Bicentennial voters to select state’s best leaders

November 14, 2018

Illinois’ bicentennial best-of voters are looking for Illinois’ best leader of the past 200 years, and it’s tough.

There are four presidents on Illinois’ latest Top 200 list.

Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama. Former First Lady, U.S. Senator and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on the list, too.

Chris Wills with the Lincoln Presidential Museum said picking Illinois’ best leader of the past 200 years won’t be easy.

“I would assume that Lincoln will come out on top. But it’s impossible to say,” Wills said. “Barack Obama is very, very popular in this state, and much more current. So people may want to vote for him. Ronald Reagan has a lot of admirers. He grew up in Illinois, though he’s known as a California guy, but he is beloved by a lot of people. So it’s hard to say.

Wills says there also are other kinds of leaders, including Chief Blackhawk and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

“Jane Adams is a nominee. She won the Nobel Peace Prize for her leadership in helping the poor in the city of Chicago,” Wills said. “Ida B. Wells is a nominee for her leadership in fighting racism and calling attention to the plague of lynchings happening across the country. So there are a lot of ways people can be leaders.”

The winner will be named next week.

This is the second to last Top 200 list. Wills said after this, voters will choose Illinois’ most iconic moments.

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