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5 Fun Facts About December 9 In Illinois History

---Learn Every Day: IL Today In History Facts Texted Each Day - Text: history il To: 618-270-4005---

1. In 1872, the first-ever women's prison in the United States - the Illinois State Reformatory for Women - was established in Dwight, Illinois. It was built to offer women inmates an opportunity for reform and rehabilitation.

2. On December 9, 1884, the state of Illinois passed a law requiring safety switches on railroad tracks, making it the first state in the US to do so. The safety switch was designed to prevent train accidents by automatically stopping trains that had lost control or had gone off the tracks.

3. The famous Chicago Bears football team played their first game as the Decatur Staleys on December 9, 1920. The team, which has since won nine NFL championships, was originally based in Decatur, Illinois before moving to Chicago the following year.

4. In 1945, a plane carrying 26 people crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building in New York City. One of the passengers was Lt. Col. William Franklin Smith Jr., an Army Air Corps pilot from Illinois who had disobeyed orders to fly at a lower altitude due to poor visibility.

5. On December 9, 1968, Illinois Governor Richard B. Ogilvie signed a law abolishing capital punishment in the state. It was the first time in the United States that a state had abolished the death penalty in more than a century. The law would be overturned in 1974 before the death penalty was abolished in Illinois for good in 2011.
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