Document Type


Publication Title

Journal of Illinois History

Publication Date

Summer 2010


In 1834, 235 exiled Polish revolutionaries petitioned the United States Congress for a grant of land for the purpose of establishing a colony on the American frontier. Congress, sympathizing with the plight of the Poles and applauding their struggle against Russian tyranny in the Polish Revolution of 1830, issued a limited land grant with certain restrictions to the Poles; unfortunately, the lands near modern day Rockford and Rockton, Illinois selected by Polish agent Louis Chlopicki were occupied by native squatters attempting to exercise their own preemption rights. For several years the two sides debated who was best suited to settle public lands, with Congress initially embracing the Poles as best suited to spread American republican values to the frontier, while native settlers argued that their use and improvement of the land gave them the strongest claim. Ultimately, Congress agreed with the native-born squatters and nullified the Polish land grant, ending any chance of the exiles forming a colony.



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