Eight Months in Illinois: With Information to Immigrants

Eight Months in Illinois: With Information to Immigrants

Eight Months in Illinois: With Information to Immigrants

Eight Months in Illinois: With Information to Immigrants

Synopsis

Oliver traveled principally in the southern half of the state in the early 1840s and not only provides insightful and unbiased reporting of the geographical and topographical characteristics of this new frontier but also the cultural and ethnic background of its inhabitants and the practical matters of their daily lives.

Excerpt

Always interested and always interesting, William Oliver provided eloquent and insightful glimpses of early America and, specifically, Illinois. a British subject, Oliver left England in December 1841 to visit America. in 1843, Eight Months in Illinois: With Information to Immigrants was published in England, and in 1924, it was reprinted with emendations. Although Oliver's primary purpose was to give poorer immigrants pertinent, valid, and practical information about what they might encounter in Illinois, he accomplished much more. He gave to his readership and today's readership invaluable insights and analyses of American life during a time of sweeping social, economic, and political changes.

Although Oliver described his travels to and from Illinois, he focused on Illinois, especially its economic and social conditions. He visited the state during a critical time of significant transitions. Although the exhilarating land boom of the 1830s had collapsed in 1837, doing much to trigger a severe and lingering national depression, Oliver witnessed in Illinois transitions from raw, partly subsistence frontier conditions toward modernity. Moreover, he saw the signs of transition during a time of lingering economic, social, and political malaise following the great crash and depression of 1837. Although his travels around the state were limited in geographical scope, he visited much of southern and central Illinois: the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers . . .

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