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Kaskaskia Played Important Role For Illinois 200 Years Ago

The state of Illinois set its government in motion in 1819.

January 4, 1819, was the first session of the legislature of Illinois.

This special session was held at Kaskaskia, the first state capital. The elected delegates of Randolph County were George Fisher and Elias Kent Kane, who helped develop the first Illinois Constitution.

The representatives of the 15 organized counties, with Jesse B. Thomas of St. Clair County as chairman, concentrated on four lines as followed:

“It determined the salaries of all state officers; it passed a complete code of laws copied largely from the statutes of Virginia and Kentucky.

“The permanent revenues of the state were provided for by placing a tax on lands owned by non-residents while the county revenues were provided for by a personal property tax including a tax on slaves and indentured servants, and by a tax on lands owned by the residents of the state.”

Another action of the legislature was passage of a law for the removal of the capital of the state from Kaskaskia to a point on the Kaskaskia River east of the third principal meridian to be in a more central location. Another clause in 1818 Constitution provided that the capital should remain at Kaskaskia until moved by the legislature.

The five appointed commissioners located the grounds by selecting sections 8, 9, 16, and 17 in township 6 north, range 1 east of the third principal meridian. These were immediately west of the Kaskaskia River. These commissioners were also to construct the buildings which should house the infant government. The capitol building was a two-story wooden frame and was ready for the legislature in the summer of 1820.

The second general assembly was elected in August 1820 and convened in December 1820, meeting in the new capital city, Vandalia, carved out of a great wilderness.

The town was carefully laid out and lots were sold.

The first state capital, Kaskaskia, was first incorporated in 1725 under the French government. The towns and governments organized under the French were recognized and approved by the government organized after the American Revolution.  

Kaskaskia remains an incorporated town today.

 In 1891, the Illinois legislature passed a resolution allowing towns organized near rivers and in harms way, to move back for safety. Kaskaskia annexed an approximately two mile strip of land now known as La Grande Rue, and an additional 60 acres on its west side for fifteen blocks carefully laid out and known as New Kaskaskia. The original site of Kaskaskia included 325 acres, about 80 blocks. The process of moving the Immaculate Conception Church complex, the former County Courthouse established 1805, and other buildings and homes was set in motion.

The existing village of Kaskaskia is governed by village President Michael Sulser, Clerk Michael Colbert, Treasurer Mary Sulser, and trustees Tom Hurst, Jacinta Hurst, Chris Roth and Victoria Roth. The Municipal Election in April 2019 will include the Village of Kaskaskia.

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