat to flow in the opposite direction and is a part of the Chicago drainage canal which joins the Desplaines River near Joliet. The State of Illinois voted in 1908 in favour of a bond issue of $20,000,000 for the great waterway to connect Lake Michigan with the Mississippi. This, when completed, will be the realization of the missionary's prophecy made two hundred years ago. The soil of Illinois is rich, well-watered and adapted to the production of grain. Illinois has the central position in the great Mississippi Valley — the most fertile valley in the world. The waterways connect it equally with the south and the north; the numerous railroads reach not only the territorial limits of the nation, but tap the richest lands of Canada and Mexico. Coal fields underlie three-fourths of the state. The fruitful soil, the great waterways, the lake ports, the central location, the rich coal-beds, the great railway systems have made possible the wonderful growth of Illinois as an agricultural, manufacturing, and commercial state. The population of Illinois in 1900 was 4,821,550, 4,734,873 being whites, 85,078 negroes, 1583 Asiatics, and 16 Indians. In population it ranks after New York and Pennsylvania.


Agriculture and coal

One of the great industries of the state is agriculture. The total acreage of Illinois is 32,794,728 acres. In 1900, 27,699,219 acres were under cultivation. The total value of farm property in Illinois in 1907 was $2,004,316,897, and the value of the year's produce $345,649,611. In 1907, the acreage given to the leading crops in Illinois was as follows:—

In the natural products of the state coal is next in importance to agriculture. In the production of coal Illinois ranks next to Pennsylvania. Illinois coal is bituminous. The total output of the state in 1907 was 47,798,621 tons. The number of mines that year was 933. The total value of the coal at the mines in 1907 was $49,486,396. Fifty-five of the one hundred and two counties of the state are coal producing and the coal-field area is over 8700 square miles.

Banks and railroads

The banking business of Illinois since about 1895 has been remarkable. Chicago has become the second greatest money centre of the nation. The total number of national banks in Illinois in 1907 was 407, with a capitalization of over $50,000,000 and a surplus of $27,000,000; while there were 421 state banks with a capitalization of $52,000,000 and a surplus of $24,000,000. Of the state banks 227 were operating savings departments and 36 were exercising trust powers. The number of private banks in 1907 was 827. Besides thirty-six banks operating trust departments three were organized under the Trust Company Act of 1887, and thirteen foreign corporations qualified as trust companies. In Chicago, there are two banks — the First National, and Illinois Trust and Savings, that usually have more than $100,000,000 each on deposit. In 1907, Illinois had a main track mileage of 11,967.42 miles; including branches, industrial, yard, and second tracks, it had a total track mileage of 20,066.21 miles. The number of steam railroad employees was 130,984 and the amount of wages paid was $89,158,407. The total earnings and income of the steam railroads in Illinois amounted to $190,565,736. In the year ending 30 June, 1907, the total number of passengers carried on the interurban and elevated railroads was 197,781,911.


The natural resources of the state, its central location, its ports on Lake Michigan, the ideal position Chicago holds as a distributing centre, and the ample supply of labour, have made Illinois the third greatest manufacturing state in the Union. It is only surpassed by New York and Pennsylvania. In 1900 the amount of money invested in manufactures was $776,828,598; the number of wage-earners dependent on manufactures was 395,111 and to these the sum of $191,510,962 was paid as wages. The manufactured products had a value of S1,259,730,168, while in 1905 this value had risen to $1,410,342,129. There are more than 300 distinct lines of manufacture in the state, carried on in over 38,000 separate establishments, and Illinois ranks first in slaughtering, meat and packing products, agricultural implements, bicycles, steam railroads, cars, glucose, and distilled liquors. Nearly half the agricultural implements in the United States are manufactured in Illinois. The ten leading industries with the value of their products in 1905 were in the order of their output as follows:

Of the manufacturing business in Illinois more than seventy-one per cent is to be found in the cities. There are thirty-one cities in the state, the seats of manufacturing establishments. The value of manufactured products in Chicago in 1908 was $1,865,959,000 as against $1,598,147,500 in 1907. In 1908 the lake traffic in Chicago was 15,307,635 tons in and out, as against a tonnage of 17,000,000 for London, 13,000,000 for Liverpool and 15,000,000 for Hamburg. The largest shipments to the port of Chicago are of iron ore of which 4,419,883 tons were received during the year 1908. Illinois had 9175 oil wells, 1 January, 1908, with a total product in 1907 of 24,500,000 barrels.

Educational system

State university

The State University had its origin in the Act of Congress passed 1862 making grants of land to Illinois and other loyal states, for the purpose of founding colleges, "the leading object of which" should be "to teach such branches of education as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts." The endowment fund, which was enlarged by Act of Congress in 1890 amounts to $600,000. In 1867 the state accepted this grant and chartered the Illinois Industrial University, which in 1885 became the University of Illinois. The state has appropriated millions for its buildings and sustenance. It is the only agricultural and technical state institution in Illinois. It aims now to give a liberal as well as a technical education. Its courses in the liberal arts do not give it rank with the first universities of the country; but as an industrial and technical institution combined it ranks very high. The university has 25 buildings, 400 professors, and a student body of 4,700. In 1857 was passed the Act establishing a State Normal University to enable teachers to qualify for the common schools of the state. This is a university only in name, being nothing but a school in fact. In 1874 a normal school was established at Carbondale and others later at Charleston, De Kalb, and Macomb.

