After that he became known as John "Pardon" Altgeld.
In 1894 there was a militant strike against the Pullman factories in Chicago. President Cleveland, at the
instigation of the Attorney General Richard Olney, responded by sending in federal troops. Governor Altgeld protested sharply against this violation of state's rights. He knew that Cleveland might not have known that
Olney, one of the founders of the General Managers' Association, wanted to make an example of this case, which resulted in the death of more than twelve persons. J.T Adams writes in The Epic of America that (unconsciously)
"Cleveland played into the hands of the railroad owners. "
This action and his protest to President Cleveland regarding the use of federal troops in the Pullman strike aroused considerable opposition among
conservative elements, and Altgeld was not reelected in 1896. With his political career over he returned to being a defender of the poor. He died on March 11, 1902, shortly after he had lost the large fortune that he
had accumulated through speculation in Chicago real estate.
The famous defense lawyer, Clarence Darrow, eulogized him as follows: "Even his admirers have probably never understood the true nature of this great
humanist. …Like all great souls, he was a solitary man. …For him life was an endless tragedy-the earth was a great hospital full of the sick, the wounded and the suffering, and he devoted himself to them like a
dedicated surgeon. ..."
Albert B. Faust, The German Element in the United States II, Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston-New York, 1909.
Richard O'Connor, The German-Americans, Little, Brown and Company Boston-Toronto, 1968.
Howard Fast, THE AMERICAN: A Middle Western Legend, Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1946.
Joseph Wandel, The German Dimension of American History, Nelson-Hall Chicago, 1979.
Gerard Wilk, Americans from Germany, German Information Center New York, 1976.
Klaus Wurst and Heinz Moos, Three Hundred Years of German
Immigrants in North America, 300 Jahre Deutsche in America Verlags GmbH, 1983.