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University of Illinois chartered, 1867




The University of Illinois was one of the original 37 public land-grant institutions established through the Morrill Act, signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1862. Chartered as the Illinois Industrial University in 1867, the school opened a year later at Urbana-Champaign. In a deal to locate the University in Urbana, legislators from upstate gave their support in exchange for a promise that a polytechnical branch of the University would be located in Chicago – a promise the Chicago City Council endorsed the following year. These plans were waylaid by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. But Chicagoans never completely forgot this pledge. In 1936, Richard J. Daley, during his first term as a state legislator, introduced a bill in the Illinois General Assembly calling for the building of a U of I campus in Chicago. And in the 1950s, students and faculty from the temporary, two-year U of I branch located in Chicago at Navy Pier, frequently invoked the 1867 deal in their protests to create a permanent four-year university with the plea: “We’ve Waited 80 Years!”

Jonathan Baldwin Turner.


Above is Jonathan Baldwin Turner, an agricultural scientist and farmer from Jacksonville, Illinois. Turner lobbied tirelessly for federal legislation to create state land-grant universities. Below is the University of Illinois in Urbana in 1874. The view is from University Hall, looking north across Green Street and the Boneyard Creek. All photos UIUC. The University of Illinois in Urbana, 1874.
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