The Illinois State Society of Washington, DC, was
founded in 1854 to foster and encourage social, friendly, and
fraternal spirit among the Illinoisans of the National Capitol
Area and to serve, in a non-political way, the best interest of
the Nation, the State of Illinois, and the membership of the Society.
In 1999, the Society's Board developed a new mission statement
which reads: "The Illinois State Society is a volunteer organization
dedicated to promoting the history, culture, science, technology,
commerce, and social traditions of Illinois.
The Society was first known as the Illinois
Democratic Club of Washington, DC. During Abraham Lincoln's presidency,
it became the Illinois Republican Club and its name continued
to change whenever a new party came into power. Then, in the 1890s
it became permanently known as the Illinois State Society. The
Society was incorporated as a non-profit organization in the District
of Columbia in 1954, and is a founding member of the National
Conference of State Societies. The Society continues to grow and
has had as many as 3500 members in recent years.
Many prominent political figures have belonged to and served as
officers of the Society, among them members of the US Congress
and state and local officials. Abraham Lincoln was reportedly
a member. Most recent Members of Congress who have served as Presidents,
Congressional Vice Presidents, or other officers of the Society
include: The Hon. J. Dennis Hastert (currently Speaker of the
US House of Representatives); The Hon. Ray LaHood; The Hon. Judy
Biggert; The Hon. David Phelps; The Hon. Jerry Costello; The Hon.
Danny Davis; The Hon. Lane Evans; The Hon. Donald Manzullo; The
Hon. Jerry Weller; The Hon. Thomas Ewing; The Hon. John Porter;
The Hon. Harris Fawell; The Hon. Glenn Poshard; The Hon. Cardiss
Collins; The Hon. Thomas Corcoran; The Hon. Lynn Martin; and others.
The first Illinois State Society Inaugural Reception took place
in 1969. The event, honoring the late Sen. Everett M. Dirksen,
was held at the Gramarcy Inn before an overflowing crowd. Mrs.
Dirksen was later honored, and the proceeds given to the Dirksen
Library in Pekin, Illinois.
The 1973 and 1977 Inaugural Receptions were held at the Capitol
Hilton, then know as the Statler Hotel. Subsequently, receptions
have been held at the International Club in 1981, the National
Press Club in 1985, the Grand Hyatt Washington in 1989, 1993,
1997, and in 2001, the Gala will again be held at the Grand Hyatt.
In January of 1999, the Society held a reception honoring the
Speaker of the US House of Representatives, The Hon. J. Dennis
Hastert. Hastert is the third Illinoisan to hold the leadership
position of Speaker of the House.
All activities of the Society are organized and conducted by its
members. Presently, the Society does the following: 1) organizes
seminars on issues important to the people and the State of Illinois;
2) manages the Illinois Inaugural Gala; 3) coordinates the Illinois
Princess' involvement in the International Cherry Blossom Festival;
4) hosts events honoring new and outgoing members of the Illinois
congressional delegation; and, 5) manages other activities associated
with selected events of historic significance to Illinois. The
Society thanks all of those who have volunteered their time to
make these events possible.
Left to Right: Congressman Leslie C. Arends, President Gerald R. Ford, Congressman Harold R. Collier, Congressman Ken Gray, and seated at right Illinois State Society President Bill Hermelin at September 1974 Illinois State Society reception for congressional delegation on capitol hill. President Ford had only taken office the month before.
Members of the Illinois State Society gather for the 1992 annual meeting. From left, Dave Stricklin, unidentified, Egils Milbergs, Congressman Dennis Hastert, Helen Lewis, Barb Hanrahan, Peter Andriole, unidentified, and Frank McDermott.
Hiram Ulyses Grant was born in Marion County, Ohio in 1822. He
joined the Army and fought with distinction in the Mexican War
but resigned from the Army in 1854 after 11 years in service.
Seven years later with the start of the Civil War, Grant returned
to the Army as a Colonel in the 21st Illinois Volunteers. He then
became a Brigadier General in the Western Department. His first
major victory was the capture of Forts Donelson and Henry. He
was promoted to Major General but his lack of preparation on the
first day of the battle of Shiloh was a blemish on his otherwise
very good military record. He recovered on the second day of the
battle and made several bold maneuvers that led to the capture
of Vicksburg, Mississippi. After an aggressive pursuit of the
Confederate Army of Virginia in 1864-1865, he finally met with
Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House on April
9, 1865 to end the major fighting of the Civil War.
Grant was elected as the 18th President of the United States in
1868. His home in Galena, Illinois has been restored as a museum.
For more about his presidency, visit The White House web site
excerpts from ISS stories in the Washington Post
An address reviewing the history of the schools of Illinois was
made last night by Senator Charles S. Deneen at the meeting of
the Illinois State Society at the Willard Hotel. Senator Deneen
praised the educational achievements of the schools of his State,
which he believes are on a parity with the best in the country.
