Image from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum. 
For three months the city of Springfield had been in the center of a whirlwind. Its favorite son had been elected President of the United States on November 8, 1860, and since that time the city had experienced a level of excitement not seen before in its history.

Now that time was nearing an end, as Abraham Lincoln, President-elect of the United States, prepared to leave Springfield for the journey to Washington. Outside the Great Western Railroad station at 10th and Monroe a crowd had begun to gather to wish him farewell on the chilly, dreary morning of Monday, February 11, 1861.

When the new year arrives on January 1 it will bring with it nearly 300 new laws in Illinois – everything from addressing confidentiality for victims of human trafficking to lowering fees for trailer license plates.

Insurance companies will now be required to cover comprehensive testing for cancer predisposition, pancreatic cancer screenings and tests for diabetes and vitamin D deficiency. Parking will be made easier for expectant mothers in their third trimester as they will be eligible for a free placard to park in handicap-designated spots. New laws in 2022 will help fund educational scholarships to military families, expand cottage food operations and promote awareness of sarcoidosis.

We’ve even fully legalized kids’ lemonade stands. Curious? Click here to find out more about these and the other new laws taking effect in Illinois on January 1.


A least four tornados hit Illinois; fatalities at Amazon distribution center in Edwardsville. The Amazon distribution center in Edwardsville is a significant logistical center for Amazon to handle packages that go in and out of St. Louis International Airport. Like the other consumer-goods logistical centers of the United States, it had been operating at full or nearly-full capacity for the Christmas holiday season.
Harry Truman winks at the camera from the back of a train. 
By the fall of 1948 U.S. Senate Majority Leader Robert Taft of Ohio was fed up. For weeks President Harry Truman had been riding the rails back and forth across America pillorying Congress in his re-election campaign; an effort which all the experts said was doomed. At last Taft’s frustration boiled over and he vented in public about Truman trashing Congress and its leaders “at whistlestops across the country.”

Without knowing it, Taft had just coined a term which would become a mainstay of presidential campaigning in the 20th century and right on through to today. It was also taken as an insult to many small towns around America, including many here in Illinois.
Redistricting case heard by three-judge federal panel. Three separate plaintiffs and plaintiffs’ groups have joined forces in the current case. Working from different perspectives, they pointed out parallel constitutional challenges to the current Illinois General Assembly map. This map, enacted after a State constitutional deadline, purports to grant equal protection to all of the people of Illinois who will cast future ballots for members of the Illinois House and Senate.
Photo: Illinois Governor Frank Lowden. 
One hundred years ago Illinois’ leaders and many of its citizens had run out of patience with the existing state Constitution. With tremendous momentum they started the process of throwing it out and crafting a new basic law for the state, only to see their efforts collapse into acrimony and inertia, eventually leading to an epic defeat by the electorate.
Reunion of atomic scientists on the 4th Anniversary
of the first controlled nuclear fission chain reaction.
Credit: University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf3-00232,
Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center,
University of Chicago Library.
Announcing the successful deployment of the world’s first atomic bomb in August 1945, President Harry S Truman said that America had won “the race of discovery against the Germans.”

It was apt to have used a sports metaphor to announce the completion of a project which had accomplished one of its most important steps underneath the bleachers of an Illinois football stadium on this day in 1942.

Major credit rating agency shifts Illinois outlook to positive, but keeps Springfield in bottom tier of investment-grade debtors. S&P Global Rankings, one of the Big Three Wall Street credit rating agencies, revised its outlook on Illinois general obligation (GO) debt from neutral to positive. The outlook revision is a sign that the State of Illinois’s GO debts have a brighter outlook than other bonds and debt instruments in the same category. S&P Global currently ranks Illinois GO debt as “BBB,” the lowest overall category of investment-grade debt, and its appropriation-backed debt as “BBB-“, the lowest subcategory.

Red Grange and Robert Zuppke. 
Photo from the Illinois Distributed Museum.
As Thanksgiving approaches, the sports world nears the peak of its annual debate about who should qualify for the college football playoff.

