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 Koerner's autobiography, which contains much matter of great interest, still remains unpublished.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

WASHINGTON CITY, Sept. 25, 1837.

DEAR SIR — I received yours of the 16th enclosing the certificate of Jno. Hous which I will send to the office of the Secretary of State on tomorrow and so soon as it is prepared I will send it to Mr. Hous.

I am much delighted to hear of your success at the bar, may it always attend you, is my sincere wish. You did not tell me what was done with my attachment case (at Kaskaskia) against Dr. Hogg, will you please inform me in your next. I wish also you would promote


the petition of the people of Tamaroa for a post office at that place and please see that the State road is opened, through the bottom across the Kaskaskia river. I received a letter from Rittenhouse who says Tamaroa is getting along very well, that Shutz & Thompson are doing very well with the steam saw mill I regret much that Gen. Semple did not make a contract with Mr. Hilgard, it is desirable such a man as him should be interested in the place.

Jno. Braun's draft was protested and I had to pay it here. Will you please to learn whether he is in that part of the country, if so whether he intends to take the land he purchased, he having failed to meet his purchase, I suppose he does or cannot comply, if so I should be glad to know it. What course is the editor of the Representative going to pursue?? Is the press under the control of Jno. Reynolds?? Is it not the avowed object to promote the political prospects of Reynolds either to advance his claims to congress or to the Gubernatorial chair?? Will you ascertain. Has Fleming recommenced printing or can he, is it worth while to aid him, or would it be better to buy up the Representative, if it can be bought.

The bill proposing to withhold the fourth installment from the states is still under discussion. I am of the opinion it cannot pass.

The bill to authorize 10 million of treasury warrants will pass, a resolution is before the house declaring it inexpedient to charter a bank of the U. States. I shall vote for it. I never will unless instructed vote for a bank of the United States, at least [word covered by seal, probably such] a Bank as the former was.

I begin to doubt whether we shall adjourn at all before the General session commences. My health is not as good as it has been. I have been enabled by a most desperate effort of self control to discontinue the use of tobacco for the last two weeks.

What are the charges made against Mr. Mitchell, does he still neglect the office, is it badly attended to? If so, how?

My regards to all our friends.




1. Some personal remarks relating to another individual are here omitted by request of the family.