Reps Tim Butler and Nick Sauer work with House to pass bills to correct and celebrate Illinois’ true birthday

The rim of the Great Seal of the State of Illinois, the symbol of Illinois’ statehood, carries the date “August 26, 1818.” Illinois’ true birthday is December 3, 1818, the date that Congress admitted the Prairie State to the Union as the 21st state.

Rep. Butler’s HB 479, of which Rep. Sauer is a chief co-sponsor, directs the Secretary of State to change the date and correct the birthday. The Secretary of State is the Keeper of the Great Seal, the symbol used to officially recognize the laws of Illinois. All of the laws with the old Illinois Seal will continue to be valid. HB 489, also from Rep. Butler with Rep. Sauer as a chief co-sponsor, declares each December 3 to be Illinois Statehood Day, a commemorative (non-job-holiday) State holiday.

A change to the Great Seal of Illinois is a major symbolic move, as the Great Seal has not been redesigned since 1867. A large section of the Seal’s design, although not the rim with its mistaken date, is printed on the Illinois state flag. These changes are meant to be part of the preparation for Illinois’s Bicentennial (200th birthday) less than 2 years from now, on December 3, 2018. The House approved both Bicentennial bills on Thursday, February 16.

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