Encyclopedia ofChicago
Gallery : Governing Space
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Governing Space
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Townships
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Townships

Townships After 1850

In 1850 Illinois permitted counties to create townships, subsidiary governments that together cover the full area of the county. Townships have had responsibility for local roads, poor relief, and other services, and their boundaries have often been the basis for establishing high school districts. Watson's New Township and Sectional Map of Illinois, 1871.

See also: Relief and Subsistence Aid; Social Services; Streets and Highways

Against Townships

When H. S. Hicks, secretary of the Illinois Tax Commission, was hired during the Great Depression by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce to study local governments in Kane County, he recommended that township government be abandoned. Hicks argued that township organization leads to unequal representation in county government, inconsistent property assessments, inequitable distribution of tax burdens, and inefficient duplication of services. Townships of Kane County, 1936.

See also: Chambers of Commerce; Great Depression; Kane County; Taxation and Finance

A Defense of Townships

In the twentieth century, township governments have often had diminished significance near Chicago, although township-based high school districts remain a part of daily consciousness for many. In outlying areas, however, township governments have maintained a stronger hold. State Senator Robert McClory, later a U. S. Representative, in 1953 spoke to constituents in McHenry County about the persisting importance of township government. Woodstock Daily Sentinel, 1953.

See also: Crystal Lake, IL; McHenry County