JOHN PETER ALTGELD
JOHN PETER ALTGELD was the most reviled man of his generation. Nearly all of the country's newspapers and journals of opinion and many of the nation's leading citizens at one time or another exhausted the Billingsgate dictionary in their vituperative attacks upon him. In the minds of millions of people his name was synonymous with anarchy and depravity for a decade. Yet Altgeld withstood all abuse with the courage of a man who knew he was doing right. Moreover, his uncompromising persistence and political proficiency scattered his enemies and planted the ideals of social liberalism in the field of national government. He was indeed the first American in high office to denounce the greed of monopolies and the graft of politicians and to proclaim the reforms needed to bring back social justice to our newly industrialized nation. And while he died a poor and broken man and became the "forgotten eagle" of the succeeding generation, the logic of history must sooner or later place his name close to that of his illustrious fellow Illinoisian Abraham Lincoln.
Like Lincoln, Altgeld was born and reared in poverty and made his way to the highest office within his reach by sheer ability and strength of character. He was an infant of three months when his parents brought him here from Germany in the spring of 1848. The family settled on a farm near Mansfield, Ohio, where Mrs. Altgeld's brothers had already established themselves. Although Mr.