History of Springfield, IL

The capital of the city of Illinois as well as the county seat for Sangamon County, Springfield, IL is the sixth most populous city in America.


Before its present name, Springfield was known as Calhoun after a Senator of South Carolina. Also, the land which present-day dwellers live on in Springfield was originally occupied by fur traders and trappers who crossed the Sangamon River in the year 1818. The first wood cabin on the land was built by John Kelly in 1820. A year after the building of the first cabin, Calhoun became the designated County seat due to its trading opportunities and fertile soil.

Name Change

After the city became the new county seat, settlers from North Carolina, Kentucky, and Virginia moved to the developing city. However, by the year 1832, Senator Calhoun which the town was initially named after fell out of favor with the townspeople and the town was eventually renamed as Springfield. The new name was dubbed from Springfield, Massachusetts of New England.
At the time of the naming, the primarily English town of Massachusetts was well known for its growth in industry and prosperity. The new city of Springfield, IL hoped to emulate this.

New Capital City

When Illinois became a territory, its first capital was Kaskaskia between the year 1809 and eventually to 1818 when it became a state. In the year 1819, Vandalia became the second capital of Illinois, and this lasted for 21 years – 1839. The position was later taken by Springfield, IL and it has retained the place till now.
The city was named the new capital due majorly in part to the efforts of Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln had resided in the area during the time and referred to it as his home. He lived in Springfield in for over 27 years starting from 1837 when he moved there to pursue his career as a politician and further his legal studies.

Civil War

Springfield, IL was a hub of activity during the Civil War. Majority of the regiments in Illinois trained there under Ulysses S. Grant. Most of the victories accumulated for the Union during the year 1861-62 were from his regiment.
The city also played its part in providing financial support for the Union soldiers and most politicians for pro-Union were located there. A lot of business, railroads, and industries were built to support the war effort of the Union soldiers.


The railroad eventually arrived in the city in 1852, and as such, economic activity in the state increased. By the time Abraham Lincoln left the town to occupy the office of the president in 1861, the city had risen dramatically in population to nearly 10,000 people.

Post-Civil War

After the Civil War ended, a coal mine shaft was sunk in Springfield. This happened to be the first in the city, and it helped improve the business of the economy. Due to the boom experienced by the town from the sinking of the mine shaft, a new capitol building was constructed in the year 1868.

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