On August 26, 1818, the Illinois Territory ratified its first State Constitution as it took another step closer to becoming the 21st state in the Union. To commemorate this occasion, State Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield) filed House Bill 2834 to designate August 26 of each year as Illinois Constitution Day. The legislation was recently signed into law by Governor Pritzker.
“Tomorrow is the 203rd anniversary of the ratification of our state’s first constitution on August 26, 1818,” said Butler. “For the first time in Illinois history, we will recognize how momentous that occasion was by celebrating August 26 as Illinois Constitution Day every year going forward. It is my hope that Illinois Constitution Day, which falls at the beginning of the school year, will be a catalyst for students to study the entire history of our state’s four constitutions. Given my family has been in Illinois since before statehood, it is an immense honor for me to have been the author of this legislation. I sincerely thank Senator Sally Turner for her sponsorship in the Senate and Governor Pritzker for signing this bill.”
Drafting of Illinois’ first Constitution began on August 3, 1818, after President James Monroe had signed the Enabling Act in April to set the requirements for Illinois to become a state. Following July elections, thirty-three delegates met in the territorial capital of Kaskaskia and approved the new state Constitution on August 26, putting Illinois on its way to becoming the 21st state in the Union by year’s end.
“Ever since Illinois ratified its first State Constitution over two hundred years ago, our state has seen a history filled with amazing accomplishments and events of importance,” said State Senator Sally Turner (R-Beason), who carried HB 2834 in the Senate. “I sincerely hope that Illinois residents will take a moment to reflect on our state’s rich past and think about what the future may bring each time we commemorate Illinois Constitution Day. I would also like to genuinely thank Representative Tim Butler for his work to pass this legislation as well as Governor Pritzker for signing it into law.”
The 1818 Illinois Constitution can be viewed as part of the Illinois State Archives 100 Most Valuable Documents online exhibit available through the Secretary of State’s website. For more information about the legislation establishing Illinois Constitution Day, Click Here.