In a House Divided, 1850-1890
Maps Time Line: 1850-1890
16 State Fair Image
Illinois State Fair, Alton, 1856 [51k]
1851 Illinois Central Railroad, the first railroad in the U.S. to receive a grant of public lands, was chartered. This backbone north/south route was completed in 1856.
1851 Isaac Singer perfected the sewing machine.
1853 Illinois State Agricultural Society was chartered and first State Fair was held in Springfield. In later years, it was held in various towns until 1894, when it was permanently located in Springfield.
1855 First free public-school system was approved by state legislature.
Welcome Home Image
Home from the War,
1865 [50k]
1860 Abraham Lincoln left Springfield to become president of the U.S.
1861-1865 Civil War took 256,297 Illinois men away from their families, over 34,000 were killed or died of disease.
1867 George Pullman founded a company to build sleeping cars for railroads. In 1880 he built the town of Pullman around his factory in South Chicago.
1867 Phillip Armour's meat-packing company opened in Chicago.
Chicago Fire image
Chicago Fire [60k]
1869 I.W. McGafley of Chicago was awarded the first American patent for his invention of a suction principle vacuum cleaner.
1871 The Chicago Fire killed 350 people and destroyed the homes of one-third of the city's population, about 1,600 stores, 60 factories, 28 public buildings. The city quickly rebounded as more costly structures were built and more than 100,000 craftsmen were employed for the reconstruction.
1872 Montgomery Ward issued the first mail-order catalog in Chicago.
1873-1879 Economic depression ended the prosperity that followed the Civil War. Chicago saw 37% of its workers jobless. Layoffs and wagecuts led to sweeping labor unrest in Illinois and around the country.
Haymarket Riot image
Haymarket riot [53k]
1874 Joseph Glidden of DeKalb received a patent for barbed wire. While not the only wire made, Glidden's wire was the most popular.
1876 Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. Exchanges opened in Chicago, Bloomington, Danville, Springfield, and Decatur in 1879; Joliet and Freeport in 1880; Champaign in 1881; and Aurora and Evanston in 1882.
1880 Stationary steam engines powering threshing machines were becoming more prevalent in Illinois wheat fields.
1886 There were more than 1,000 labor-related strikes in the state. At a labor assembly near the Haymarket in Chicago, a bomb exploded killing over 75 people. As a result, some labor leaders were sentenced to death, and the progress of organized labor was slowed.
1889 Jane Addams opened Hull House in the worst slum district on the West Side of Chicago. Addams and her associates developed programs to educate and improve the living conditions of immigrants--about half the population of Chicago at the time.
1893 In response to an economic depression, the Pullman Railway Car Company lays off workers but does not lower rents in the Pullman village. Workers demand higher wages and lower rents, the company refuses to negotiate. Pullman workers go on strike.
1894 The American Railway Union joins the Pullman workers to boycott the Pullman Company Railway cars. The strike paralyzes the Illinois economy. The Federal Government intervenes and ends the strike.

Button Bar [8k]

© Illinois State Museum 31-Dec-96