Public schools

The public school system of Illinois had its origin in the ordinance of the Congress of the old Confederation passed in 1787, establishing for the North-West Territory the system of land surveys by townships six miles square, which provided that section sixteen, or one thirty-sixth part, should always be set apart for maintaining public schools within the township. By the enabling Act of 1818 Congress gave these lands to the new states, and in addition promised three per cent of the net proceeds of all public lands sold in Illinois after 1 January, 1819, to be appropriated by the state for the encouragement of learning. Practically nothing was done in pursuance of this Act until 1830, and the system did not take its present form until 1854, when the first state superintendent was appointed. There were no special provisions in the State Constitution of 1848 relative to education; but in the Constitution of 1870, which is the Constitution still in force, there was a special article of five sections bearing on education; and on this subject these articles are now the fundamental law of the state.

By the first article a public free school system is to be provided by the general assembly, whereby all children of the state may receive a good common school education; by the second, moneys donated, granted, and received must be applied to the objects for which they were made; by the third, it is provided that neither the general assembly nor any county, city, town, township, school district, or other public corporation shall ever make any appropriation, or pay from any public fund whatever, anything in aid of any church or sectarian purpose, or to help support or sustain any school, academy, seminary, college, university, or other literary or scientific institution controlled by any church or sectarian denomination whatever; nor shall any grant or donation of land, money, or other personal property ever be made by the state, or any such public corporation, to any church or for any sectarian purpose. Section four provides that no teacher or school officer shall be interested in the sale, proceeds, or profits of any school book or school furniture. Section five provides that there may be a superintendent in each county, whose powers, duties, and manner of election are to be prescribed by law.

Under this article of the constitution there has been much legislation, and the first section has been stretched in its meaning to permit the building of high schools. There has also been legislation permitting the mayor of Chicago to name school trustees to manage the schools and select a superintendent. In 1906 there were in Illinois 12,973 public free schools, in which there were 28,128 teachers, of whom 5935 were men and 22,193 were women. The male teachers received on an average $74.57 per month and the females $57.54. In the year 1906 the total cost of the public schools was $25,895,178.90, which is a cost of $17.58 for every pupil. This amount was derived from the income of the invested township funds, the state tax, and the district tax levies. In 1907 there were 438 high schools enrolling 52,394 pupils, from which 6311 pupils were graduated.

University of Chicago

The University of Chicago is not only the greatest educational institution in Illinois, but one of the most richly endowed universities in the United States. John D. Rockefeller is its principal benefactor. The assets of the university are now more than $25,000,000. The present University of Chicago was incorporated in September, 1890. The university has preparatory, under-graduate, graduate, post-graduate, and professional departments. In the schools of law, theology, education, and medicine more than 300 additional courses are given. Unlike any other American university it has no vacation period. The scholastic year is divided into four quarters of twelve weeks each. Students may enter at the first of any quarter and are allowed such credits as they may have from other accredited universities. In the scholastic year 1905-06 the number of enrolled students was 5079. The university has a library of more than 400,000 volumes.

The North-Western University at Evanston is a Methodist institution, which in 1907 had 3662 enrolled students. In 1907 there were in Illinois 55 collegiate institutions, with 1781 instructors and 29,818 students.

Catholic educational system

Illinois is preeminent for its Catholic educational system. In recent years it is conceded that in America the parochial schools are the life of the Church. In Chicago there are 87,040 pupils in the parochial schools. There are five high schools with an attendance of 1250 students. In the colleges and academies for boys there are 3000 students; in the academies for girls there are 5100 pupils. In Chicago the total number of pupils in the parochial schools, academies, and colleges is 96,390.

Catholic colleges in Illinois

Loyola University, Chicago, which is still in course of construction, will be, when completed, the largest Catholic educational institution in Illinois. The five main buildings will stand in a semicircle facing Lake Michigan on the north side, about the same distance from the centre of the city as the University of Chicago is from the centre of Chicago on the south side. The law school which is now established, is in the down-town district, and the other professional schools, when established, will also be there. The preparatory and collegiate departments will be on the university grounds. The university will be, when completed, one of the finest Jesuit institutions in America. St. Ignatius College, Chicago, was erected in 1869 and exists under a charter granted by the State of Illinois. The number of students in 1907 was 600. The college library contains 28,000 volumes. Only a few miles distant from St. Ignatius College is the place on the south branch of the Chicago River where Father Marquette, the great Jesuit explorer of Illinois, built the first white human habitation on the site of the metropolitan city of Chicago. De Paul University (formerly St. Vincent's College), Chicago, is conducted by the Vincentian Fathers. The number of students in 1907-08 was 252.

