What is the Capital of Illinois?

Aerial view of the Illinois State Capitol dome and Springfield skyline under a dramatic sunset.
Aerial view of the Illinois State Capitol dome and Springfield skyline under a dramatic sunset.

Illinois is known for its agriculture and mechanical industries, its famous food, and for being where Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, became a great statesman. But what is the capital of this state?

The Capital of Illinois is Springfield, located in the state’s central portion. It became the capital of Illinois in 1839 thanks to the influence of Abraham Lincoln and his group known as The Long Nine.

In this article, we will discuss what the capital of Illinois is. So keep ready! We have everything you need to know about the capital of Illinois.

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Where is the Capital of Illinois Located? 

Where is the Capital of Illinois Located 
Where is the Capital of Illinois Located

Illinois’ capital is Springfield, a city located on the Sangamon rivers banks, in the state’s central portion. Springfield City is also the seat of Sangamon county. It lies 185 miles southwest of Chicago and 100 miles northeast of Missouri.

Springfield holds a dense suburban feel and is a place with a great variety of restaurants, bars, and parks. It’s populated mainly by families and young professionals with moderate political views.

The city of Springfield is known as the City of Firsts’, earning this name from its history of innovation. It was where America’s first armory was set up, as well as the first place where an American automobile was made.

A Brief History Of Springfield

Drone view of the Illinois State Capitol, in Springfield.
Drone view of the Illinois State Capitol, in Springfield.

The earliest history anthropologists can refer to in Springfield, and the wider Illinois area are Paelo Native Americans, who occupied small camps around forest areas some 10,000 years ago. They lived on wild plants and small animals. 

By around 2500 years ago, the Native American tribes such as the Potawatomi, Mesquakie, Winnebago, Sauk, and Kickapoo lived around Springfield. They began to live in larger villages, thanks to advances in agriculture, such as the large-scale production of Maize.

John Kelly was considered the first settler of Springfields modern history, when he constructed a log cabin in the area back in 1820. Springfield was initially given the name Calhoun in honor of Vice President and U.S. Senator John C. Calhoun.

In 1821, a group of friends, William Drennan, Zachariah Peter, and River Cormack, hammered a stake into the ground not far from John Kellys field, and the town was born. The town was eventually renamed Springfield, which is derived from the nearby Spring Creek, in 1832

Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky but relocated to Springfield in 1837. He would go on to become a valued member of the Springfield community. Lincoln would live in Springfield until his presidential campaign began in 1861.

Springfield was eventually selected to be the capital of Illinois’ in 1837, even with a population of fewer than 3000 people. The governmental offices would move to the new capital a few years later, in 1839, thanks to Abraham Lincoln and his Illinois legislators.

Licoln would serve his last term as a legislator in Springfield in 1841, in the Old State Capitol building. This building was refurbished in the 1960s and turned into a historical site. This would be where he delivered his famous talk, ‘House Divided.’ Lincoln, his wife, and two of their sons are buried in a cemetery and historical site known as Oak Ridge. The memorial for Lincoln here is an astonishing 117 feet high.

The economy of Springfield got a significant boost with the arrival of a railroad in the 19th century. It also became an agricultural center with rich farmland that produces corn, beans, and livestock. By the 20th century, it became known for its plentiful amount of coal mining. 

When did Springfield become the Capital of Illinois?

Drone view of the Illinois State Capitol, in Springfield.
Drone view of the Illinois State Capitol, in Springfield.

The first capital of the early territory of Illinois was a small place named Kaskaskia, which was positioned in the state’s southwestern portion. By 1818, Illinois had joined the United States, and the capital was moved to Vandalia the following year. 

Vandalia was founded to become the permanent capital and remained for 20 years. Yet, by 1839 it was decided that Springfield would become the capital of Illinois thanks to a lot of promotion from people like Abraham Lincoln.

Why is Springfield the Capital of Illinois?

Springfield had already been promoted in the early 1830s as a potential site for a new capital long before Vandalias 20 year contract was up. Political leaders of Illinois had started to realize that the large population centers were much further north than Vandalia. 

This led to the proposal of Springfield as a new capital. It was more north, yet still central, located close to the Sangamon river. It was also home to the political group known as ‘The Long Nine,’ which included Abraham Lincoln. 

Vandalia didn’t give up straight away and fought to remain the capital, yet through some work of Lincoln and his group, they prevailed, and Springfield was chosen. There are rumors today that the Long Nine called in some favors to help influence the move to Springfield.

Best Places to visit in Springfield, Illinois.

Springfield is a small city with less than 170,000 people; there are still plenty of places to visit for both historical tourists and those looking for a fun time. Here are five of the best places to visit in Springfield, Illinois.

  1. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum: No trip would be complete without a trip to the Lincoln Museum. Here you’re immersed in the life and legacy of the 16th president of the United States.
  2. Washington Park: If you want to get out into the open air, and wander around a lush green park filled with trees, a small lake, and beautiful flowers, then Washington park is a great place to visit.
  3. Illinois State Capitol: If you’re looking for some robust Greek architecture, then look no further than the Illinois state capitol building. This was the site where Abraham Lincoln won many cases as a lawyer. 
  4. Lincoln Tomb and War Memorial: If you want to see one of the first historical landmarks of America, then the Lincoln Tomb and War Memorial is a must. Here we have a statue accompanied by a 177-foot tall Obelisk dedicated to the 16th president. 
  5. Henson Robinson Zoo: If you’re feeling mentally exhausted after all of Lincoln history, or the kids need something fun to do, Henson Robinson Zoo is a great choice. Here you’ll find over 300 animals from Africa, Australia, Asia, and the Americas.

See Also

Capital Cities 

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!