On this day in 1818, Illinois, commonly called the “Land of Lincoln,” becomes the twenty-first state in the Union.
Here is the Preamble of the Constitution of the State of Illinois:
We, the People of the State of Illinois – grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty which He has permitted us to enjoy and seeking His blessing upon our endeavors – in order to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the people; maintain a representative and orderly government; eliminate poverty and inequality; assure legal, social and economic justice; provide opportunity for the fullest development of the individual; insure domestic tranquility; provide for the common defense; and secure the blessings of freedom and liberty to ourselves and our posterity – do ordain and establish this Constitution for the State of Illinois.
As seen in the state seal above, “Aug. 26, 1818” is the date the first Illinois Constitution was signed.
Also prevalent in the seal is the state motto of “State Sovereignty, National Union,” and for good reason.
All one thing; All the good
In fact, Illinois and Abraham Lincoln were central to the debate of state sovereignty and national union, as demonstrated by the famous Lincoln–Douglas Debates. Stephen A. Douglas, a Democrat and U.S. Senator from Illinois, believed the nation must remain united but could only do so half-slave, half-free. Conversely, Lincoln invoked Scripture to assert the opposite:
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.
I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.
I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.
It will become all one thing or all the other.”
After all, this should come as no surprise, given Lincoln’s lofty opinion of the Bible:
“In regard to this Great book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.”