Illinois. 1. One of the United States of North America, situated between Wisconsin N, Indiana and Lake Michigan E., Kentucky S., and Missouri and Iowa W. Originally a French colony, it was ceded to Great Britain in 1765 and remained a part of the North-West Territory from 1787 to 1818, when it was admitted to the Union. It has an area of 55,414 square miles, the greater part consisting of flat or rolling prairies, but in the south and along the rivers, of which the Wabash, Ohio, and Mississippi are the chief, luxuriant forests abound. The soil is generally rich, and almost all products of a temperate climate grow readily. Wheat and maize are yielded in vast quantities by the treeless plains where no serious failure of the crop is ever known. The forests provide food for countless herds of swine. Coal is found throughout the state, and, iron and copper being easily imported from Lake Superior, a great manufacturing industry has been developed during the last twenty-five years. Lead exists in apparently inexhaustible quantities, and the Lemont marble, a fine building-stone, furnishes material for the adornment of the handsome cities, of which Chicago is the greatest, though Springfield is the seat of the State government. The railway system is more fully developed in Illinois than in any other state, for not only do all the great trunk lines connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific, and the Mississippi Valley with Canada, radiate from this point, but scarcely a single settlement is so far as 10 miles distant from a station. Moreover, inland navigation by means of the many rivers, the Illinois and Michigan canal, and other channels, enables the producer to bring his goods into the market at a very cheap rate. The educational and charitable organisations are liberally maintained, and 75 per cent. of the population between the ages of six and twenty-one are registered as attending schools.
2. An old aboriginal people of North America, mentioned by the early French explorers, but now extinct, or surviving only in the name of the river and of the state where they roamed. At the time when Cavelier de la Salle was exploring the Mississippi basin (1670-82) they occupied both banks of the Illinois and apparently also the northern shores of Lake Michigan, which La Salle always speaks of as the Lac des Illinois. This term is a French form of Iliniwok, which means "men," "people," in several Algonquian languages, a clear indication that they were a branch of that widespread family. Comp. the Ininiwok of the Salteux Indians and the lyiniwok of the Kree people.