Unforgettable moments include
Lincoln’s death, Cubs’ victory are voted
the top unforgettable moments in Illinois history
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[December 05, 2018]
Events of deep sorrow and tremendous joy – the funeral of Abraham
Lincoln and the Chicago Cubs’ 2016 World Series victory – top the
list of unforgettable moments chosen by voters in the final Illinois
Top 200 category.
They were followed by Illinois becoming the first state to ratify
the constitutional amendment ending slavery and by Lewis and Clark
starting their famous expedition to the west. The historic debates
between Lincoln and Stephen Douglas came in at No. 5 in the online
Lincoln’s 1865 assassination shocked the whole country, but the loss
was especially painful in his home state. Hundreds of thousands of
people filed by his casket when he lay in state in Chicago and
Springfield. Others lined up alongside railroad tracks to see the
car carrying his body to its final resting place in Springfield.
The second spot on the list goes to the Chicago Cubs winning the
World Series after a record-breaking 108 years of disappointment and
frustration. The celebration afterward brought millions of people
“The range of events on this list is incredible. It includes
expanded civil rights, exploration of the continent and the atom,
and two great moments in Lincoln’s life,” said Alan Lowe, executive
director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. “Of
course, it also includes tragedies like Lincoln’s death, but all of
it is part of the state’s fascinating history.”
The Top 200 project allowed Illinoisans to vote on the state’s most
inspiring leaders, greatest inventions, top businesses and much
more. By choosing a top 10 in 20 different categories, voters
produced a list of the 200 most amazing things about Illinois, just
in time for the state’s 200th birthday on Dec. 3.
Here are the most unforgettable moments chosen in online voting:
1. Mourning Lincoln – Nobody knew Abraham Lincoln better than his
fellow Illinoisans. When he was killed, the state went into mourning
and then welcomed him back to rest forever in Springfield’s Oak
2. Victorious Cubs – When the Cubs finally managed to win a World
Series, much of the state went wild. Millions (just how many
millions is a subject of debate) lined the parade route or gathered
at Grant Park for the official celebration.
3. Ending Slavery –President Lincoln and his congressional allies
passed the 13th Amendment on Jan. 31, 1865. The very next day,
Illinois became the first state to ratify the amendment, which
officially ended slavery.
4. Lewis and Clark – The Lewis and Clark expedition began from a
base in Illinois. The explorers spent the winter of 1803-4 near Wood
River, where they prepared their troops and equipment, and then
started west on May 14, 1804.
[to top of second column]
5. Lincoln-Douglas Debates – When Lincoln faced Stephen Douglas in
an 1858 Senate race, they held seven debates around the state. The
debates put Lincoln on the path to the White House and set a new
standard for political discourse.
6. Women Voting – In 1913 Illinois became the first state east of
the Mississippi River to let women vote. But it was a limited right
at first. Women could vote for president and for local offices but
not for state offices or Congress.
7. Obama Elected – Barack Obama addressed the nation from Grant Park
after winning the presidency. Some 240,000 people attended, and
millions more watched on TV. For friends and foes alike, it was a
8. World’s Fair – The World's Columbian Exposition celebrated the
400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus arriving in the Americas.
It was a huge success, with a profound influence on architecture,
the arts and Chicago’s image.
9. The Nuclear Age – Chicago Pile-1, the world’s first nuclear
reactor, went into operation on Dec. 2, 1942. It produced about half
a watt for less than five minutes but paved the way for the atomic
bomb and nuclear power plants.
10. (tie) Blagojevich Arrested – On Dec. 9, 2008, Gov. Rod
Blagojevich was arrested for extortion, demanding campaign donations
in exchange for state services and trying to sell a U.S. Senate
seat. He was removed from office on Jan. 29.
(tie) Native Americans Leave – Unable to stop a flood of settlers,
the Ottawa, Ojibwe and Potawatomi gave up all their Illinois land in
the 1833 Treaty of Chicago. They performed one last war dance two
years later, then left for good.
The nominees who did not make the top 10 were the 1968 Democratic
National Convention; Al Capone being convicted of tax evasion; the
“Black Sox” scandal; the 1894 Pullman strike; Mormons being driven
out of Illinois in 1846; Illinois voters rejecting slavery; the
“Liberty Bell of the West” ringing in Kaskaskia; the strange flood
in downtown Chicago; and Harold Washington being elected mayor of
The Illinois Top 200 is a joint initiative of the Abraham Lincoln
Presidential Library and Museum, The (Springfield) State
Journal-Register and the Illinois Bicentennial Commission.
The presidential library and museum uses a combination of rigorous
scholarship and high-tech showmanship to immerse visitors in
Lincoln’s life and times. For more information, visit