* Kate Thayer…
When Illinois was applying for statehood, the borders had to be clearly defined, Wheeler said. An initial application had the northern border about 50 miles south of where it is now, which would have put what now is Chicago and the Lake Michigan coastline outside the state, he said.
Nathaniel Pope, the Illinois territory’s delegate in Congress, saw opportunity in moving the border north to include the lead-rich mines of Galena, as well as waterway access. He redrew the state, Wheeler said.
“He knew access to Lake Michigan was profound,” he said. “If (the border) wouldn’t have been moved … the state would’ve developed so much differently.”
The population in the northern part of the state (and Chicago) with its access to other parts of the country through Lake Michigan and connecting waterways is due to that shift in boundaries, Wheeler said.
Tough luck, Wisconsin.
* Ron Grossman…
The fix was orchestrated by Nathaniel Pope, Illinois’ congressional representative when it was not yet a state. His nephew Daniel P. Cook was a newspaper publisher and a leader in the movement for statehood. Cook County would be posthumously named for him, though he probably never set foot there.
Cook got the honor because he used his paper to lobby members of the local legislature to pass a resolution asking that Illinois become a state. It was sent to Washington, where Pope was in a good position to shepherd it through Congress. He was on the committee that considered Illinois’ application for statehood.
But Cook and Pope had a problem. Illinois didn’t meet the requirements for statehood.
A territory was supposed to have 60,000 inhabitants before being bumped up, and Illinois was a thinly populated slice of the western frontier. There was a loophole: Congress could set a lower bar, and Pope persuaded his fellow legislators to grant Illinois that exemption. Pope seems to have claimed there were 40,000 Illinoisans, though a special census could only find 34,620 of them. And even that number might have been inflated by counting migrants who were just passing through Illinois on their way farther West.