Decatur is the largest city and the county seat of Macon County in the U.S. state of Illinois. The city was founded in 1829 and is located along the Sangamon River and Lake Decatur in Central Illinois. In 2013 the city population was 74,710.
The city is home of private Millikin University and public Richland Community College. Decatur has vast industrial and agricultural processing production, including the North American headquarters of agricultural conglomerate Archer Daniels Midland, international agribusiness Tate & Lyle's largest corn-processing plant, and the designing and manufacturing facilities for Caterpillar Inc.'s wheel-tractor scrapers, off-highway trucks, and large mining trucks.
Decatur has become an affiliate of the U.S. Main Street program, in conjunction with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The Potawatomi Trail of Death passed through here in 1833.
Post No. 1 of the Grand Army of the Republic was founded by Civil War veterans in Decatur on April 6, 1866.
The Edward P. Irving House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built in 1911, is located at #2 Millikin Place, Decatur. In addition, the Robert Mueller Residence, 1 Millikin Place, and the Adolph Mueller Residence, 4 Millikin Place, have been attributed to Wright's assistants Hermann V. von Holst and Marion Mahony.
Decatur was the first home in Illinois of Abraham Lincoln, who settled just west of Decatur with his family in 1830. At the age of 21, Lincoln gave his first political speech in Decatur about the importance of Sangamon River navigation that caught the attention of Illinois political leaders. As a lawyer on the 8th Judicial Circuit, Lincoln made frequent stops in Decatur, and argued five cases in the log courthouse that stood on the corner of Main & Main Streets. The original courthouse is now on the grounds of the Macon County Historical Museum on North Fork Road.
On May 9 and 10, 1860, the Illinois Republican State Convention was held in Decatur. At this convention Lincoln received his first endorsement for President of the United States as "The Railsplitter Candidate." In commemoration of Lincoln's bicentennial the Illinois Republican State Convention was held in Decatur at the Decatur Conference Center and Hotel on June 6 & 7, 2008.
ADM Scandals and Corporate Exit
In early November 1992, the high-ranking Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) executive Mark Whitacre confessed to a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent that ADM executives, including Whitacre himself, had routinely met with competitors to fix the price of lysine, a food additive.
The lysine conspirators, including ADM, ultimately settled federal charges for more than $100 million. ADM also paid hundreds of millions of dollars [$400 million alone on the high fructose corn syrup Class Action case] to plaintiffs/customers that it stole from during the price-fixing schemes. Furthermore, several Asian and European lysine and citric acid producers, that conspired to fix prices with ADM, paid criminal fines in the tens of millions of dollars to the U.S. government. Several executives, including the Vice Chairman of ADM, did federal prison time.
The investigation and prosecution of ADM and some of its executives has been reported to be one of the "best documented corporate crimes in American history". The events were the basis of a book named The Informant as well as a film named The Informant!
In 2013, ADM reported that some employees had violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and ADM was fined 14 million U.S. dollars, but avoided criminal charges by self-reporting the foreign bribes.
In 2014, ADM moved its upper corporate management out of Decatur and established the new ADM World Headquarters in downtown Chicago.
On April 18 and 19, 1996, the city was hit by tornadoes. On April 18, an F1 tornado hit the city's southeast side, followed by an F3 tornado the following evening on the northwest side. The two storms totaled approximately $10.5 million in property damage.
On July 19, 1974 a tanker car containing isobutane collided with a boxcar in the Norfolk & Western railroad yard in the East End of Decatur. The resulting explosion killed seven people, injured 349, and caused $18 million in property damage.
Jesse Jackson protest
In November 1999, Decatur was brought into the national news when the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition protested the expulsion and treatment of several African American students who had been involved in a serious fight at an Eisenhower High School football game.