The nonpartisan Illinois State Society of Washington, DC celebrated Illinois Statehood Day in grand style last Tuesday, Dec. 3 at the Comedy Spot Theater in Arlington, Virginia. A play with ten actors was produced to portay 30 famous people from Illinois history who are mentioned in my book Land of Lincoln, Thy Wondrous Story. A large 195th Illinois Birthday cake and champagne was served to more than 100 guests. There was not enough room for 195 candles on the cake but the guests agreed it was delicious. Part of the proceeds are being donated to the Red Cross for Illinois tornado victims.
The characters that were portayed included Mrs. Cathernine O'Leary, the ghost of Resurrection Mary, U.S. Marshall Wayatt Earp from Monmouth, Nobel-prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway from Oak Park, Congresswoman Ruth Hanna McCormick from Ogle County, Illinois Central engineer Casey Jones, Olympic Speed Skating Gold Medal winner Bonnie Blair from Champaign, Wizard of Oz author Lyman Frank Baum, Olympic Hall of Fame member Jackie Joyner Kersee from East St. Louis, Air Force Maj. Gen. Paul Tibbets from Quincy, business pioneers Marshall Field and Oscar Mayer from Chicago, State Sen. Lottie Holman O'Neill from Barry and Downers Grove, former First Lady Nancy Davis Reagan from Chicago and five other First Ladies from Illinois including Mary Todd Lincoln from Springfield, Julia Dent Grant from Galena, Hillary Rodham Clinton of Park Ridge, Michelle Obama, and Betty Ford of Chicago (Mrs. Ford moved to Michigan later)--wives of 4 Republican and 2 Democratic presidents. Actors also portrayed Sen. Everett Dirksen of Pekin, Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson of Chicago, actress Mary Astor from Quincy, Chicago Bears coach George Halas, Author Edgar Rice Burroughs,and Walt Disney from Chicago, and entertainer Josephine Baker and Jazz musician Miles Davis of East St. Louis.
The entire 90-minute show will be available on You Tube in January and we will share the link on Illinois Review at that time. There will be several other shows and You Tube productions about Illinois history to prepare for the Illinois Bicentennial in 2018.
The seal of Illinois says August 26 because the delegates to Kaskaski approved the first constitution for the state on that day but it was on Dec. 3, 1818 that President James Monroe signed the law to admit Illinois as the 21st state in the Union. For more information see the Illinois State Society Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ILSTSOC or you can visit the web site at www.IllinoisStateSociety.org.