A state historical marker recognizing Illinois’ original northern boundary “in celebration of the Illinois bicentennial” has been installed in downtown Yorkville.
According to the marker, the boundary between Illinois and Wisconsin was drawn through what is now Yorkville and Kendall County when the bill to add Illinois as a state was proposed in 1818. Nathaniel Pope, the state’s delegate in Congress at the time the original boundary was proposed, introduced an amendment changing the boundary to include Chicago – and Lake Michigan.
According to the marker, Pope “felt the necessity of giving Illinois a firm footing on the lake, thus committing her interest to northern commerce flowing through the lakes to offset the influence of southern trade on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers in case of internal conflict. Pope felt that the territorial addition would ‘afford additional security to the perpetuity of the Union, inasmuch as the state would thereby be connected with the states of Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, through the lakes.’”
The Pope amendment shifted the boundary 61 miles north and gained Illinois 14 counties covering 8,500 square miles, including Chicago, Rockford and Freeport.
“Politically, this additional northern territory decisively influenced Illinois in favor of national unity and against slavery during the Civil War period, and was important in the nomination of Abraham Lincoln in 1860,” the marker states.
City officials have said Illinois resident Mary Alice Fellers paid the $3,200 cost of the marker and the $200 cost for the mounting pole, and the city will pay for the marker’s installation and long-term maintenance.
The Illinois State Historical Society is also listed as a sponsor of the marker.