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Gustavus Köerner



Of the German-American leaders in Illinois politics none deserves more general recognition than Gustav Koerner. Coming to Illinois in 1833 as a result of the revolutionary uprising in Frankfort, he never lost his affection for his fatherland. Yet he was equally loyal in the service of his adopted country. He insisted always that it was the duty of the German-American to work with his neighbors for the promotion of sound ideals in politics and higher standards of civilization. This attitude won him the respect of the community in which he lived and he held a series of important public appointments. He was successively a member of the legislature, judge of the State Supreme Court, lieutenant governor, and United States minister to Spain.

During his long public career he gained a wide acquaintance among the public men of his time in Illinois and elsewhere. He was an active correspondent and left to his family an interesting collection of letters, some in English and some in German, written by many of his most prominent contemporaries. Through the courtesy of his daughters, Mrs. R. E. Rombauer of St. Louis and Mrs. Henry Engelmann of Lakewood, Ohio, I have been able to present for the annual volume of the transactions a few of the letters written to Koerner in English. The copies were carefully prepared for this purpose by his grand-daughter, Miss Bertha E. Rombauer, of St. Louis.

Brief accounts of Koerner's life may be found in Ratterman, Gustav Koerner, Ein Lebensbild; in the Illinois Historical Society's Transactions, 1904 (article by R. E. Rombauer); in Deutsch-Amerikanische Geschichtsblätter, April, 1907, (article by E. B. Greene); also in Koerner's Deutsche Element, Chicago, 1884. Koerner's autobiography, which contains much matter of great interest, still remains unpublished.



Letter from Horace White.

Committee Rooms

151 Randolph St., Chicago, Nov. 24, 1860.

Hon. G. Koerner, Belleville, ILL.

Will you please fill up the enclosed blank with the returns of St. Clair Co by precincts; or, if the vote of the county has been published in this form in your local paper, will you please cut it out and send it to Mr. Judd. We are making up the vote of the entire state by precincts for future use. We have received the vote of Monroe County in this form.

While we regarded your Senatorial District the safest in the State of the five doubtful ones before the election, it is the general opinion now, in view of the enormous increase of the Democratic vote in the Southern counties, & the abominable frauds perpertrated by them in the river precincts, that you made a remarkably good fight. "It's all well that ends well," and I'm sure the Democracy of Illinois feel a thousand times worse, in view of the general result, than any of us can.

Very respectfully &c