The importance of the Catholic school system here is shown by the fact that in Illinois there are 20 colleges and academies for boys, with an attendance of 3838; 44 academies for girls with an attendance of 8553; 1042 parochial schools with an attendance of 119,425. Figuring the cost of educating every Catholic pupil at $17.58, which is the cost under the public school system, there is an annual saving to the state by the Catholic educational system of $2,097,509.08. In Illinois as in other states the Church receives no state aid and Catholics pay taxes for the support of all schools. The standard of secular education in the Catholic schools ranks higher than that in the public schools. In examinations for teachers in the public schools and in competitive examinations for the civil service, graduates of Catholic schools have taken higher percentages than graduates of public schools. No religious training of any kind is given in the public schools.

First settlers

In 1790 only 4280 persons were found between the Ohio River and the Lakes, Pennsylvania and the Mississippi. In 1791 there were only 1221 white inhabitants in Illinois. The country had been explored by the Jesuits and other Catholic missionaries and French traders. Some French settlers followed the missionaries. American immigration did not begin until the year 1779-80. The southern part was the first to be populated. The first immigrants came from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina, and Kentucky. In 1810 the census returns showed the inhabitants of Illinois to number 11,501 whites, 168 slaves, and 613 of all others, an increase of four hundred per cent during the preceding decade. Of the early-comers from the south a large proportion were Irish republicans, who believed in Ireland as an independent nation, and who understood and sympathized thoroughly with American ideals and institutions even before their arrival in the States. Many of these Irish pioneers of Illinois had a good education, among them John Doyle, the first schoolmaster in the state; they made their impress especially on the southern part. A descendant of one of them, Stephen A. Douglas, a convert to Catholicism, was a judge, U. S. senator from Illinois, and presidential candidate against Lincoln. So important was this element in the political life of the state, that eight of the first sixteen governors were Americans of Irish descent.

The northern half of Illinois, because of its location, was originally peopled by other races. New England had held French power in Canada under control until Wolfe broke it on the plains of Abraham; but the Americans had not driven the red man from the lake region until a considerable time after Clark had entered Illinois from the south. Finally the red man gave way at the narrow gateway, between Lake Erie and the Ohio River, and then there was an inrush of Americans of varied foreign descent as well as more recent immigrants from Europe. The majority were the Puritans of New England, Irish Catholics, and Germans from Pennsylvania. Up to the year 1850 the Irish immigration was the largest and the German second; afterwards the German was the largest and the Irish second, then come the Swedes, the Poles, the English, the Bohemians, the Canadians, the Norwegians, the Danes, the Scots, the Swiss, the Welsh, and the Belgians in order. Since about 1900 the great tide of immigration has been Slavic and Italian.

Admission to the union

Illinois was admitted to the Union 31 December, 1818, during the presidency of James Monroe. The enabling Act of 1818 gave the people the right to form a state constitution within the limits fixed by Congress. There was a constitutional convention, the members of which were selected by the white citizens who were six months in the territory. The delegates were empowered to call a new convention to form a constitution or they might do the work themselves. The only conditions imposed were that the form of government must be republican, and not in conflict with the ordinance of 1787, except in the matter of boundaries. Congress did not promise to recognize the new state unless a census were taken which should show at least 40,000 population. A census was taken, showing a little over the required number. The election for the convention was held in July, 1818, and assembled at Kaskaskia in August, 1818. This convention, consisting of 32 members, adopted the first constitution known as the Constitution of 1818, which was modelled on the constitutions of Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. Another constitution was adopted in 1848, and the present one in 1870.

Political history

The history of Illinois up to 1803 is treated in the article LOUISIANA. The political history of Illinois had its beginning on the Heights of Abraham, at Quebec. The defeat of Montcalm by Wolfe was the last act of a great drama. By this defeat Illinois became British territory instead of French and such it remained until Colonel George Rogers Clark, an Irish-American, acting under the commission and receiving the assistance of Patrick Henry, Governor of Virginia, put Illinois under the American flag in 1778. The surprise of Kaskaskia and taking of Rocheblave, the English commandant, the fourth of July, 1778, the surrender of Cahokia, the diplomatic handling of hostile Indians, the march on Vincennes and capture of Hamilton, the British commandant, make one of the most thrilling chapters in the history of the American Revolution. Illinois did not become a territory of the United States by the Louisiana Purchase (1803) but by the sword of Clark. On 4 July, 1778, the English flag was hauled down at Kaskaskia and the Illinois Country was taken possession of in the name of Virginia, whose governor Patrick Henry, had authorized the expedition. In October, 1778, the House of Delegates of Virginia extended jurisdiction over the newly acquired territory. A law was passed in Virginia creating the County of Illinois, and Captain John Todd was appointed commandant in 1779. The treaty of peace with Great Britain in 1783 gave the North-West to the Thirteen States, and in 1784 Virginia ceded her claim to the United States.

The famous ordinance of 1787, one of the last acts of the old confederation, provided first for a temporary form of government and then decreed how states should be created and their governments established. By this ordinance religious freedom and civil rights, the writ of habeas corpus, and trial by jury were guaranteed. By its provisions the states to be formed out of the North-West territory were to remain forever a part of the United States of America, and it was also provided, that in them "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude should exist in the territory otherwise than for crime, whereof the party should have been duly convicted." By the Act of Congress in May 1800, the North-West territory was divided, the Indiana territory being created. This new division embraced the present States of Indiana and Illinois; the seat of government was at Vincennes. In 1809 the territory of Illinois was formed with the seat of government at Kaskaskia.

