About “Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union”

Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union examines what the complex history of Illinois’ first capital, Kaskaskia, can teach us about present day pursuits of a unified public. Through screenings and community discussions, the series will provide an in-depth look at the many demographic, cultural, and political shifts that have shaped Kaskaskia locally and impacted the democratic vision of the region and country.

View the Calendar of Events

The series will feature an overview of Kaskaskia’s history beginning with its founding by Kaskaskia Indians and French Jesuits near the confluence of the Kaskaskia and Mississippi rivers in 1703 through its integration into the newly independent United States in 1778 and designation as Illinois’s territorial capital and first state capital. We’ll also look at present-day Kaskaskia—a small island in the Mississippi accessible only by way of Missouri. Kaskaskia persists as one of Illinois’s smallest, yet most historic, municipalities, thanks to its residents’ dedication.

This history involves many groups of people – Indigenous and Black people, both enslaved and free, French and British people, Anglo-Americans from the South and the North, and subsequent immigrants – and many dramatic social, governmental, and economic changes that reflect the landscape of the state and country throughout time. The series will discuss the experiences of the Kaskaskia Tribe who remain integral to the community’s social fabric as well as contemporary African American life and the preservation and promotion of French American heritage in Randolph County.

By considering what ‘a more perfect Union’ might have meant at various times to various people – from those who lived in the place where the Liberty Bell of the West rang, to those in the present keeping the town’s legacy alive – we hope to stimulate thought and discussion about our own aspirations for a more perfect Union.

Watch Part 1

Watch Part 2

Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union is made possible in part by a grant from National Endowment for the Humanities A More Perfect Union initiative.

Events

Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union will take place in Fall 2022 and Winter 2023. Watch a video program on our YouTube channel, or attend a screening and community discussion around the state.

Bruce Baldwin, primary videographer/producer for “Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union,” films at the overlook at Fort Kaskaskia State Historic SitePremiere: Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union, Part 2

Join us for this online premiere. The video continues our exploration the legacy of one of Illinois’s smallest, yet most historic, municipalities.

Thursday, November 17, 2022 7:00 p.m.

Watch Now

front of Chester Public Library building photo by Gwendy GarnerChester Screening and Discussion of “Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union”

Join us in Chester, Illinois for a robust discussion as we screen excerpts from Part 1 and Part 2 of “Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2022 6:30 p.m. | Chester Public Library | 733 S State St | Chester, IL

Learn more

Harold Washington Library Center building from Congress StChicago Screening and Discussion of “Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union”

Join us in Chicago, Illinois for dinner, a short screening, and a robust discussion about Part 1 and Part 2 of “Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2022 5:30 p.m. | Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago Public Library | 400 S State St | Chicago, IL

Learn More

Past Events

front of Chester Public Library building photo by Gwendy GarnerScreening and Discussion of “Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union, Part 1

Guests came together in Chester, Illinois for a screening and community discussion to explore the rich history of Illinois’ first capital.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022 6:30 p.m. | Chester Public Library | 733 S State St | Chester, IL

Learn More

Bruce Baldwin, primary videographer/producer for “Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union,” films at the overlook at Fort Kaskaskia State Historic SitePremiere: Kaskaskia and the Pursuit of a More Perfect Union, Part 1

Part 1 in our series premiered on Oct. 6, 2022, featuring Logan Pappenfort, formerly Second Chief of the Peoria Tribe of Indians, now interim director of Dickson Mounds State Museum near Lewistown, and more.

Thursday, October 6, 2022 7:00 p.m.

Watch Now

More About "The Country and the City"

Contrasts between rural and urban perspectives on society have manifested themselves prominently in the news in recent years, but they are hardly new. Aesop’s famous fable, “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse,” indicates that such contrasts were on the minds of Ancient Greeks two and a half millennia ago. Rural-urban dynamics formed a significant part of the culture of the Mississippian people who occupied much of present-day Illinois 700 to 1,200 years ago, and they have influenced seemingly every aspect of public life here in the Prairie State throughout its 202-year history.

Our social and political discourse appears to reflect deep divisions and oppositional relations between urban and rural Illinoisans, yet those who are familiar with both city neighborhoods and rural communities across the state sometimes comment that their residents’ needs, concerns, and values may be more similar than they initially seem. To what extent can rural and urban Illinoisans find common ground on issues that affect both the country and the city? That is the question examined by The Country and the City: Common Ground in the Prairie State?.

Developed in 2018 in conjunction with both the Illinois State Bicentennial and the Illinois tour of a Museum on Main Street exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution entitled Crossroads: Change in Rural America, this program series addresses issues significant to both urban and rural communities, drawing upon a wide variety of humanities methods and content.

Past Events

View the events in each series of this program on our YouTube Channel.

Distributions: People, Places, and Power Series

Finding Common Ground in the Prairie State Series

The Country and the City: Common Ground in the Prairie State? logo