Altgeld of Illinois: A Record of His Life and Work

Altgeld of Illinois: A Record of His Life and Work

Altgeld of Illinois: A Record of His Life and Work

Altgeld of Illinois: A Record of His Life and Work

Excerpt

In addition to the ordinary difficulties connected with the preparation of a "first" biography, I have had to carry through the present task under at least one rather extraordinary disadvantage. From the time when he became Governor of Illinois, Altgeld apparently made an habitual practice of destroying everything among his private effects that would be of the slightest use or value to a future biographer. Thus I have had no access to the sort of material (personal letters, diaries, memoranda, etc.,) which commonly provides the basis and mainstay of such a work as this, and I have been obliged to depend in largest part upon contemporary journalistic records and the reminiscences of surviving friends--sources which, however useful in a subsidiary way, are by no means wholly adequate or immune from error. Although I should be the last to attribute all the shortcomings and defects of the present biography to this account, the circumstance may perhaps fairly be mentioned as an extenuating factor. Partly because of this circumstance, and partly because I have thought such a method would lend interest and variety to the book, I have quoted more freely from the few thoroughly trustworthy existing sources than might otherwise seem legitimate or desirable. While those incidents of Altgeld's public career which became the subject of violent national criticism are necessarily discussed at some length, the main purpose has been simply to provide a brief and readable record of a life spent in the service of the . . .

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