On 18 April, 1818, an enabling Act was passed by Congress to the effect that "the inhabitants of the territory of Illinois be, and are hereby authorized to form for themselves a constitution and state government, and to assume such name as they should deem proper and the said state when formed shall be admitted into the Union upon the same footing with the original states in all respects whatever." By an amendment proposed by Judge Pope, the Illinois delegate to Congress, the northern boundary of the state was extended to the parallel of 42 deg. 30 min. N. lat. instead of 41 deg. 39 min. as reported by the committee. The object of this amendment, as stated by Judge Pope, was "to gain for the proposed state a coast on Lake Michigan; but this would afford additional security to the perpetuity of the Union, inasmuch as Illinois would thereby be connected, through the lakes with the states lying to the eastward." The bill, as amended, passed; and if the amendment had not been adopted the territory out of which fourteen counties have been carved, would have been lost to Illinois and become a part of Wisconsin. By adding this territory covered by the amendment, Illinois in 1824 was saved from becoming a slave state, and thereby, afterwards under the guiding hand of Lincoln, made safe for the Union. Although the Missouri compromise of 1820 prohibited slavery north of 36 deg. 30 min., and Illinois was north of 36 deg. 30 min., yet the slaveholders made a desperate attempt to make Illinois a slave state; but the friends of freedom, especially those in the northern counties, led by Governor Cole won the fight in 1824, when the state declared against slavery; but slavery was not legally abolished until the adoption of the Constitution of 1848.

Mormonism got a foothold in Illinois between 1840 and 1846, at a place called Nauvoo on the Mississippi, but Joseph Smith, the so-called prophet, precipitated a local civil war and was killed by a mob while in jail; the Mormons were driven out of Illinois and afterwards moved to Utah. Nauvoo now contains a Catholic academy for girls. Extensive internal improvements in the state were projected between 1830 and 1840, and some were made, the most important and successful enterprise being the building of the Illinois and Michigan canal. The state was saved from bankruptcy and its credit established by the foresight and able leadership of Governor Ford.

In the fifties Illinois assumed the most important role in the life of the nation. Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln became national characters. The Kansas-Nebraska bill, which was fathered by Stephen A. Douglas, declared in one section the Missouri Compromise to be inoperative and void because it was inconsistent with the principle of non-intervention by Congress with slavery in the states and territories as recognized by the compromise measure of 1850. The goal of the ambition of Douglas was the presidency. The Fugitive Slave Law had been passed and the demands of the slaveholders were confirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States in the Dred Scott decision. Douglas wanted to be senator from Illinois in 1858, and president in 1860. Lincoln was a senatorial candidate at the same time. The election resulted in Douglas's being chosen senator, but certain of his declarations on the slave question enraged the slaveholders of the South, split the Democratic party and made Lincoln a national figure and President of the United States. When Fort Sumter was fired on in April, 1861, most of the Illinois Democrats followed the leadership of Stephen A. Douglas, pledged their support to, and afterwards offered their lives for, the cause of the Union. In the Civil War Illinois furnished the equivalent of 214,133 men for three years' service. It gave to the Union army men like Logan, Grant, Shields, and Mulligan.

Ecclesiastical statistics

The ecclesiastical province of Chicago, which coincides in its territorial limits with the State of Illinois, comprises the Archdiocese of Chicago, and the Dioceses of Belleville, Alton, Peoria, and Rockford. In it there are 1 archbishop, 6 bishops, 1217 priests, 211 ecclesiastical students, 806 churches, 84 missions, 86 chapels, 2 training schools for boys, 1 industrial school for girls, 12 orphan asylums, 2 infant asylums, 1 industrial and reform school, 100,872 young people under Catholic care, as pupils, orphans, and dependents, 1 working-boys' home, 3 working-girls' homes, 1 school for mutes, 11 homes for the aged, 50 hospitals, 5 committees nursing sick at their homes, and a Catholic population of 1,468,644. No records have been kept or census taken which would show the Catholic population according to race in Illinois, but the Catholics of Irish birth or descent far outnumber all others. Then in their order come the Germans, Poles and other Slavic people, Italians, Bohemians, and French. Chicago was made an episcopal see by Pope Gregory XVI, and Right Rev. William Quarter, a native of Ireland, was appointed as its first bishop. He was consecrated 10 March, 1844, and died 10 April, 1848. He began his labours with several priests in his diocese and no ecclesiastical students. He ordained twenty-nine priests and left forty clergymen and twenty ecclesiastical students. He built thirty churches, ten of which were either brick or stone; at his death all these were free from debt. His successors were Bishops James Van de Velde, Anthony O'Regan, and James Duggan.

