Looking Back at Presidents from Illinois - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Looking Back at Presidents from Illinois

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Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.   Photo courtesy: Library of Congress Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860. Photo courtesy: Library of Congress
Ulysses S. Grant was elected President in 1868.  Photo courtesy: Library of Congress Ulysses S. Grant was elected President in 1868. Photo courtesy: Library of Congress
Ronald Reagan was elected President in 1980.  Photo courtesy: Library of Congress Ronald Reagan was elected President in 1980. Photo courtesy: Library of Congress
Barack Obama was elected President in 2008.  Photo courtesy: Obama.Senate.gov Barack Obama was elected President in 2008. Photo courtesy: Obama.Senate.gov

By Inggrid Yonata

ROCKFORD -  When Barack Obama takes office, he will be the 44th President of the United States.   But Obama certainly isn't the first president from Illinois.

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln became the first elected President from Illinois, known for his work to abolish slavery.  Today we get to see Lincoln's legacy reach full circle with Barack Obama, as America's first black President.  Erika Laback, an Elementary Education Major at Rock Valley College said, "I think it's a good thing and it's important for history."

The next President from Illinois was Ulysses S. Grant, who lived in Galena and took office in 1868.  Dr. Martin Quirk, Rock Valley College's History Professor, said, "He wasn't that strong as president, his administration was marred by corruption." 

A fact that Rock Valley Art student Adam Pierce knew pretty well. "He was a better general than a president," Pierce said, without failing to mention that Grant "helped knocked down the KKK when it was just starting."

Some have argued on whether to count Ronald Reagan as one of the Presidents from Illinois since he was born in Tampico, grew up in Dixon, but spent most of his life in California.  If Reagan is counted in, that's a total of four Presidents from Illinois including Barack Obama.

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