Illinois Becomes the 21st State
On December 3, 1818, President James Monroe signed legislation admitting the state of Illinois to the Union.
In 1673, the governor-general of the French colonies in Canada, Louis de Buade, Compte de Frontenac, sent Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet to explore the Mississippi River. Marquette and Jolliet were most likely the first Europeans to reach Illinois. The men traveled south along the western border of the state and then returned north up the Illinois River. In 1675, Marquette founded a mission at an Indian village near present-day Ottawa. In 1699, French priests established the first permanent European settlement in Illinois, at Cahokia.