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Altgeld

Altgeld

[awlt-geld]
Altgeld, John Peter, 1847-1902, American politician, governor of Illinois (1892-96), b. Germany. He was taken by his immigrant parents to Ohio, where he grew up with little formal schooling. After service in the Union army he spent some years as an itinerant worker on farms, read law, and became county attorney of Savannah, Mo. In 1875 he moved to Chicago, where he wrote Our Penal Machinery and Its Victims (1884), arguing that American judicial methods were weighted against the poor. In 1886 he was elected to the Cook co. superior court, and in 1892 he was elected governor. In office he established himself as a champion of labor, reform, and liberal thought. Charging a miscarriage of justice, he pardoned three anarchists imprisoned as parties to the Haymarket riot of 1886. During the Pullman strike of 1894, when President Cleveland sent federal troops into Chicago, Governor Altgeld publicly termed the act unconstitutional. His extreme liberalism, coupled with his espousal of free silver, lost him reelection in 1896. Denounced as a radical in his own day, he was later regarded as a defender of the freedom of the individual against entrenched power.

See his writings and speeches, ed. by H. M. Christman (1960, repr. 1970); biography by H. Barnard (1938); study by R. Ginger (1958, repr. 1965).

(born Dec. 30, 1847, Niederselters, Prussia—died March 12, 1902, Joliet, Ill., U.S.) German-born U.S. politician, governor of Illinois (1893–97). He emigrated from Germany as a child. In the 1870s he moved to Chicago, where he accumulated a small fortune in real estate and became active in Democratic Party politics. In 1892 he won the governorship as a reformist candidate. In 1893, at the urging of Clarence Darrow and labour leaders, he granted clemency to three men convicted of complicity in the Haymarket Riot. The controversial pardon provoked an outcry from conservatives and contributed to his defeat for reelection in 1896, though Altgeld's decision later gained wide approval in judicial circles.

Learn more about Altgeld, John Peter with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Dec. 30, 1847, Niederselters, Prussia—died March 12, 1902, Joliet, Ill., U.S.) German-born U.S. politician, governor of Illinois (1893–97). He emigrated from Germany as a child. In the 1870s he moved to Chicago, where he accumulated a small fortune in real estate and became active in Democratic Party politics. In 1892 he won the governorship as a reformist candidate. In 1893, at the urging of Clarence Darrow and labour leaders, he granted clemency to three men convicted of complicity in the Haymarket Riot. The controversial pardon provoked an outcry from conservatives and contributed to his defeat for reelection in 1896, though Altgeld's decision later gained wide approval in judicial circles.

Learn more about Altgeld, John Peter with a free trial on Britannica.com.

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