In 1880 Chicago became an archdiocese, the Most Reverend Patrick A. Feehan being its first archbishop, during whose administration schools were built to accommodate 60,000 pupils. His successor is the Most Reverend James E. Quigley; having found that the Church had made such growth in his diocese, that it could not be effectively administered by one person, he petitioned Rome to erect the Diocese of Rockford, and include in it twelve counties then forming part of the diocese. The petition was granted 23 September, 1908. The Archdiocese of Chicago now comprises the Counties of Cook (including Chicago), Lake, Du Page, Kankakee, Will, and Grundy, and in Catholic population is next to the Archdiocese of New York (see ARCHDIOCESE OF CHICAGO). The Bishop of Alton is Rt. Rev. James Ryan; of Belleville is Rt. Rev. John Janssen. The Bishop of Peoria was Rt. Rev. John Lancaster Spalding, who has recently resigned on account of failing health; the administrator is Rt. Rev. Peter J. O'Reilly. The Bishop of Rockford is Rt. Rev. Peter J. Muldoon, formerly auxiliary Bishop of Chicago.

Perhaps the most important event in the history of the Catholic Church in America since the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore was the first American Catholic missionary congress held in Chicago, 15-18 November, 1908, under the auspices of the Catholic Church Extension Society of the United States of America. At that missionary congress eighty-nine distinguished members of the American Catholic hierarchy, as well as His Excellency, the Most Reverend Diomede Falconio, were in attendance. The Catholic Church Extension Society (see MISSIONS) was founded and fostered by Archbishop Quigley, who guided its destinies and gathered around him the men who made the Church Extension a great factor in the Catholic life of America. The first Catholic missions of Illinois were at Kaskaskia, Cahokia, Shawneetown, Cave-in-Rock, Diamond Grove, Galena, Ottawa, LaSalle, Alton, Prairie du Long, Belleville, Shoal Creek, Prairie du Rocher, Edwardsville, Jasper County, Edgar County, McHenry County, Lake County, and Chicago. The first Catholic immigrants to Illinois were the French, and these immigrants were relatively few in their numbers. The first great tide of Catholic immigration was in 1846, 1847, and 1848, when the Irish famine was at its height. These Irish Catholic immigrants settled in great numbers in the northern part of Illinois and especially Chicago. The tide of Irish Catholic immigration flowed to Chicago until recent years. From 1841 until 1850 there was a large German Catholic immigration to Illinois. Since 1890 there has been in Chicago a great influx of Polish, Lithuanian, and Italian Catholics. The Poles became so important in point of numbers in recent years that Archbishop Quigley recommended that an auxiliary bishop of the Polish race be appointed, which was done when Bishop Rhode, the first Polish bishop in America, was consecrated at Chicago, 29 July, 1908.

Catholics distinguished in public life

The most distinguished Catholic in public life in Illinois was General James Shields. He was born in Pomeroy, Tyrone, Ireland, immigrated to Illinois when a young man, became State Auditor, Justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois, General in the United States Army and United States Senator from Illinois, and afterwards United States Senator from Minnesota and Missouri. He fought in the battle of Chapultepec and was present at the taking of the city of Mexico. During the Civil War Gen. Shields again became a soldier and on 23 March, 1862, defeated Stonewall Jackson at Winchester, for which he was congratulated by General McClellan, and the words "Winchester, March 23, 1862" were ordered to be inscribed on the Pennsylvania flags. He was distinguished as a lawyer, jurist statesman, and soldier, and Illinois when invited in 1893 to place the statues of two of her most distinguished men in the Memorial Hall at Washington placed there the bronze statue of General James Shields. A few of the Catholics distinguished in public life are: Judge Gibbons, of the Circuit Court of Chicago, author of "Tenure and Toil; or the Rights and Wrongs of Capital and Labor," and other works; Judge Marcus Kavanaugh, of the Superior Court, Chicago, formerly Colonel of the Seventh Illinois Regiment, author of "Scrapper Halpin," and other works; W.J. Hynes, orator and lawyer, and formerly congressman; Judge Clifford, of the Circuit Court, Chicago; Dr. J.B. Murphy, a surgeon of world fame, honorary graduate of the Universities of Berlin, Sheffield, Vienna, Prague; ex-Judge Edward F. Dunne, formerly mayor of Chicago; Maurice T. Maloney, ex-Attorney-General of Illinois. John Dougherty, Lieutenant- Governor, was always a Catholic; Governor Bissell, Justice Mulkey of the Supreme Court, and Stephen A. Douglas were converts.

Principal religious denominations

The religious census of 1906 for Illinois gives a total population of 5,418,670, of whom 3,341,473 did not attend any church. Members of all denominations numbered 2,077,197, of whom 932,084 were Roman Catholics (the ecclesiastical authorities, however, computed their number as being 15 per cent greater, i.e. 1,071,896, while in 1909 they are believed to number 1,468,644); of Greek Orthodox there were 17,536; all kinds of Methodist, 263,344; all kinds of Lutherans, 202,566; Baptists, 152,870; Presbyterians, 115,602; Disciples of Christ, 105,068; German Evangelists, 59,973; Congregationalists, 54,875; Christian Scientists, 5675; Unitarians, 2339; Quakers, 2343; others, 162,922. The total number of church organizations (parishes, etc.) in Illinois in 1906 was 9374; church edifices, 8626; value, $66,222,514; debt, $6,317,979.