--Feb. 9, 1928
A ball, preceded by a short musical program, will feature the
March meeting of the Illinois State Society of Washington, which
will be held Saturday night at the Willard Hotel, Judge Thomas
S. Williams, of the United States Court of Claims, president of
the society, will preside. -- March 15, 1931
The Illinois State Society will hold its first meeting in the
new year on Thursday night, January 21, at the Willard Hotel,
giving a reception to United Slates Senator and Mrs. James Hamilton
Lewis. All the representatives and their wives from Illinois will
be in the receiving line. After a brief musical program, dancing
and cards will follow. --Dec. 27, 1931
Illinois State Society will hold its next meeting Thursday evening,
March 24, at the Shoreham Hotel. Members are invited to attire
themselves in colonial costume, so as to give the affair a George
Washington touch. A prize for the best costume will be given,
which will be determined in the grand march, held at 10:30 o'clock.
Dancing will begin promptly at 9 o'clock. --March 6, 1932
Illinois State Society will have a moonlight cruise on June 17,
aboard the steamer City of Washington, which will leave from the
Seventh street wharf, at 8:30 and will return at 11:30. --June
Society Reception, Dance Honor Gov. Horner on Friday January
The Illinois State Society will have a dance tomorrow evening
at the Shoreham Hotel. --Feb. 13, 1940
Undersecretary of Commerce Wayne Chataeld Taylor will address
the annual dinner of the Illinois State Society, tonight at 7
o'clock, in the ballroom of the Annapolis Hotel. Representative
Laurence F. Arnold, president of the society, will be master of
ceremonies and Representative James M. Barnes will act as toastmaster.
--Feb 21, 1941
Illinois State Society and the Indiana State Society will be hosts
at a joint dance and party at the west ballroom of the Shoreham
Hotel on Wednesday evening, it was announced yesterday by Congressman
Evan Howell, Illinois, and Congressman Robert A. Grant, Indiana,
presidents of the respective societies. --January 23, 1944
veterans of the present war now located in the Washington area
will be honor guests of the Illinois State Society at its party
and dance Saturday night at the Shoreham Hotel. --April 25, 1944
Nebraska and Illinois State Societies are planning a joint moonlight
cruise and dance down the Potomac River on the S.S. Mt. Vernon,
tonight, leaving from the foot of Seventh Street at 8:30 p.m.
--May 25, 1945
officers have been elected for the Illinois State Society, and
plans are under way for a dance, November 17, at Hotel Washington.
Officers are Calvin D. .Johnson, president; Mrs. Ethel Vastido,
first vote president; Representative Rolla McMillen, second vice
president; Dr. R.H. Hill, third vice president; Albertina Amivich,
fourth vice president; Mrs. Pauline Randol, treasurer; Elsie Green,
historian; Mrs. Tessie Nale-Povic, secretary; Bessie Cronk, --Oct.
IT TAKES more than two to tango if you haven't got that basic
know-how. And Vic Daumit of Daumit Dance Studios will be on hand
to supply just that at the Christmas dance of the Illinois Society
next Saturday. --Dec. 4, 1954
Shoreham Hotel's main ballroom will become a "Land of Lincoln"
Feb. 2 for the Illinois State Society dance. --Jan. 27, 1957
IT WON'T BE anything like a picnic out on the prairie back home
in Illinois; it'll be more like a barbecue down on the farm, and
Prairie Staters,... --July 12, 1964
Illinois State Society Celebration, January 20, 1969
According to the Washington Star for Jan. 20, 1969, more than
1,000 members and guests of the Illinois State Society gathered
at the Gramercy Inn for a party to celebrate the Inauguration
of President Richard M. Nixon. Enjoying the night are from left
to right, former Illinois State Society President Helen Lewis
of Macomb, a board member for more than 50 years; U.S. Senator
Everett M. Dirksen; Mrs. Luella Dirksen; and U.S. Senator Charles
Star article says that Dirksen "told the group that he is fearful
that an Illinois Oak Tree, which the society expects to plant
in his honor on the lawn of the Capitol, will not grow in the
Washington area. 'I suggest that you might want to plant some
other variety--possibly a Marigold Tree,' the senator deadpanned."
greeted his proposal with shouts of laughter, recalling Dirksen's
long efforts to promote the Marigold as the national flower."
the next day, Inauguration Day, Senate Minority Leader Dirksen
was given an honor that no other U.S. Senator had ever been given.
He rode from the White House to the Capitol with President Johnson
and President Nixon on the way to the Presidential Oath of Office
ceremony. In the fall of that year, Senator Dirksen passed away.
the record, the Dirksen Oak Tree planted by the Illinois State
Society on the Capitol lawn in 1969 was still growing strong 31
years later at the start of a new century, and one of three Senate
office buildings on the Hill is now called the Dirksen Building.
For up-to-date information on Illinois State Society events, call the ISS HOTLINE at 703-461-3610.