Every American citizen must be proud of the state of Illinois and every reader of the world’s history those more so among generations yet unborn, will in scanning the New World’s progress dwell with especial pleasure upon those pages which will speak of Illinois and her people.
In the Greek confederacy the state of Attica, of which Athens was the capital, was the leader, and its people were eminently proud of their record. So did a Roman take just pride in being one and equally so with an inhabitant of Rome or Athens must a citizen of Illinois feel happy that he is a resident of this state, be he so by birth or by adoption.
The unlimited resources of Illinois were nature’s gift and the people of the state have shown a wonderful intelligence and a most admirable energy in seeing and developing them. By the proper application of it and by the exercise of a degree of ambition not surpassed by any people in human history have they risen to this commanding position.
When our Republic was fifty years old the Red Indians wigwam and the Buffalo herd were the standard features of the state. Now she is the third state in the American Union in population – 3,826,351 – and wealth, and the plow, the chisel and the spade deftly guided by human civilization have made her the granary and market for the world, reared cities and edifices rivaling the Pantheon or Coliseum and forming great works, which have wrought good in the economy of life commensurate with that of the Suez canal or the Appian way.
While in art she has not had the opportunity of accumulating treasures for hundreds of years, in building she is more pretentious than any state. The name of her metropolis (Chicago) is respected in the commerce of the entire world and as a political, educational and social factor the people of Illinois exert an influence second to no state in national affairs.
In war, as in material progress, she stands likewise in the front. The two heros of the civil war, Lincoln and Grant were her sons and from the confines of the state, would the government have accepted volunteers, would have been furnished all the soldiers asked for during the first two years of the war.
Illinois will never rest till she enjoys the title of the first state of the Union, in commerce, agriculture, manufactures, politics, finance, education, art and religion.