Back | About this image
Chicago Church
Chicago Church

This image depicts an early Chicago church, built in 1857. Like many wooden structures in the Windy City, this church soon succumbed to fire. While northern Illinois was initially settled by New Englanders moving westward across the nation's northern tier of Great Lakes, the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in the 1840s changed the area's ethnic and religious composition. Many Irish laborers came to Illinois to find work on the project, and established many Catholic churches. In this period Germans, many of them Catholic also arrived in Illinois. These new arrivals not only returned the Catholic faith that spurred the state's early French explorers to Illinois. They also challenged Yankee Protestants' deeply held devotion to evangelism and moral reform, including temperance. By the 1850s the conflict between native-born Protestants and a largely Catholic population of recent immigrants gave rise to the American Party's nativist politics.

Image source: Chicago Historical Society
©Copyright 2002 Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project