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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 Koerner's autobiography, which contains much matter of great interest, still remains unpublished.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 John Reynolds.

SPRINGFIELD 18 Feby 1847


I am glad to say: that the H of R* has done you and others justice. The vote to lay an amendment on the table to a Bill of Appropriation


was 47 for the table and 51 against it. The vote was again taken on the passage of the clause of $1500 to all the Judges and it stood thus 53 for and 43 agt it — passed.

This amendment only takes effect from its passage. It does not go back. Our friend Mr. Underwood was sick; and my other colleague voted against it. Mr. U. was not present and so did not vote. I am glad that the Legislature had the magnanimity to do justice to the Judges.

The balance you will see in the papers, and I will tell you when I have the pleasure to see you. Judge Denning had some capital.

Your friend


Judge Martin came in sick and voted.

PS. I moved in the bill to strike out the names of all the Justices: so that we forced members to join all in. Linder made a good speech. I was short as it was that was best.