(Dec. 30, 1847–Mar. 12, 1902)
Altgeld was a reformist Democratic governor of Illinois (1893–97). He was elected to the superior court of Cook county (1886–91), later nominated for governor (1892) and elected by farm and labor voters. The following year he was petitioned by attorney Clarence Darrow, labor leaders, and others to grant clemency to three of the men convicted in the Haymarket Riot. His decision evoked an outcry by businesses and the conservative press, which branded the governor as a friend to anarchists. A year later, Altgeld’s protest to President Grover Cleveland against the use of federal troops in the Pullman Strike produced further vitriolic attacks. Altgeld’s achievements as governor included improvements in the penal system and child labor legislation. Upon leaving office, he practiced law in partnership with Darrow.
photo and text by Joe Collier