The playoff is relatively new creation, just arriving on the scene with the 2014 season, and coming after a few other attempts to develop a system for crowning a national champion. Before the advent of a genuine national championship game there were seasons in which the debate raged over who was truly the best college football team in the nation. President Richard Nixon even intervened in the argument to use the power and prestige of the White House to declare the Texas Longhorns as national champions in 1969.

2022-30 General Assembly map cycle: case to be heard by federal court in first full week of December.
Governor Pritzker signed a new legislative map, with grotesquely shaped districts, to govern the election of future members of the Illinois General Assembly during the decade following the Census of 2020. The map will determine which Illinois House and Senate candidate names each voter will see when the go to the polls. No one will have the right to keep their old lawmaker if the map has forced them into a new district. Furthermore, the new map subdivides many local areas and communities of interest, and uses long lines to glue fragments of communities together into partisan-unbalanced ropes and strings. If the new map takes effect, many Illinois residents will be represented by someone who will live far away from their own places of residence.
In the tragic days following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln the nation sought ways to memorialize its martyred leader.

Monuments were erected throughout the northern states, and buildings and streets were christened in his honor. Settlers moving west across the plains named their newly built cities and counties for him – so much so that Lincoln is the fourth-most common county name in the United States. When a German ocean liner was seized by U.S. authorities upon America’s entry into World War I it was renamed the President Lincoln and converted to a troopship, the first of three U.S. Navy ships to bear Lincoln’s name.
Illinois Democrats pass grotesquely gerrymandered congressional map. With the Illinois General Assembly meeting for the second week of Veto Session, the Democratic supermajority stuck to their familiar playbook of partisan advantage, backroom deal making, and waiting until the last possible minute to pass legislation that will impact Illinois families for the next decade.

One of the top issues facing the General Assembly this week was passage of the new congressional redistricting map for Illinois. Much as they did with the state legislative redistricting map, House Democrats voted to pass the fourth and final version of their gerrymandered congressional map around midnight on the final day of Veto Session. The House held no committee hearing on the final map, took no testimony from advocates, and gave legislators and the general public no time to review or digest the details of the new map.
Finishing dinner with his son and daughter at his home on October 28, 1893, Chicago Mayor Carter Harrison must have been in a good mood. Just hours earlier he had delivered remarks to hundreds of his fellow mayors attending American Cities Day during the final weekend of the World’s Columbian Exposition, better known as the Chicago’s World’s Fair. Author and historian Erik Larson wrote that, “Friends said he had never looked so handsome, so full of life.”

Illinois House, Senate hold veto session. The General Assembly convened on Tuesday, October 18, in Springfield. Holding a truncated first week of veto session, the Illinois House and Senate adjourned on Wednesday. When they return on Tuesday, October 25, both chambers of the General Assembly will face the challenges of U.S. congressional remapping, the Illinois budget situation, Illinois’ Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund debts, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marines at Great Lakes. 
As the afternoon of December 7, 1941, wore on, the news coming over radios across America caused a divided nation to come together like never before. When the sun came up that morning Illinois, like the rest of the country, was split over the question of whether to become involved in the war that was consuming much of the globe, from small islands in the South Pacific to the streets of London. By sundown, the reports from Pearl Harbor had made it clear what the answer would be.

Veto session begins next week. The Illinois General Assembly will convene in Tuesday, October 18, with a congressional redistricting map as the chief focus of attention. In addition to redistricting, issues of violent crime, COVID-19 mandates, and the State’s increasing debt load will continue to be issues of concern for House Republican members. In addition to Illinois’ “general obligation” debt, Illinois taxpayers owe hundreds of billions of dollars in pension debt and a new, nearly $5 billion debt owed by Illinois’ Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.

As the Great Depression deepened in the early 1930s, and Americans’ anger toward bankers and the wealthy rose, a new kind of anti-hero emerged: the prairie bank robber. Through the early 1930s newspapers were filled with increasingly thrilling accounts of brazen heists and getaways by characters like Pretty Boy Floyd, Bonnie and Clyde, Machine Gun Kelly, Alvin Karpis and perhaps the most famous of the 1930s bandits, John Dillinger.