Law and religion

Freedom of worship is guaranteed by the Constitution of 1870. It is provided by the criminal code that: "Whoever disturbs the peace and good order of society by labor (works of necessity and charity excepted) or by amusement or diversion on Sunday, or whoever shall be guilty of noise, riot or amusement on Sunday, whereby the peace of any family may be disturbed, shall be fined not to exceed $25." In the administration of oaths in legal matters the person swearing uplifts his hand and swears by the ever-living God but is not compelled to lay the hand on or kiss the Gospels. Where a person has conscientious scruples against taking an oath he may make his solemn affirmation or declaration. There is no provision in the Criminal Code of Illinois against blasphemy and profanity; but one guilty of blasphemy and profanity may be charged with disorderly conduct and fined not to exceed $200. Both houses of the Legislature according to custom are opened with prayer. Christmas Day and New Year's Day are legal holidays, but Good Friday is not. The clergy are exempt from jury service, but not from military service. Custom, however, exempts them from military service.

Seal of confession

There is no statute in Illinois making confessions to a priest privileged communications. The common laws is therefore in force. Greenleaf in his standard work on Evidence I-XIII, p. 248, states what this common-law rule is: "In the common law of evidence there is no distinction between clergymen and laymen; but all confessions, and other matters not confided to legal counsel, must be disclosed when required for the purpose of justice. Neither penitential confessions, made to the minister or to members of the party's own Church, nor secrets confided to a Roman Catholic priest in the course of confession, are regarded as privileged communications." While this is and has been the law in Illinois there is no instance where the courts have forced a priest to divulge the secrets of the confessional. No priest would divulge them and no court in Illinois would hold him for contempt in refusing to answer.

Church property

Churches may be incorporated under the General Corporation Act of 1872 and its amendments; but in the Archdiocese of Chicago "the Catholic Bishop of Chicago" is a corporation sole and acts by the archbishop or in his absence by the auxiliary, or in case of death by the administrator. This corporation exists under a special statute. In this corporation sole is vested the title to all diocesan property and this has been most conducive to the growth of the Church. In other dioceses of the state the title to church property is vested in the bishop. Under section 3, article ix, of the constitution property used exclusively for school, religious, cemetery and charitable purposes may be exempted from taxation; but such taxation must be by general law. By the Revised Act, property used exclusively for church purposes has been exempted; but property used for parochial school purposes has not been exempted. No attempt, however, has been made to collect taxes for such schools.

Marriage and divorce


Marriages between cousins of the first degree or closer relations are prohibited. Insane persons and idiots are not capable of contracting marriage. Male persons over the age of seventeen years and females over the age of fourteen years may contract and be joined in marriage. Marriage may be celebrated, either by a minister of the Gospel in regular standing in the church or society to which he belongs, by a judge of any court of record, by a justice of the peace, by any superintendent of any public institution for the education of the deaf and dumb, or if the parties or either of them are Quakers they may be lawfully married in a certain manner as pointed out by the statute. All persons belonging to any religious society, church, or denomination may celebrate their marriage according to the rules and principles of such religious society, church, or denomination. Persons intending to be joined in marriage must before their marriage obtain a license from the county clerk of the county where such marriage is to take place. For the purpose of ascertaining the age of the parties, and the legality of the contemplated marriage, the county clerk may, and he always does, request the affidavit of either of the parties, or other witnesses. When a minor is an applicant for a marriage license, or if any applicant is desirous of obtaining a license to marry a minor, and the parent or guardian of such minor is not present to give his or her consent, then such consent may be in writing, and must be attested by two witnesses. The county clerk would incur a heavy penalty if he issued a license for the marriage of a male under the age of twenty-one, or of a female under eighteen, without the consent of parent or guardian.

The person authorized to marry any couple must within thirty days after the solemnization of the marriage, make a certificate thereof, and return the same together with the license, if any have been issued, to the clerk of the county in which the marriage took place. The county clerk must make a registry thereof in a book kept for that purpose in his office, a registry containing the Christian names and surnames of the parties, the time of their marriage and the name of the person certifying the same; he also endorses on such certificate the time when the same is registered, gives it a number and preserves the same. If the clerk fails to register the marriage certificate within thirty days after the same is returned to him for that purpose (his fees therefor being paid), or if any minister, judge, justice of the peace, or other authorized person shall celebrate a marriage without a license having been first obtained therefor, as provided by law, or shall fail to make and return to the county clerk such certificate in the time and manner provided by law, he shall forfeit and pay $100. Common law marriages were recognized in Illinois until recently, when by statute the rule was changed because of the number of fraudulent acts of parties claiming the benefit of these meretricious relations.


The grounds for divorce are impotency, wife or husband living at time of such marriage, adultery, desertion without reasonable cause for the space of two years, habitual drunkenness for the space of two years, attempted poisoning or other means showing malice, extreme and repeated cruelty, conviction of felony or other infamous crime. The party asking the divorce must be a resident of the state one year before the filing of the bill, unless the offence complained of was committed within the state or whilst one or both of the parties resided in the state. Divorce in no way affects the legitimacy of the children of such marriage, except in cases where the marriage is declared void on the ground of a prior marriage. The proceedings must be had in the county where the complainant resides, but process may be directed to any county in the state. The process, practice, and proceedings are the same as in other cases in chancery, and service may be had by publication. When the defendant appears and denies the charges in the complainant's bill of complaint, either party has the right to have the case tried by a jury; but jury trials are rarely asked for. When the bill is taken as confessed, the court proceeds to hear the cause by examination of witnesses in open court. Where no answer is put in by the defendant a transcript of the evidence must be signed by the judge and preserved as a certificate of evidence in order to sustain the decree. Most default decrees are obtained on the ground of desertion or cruelty. If the charge be cruelty there must be proof of more than one act, and the complainant must be supported by at least one witness. In Illinois, as in other states, divorces have become a menace to society.

