High On The Okaw's Western Bank: Vandalia, Illinois, 1819-39

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In this first complete history of Vandalia during its twenty years as the second capital of Illinois, Paul Stroble charts the town's earliest days and discusses its most important figures. He places its history within the context of the frontier community in Illinois, detailing major aspects of economic and political development and exploring cultural and social aspects. Illinois' government was moved to Vandalia from the state's first capital in Kaskaskia in 1819, then moved again to Springfield twenty years ...
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Overview

In this first complete history of Vandalia during its twenty years as the second capital of Illinois, Paul Stroble charts the town's earliest days and discusses its most important figures. He places its history within the context of the frontier community in Illinois, detailing major aspects of economic and political development and exploring cultural and social aspects. Illinois' government was moved to Vandalia from the state's first capital in Kaskaskia in 1819, then moved again to Springfield twenty years later. During its era as the center of the state's political life, Vandalia grew from being an outpost on the bluffs of the Kaskaskia ("Okaw") River to a thriving community of about nine hundred persons. Abraham Lincoln began his political career in Vandalia, as did Stephen A. Douglas. The community was also the home of James Hall, the West's first major author. An examination of the town's business life is based on a thorough study of contemporary newspapers and county government documents. The local leadership's social homogeneity and cooperative character are juxtaposed with the political conflicts of state government and the vicissitudes of local economy caused by the biennial influx of visitors. Stroble discusses the impact of Vandalia's pioneer era on the town's own self-image, as well as how the legends of the capital era were transformed in remembrance and recording. Vandalia had unusual advantages as a state capital. During the capital period, the social and economic bases of the town were laid by civic-minded citizens and county settlers. Compared to communities elsewhere in Illinois, Vandalia did not grow substantially. Stroble suggests this was due to factors including the newness of the land for an agricultural economy, governmental indifference toward investment in a temporary capital, the uncertainties of civic goal-setting in a new social environment, and the pattern of Illinois settlement during the 1820s and 1830s.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780252018923
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/1992
  • Pages: 200

Table of Contents

Chronology
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Vandalia's Capital Period 1
1 To Reeve's Bluff 7
2 Ferdinand Ernst and the German Colony 22
3 By Their Strong Arms 29
4 High on the Okaw's Western Bank 47
5 "Boosting" the State Capital 63
6 On the Track at Vandalia 70
7 Discord and Concord 91
8 Like Oxford or Cambridge 106
9 The End of the Era 123
Notes 133
Index 171
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