Congressional redistricting hearings begin. The General Assembly has not yet enacted a map to govern the election, starting in 2022, of the Illinois members of the U.S. House of Representatives. As with maps for the Illinois General Assembly, the new maps are supposed to reflect the population numbers generated by the 2020 U.S. Census. Close observers of Illinois politics believe that the Democrats will introduce a map that will have boundary lines drawn to help members of their party and hurt Republicans. 
One hundred and fifty years ago today the city of Chicago dodged a major bullet.

By Saturday October 7, 1871, Chicago was a flourishing prairie metropolis, one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. The expanding railroad network of the western United States – which had just recently reached the west coast – had its hub in the city by the shores of Lake Michigan, and eastern investors were pouring more funds into the city’s growth every day.

Pritzker again breaks pledge to voters, signs second partisan legislative map. In May 2021 and again in August 2021, the Democrats who make up the majorities of both houses of the General Assembly passed bills to remap the Illinois House and Senate. The maps, enthusiastically supported by Democrats, contained map lines intended to give districts to many of them where they could look forward to almost automatic re-elections.
Babe Ruth greeted by Lou Gehrig at home plate.
Photo from the National Baseball Hall of Fame. 
As the Major League Baseball playoffs get underway next week some Illinoisans might be tempted to look back on the history of October baseball in our state. There have been some bright spots, like the crosstown series all the way back in 1906, and the Sox and Cubs both breaking their long title droughts in 2005 and 2016 respectively.

But Chicago’s October baseball history has some moments that are not so pleasant. While most of the details of the Black Sox scandal of 1919 are well established, and Cub fans are painfully aware of the particulars of the now-defunct curse of the billy goat, an incident at Wrigley Field in the 1932 World Series (which may not have actually happened at all) still inspires discussion and debate today.

Did Babe Ruth really call his shot?

Availability of ICU beds in Illinois. Illinois is currently in Phase 5 mitigation for COVID-19, with most public activities allowed if people wear facemasks indoors. However, the highly contagious “Delta variant” of COVID-19 is gripping Illinois and the nation, leading to increased coronavirus case counts and hospitalizations. One key variable, the number of available intensive care unit (ICU) beds, continues to show troublesome numbers. Statewide ICU bed availability has been under 20% continuously for the past two weeks, and in mid-September ICU bed availability in Southern Illinois dropped down to zero. These numbers matched the patient counts in states adjacent to Illinois, and states such as Kentucky and Missouri may be putting pressure on Illinois hospital care and infrastructure. 
A Union battery at Fort Prentiss (renamed Fort Defiance),
with guns facing the Ohio River, Cairo, Illinois. 
Out of the wreckage of the Union Army retreating in disarray from the disastrous July 1861 battle of Bull Run came the realization that the Civil War was not going to be a 90-day conflict, but a long, drawn out affair. It would be a war of attrition. The north would have to call upon its superior manpower and industrial base to save the Union. It would be helped along in no small part by the burgeoning economic powerhouse that was the state of Illinois.

Omnibus energy bill signed. After approval by both houses of the General Assembly, SB 2408 was signed into law on Wednesday, September 15. A key element of the energy bill and its approval was the continued operation of two nuclear power plants (Byron and Dresden). In return for electric rate guarantees contained in the bill, owner Exelon has made a binding pledge to keep these two plants open for at least five years. This pledge directly affects more than 1,530 employees of the two plants, together with the communities that are directly supported by their operations.

The late summer and fall of 1818 was a busy time in the Illinois Territory.

Spring had seen the U.S. Congress adopt legislation entitled the Illinois Enabling Act which would pave the way for statehood. It was signed by President James Monroe in April, setting Illinois on the path toward becoming the 21st state.

The act of Congress had established boundaries for the new state and authorized local leaders in the land between the Wabash and the Mississippi to get to work on establishing a state government, including the election of new leaders. There was much to do.