The court may on application of either party make such order concerning the custody and care of the minor children of the parties during the pendency of the suit, as may be deemed expedient and for the benefit of the children. The court may award alimony pendente lite, solicitor's fees, and suit money, and when a divorce is decreed the court may make such order touching the alimony and maintenance of the wife, the care, custody, and support of the children, as from the circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case, shall be fit, reasonable, and just; and in case the wife be the complainant, to order the defendant to give reasonable security for such alimony and maintenance, or may enforce the payment of such alimony and maintenance in any other manner consistent with the rules and practices of the court. And the court may on application, from time to time, make such alterations in the allowance of alimony and maintenance, and the care, custody and support of the children, as shall appear reasonable and proper. Anyone advertising for divorces is subject to a fine of from $100 to $1000 for each offence, or imprisonment in the county jail not less than three months nor more than one year, or both in the discretion of the court. Neither party to the divorce must marry within one year. There is a "separate maintenance" statute in Illinois which is in the nature of a divorce a mensa et thoro.

Public institutions

In Illinois there are schools for the deaf and blind at Jacksonville; industrial home for the blind at Chicago; charitable eye and ear infirmary at Chicago; hospitals for the insane at Jacksonville, Kankakee, Elgin, Anna, Watertown, and Bartonville; asylum for insane criminals at Chester; colony for epileptics in process of organization, location not yet decided upon; asylum for feeble-minded children at Lincoln; soldiers' orphans' home at Normal; soldiers' and sailors' home at Quincy; soldiers' widows' home at Wilmington. There are in addition penitentiaries at Joliet and Chester; a reformatory at Pontiac; a training school for girls and home for juvenile female offenders at Geneva; and a school for boys at St. Charles.

Sale of liquor

The sale of liquor is considered a legitimate business in Illinois if the keeper of the dramshop have a license, but the keeping open of a tippling house on Sundays is forbidden by statute under penalty of $200; however, in Chicago there is an "open Sunday" under an ordinance in contravention of the statute. The Dramshop Act of Illinois provides heavy penalties for the sale of liquor at retail without a license, and cities and villages may pass ordinances governing the sale of liquor within their territorial limits. A violation of either the Dramshop Act or a city or village ordinance is quasi criminal in its nature, and the punishment may be either a fine or imprisonment or both. It may be said generally with reference to the sale of liquor, that the people of Illinois have adopted the theory of regulation rather than prohibition.

Wills and testaments

In Illinois the privilege of disposing by will is not recognized by the civil law as a natural right, but depends on positive law, and is wholly within legislative control. In Illinois one who has testamentary capacity may make a will; and the tests of testamentary capacity are: ability to transact ordinary business, and to understand the business in hand at the time of making the will. To entitle a will to probate, it must be in writing and signed by the testator or testatrix, or in his or her presence by some one under his or her direction; attested by two or more credible witnesses; two witnesses must prove that they saw the testator or the testatrix sign the will in their presence or that he or she acknowledged the same to be his or her act or deed; they must swear that they believed or believe, the testator or testatrix to be of sound mind or memory at the time of signing or acknowledging the same. A will made according to the laws of a foreign country, which was the testator's domicile, may be proved in Illinois as to personalty only; and if made and proved in another state, an exemplified copy may be admitted to probate in Illinois, and affect reality as well as personalty. A citizen of Illinois, temporarily absent, may make a will according to the law of the place where he is situated. The courts do not favour defeating a will for mere informality; and if the intention can be ascertained from the instrument, that intention will be carried out if possible. No time is prescribed within which a will must be presented for probate; but there is a penalty for secreting a will. A husband cannot disinherit a wife by a will; she may renounce and take under the statute. Appeal lies from the order of the probate or county court to the circuit court. A bill in chancery under the statute may be filed to set aside a will or the probate thereof. This statute is an enabling act and a statute of repose, and is not a limitation upon any general jurisdiction. Only a party in interest can contest the validity of a will.

