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 Koerner's autobiography, which contains much matter of great interest, still remains unpublished.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

CARLYLE Nov. 7, 1847


I had the pleasure to receive this morning your letter enclosing Chittenden's note & am obliged to you for your kind regrets that I could not be with you at the Court. Be assured that nothing would give me more pleasure & I had made all my calculations to that end, but as it was, I was too unwell to move out. I have not been well since the 12th of last August.

I am much pleased to hear that the counties you named are still friendly to me — they were strong for me before. I so hope I shall have no opposition from my political friends. I do not think there will be any very formidable unless it may be Niles & I should think he


would not be a candidate against me. I trust you and other good friends will look to the matter in McClain & Monroe. I depend on you for this. I hope you will write me often during the coming session. I shall take great pleasure in receiving and replying to your letters.

Have been in a week. I have sent the note of Chittenden to Senator Phelps of Vermont from whom I recd it.

Faithfully yrs