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 Koerner's autobiography, which contains much matter of great interest, still remains unpublished.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

ROCK ISLAND, ILL., October 3d. 1856.



A mass meeting of the Republicans of Rock Island and surrounding counties is to be holden at this city on Thursday the 16th inst, and from assurances already received a very full attendance may be relied upon.

The undersigned have been appointed a committee to procure speakers for that occasion, and as such they desire not only to extend to you our invitation to be present as one of the speakers but also to communicate to you the very general desire that exists among our citizens that you should speak to them upon the questions of the day. It is their desire to hear from yourself and some others of the distinguished citizens of our own state, upon whose counsels they have been accustomed to rely, and in whose lead they have been proud to follow. We trust that you may find it convenient to gratify your friends here in their wish to meet with you on the 16th. Will you do us the favor to communicate to Col. Bissell our cordial invitation that he should be present, and to press upon him its acceptance. His presence here will do very great good, as well as gladden the hearts of thousands of his friends. Please let us hear from you at your earliest convenience, and believe us Dr Sir

Very truly your friends

For Heavens sake Governor dont disappoint us. We are to have a great time, & to its greatness your are bound to contribute.

Not only have you many very warm personal friends here among the Yankees, but there are many most excellent Germans voters in our city & in Davenport, who will be greviously disappointed if they fail of having you and Fred Hecker on the 16th. Make Hecker come.

The glorious work goes bravely on. It is the Lord's work & will, & all hell, with Dug. thrown in cant stop it.

I have been on the stump elsewhere for many weeks, and now have a right to claim the best help here.

Dont fail to answer, nor to make that answer YES.

Ever & most truly your friend
Jos. KNOX.