The Heartland Institute’s Author Series hosted Mark Rhoads on October 30 to promote the release of his much acclaimed book, Land of Lincoln: Thy Wondrous Story. This book is the first in 40 years to give a detailed historical account of Illinois’ history. Mark Rhodes served as a former Illinois Senator and was also a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University. He served as the President of the Illinois State Society in Washington, D.C. and as President of the National Conference of State Societies.
Land of Lincoln explores the vibrant Illinois history on two tracks, the first, exploring the history of the Illinois State Society in Washington, D.C., and second, what was going on back home in Illinois’ politics and culture. He explains that the book highlights the three cities of: Chicago, Springfield and Washington, D.C. Rhoads reminds us that the Windy City is known for more than its infamous hot air blowing politicians. Illinois was the host to the monumental Colombian Exposition, better known as the World’s Fair, which occurred just 22 years after the Great Chicago Fire.
As we approach the bi-centennial of Illinois in 2018, Rhoads stresses the imperative of state history to be taught in the education system. Currently, Texas is the only state that requires state history to be taught. The important of learning history, Rhoads says, is to learn from the past and not have history negatively repeat itself. Just as in 2008 when then Governor Rod Blagojevech was convicted of attempting to sell Senator Obama’s Senate seat, the same event had happened 100 years before. In 1909, Senator William Lorimer had paid to secure his re-election seat, and, after being convicted, bribed two juries to acquit him. This historic event led to the changing of the Constitution which stated that Senators are to only be elected by direct popular vote.
Land of Lincoln: Thy Wondrous Story reminds us that there’s no time like the present for students and Illinois citizens to immerse themselves in the rich history of our state. Watch his presentation at The Heartland Institute library below.[Editor's note: The public is welcome to attend Heartland's Author Series events located at One East Wacker, in Chicago's Loop. Tickets and event information can be found on our website here.]