Biography of John P. Altgeld
Chicago, Cook County, Il Biographies

ALTGELD, JOHN P. - Born in Germany, December 30, 1847. When but a child he was brought to this country by his parents and was raised on a farm in Richland county, Ohio His educational advantages were extremely limited, and in 1864, when but 16 years of age, he enlisted in the Union army, remaining in the service until the close of the war, having seen some very severe service, He taught school for a time, but in 1869 started for the west, and from that year until 1872 he encountered trials and privations which would have daunted most men. He was, however, full of ambition and energy; after spending some time in St. Louis he went to southern Kansas, and after a severe illness went to northwestern Missouri, where he taught school and studied law. He was admitted to the bar in 1872, and not long after was appointed city attorney of Savannah, and afterward was elected state's attorney of Andrew county. He came to Chicago in 1875 and soon built up a large and lucrative practice. Early in his career in this city he became mixed up in politics and in 1884 ran for congress in the Fourth district and, though he reduced the republican majority by several thousand, he was defeated. He was in 1886 nominated by the democratic party for judge of the superior court of Cook county and was elected. He discharged the duties of this high office for five years, but suddenly resigned, feeling that his own interests and business demanded his undivided attention, Besides his legal duties, he has given considerable attention to the erection of buildings, and some of the finest mercantile office structures in this city are the result of his enterprise and capital. He has ever been a most industrious student and has given a large portfon of his spare time to literature. Among the works and papers he has contributed are "Our Penal Machinery and Its Victims" and "Live Questions." At the state convention in 1892 he was nominated as candidate for governor of Illinois by the democratic party. He made a thorough canvas of the state himself, speaking in almost every county, and the good results of the work he did himself and that of his friends was seen at the November election, when he was made governor by a surprising majority. One of the most important acts of his administration was the pardoning of the anarchists, Fielden, Schwab and Neebe, who were confined at Joliet for participation in the Haymarket riot. Judge Altgeld is a most able exponent of the principles of his political party. He is earnest, original and practical. His arguments are always clear and convincing and his thoughts are frequently clothed in the choicest language and adorned by a simple and unaffected beauty. He was married in 1877 to Miss Ford, of Richland county, Ohio.


FROM:
The Handbook of Chicago Biography
Edited by John J Flinn.
The Standard Guide Company
Chicago 1893

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