Illinois House passes omnibus energy legislation. The Illinois House of Representatives returned to session in Springfield on Thursday, September 9. On the agenda was a comprehensive energy bill dealing with various facets of Illinois’ energy and electricity supplies. The bill action followed notification to Illinois by Exelon, the operator of nuclear power plants in northern Illinois, that several of its fleet of nuclear plants were unprofitable and, without action by the General Assembly, would soon be decommissioned. This news threatened the operation of two Illinois nuclear power plants, Byron and Dresden. Exelon asked the General Assembly for state regulatory relief so that these two plants could remain open, protecting Illinois’ electric generation capacity and saving thousands of good-paying jobs.

When Jean Baptiste Point du Sable built his cabin and trading post, becoming Chicago’s first permanent resident, he saw that the location at the junction of the river and the lake had real potential.

The easy portage between the lake and the mid-continent’s river system made his new home the linchpin of a trading network that could one day cover thousands of square miles. The location was good, but the land was not all it could be. Most of it was swampland, and that was going to make it difficult to build a city.

Democrats ram through revised partisan maps during special session. Following the release of the 2020 Census numbers in early August, the Illinois General Assembly met in special session on Tuesday, August 31 to vote on revised legislative redistricting maps.

What we have witnessed over the past week has been the continuation of a grand farce that began in the spring, when a partisan map-making process played out in a backroom behind a locked door using inaccurate and incomplete data that produced flawed maps drawn by politicians.
Vandalia State House. Photo from the Abraham Lincoln
Presidential Library & Museum. 
It didn’t take long for Illinois state government to realize it needed a new home.

With statehood in 1818, Kaskaskia became the first state capital, but its days were already numbered, as the frequent floods of the Mississippi made it difficult to build a permanent capital on its banks. Congress had not designated any particular site as a permanent state capital, and the General Assembly had only picked Kaskaskia until a better location could be found. By the time the 1st General Assembly convened in 1819, the search was already underway.

All Illinois residents required to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. On Thursday, Governor JB Pritzker announced a statewide indoor mask mandate for all Illinois residents, regardless of vaccination status, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates continue to increase. The masking requirements are effective Monday, August 30th.

Governor Pritzker also announced vaccination requirements for individuals in high risk settings. All healthcare workers, including nursing home employees, all pre-k-12 teachers and staff, as well as higher education personnel and students will now be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Employees in all of these settings and higher education students who are unable or unwilling to receive the vaccine will be required to get tested for COVID-19 at least once per week, and IDPH and ISBE may require increased testing in certain situations.  
Does Chicago owe its picturesque skyline to a birdcage?

By the late 1800s cities in the United States and around the world were running out of real estate. Some were hemmed in by waterways or other geographic obstructions and could not expand horizontally. Others had ample space but could not extend infrastructure fast enough to support an ever-growing physical space. Some just faced pressures to get as much rentable real estate as close to the central business district as possible.

To one degree or another, Chicago faced all three challenges.
U.S. Census Bureau Counts Confirm that Democrats’ Redistricting Plan is Unconstitutional and Unlawful.
The official 2020 decennial counts released by the U.S. Census Bureau on August 12 confirm that the Democrats’ redistricting plan, HB 2777, violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law, as well as comparable provisions of the Illinois Constitution. Accordingly, no lawful redistricting plan was effective on June 30, 2021. The Illinois Constitution is clear that responsibility for the plan has shifted to the bipartisan Legislative Redistricting Commission.
Illinois is many things, but first and foremost we are an agricultural state. Agriculture built Illinois; whether it is the small family farmer, the truck driver who delivers their products, the tractor factory employee or those who work at the Chicago Board of Trade, agriculture touches every part of Illinois’ economy and remains the state’s largest industry.

Geography plays an important part in that history. Our state happens to sit atop some of the most fertile farmland in the entire world and the development of the nation’s transportation infrastructure put us right at the crossroads of the continent.

Illinois population numbers released, confirming that Illinois will lose one congressional seat. Actual 2020 Census numbers (rather than computer-generated statistical estimates) were released this week. While the overall U.S. population grew by 7.4% between 2010 and 2020, Illinois’ population actually fell slightly. As a result, Illinois will lose one of its 18 congressional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Slow economic growth and poor governmental policies were blamed for Illinois’ poor Census showing. Illinois sharply underperformed population growth patterns posted in neighboring states such as Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin. In contrast to Illinois, none of these four states will be required to give up congressional seats in Washington.

