Illinois Bicentennial at Election Day 1818

CONTACT: Paul Durica


KASKASKIA, IL—Illinois Humanities invites you to celebrate the Illinois Bicentennial at Election Day 1818, a free all-ages participatory reenactment of the first state election on Sunday, September 16th, 2018 from 3:00-5:00pm at the Kaskaskia Bell State Memorial, 3012 1st St., Kaskaskia, IL 62233.

Election Day 1818 celebrates the Illinois Bicentennial by recapturing the festive energy of the first election held on the cusp of statehood in the state’s first capital with period appropriate music by Dennis Stroughmatt et L’Esprit Creole, games for children, and short speeches by candidates Shadrach Bond, Pierre Menard, and Daniel P. Cook. Costumed historical interpreters from the Historic 1820 Colonel Benjamin Stephenson House and the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site create the atmosphere of life during early statehood. After hearing from the candidates, members of the public are invited to vote as they did in 1818—with their voice and surrounded by their peers. A conversation in Immaculate Conception Church with local historians Emily Lyons, Carol Pirtle, and Brad Winn about Illinois in 1818, the first election, and changes in political participation over the last two hundred years follows the vote. Period-appropriate refreshments are being provided courtesy of the Kaskaskia Church Foundation Committee, and the public is also going to receive a campaign button and a reproduction of the September 16, 1818 Illinois Intelligencer printed by the County-Journal.

“I’m very excited to be involved with Illinois Humanities in the production of the 1818 Election Reenactment that will show how vibrant and dynamic life was in Kaskaskia in 1818,” says Emily Lyons of the Randolph County Archives and Museum. “The foresight of the inhabitants of Kaskaskia who took it upon themselves to take all the necessary steps to create the state of Illinois is truly admirable. Illinois was voted by them to be a ‘free state’ and became a model for others.”

“The Stephenson House is thrilled to be a part of the commemorative event,” says RoxAnn Raisner of the Historic 1820 Colonel Benjamin Stephenson House. “Our founder, Col Benjamin Stephenson was an integral part in the establishment of Illinois. We honor him, as well as all the other founders, by being a part of this celebration.”


Illinois Humanities is proud to partner with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Randolph County Archives and Museum, Historic 1820 Colonel Benjamin Stephenson House, and the County-Journal on this event. Election Day 1818 is one of four participatory reenactments exploring key moments in Illinois political history and past forms of political participation being produced by Illinois Humanities as part of the Illinois Bicentennial.

Established in 1974, Illinois Humanities is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities and produces free programs and events, gives out grants, and offers educational opportunities to youth and adults all across Illinois. Its mission is to strengthen the social, political, and economic fabric of Illinois through constructive conversation andcommunity engagement. For more information, visit                                                                                                 



Paul Durica
Director of Programs
(312) 422-5583
Illinois Humanities Web Home