Today marks the 200th birthday for Illinois, but if statehood went the way it was supposed to go we would all be Cheesehead's right now. According to a column in the Chicago Tribune today, Illinois didn't even have enough people living in it to become a state 200 years ago. We actually have Nathaniel Pope, a congressional Representative to thank for this.

Map Of Illinois From 'Arbuckles' Illustrated Atlas of the USA'
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Also, his nephew Daniel Cook (who Cook County is named after) him that he had never even been to. Daniel was a newspaper publisher and one of the few really pushing for statehood. But actually, not enough people lived here to give it statehood. The minimum number required for a territory to become a state used to be 60,000 people. But at 34,620 we didn't quite make it but with some clever lobbying he made it happen with the help of Pope. As the bill was passing through the committee, Pope Replaced the description of Illinois' northern border From Lake Michigan's southern tip to "North Latitude 42 degrees 30 minutes, that added 8,500 more square miles and 14 future counties.

Abraham Lincoln in 1858
Bettmann Archive, Getty Images


So If Pope and Cook never took the steps, Chicago would actually be in Wisconsin. But in 1818 Chicago was not very metropolitan. If Pope and Cook never took action we wouldn't be calling this the land of Lincoln right now. Happy Birthday Illinois! If you want to check out the whole story you can read the Tribune's article right here.

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