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First explored by Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet in 1673 as they explored the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, Illinois was claimed for the French by them, but was ceded to the British after the French and Indian War. After the American Revolution, it became a United States territory and became a state in 1818. The capital of Illinois is Springfield, and its most common nickname is Land of Lincoln. It is situated on Lake Michigan and connected to eastern ports by the Erie Canal, which helped to make it the city it has become. Aside from being a shipping hub, its largest city of Chicago had booming industry in the second half of the 1800s, with workers in mills, slaughterhouses, and rail yards, all of which made Chicago a destination for immigrants as well as freed slaves. In 1839, the Mormons, formally known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, bought the Illinois town of Commerce and established a settlement on the banks of the Mississippi. Commerce had originally been named Quashquema, after an Indian chief. The name was later changed to Venus and was changed again two years later to Commerce. In 1840, Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon church, renamed it Nauvoo. Smith had led them there in order to escape the religious persecution which they had suffered in Missouri. By 1844, Nauvoo’s population has reached 12,000. After Smith’s death in a Carthage jail in 1844, violence was again visited upon his followers from non-Mormons in surrounding towns, and they were led in an exodus by their new leader, Brigham Young, to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Illinois has the largest recoverable bituminous coal reserve, about 1.2 billion tons, of any state in the United States.

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