Thomas Ford’s “History of Illinois”
February 18, 2017 by Paul Stroble
Here is a book review that I wrote for Springhouse magazine, published in the October 1996 issue. Thomas Ford was the Illinois governor in 1842-1846, during which time he faced the issue of the Mormons in Nauvoo (which didn’t go well) and also helped solve Illinois’ indebtedness crisis from the failed 1837 internal improvements projects. Ford died in 1850, and his history of Illinois was posthumously published in 1854. It is a classic of Illinois history and political analysis, one of the first books I read about early Illinois history and still a favorite. See the scan below.
The 1854 edition of Governor Ford’s History, with the state seal on the spine.
This first edition-first printing has “1814” instead of the correct “1818” on the title page, and it also has a few pages inserted to replace original pages. The rarest first editions contain those original pages. The date on the title page was corrected in the second printing.
Following several printings of the first edition, the second edition was the 1946 “Lakeside Classics” set.
A new printing of the first edition was published to coincide with Illinois’ sesquicentennial in 1968, along with other classic historical works. I begged my parents to buy me the whole set (about $50), and they gave them to me for Christmas in 1975. I still have that set.
The third edition was the annotated volume that prompted my book review.