Emma Ford Altgeld

Emma Ford Altgeld (1849 - 1915) was the wife of John Peter Altgeld who served as governor of Illinois from 1893 to 1897. Altgeld, who was Clarence Darrow's mentor, died in March 1902. In November 1902 Clarence Darrow was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives. In April 1903 Darrow voted against a bill that would have appropriated $5,000 for Emma Altgeld. Darrow explained his opposition to the bill:

"No man ever lived whom I respected and loved outside my blood relations as I did John P. Altgeld. There is no woman more worthy of respect than the woman who is to be relieved in this bill. I know, and we all know, what John P. Altgeld sacrificed for the State of Illinois and for his devotion to duty as he saw it and as he believed it to be; and no man ever followed his duty more devotedly than did John P. Altgeld. A few weeks ago I voted against a bill to erect a monument to the memory of a good and great woman who lived and died in Illinois (Frances E. Willard). I voted against the appropriation to give $5,000 to the Swedes and Finns who doubtless were in need. I do not intend to vote against all appropriations. . . . But I do not see how we have the right to vote the money that must be paid by the property holders of this State, great and small, to any private individual, no matter how much I respect them, no matter how high they stand in the common esteem. Much as I regret it, I believe that this sort of legislation is not proper legislation and that there is nothing for me, at least, to do but to vote no on this bill."