9.5.12

CHICAGO, WISCONSIN.

An instructive book titled How the States Got Their Shapes explains that Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, and Minnesota all received special consideration by Congress in obtaining a Great Lakes coast.

In Illinois, a man named Nathaniel Pope merits mention on a historical marker, located on approximately the original Wisconsin border, Plankinton, er, Ogden Avenue.
Along Route 34 between Somonauk and Sandwich is the Sannauk Forest Preserve, and in the middle of that 72-acre woodlands is a state historical marker placed there in 1989. It reveals how this county and 13 others in northern Illinois almost ended up in Wisconsin. I just came across this bit of trivia last week and went to the library to learn more about Nathaniel Pope’s influence on Illinois.
It's possible that Mr. Pope, and not the elder Mayor Daley, invented the Illinois tradition of keeping dead people on the voting rolls, in his case in order to have sufficient people enumerated within the borders of the proposed state to qualify as a state.  But in so doing, he created a free state with a southern boundary south of Richmond, Virginia.
[Pope] wrote an article for the Western Intelligencer newspaper explaining his maneuvers in Congress. It turned out to be a brilliant plan because it gave Illinois a better foothold on the Great Lakes to help commerce, added thousands of acres of fertile farmland, and because half the population lived in this northern section, it later proved valuable in assuring the state would vote to stay in the Union and oppose slavery.
Perhaps in that transaction is the beginning of the Chicago and Downstate split. South of Plankinton, er, Ogden Avenue, Illinois takes on a more southern tone, complete with loyalties to the Cardinals rather than the Cubs or White Sox.  Cairo, however, had great value as a jumping-off place for Grant and Sherman.

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