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Illinois agriculture


Chief black hawk and son Illinois
Chief black hawk and son Illinois

Illinois agriculture expanded and industry developed even more rapidly in the post-Civil War years. The rapid growth of Chicago played an important part in this economic development. The city’s meatpacking industry became the nation’s largest, surpassing that of Cincinnati. Chicago’s manufactures included metal goods, farm machinery, and railroad cars, especially sleeping cars made by the Pullman Palace Car Company. In October 1871 a fire devastated a large part of Chicago, leaving 100,000 people homeless and slowing the city’s rapid growth. The loss to the city was estimated at nearly $300 million. Elsewhere in the state small towns appeared as new settlers continued to arrive. Railroad expansion continued, although the Illinois and Michigan Canal still handled a great amount of traffic. In the downstate area, the area outside of Chicago, coal-mining production increased to meet the demands of industrialization.

During the 1870s many farmers in Illinois and in other states in the upper Mississippi River valley joined the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry, commonly called the Grange, which had been founded in 1867 to advance the social, economic, and political interests of farmers in the United States. In Illinois the Grangers protested the high shipping and storage rates that the railroads and grain-elevator owners charged on farm produce. In 1871 the Grangers helped persuade the Illinois legislature to establish limits on prices railroads charged for freight and also to create a state railroad and warehouse commission to supervise freight handling. The constitutionality of these so-called Granger laws was challenged by railroad and grain-elevator owners, but in 1877, in the case of Munn v. Illinois, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the right of the state to regulate private utilities when regulation was in the public interest. Toward the end of the 1870s, however, the Granger movement lost its political momentum.

Following the Civil War, waves of immigrants, including Poles, Jews from many countries, Serbs, Russians, Czechs, Lithuanians, Italians, and Greeks, arrived in Chicago. To address the needs of these immigrants and to lobby for laws to protect the disadvantaged, in 1889 social reformers Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr founded Hull House, which helped needy families and tried to combat juvenile delinquency by providing recreational facilities for children living in slums. "Illinois" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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