Could there come a time
when you won't be able to
get canning lids?
need to preserve
Settlement Continues with the "Modernizers" (1830-1860)
became the fastest growing region during the Antebellum
period. In 1830, Illinois was home to some 25,000
families and was the 19th most populous state, and
by 1860, it had grown to house 300,000 families
and was hailed as the fourth most populous state
in the union. It was during this time that Illinois
began to draw more diverse settlers and this continued
up until end of the century. Prior to the onset
of southern and eastern European migration to the
United States in the later part of the century,
the makeup of Illinois' population looked like this:
This group of people
came west to Illinois to better their lives and
create a successful prairie community, which is
how they became labeled by historians as "moderinzers",
in contrast to the pioneers who came before them.
This group of settlers introduced new modes of transportation
and economy, as well as a restructured family life.
Families downsized and adopted higher moral and
educational standards for their children. They also
changed the dynamics of the parental relationship
by moving away from male superiority and into "separate
spheres ideology," which was a division of labor.
The father was the breadwinner, and the mother was
the keeper of the house and children. This was also
linked to the change from a subsistence farming
economy, to a market economy. This "separate
spheres idealogy" drew the man out of the home
and into the job market, giving him the title of
provider. The motivation of the modernizers drove
them into a modern, capitalistic, economy that facilitated
growth and attracted new settlers to the state.
This Yankee-dominated, urban Illinois was more pronounced
in the north and eventually polarized the state
along north-south lines.
The two primary groups
of immigrants during this period were the Germans
and the Irish. The Germans were drawn to both the
cities and the rural areas between St. Louis, Springfield,
and Chicago. The German immigrants were a more conservative
lot; they were literate, hardworking and had strong,
extended families. They were usually farmers and
devoutly religious, usually of Catholic or Lutheran
denomination. By the latter part of the century,
Germans became the largest ethnic group in St. Louis
The Irish also presented
a large ethnic factor in Illinois. The Irish came
to the America in flight of Ireland's potato famine
and British repression. Flooding into Illinois in
the 1840s and 1850s, the Irish mostly populated
the larger cities, particularly Chicago, where men
worked as low-pay-day-laborers and women worked
as servants and laundresses. Many Irish worked on
the railroads and on canal construction crews as
well. The Irish immigrants, as a group, were not
noteably wealthy, and what little money they did
accumulate went toward churches, convents, and parochial
schools. These immigrants were particularly involved
in politics and most allied themselves with the
Democrats. Irish pubs and saloons doubled as precinct
headquarters, and by the mid 1850s, one-fifth of
the elected and appointed government officials in
Chicago were Irish.
Antebellum Politics and the Road
to Civil War
Many factors contributed
to the outbreak of the American Civil War, including
abolition, pro-slavery, and the Mexican War. The
sectional strife and division the country felt at
the time was mirrored in Illinois. Illinois was
divided in two politically. Southerners with ties
to slavery comprised much of the southern part of
the state, while the northern portion of the state
was inhabited primarily of folks from New England,
the Northeast, and abroad, and carried more "free
soil" and Whig ties.
In 1833, Elijah P.
Lovejoy introduced abolitionism to St. Louis when
he started his newspaper, the Alton Observer. His
unwelcomed presence in St. Louis eventually led
to him being killed by an angry mob. His murderer
went unpunished. The abolition movement carried
greater success in the northern part of Illinois
where anti-slavery societies were created and gained
broad acceptance, and where the Liberty Party was
organized in 1840.
The Mexican War also
stirred up sectional tension over the issue of the
expanse of slavery. Many northerners were upset
with President Polk's decision to go to war with
Mexico for potential slave territory, while only
weakly bargaining with Britain for northern, free
territory. Militarily, Illinois participated in
the Mexican War by sending regiments to fight. The
Illinois First and Second Regiments, under Colonels
Hardin and Bissell, fought at Buena Vista, and the
Third and Fourth Regiments served at Vera Cruz and
Cerro Gordo. Two additional regiments served in
Texas as well. After the war, the nation was torn
over the issue of whether the new territories should
allow slavery or not, and Illinois was divided on
that issue as well.
In May of 1860, Abraham
Lincoln was nominated for the presidency at the
Republican National Convention held in Chicago,
Illinois. Lincoln ran opposed by Stephen Douglas,
a northern Democrat, John Bell of the Constitutional
Union Party, and by John C. Breckenridge of the
Southern Democratic Party. Lincoln rallied to victory
claiming essentially no southern votes, detonating
a string of secessions in southern states.
participated in the war, and many lost their lives.
A total of 250,000 Illinoisans fought in the war,
and 5,857 were killed in action. Another 3,051 later
died from their injuries. More Civil War soldiers
died from disease than from anything else, including
19,934 Illinoisans. Illinoisans were enthusiastic
about the war, and quotas were always filled voluntarily.
When the Conscription Act took effect in 1863, Illinois
men began being drafted, but volunteers continued
to fill quotas. Various ethnic groups participated
in the war and German and Irish regiments were formed.
No battles were fought in Illinois, but guerilla
warfare and raids penetrated state lines.
African Americans after the Civil
The conclusion of
the Civil War and the passage of the 14th Amendment
and the Reconstruction civil rights acts required
Illinois to revoke the laws that prohibited African
Americans from voting and serving on juries. Black
children began to receive schooling alongside white
children, and blacks began to gain access to state
colleges. Although progress was forthcoming, the
small population of blacks in the north made the
progress slow going.
Many African Americans
came to Illinois after the war to work in the coal
mines, often being recruited to replace white workers
who were striking. Despite this, by the end of the
century, African Americans were permitted to join
the United Mine Workers.