Charitable bequests

The statute of charitable uses (43 Eliz. 7) is a part of the common law of the State of Illinois, and such statute has not been repealed by statutes for the regulation and maintenance of state charitable institutions. Charitable bequests are viewed favourably in equity; and while equitable jurisdiction over them is not derived from the statute of charitable uses, such statute is regarded as showing the general intent of the term "charitable." The Supreme Court of Illinois in the leading case of Hoeffer et al. vs. Clogan et al., 171 Ill. 462" has defined "charity" as a gift to be applied consistently with existing laws for the benefit of an indefinite number of persons, either by bringing their hearts under the influence of education or religion, by relieving their bodies from disease, suffering or constraint, by assisting them to establish themselves for life, or by erecting or maintaining public buildings, or works, or otherwise lessening the burdens of government. In this case the supreme court of Illinois held that the doctrine of superstitious uses, arising from the statute of I Edward VI, chap. 14, under which devises for procuring the saying of Masses were held void, is not in force in Illinois and has never obtained in the United States; and that a devise of real estate to a religious society in trust, the property to be sold and the proceeds expended for saying Masses for the repose of the testator's soul and the souls of his relatives, is a valid charitable bequest. And the court also held in this case, that a devise in trust to an unincorporated religious society will not be allowed to fail for want of a trustee, as the court will appoint a trustee to take the gift and apply it to the purposes of the trust. In this case the court laid stress on the fact that the Masses said in the church were public. Charitable trusts will be upheld in Illinois though vague and general in terms; and they do not fail because the beneficiaries are subject to change.


Cemetery associations or companies incorporated for cemetery purposes, by any general or special law in Illinois, may acquire by purchase, gift, or devise, and may hold, own, and convey, for burial purposes, only so much land as may be necessary for use as a cemetery or burial-place for the dead. There may be a conveyance of any lot of land not exceeding five acres to a county for the interment of the dead, for the use of any society, association, or neighborhood, and such will thereafter be exempted from taxes. There are laws in Illinois governing the sale or lease of land for cemetery purposes; the sale of land not suitable for cemetery purposes; the removal of cemeteries; fixing penalties for destroying, mutilating, or injuring any tomb or other property, or committing a breach of the peace; the enforcement of police protection; the making of gifts in trust for purposes of repairs, improvements, and ornamentation; the investment of trust funds; the exempting of trust funds from taxation; the organization of county cemetery boards and providing for burial of indigent soldiers and sailors. The laws governing cemeteries impose no additional burden on cemeteries owned by Catholic institutions.


WALLACE, History of Illinois and Louisiana under the French Rule (Cincinnati, 1893); BREESE, Early History of Illinois (Chicago, 1884); CATON, Miscellanies (Boston, 1880); ROOSEVELT, The Winning of the West (New York, London, 1896); MOSES, Chapters from Illinois History (Chicago, 1901); PRITCHARD, Illinois of Today (Chicago, 1897); MOSES, Illinois — Historical and Statistical, I and II (Chicago, 1889-92); Publications of the Illinois Historical Library (Illinois Historical Library, Springfield, Ill.); O'NEILL'S Catholic Directory of Illinois (Chicago, 1906-07); BUREAU OF STATISTICS, The Chicago City Manual (Chicago, 1908); PARRISH, Historic Illinois (Chicago 1906): ROSE, Blue Book of Illinois, 1907 (Springfield, Ill., 1908); MATHER, The Making of Illinois (Chicago, 1900); SHEA, History of the Catholic Church (1890-2); The Illinois Glacial Lobe (U.S. Survey Monographs); WORTHEN'S Geological Survey of Illinois, I (9 vols., Chicago, 1876); The Fergus Historical Series (34 vols., Chicago); BARRY, The First Irish in Illinois (Chicago, 1902); Documents and Manuscripts of Illinois — Chicago Historical Society; Histories of the counties of Illinois by different authors; BURNETT, Notes on the Early Settlement of the Northwest Territory (1847); The Statutes of Illinois, annotated by STARR AND CURTIS (Chicago); MCGOVERN, Souvenir of the Silver Jubilee of Archbishop Feehan (Lockport, Ill., 1890); IDEM, Life of Bishop McMullen (Chicago, 1888); MATSON, Pioneers of Illinois (Chicago, 1882); LARMER, Lives of Early Catholic Missionaries of the Nineteenth Century in Illinois (Chicago, 1898); Illinois Historical Collections, ed. and ann. by BECKWITH (Springfield, Ill., 1903); BLANCHARD, History of Illinois (Chicago, 1883); WASHBURN, Sketch of Edward Coles (Chicago, 1882); The Edwards Papers, ed. WASHBURN (Chicago, 1882); CATON, Early Bench and Bar of Illinois (Chicago, 1893); FORD, History of Illinois (1818 to 1847) (New York, Chicago, 1854); ANTHONY, The Constitutional History of Illinois (Chicago, 1891); BROWN, The History of Illinois (New York, 1844); REYNOLDS, The Pioneer History of Illinois (Belleville, Ill., 1852); EDWARDS, History of Illinois and Life of Ninian W. Edwards (Springfield, Ill., 1870); LUCK, Politics and Politicians of Illinois (Springfield, Ill., 1884); DAVIDSON AND STUVE, History of Illinois (1673-1873) (Springfield, Ill., 1874-89); PALMER, The Bench and Bar of Illinois (Chicago, 1899); MASON, Illinois in the 18th Century (Chicago, 1902); GILLESPIE, Recollections of Early Illinois (Chicago); PATTERS0N, Early Society in Southern Illinois (Chicago): MASON, Lists of Early Illinois Citizens.

About this page

APA citation. O'Neill, H. (1910). Illinois. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. O'Neill, Hugh. "Illinois." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by John Fobian. In memory of Margaret Hartnett.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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