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 Koerner's autobiography, which contains much matter of great interest, still remains unpublished.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

December 13th 1837

W. City


I received your very interesting letter a few days since as also the maps you had the goodness to send me for which I thank you. I should have written you sooner but I have been franking and addressing the president's message. I had a good many printed on my own account in order that they might be circulated throughout my whole district — it is an excellent paper must suit the views of the people of our state, it seems to me that it must meet with General approbation in all the States that have public domain in their territories.

He has again urged the propriety of the separation of the Government from the Local Incorporations of the States, firmly but mildly, the Message is such as to bring all our friends together. A compromise will take place which will meet the views of the democratic party in Congress, the administration is not as strong in the house as it was many of the New York members will not support the measure under any circumstances, the result of the New York Elections has confirmed them in their opposition to the measure. There is however some gain in South Carolina as you will perceive by the papers. The Virginia members who voted to lay the bill on the table Mr. Garland Patton & others will I think now come on to the compromise so that the strength in the whole will be enough by a small majority to carry the measure, as modified.

You say you were tempted almost to speak of the contents of my letter I am glad you did not, from the unreserved manner I communicate with you it would not always be prudent. I have been cautioned


against writing too frankly my views to you I knew it came from a political enemy and gave it that weight which it doubtless merited. I mention this to show you the pains that is sometimes taken to disturb the relations existing between men.

I have not yet seen the memorial. I mean the signatures. The copy I see in the Gazette, there is certainly nothing in it exceptionable, it is clear and undisguised. It will not be necessary. I think when all my votes shall be taken together there will not be much real cause of complaint, I think none by the democratic party, and they I am desirous of pleasing.

Reynolds speech as chairman of the meeting is a curiosity it is non committal and non Such, however I notice the Vandalia paper at the same time praising him as a warm advocate of the subtreasury scheme, and stated that it spoke advisedly. A part of it belongs to Reynolds, the editor Walters was foreman in Gales & Seeton's office here and was taken to Illinois by Reynolds & Dement, the latter you know was opposition candidate for speaker against Semple. You have doubtless by this time made a Governor. I suppose that Carlin will be nominated, be him whom he may I wish him success & hope he will beat Edwards, the opposition candidate.

How does poor Fleming do, I perceive that his refulgent sheet is again visible. Two presses in Belleville, I hope Fleming has appeared this time "Melioribus auspiciis" how would it do to assist him — the other press is evidently under the influence of Reynolds & is bound to oppose me, I remarked in it a dirty extract from the Vandalia paper censuring me for not coming home in the recess and seeing my constituents. Do you know I thought it unkind that such a paragraph should appear unanswered when it was known that bodily infirmity alone prevented me from seeing my family and friends. I can bear censure of my political course but I cannot bear to be charged with a want of respect and attention to my duty, or devotion to my constituents. The charge was unkind and unfeeling, all who know me know my devotion to my family and friends, know how it would gratify me to see them, more particularly under the circumstances that I left them. If God lets me live to get back to Illinois I shall be strongly tempted to punish the offender.

We shall certainly be able to procure the passage of a preemption law and I think be able to reduce the price of the refuse [?] Land a [ll?] such at least as has been in market a long time.

I am sorry to hear that the practice of the law is so dull at this time, I hope it will be better soon, it seems you are about having a branch of the State Bank of Illinois at Belleville. Who are to be its officers. I suppose that Mitchell will be cashier who president old man Harrison or Kinney.

I hope you will write me frequently, I am always happy to hear from you. I am with esteem your sincere friend and well wisher