One of those requirements stated that Illinois had to approve a state constitution. On December 3, 1818, Illinois became the twenty-first state in the Union. Ostensibly a free state, slavery was “enshrined in the constitution” for existing colonial slave owners, and all citizens were allowed to have indentured servants. Over the next thirty years, the state experienced a transition from a U.S.
frontier to an established, rapidly developing agricultural state. Technology changed agriculture and expanded markets. It also promoted changes in government, legal, and educational institutions. The initial Illinois constitution has been amended three times since 1818: in 1848, 1870, and 1970.
Thus, after the establishment of its limits in 1818, Illinois acquired not only its physical appearance, but also the ingredients necessary to develop a unique character. Although it seems crazy on the bicentennial of Illinois, this huge and sprawling metropolis was nothing more than a rural backwater in 1818. In April 1818, Congress passed a bill that contemplated the possibility of admitting Illinois as a state if it could show that it had a population of at least 40,000 inhabitants in the territory. In fact, most of the inhabitants of Chicago in 1818 would have been Native Americans or mixed race, people of mixed European and Native American descent. The third option available in 1818 was to ignore all previous lines and create a new one based on current concerns.
However, the general picture takes on greater perspective when the origins of this political dynamic are placed in the historical context of 1818, when the need to reach a compromise at the national level was so pressing. Anyone who strolled through Grant Park during Illinois's bicentennial this year would have found themselves neck-deep submerged in the same spot in 1818. With this agreement and the seat of the new state government, the constitution was adopted on August 26, 1818. In 1818, the northern border of Illinois was born in an atmosphere of political commitment at the national level regarding slavery. You can't even imagine the history of Illinois without Chicago during the bicentennial, but no one alive in 1818 had any idea how important the small town would become.