By the late 1880s Illinois was booming. The dark days of the early 1870s, with the Chicago Fire and a nationwide economic recession, were fading into memory as farmers produced bigger crops each year and railroads brought commerce and opportunity to cities and towns throughout the state.

This newfound prosperity and interconnectedness also provided an opportunity for recreation which had been unheard of for working class Illinoisans just a few decades earlier. With a little money in their pocket and a nearby rail connection to any point in the country, many Illinoisans were taking their first long-distance vacations during the decade of the 1880s.

Governor Pritzker imposes mask mandate on schools, long-term care facilities. As COVID-19 infection rates across the state continue to increase and with a number of school districts not yet adopting CDC guidance on masking, Governor JB Pritzker and IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced this week that masks will be required for students, teachers, and staff at pre-kindergarten-12th grade schools and day cares across the state. The new requirement formalizes CDC guidance released in July on universal masking for both unvaccinated and vaccinated people in schools to ensure a safe return to classrooms. 

There are a lot of things that make Illinois unique. Throughout history state leaders have sought to showcase some of the distinctive elements of Illinois by granting them official status as a state symbol.

Certain symbols are necessary for the functions of government, like the state seal for official documents. Others are so common that it is hard to imagine not having one, such as our state flag. Some of our most well-known state symbols came to receive official recognition in the early 20th century thanks to the work of citizens groups who, for example, helped designate our state tree and state bird.

It was a festive, joyous atmosphere at the Clark Street docks on the south bank of the Chicago River on the morning of July 24, 1915, as a group of employees and families from the Western Electric Company in Joliet prepared to board the steamship Eastland for an excursion across the lake to Michigan City, Indiana. A band played lively music from the dock and passengers looked forward to a day of fun and relaxation.

In such surroundings it was hard to imagine that the assembly was just minutes away from the worst disaster in Illinois history.


Delta, Gamma variants spread in Illinois. The Delta and Gamma variants of the COVID-19 virus are spreading throughout Illinois. A significant tracking number, the “positivity ratio,” representing positive diagnoses as a percentage of total tests administered, is creeping back up towards 3% in Illinois as a whole. Illinois remains in Phase 5 mitigation, with residents urged to maintain social distancing and personal cleanliness in public places. More than 50% of Illinois residents are now fully vaccinated against coronavirus, with more than 13.0 million doses administered to more than 6 million Illinoisans.
Earlier this summer the nation learned of the death of the controversial former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld who became the public face of the war in Iraq from 2003 until his resignation in 2006.

At that time Rumsfeld was serving his second term as Secretary of Defense, having first held the post during the 1970s (making him both the youngest and oldest Secretary of Defense in American history). He was also the White House Chief of Staff under President Gerald Ford and held positions in the Nixon and Reagan administrations as well.

Before all of that, however, Rumsfeld’s first foray into politics came here in Illinois, where he was elected to four terms in Congress in the 1960s.

Legislative Inspector General resigns, calls for fundamental changes. Under existing State General Assembly law, legislators are supposed to obey a series of laws and guidelines governing their work, income, and conduct. Legislative members’ compliance with these laws and guidelines is supposed to be overseen by the Legislative Inspector General, who has the power to scrutinize and refer cases for possible disciplinary action against a legislative member of the Illinois House or the Illinois Senate.

One hundred fifty years ago today the tragic story of the Lincoln family met with yet another heartbreak.

Thomas Lincoln III was born in Springfield on April 4, 1853, the fourth son of Abraham and Mary Lincoln. He was named for his grandfather who had brought the much younger Abraham Lincoln to Illinois in 1830 before settling in Coles County, where he died just two years before his namesake grandson was born.


