European Settlement

European settlement in Illinois began as conquest for fur and mineral resources. French explorers were the first to arrive in Illinois in 1673. Less than a century later, Great Britain briefly held Illinois following the end of the French and Indian War in 1763 before losing the territory during the American Revolutionary War. As America grew, the rich forests of Southern Illinois were cleared for farming and plundered for fuel, construction, and furniture making. Slavery in Illinois begun by the French and perpetuated by Americans became a contentious issue as Illinois approached statehood in 1818.

Map showing the discoveries of Marquette and Joliet along the Mississippi River in 1673
Map showing the discoveries of Marquette and Joliet along the Mississippi River in 1673