Illinois

Most associate Ronald Reagan with California, but he spent his formative years in the midwest. On the centennial of his birth, a handful of small Illinois towns want a share of the limelight.

Back in 1965 Ronald Reagan published his first memoir, Where’s the Rest of Me?, borrowing the title from a line in the 1942 Warner Brothers film Kings Row. Read more >>

A new picture of prairie lawyers coping with bad roads and worse inns on the Illinois frontier, drawn from David Davis’ letters

Her son had her committed. She said it was so he could get his hands on her money. Now, 130 years after this bitter and controversial drama, a trove of letters—long believed destroyed—sheds new light on it.

A newly discovered document almost certainly written by the young Abraham Lincoln shows him dismantling a shifty political rival with ruthless wit and logic

As soon as he moved to Illinois in 1830, Abraham Lincoln found himself on the opposite side of the political fence from Peter Cartwright, a well-known Methodist preacher and politician. Read more >>

At the dawn of this century a new form of residential architecture rose from the American heartland, ruled by the total integration of space, site, and structure

After dinner Frank Lloyd Wright would sometimes raise a wineglass, watch the yellow candlelight refracted through the red liquid and crystal, and, quoting the Chinese philosopher Lao-tze, remark that the reality of the vessel lay in the void within, “the plac Read more >>

Last year two scholars working separately uncovered a pair of previously unknown portraits of Abraham Lincoln. One of them—which seems to put us in the very presence of the man—turned out to be the first ever painted.

Until recently historians believed that Abraham Lincoln was not painted before 1860, the year artists hurried to Springfield to produce likenesses of the presidential candidate. Read more >>

Clues uncovered during the recent restoration of his house at Springfield help humanize the Lincoln portrait

One good measure of our apparently inexhaustible interest in Abraham Lincoln is that this year eight hundred thousand of us will be led through his house at the corner of Eighth and Jackson streets in Springfield, Illinois. Read more >>

You probably haven’t seen it, but it’s out by the tracks of the Chicago & North Western

DeKalb, Illinois, our nearest city, is the site of Northern Illinois University. Some twenty-five thousand young people, mostly urban, from Chicago and environs, make Northern their home. Read more >>
Visitors to Chicago have tended either to love the city or to despise it, but its bursting vitality has awed everyone. Perhaps Mark Twain expressed it best. Read more >>

The first settlers marked the borders of their lives with simple fences that grew ever more elaborate over the centuries

Good fences make good neighbors,” wrote Robert Frost, and he meant that fences did more than just enclose space; like his woods and roads, they bounded a social and psychological landscape. Read more >>
Jack Hughes was an outstanding passer of phony bills. Read more >>

From Poverty and Persecution to Prosperity and Power

In the month of February, 1846, when conditions for travel were as unpropitious as possible, the Mormons began moving out of their newly built city of Nauvoo, Illinois, in order to cross the ice-strewn Mississippi, on the first leg of a long and uncertain journey. Read more >>

The tragedy of Black Hawk, who became the eponym of a war he tried to avoid

On July 4, 1838, the people of Fort Madison, in the Iowa Territory, invited an old Sauk war chief named Black Hawk to be guest of honor at their Independence Day celebration. Read more >>

An artist recalls his Midwestern home town and the poet who made it famous

I always felt at home in Edgar Lee Master᾿s quarters in the Chelsea Hotel. It was all so much like a Petersburg, Illinois, law office that I might have been back in Papa Smoot’s office overlooking the courthouse square. Read more >>