Illinois developed into the Land of Lincoln during the pivotal period from its 1818 enabling act, which set the state’s northern boundary to encompass the area that became Chicago, through its four nineteenth-century constitutional conventions (1818, 1847, 1862, 1869). The northern boundary extension and Chicago’s rapid economic and industrial development contributed to the rise of the Republican Party, Abraham Lincoln’s election, and the legacy of his Civil War amendments that altered the course of U.S. history. Each convention focused on significant issues of the times, from authoritarian rule to black bondage to rail regulation, culminating in the forward-looking 1870 constitution, many provisions of which were retained in the 1970 revision.
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