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What Are the 3 Capitals of Illinois

What Are the 3 Capitals of Illinois?

Illinois, the 6th most populous state in the United States, is known for its rich history and diverse culture. Over the years, it has had a unique capital city system, which has seen three different cities serve as the state capital at different times. In this article, we will explore the three capitals of Illinois and delve into their historical significance.

1. Kaskaskia – The First Capital:
Kaskaskia, a small village located in southern Illinois, was the first capital of the state. It served as the capital from 1818 to 1820, when Illinois was admitted to the Union as the 21st state. Kaskaskia was selected as the capital due to its central location within the state and its proximity to the Mississippi River, which facilitated transportation and trade.

Despite its small size, Kaskaskia played a significant role in Illinois’ early history. It was the site of the first state legislative session and the signing of the first state constitution. However, the village faced numerous challenges, including frequent flooding from the Mississippi River. As a result, the state government decided to relocate the capital to a more suitable location.

2. Vandalia – The Second Capital:
In 1820, the capital was moved to Vandalia, a town located in central Illinois. Vandalia served as the state capital for 20 years, from 1820 to 1840. The decision to move the capital was influenced by Vandalia’s geographical advantages, such as its accessibility and central location within the state.

During its time as the capital, Vandalia witnessed significant growth and development. The town’s population increased, and numerous government buildings, including the State House, were constructed. Vandalia also saw the completion of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, which further boosted economic activity in the region.

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However, as Illinois continued to expand westward, calls for a more centrally located capital grew louder. The state government eventually decided to move the capital once again, this time to a city that would be more accessible to the growing population.

3. Springfield – The Current Capital:
Springfield, the capital city of Illinois since 1839, is the third and current capital of the state. The decision to move the capital to Springfield was driven by its central location, which made it easily accessible to the majority of the state’s population. In addition, Springfield was situated on the newly established railroad lines, further enhancing its accessibility and connectivity.

Springfield’s status as the capital has shaped the city’s development over the years. It has become a vibrant political and cultural hub, hosting important government institutions, historical sites, and museums. The city is famously known as the home of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. The Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, as well as his former residence, are major attractions that draw visitors from around the world.


Q: Why did Illinois have three capitals?
A: Illinois had three capitals due to its evolving geography and population distribution. As the state grew, the government sought to establish a more centrally located capital to accommodate the expanding population.

Q: Are the previous capitals still significant today?
A: While Kaskaskia and Vandalia no longer serve as the state capital, they hold historical significance. Both towns have preserved important landmarks and offer insights into Illinois’ early history.

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Q: How often has Illinois changed its capital?
A: Illinois has changed its capital twice. The capital was moved from Kaskaskia to Vandalia in 1820 and then to Springfield in 1839, where it has remained ever since.

Q: Can you visit the previous capitals?
A: Yes, both Kaskaskia and Vandalia are open to visitors. They offer historical sites, museums, and the opportunity to explore Illinois’ early history.

In conclusion, Illinois has had three capitals throughout its history. Kaskaskia, Vandalia, and Springfield have each played a crucial role in shaping the state’s development and identity. While Kaskaskia and Vandalia have transitioned into smaller towns, their historical significance remains intact. Springfield, the current capital, stands as a thriving city, attracting visitors with its rich history, vibrant culture, and association with Abraham Lincoln.

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