CGFA reports receipts down in June 2021, up for FY21 as a whole. June 2021 marked the final month of FY21 (July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021), the fiscal year that just ended in the State of Illinois. The FY21 fiscal year was marked by a sharp upswing in unusual and one-time federal aid payments to state governments, local governments, and individual taxpayers. In some cases, Illinois households responded to these federal payments by spending more money and declaring higher personal taxable income. These trends were associated with the 2020-2021 COVID-19 pandemic.
Babe Ruth, Al Simmons, and Earl Averill.
Photo from
Every July the best players in Major League Baseball meet for the annual clash between the National League and the American League in the All-Star Game. After a hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic last year, next Tuesday’s game promises to be just as exciting as many of the 90 such matchups which have preceded it.

The mid-summer classic has featured some of the most memorable moments in baseball history: Reggie Jackson crushing a towering home run at Tiger Stadium, Carl Hubbell striking out five future Hall of Famers in a row at the Polo Grounds, and Pete Rose barreling into Illinois native Ray Fosse at Riverfront Stadium. Fans missed the annual gathering of baseball’s best in 2020 which has become such a part of the summer landscape – a run which goes all the way back to the first MLB All-Star game in Chicago in 1933.
A crowd gathered on the beach near Evanston to watch in horror at the unfolding tragedy just yards away.

Making its way into Chicago in the fog on September 8, 1860, the passenger ship Lady Elgin had collided with the lumber freighter Augusta just off the shore of Lake Michigan. Now the ship was going down within sight of land as hundreds of passengers and crew struggled to survive in the water.

Many of them did not make it. When it was all over, almost 300 had died in the sinking, just one of too many collisions happening on the lake near Chicago.

Slight upgrade to Illinois’ credit outlook. The three major New York-based bond-rating agencies agree that the State of Illinois has the lowest credit rating among the 50 states. Using the terminology published by two of the three rating agencies (Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings), Illinois has had a BBB- credit rating – the lowest level above “junk bond” territory – with a “negative outlook” for further changes. Any reduction in Illinois’ credit rating from BBB- would push the State’s general obligation (GO) debt, the bonds Illinois sells to finance a wide variety of day-to-day capital expenses, into the realm of non-investment-grade securities. 
Virginia Marmaduke (right) with the Eisenhowers at the
Illinois Pavilion during the New York World's Fair.
Photo from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum. 
Right from the start of her distinguished journalism career, Virginia Marmaduke had been clear about what she wanted to do.

“I wanted to be a police reporter and cover blood, guts and sex,” she recalled. She did just that for nearly four decades, opening doors and redefining the roles women played in journalism in Illinois.

Marmaduke came along at a time when women journalists were often consigned to the entertainment beat or other similarly frivolous topics at their newspapers. But Virginia Marmaduke had no use for that: she was a hard news reporter, and that’s where she was determined to do her work.

Democrats change House Rules to clean up their budget mess. On Memorial Day, in the middle of the night, Illinois House Democrats voted for a new State budget that included $650 million in tax increases, legislator pay raises and a billion dollars in pork projects for Democrats’ legislative districts.

House Republicans have long argued that one of the root causes of Illinois’ fiscal chaos is the lack of transparency in the budgeting process. Budgets should be thoroughly vetted through both chambers of the General Assembly with a mandatory period for public comment. What absolutely should not happen is what we saw at the end of May, when the final amendment to a more than 3,000 page budget bill was filed just minutes before the House vote. 
When the final day of the June 1858 Illinois Republican state convention arrived the convention had already made history. But it was nothing compared to what was to come.

During the 19th century, before the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, United States Senators were chosen by state legislatures. The typical practice was for the new legislatures to be sworn in following the fall elections and then for each party or faction within the legislature to put forward its nominee for the Senate, should one of their state’s two senators’ terms have expired. The legislature would then vote on the nominees and select their senator.

Not surprisingly, the nominee of the party holding the most seats in the legislature usually won.
Durkin, McConchie File Lawsuit to Challenge Legislative Maps. Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and Illinois Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie filed a lawsuit this week in federal court to challenge the legislative maps drawn and passed by Illinois Democrats in the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker. The lawsuit is being filed against Illinois House Speaker Emanuel Chris Welch (in his official capacity), Illinois Senate President Don Harmon (in his official capacity), the offices of the Speaker of the House and the Senate President, and the Illinois State Board of Elections and its members (in their official capacities).