This week in Illinois history: July 16-22
July 16, 1915 - Rockford. Illinois inaugurates its first state flag. Holding a stars-and-stripes shield in its claws, the mighty eagle fronting the official state flag of Illinois is part of a design that took three years to select, according to Illinois200.com, the state’s bicentennial website. Lucy Derwent of Rockford came up with the idea, chosen by the state legislature on this date 103 years ago. But it wasn’t until 55 years later that the flag finally bore the word “Illinois” across the bottom.
July 17, 1917 - Harvey. Birthdate of Lou Boudreau, member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Harvey, Illinois native “had terrific instincts and was a great competitor,” according to Bob Feller, who pitched alongside the shortstop for the Cleveland Indians. During 12 years with the Indians and two with the Boston Red Sox, Boudreau played in 1,646 games, amassing a lifetime batting average of .295, with 68 career home runs. Post-baseball, he became a broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs at WGN, beginning in 1958.
Ernest Hemingway | Wikimedia Commons
July 18, 1940 - Chicago. Franklin Delano Roosevelt makes history as the first president to be nominated for three terms. Chicago Stadium, home of many sports competitions, hosted a different battle as FDR sought and received his party’s unprecedented third nomination, as the CaucusBlog.com reports.The president easily crushed rivals James Farley and former Vice President John Nance Garner, according to Wikipedia.org. The real fight was getting his new running mate, Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace, vetted as vice president. But in the final tally, Wallace pulled away with almost 300 votes ahead of his closest competitor, House Speaker William Bankhead.
July 19, 1964 - Collinsville. Former Native American site, Cahokia Mounds, becomes a National Historic Landmark. Over a 700-year period, the Cahokia Indians earned the title of “the most sophisticated prehistoric Native civilization north of Mexico,” according to LegendsofAmerica.com. This tribe built more than 100 mounds in the 6-square-mile city, some dozens of feet tall, to serve religious or burial purposes. In all, the mounds required repositioning 50 million cubic feet of dirt, which the “ancient people transported … on their backs in baskets.” The tribe vanished by about 1400, though experts are uncertain of the exact reason for their disappearance.
July 20, 1888 - Chicago. Attorney Melville Fuller is selected by President Grover Cleveland to serve as the eighth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. For 22 years (until his 1910 death), Fuller led the Supreme Court through key judicial rulings that impacted race relations, income taxes and antitrust lawsuits, as Wikipedia.org reports. Although he was born in Maine, by 1860 he had partnered with an uncle in Chicago to practice law there. As a lawyer, he tried cases before both the Illinois Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court.
July 21, 1899 - Oak Park. Nobel Prize-winning novelist Ernest Hemingway was born. Credited with “style-forming mastery of the art of modern narration,” by the Nobel Prize committee, Hemingway won the award for his novel The Old Man and the Sea. That 1954 book capped three decades during which he produced such classics as A Farewell to Arms and The Sun Also Rises, as The New York Times said.
July 22, 1934 - Chicago. Gangster John Dillinger meets his demise outside a movie theater. Called the “arch criminal of the age” by the New York Daily News, Dillinger met his end in a colorful way – literally. As legend has it, a young woman in his entourage dropped her red handkerchief in sight of undercover officers stationed at the theater that night. A hail of gunfire brought his life to an end moments later on the sidewalk. Ironically, that night’s feature was about a criminal’s trip to the electric chair.