The Illinois Territory was created on February 3, 1809, with its capital at Kaskaskia. In May 1812, an act of Congress was passed which set aside bounty lands as payment to volunteer soldiers for the War against the British (War of 1812). The land was set aside in western territories that became part of the present states of Arkansas, Michigan and Illinois. On December 3rd, 1818, Illinois became the 21st U.S. state. The new state debated slavery, finally rejecting it, as settlers poured into southern Illinois from Kentucky.
The Illinois tract, surveyed in 1815-1816, contained more than 5 million acres, of which 3,50 million were deemed fit for cultivation and set aside for military bounties. Comprising 207 entire townships, each 6 miles square, and 61 fractional townships, the tract included present Illinois counties of Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, Knox, McDonough, Mercer, Peoria, Pike, Schuyler, Stark, and Warren Counties.
The newspaper Illinois Bounty Land Register, first published in 1835, to advertise lands granted to veterans, is one of the ancestors of the current Quincy Herald-Whig newspaper.