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 John Peter Altgeld

John Peter Altgeld

Selters, Westerwaldkreis, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
Death 12 Mar 1902 (aged 54)
Joliet, Will County, Illinois, USA
Burial Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Plot Lakeside Section, Lot 295
Memorial ID 6420 · View Source
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23rd Illinois Governor. Born in Selters, Germany (then part of the Electorate of Hesse), he served in the Union Army during the Civil War, being mustered in as a Private in Company C, 163rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry on May 12, 1864, and being mustered out on October 10, 1864. He served as Governor of Illinois from 1893 to 1897. During his term in office he pardoned the so-called "Haymarket" rioters after celebrated lawyer Clarence Darrow had petitioned him to do so. He also took a stand against President Grover Cleveland's sending federal troops to Chicago, Illinois during the Pullman Strike of 1894.

Family Members

Siblings Half Siblings


East Face:


Citizen, Volunteer Soldier,
Lawyer, Judge, Orator,
Born December 30, 1847 Died March 12, 1902.

These Tablets
Containing Selection from his
Public Utterances
are dedicated by
The John P. Altgeld Memorial Association.
“I have given Illinois four of my
best years, and have brought all my
offerings to her altar. Had it been
necessary, I should have considered life
itself a small sacrifice in her interest.”


North Face:

“If the defendants had a fair trail,
there ought to be no interference; for
no punishment under our laws could
then be too severe. But they did not
have a fair trial. The evidence utterly
fails to connect the unknown who threw
the bomb with the defendants; and I am
convinced that it is my duty to act.”
Pardon of Chicago ‘Anarchists’ 1893.
“Under the law as you assume it to
be, a President, through any of his
appointees, can apply to himself to
have the military sent into any city,
and base his application on such
representations as he sees fit. This
assumption is new, and I submit that
it is not the law of the land. The
jurists tell us this is a Government
of law and not a Government by
caprice of an individual.
Message to President Cleveland 1894.


West Face:

“I am not discouraged. Things will
right themselves. The pendulum swings
one way, and then another, but the
steady pull of gravitation is toward
the center of the earth. Any structure
must be plumb if it is to endure. So
it is with Nations; Wrong may seem to
triumph, Right may seem to be defeated,
but the gravitation of Eternal Justice
is toward the throne of God. Any
political institution which is to
endure must be plumb with that line
of Justice.”


South Face:

“The doctrine that ‘might makes right’
has covered the earth with misery.
While it crushes the weak, it also
destroys the strong. Every deception,
every cruelty, every wrong, reaches
back sooner or later and crushes its
author. Justice is moral wealth,
brining happiness; wrong is moral
disease, bringing moral death.”
“Compromisers, traders and neutral
men never correct abuses, never found
or save free institutions, and never
fight for human rights.”
“Republican Institutions and Govern-
ment by Injunction cannot both exist
in the same country. They are opposite
in character, and one or the other
must die.”





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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 19 Sep 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6420
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Peter Altgeld (30 Dec 1847–12 Mar 1902), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6420, citing Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .