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Illinois Supreme Court History: Bicentennial Commemorations


November 29, 2017

As we approach the 199th anniversary of the State of Illinois on December 3, 2017, the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission announces events and activities to commemorate the upcoming 200th anniversary of the state and the judiciary. The Commission has been working with the Illinois Bicentennial Commission to highlight the history and importance of the Illinois judicial branch. 

Illinois’ legal history is important to study because of the impact that Illinois law had in the growing country and because of the many significant members coming from the Illinois bar. Lawyers and judges in Illinois law have garnered national attention for their body of work. The first lawyer to have settled in Illinois was John Rice Jones, who became one of the first Missouri Supreme Court justices. Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas battled each other in the courtrooms of Illinois before their battles in the political arena. Myra Bradwell attempted to become the first woman licensed in Illinois. Clarence Darrow became world-renowned for his legal career. Four Illinois judges became members of the U.S. Supreme Court (David Davis, Melville Fuller, Arthur Goldberg, and John Paul Stevens).

The Commission is planning the following commemorations:

  • History on Trial: Historic Cases Project involves an outreach effort to Illinois circuit clerks to identify important, famous, or representative cases in Illinois history. The Commission has already received excellent feedback from many clerks with full reports of significant cases. The Commission is also soliciting information from you regarding the Top Ten cases heard by the Illinois Supreme Court.
  • An October 9, 2018 gala will celebrate the Court’s 200th anniversary as the Illinois General Assembly named the first four Supreme Court justices on October 9, 1818.  Author and attorney Scott Turow will be the keynote speaker.
  • A traveling exhibit will rotate among law schools and colleges throughout Illinois.
  • Planned publications include a biographical compilation of all 116 justices who have sat on the Supreme Court bench as well as other publications highlighting the judicial branch.

One publication that requires your assistance is a cook book. Tentatively titled, “The Illinois Supreme Cook Book,” will assemble recipes for your enjoyment. However, to make this book possible, the Commission needs your favorite recipes. The book will have the following categories: appetizers, main dishes, side dishes, and desserts. Please send your recipes to Mary Wight at, and please enclose a sentence or two about your recipe that makes it special to you.