Illinois in 1803

Illinois in 1803 was a part of the Indiana Territory. There were only about 2,000 Euro-Americans in the Illinois Country by 1800. The settlements were clustered on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers below St. Louis. The governor of Indiana administered the Illinois Country. Locals had to petition him for things they needed.
See a map of the Illinois Country by Thomas Hutchins on the University of Illinois Library Web site.

This section of the Lewis and Clark in Illinois Web exhibit features the early histories of these settlements. These communities were French outposts established by fur traders and Jesuit missionaries. They include Fort Massac, Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and Belle Fontaine. St. Louis, where Lewis met with Lieutenant Governor Delassus, was a growing community of about 400 inhabitants, many of them fur traders.

Lewis and Clark visited the prominent citizens of these communities from December 1803 into 1804 in preparation for their departure in June 1804. Lewis may have stayed in their homes and bought goods from their stores. This section of the web exhibit contains biographies of some of these citizens.

See a map of the Northwest Territory on the University of Illinois Library Web site.