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Pictures and Illustrations.

Gustavus Köerner

A. W. Snyder



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 Koerner's autobiography, which contains much matter of great interest, still remains unpublished.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 A. W. Snyder.

Oct. 26th 1837


You will be surprised at learning that I am at this place in so advanced season of the fall, the truth is I well know that a more southern latitude would best suit my health, but an irresistible curiosity to visit New England caused me to take this trip. I landed at Providence in Rhode Island from there went to Worcester in a stage passing along the Valley of the Blackstone through one of the most interesting manufacturing districts of New England in one day I passed through nineteen manufacturing villages containing from one to two thousand inhabitants each, employing a capital of two hundred million of dollars, in cotton & woolen in each of these villages the tall church spire and the school house form conspicuous objects, the houses all painted and beautiful — neatly enclosed — on the whole forming a picture of neatness and comfort which probably cannot be equalled in any country.

You have no idea how much I am pleased with my visit. I have examined the intelligent labor saving machinery their untiring industry, their uniform happiness and comfort, it has done much to dispel the prejudices which I have heretofore indulged toward my Yankee countrymen.

Should the weather continue good I shall continue my tour through all New England. No man ought to attempt to legislate for all this republic unless he know all her interests, he cannot do this without personally seeing it.


I assure you notwithstanding all the peculiarities of this people all the ridicule exercised against them, I am proud to call myself their countryman.

Have you seen Bulwer's last work Maltravers it is dedicated to your countrymen the Germans, I have just read it, am not much pleased with it, — went last night to see Forrest the great American tragedian perform. Was much pleased, have seen Miss Clifford in Bianca and Miss Free in the Duchess de La Valliere a play written by Bulwer. They are all fine actors. Tomorrow I go to Lowell — the Leeds of America, next day to Nahant to see the sea. Today I shall visit the common schools, museum and lunatic asylum.

I hope to have the pleasure of finding on my return a letter from you as well as from my family. I think of returning to Washington in ten or twelve days. Please give my respects to Mr. Shields.

Your sincere friend,