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The 1900s


Illinois state capitol
Illinois state capitol

The state began to improve relations between labor and management in the early years of the 20th century. Support for better working conditions grew after 1906 when Upton Sinclair published The Jungle, a novel that exposed the poor working and living conditions of immigrants in Chicago. In 1903 Illinois became the first state to establish an eight-hour workday and to limit working children to 48 hours of work each week. Six years later the workday for women was limited to ten hours. Following a mine disaster at Cherry in 1909, legislation was passed requiring firefighting and rescue stations in all coal mines, and in 1911 a state workers’ compensation act was passed.

In 1900 the population of Illinois totaled more than 4,800,000, double that of 1865. Chicago alone had about 1,700,000 inhabitants, and for the first time in the history of the state the urban population exceeded the rural population. By the turn of the century, industrialization had increased at a pace sufficient to make Illinois one of the three leading manufacturing states in the country. The years of World War I (1914-1918) also marked the beginning of the great migration north of Southern blacks seeking better opportunities.

Prosperity prevailed in most sectors of the state’s economy through the first three decades of the century. The primary exception to the general prosperity was farming. The market price of farm products declined sharply after World War I and in the 1920s. As a result, many Illinois farmers lost their farms. "Illinois" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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