Governor Dwight Herbert Green

Governor Dwight Herbert Green

January 13, 1941-January 10, 1949

Green, Dwight Herbert (1897-1958) -- also known as Dwight H. Green -- of Chicago, Cook County, Ill. Born in Ligonier, Noble County, Ind., January 9, 1897. Republican. Served in the U.S. Army during World War I; lawyer; U.S. District Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, 1931-35; candidate for mayor of Chicago, Ill., 1939; Governor of Illinois, January 13, 1941 - January 8, 1945 & January 8, 1945 - January 10, 1949; delegate to Republican National Convention from Illinois, 1940, 1944, 1948, 1952, 1956. Episcopalian. Member, American Bar Association; Federal Bar Association; American Legion; Forty and Eight; Freemasons; Shriners; Kappa Sigma; Phi Alpha Delta. Died February 20, 1958. Entombed in mausoleum at Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago, Ill.

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Dwight Herbert Green, was born January 9, 1897 in Ligonier, Noble County, Indiana where his family has been settled since 1861.

Governor Green's grandmother Magdalena Kaul was one of four siblings, natives of Waldbockelheim, Rheinland County, Germany, who immigrated to the United States in the 1850's, arriving in Albany New York and then onto Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  It is here that Magdalena met and married her husband Henry Green.  Shortly after their marriage they migrated to Ligonier, Noble County, Indiana where they lived and died.

Magdalena's son Harry, the father of our subject, was born in Ligonier, Noble County, Indiana a prominent business man in Ligonier, affiliated with the Farmers & Merchants Trust Co. and a dealer in livestock. He remained there until 1929 shortly before his death, which occurred 1930 in California, when he was sixty-four years old. He had left Ligonier for Arizona a year ago in search of health. He married, Minnie Gerber, becoming the mother of two children: Mary M., who married Arlo Shearer and Dwight Herbert our subject.

Dwight Herbert Green grew to manhood on the homestead in Ligonier, a very small town and was educated in the common schools there.   He left Ligonier and attended Wabash College.  On June 29, 1926, he married Mabel Victoria Kingston. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I. Green attended law school at the University of Chicago, practiced law, and served as United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois in 1931-35. Little did he know then that this small town boy would become one of the attorneys prosecuting the most famous gangster of our history, Al Capone. 

Appointed U.S. District Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, in 1931. It would be Green's primary responsibility to help fight the organized crime operations -- such as Al Capone's gang -- which virtually ruled Chicago and much of the state in the 1930's.  The government team prosecuting Al Capone for Tax Evasion consisted of U.S. Attorney George E. Q. Johnson, and his prosecutors Samuel Clawson, Jacob Grossman, Dwight Green and William Froelich. Late Saturday night, October 17, 1931, after nine hours of discussion, the jury completed its deliberation and found Capone guilty of some counts, but not all counts of tax evasion. The following Saturday, Judge Wilkerson sentenced Capone to eleven years, $50,000 in fines and court costs of another $30,000. Bail was denied and Capone would be led to the Cook County Jail to await eventual removal to a federal penitentiary.

Governor Green left the job of US District attorney in 1935 and in 1939, he was the unsuccessful Republican candidate for Mayor of Chicago. He stayed away from political position until he began his run in 1940 for Governor of Illinois. He was elected in 1941 as a Republican and stayed in office until 1949, becoming the most powerful politician in Illinois during the turbulent years of World War II. In the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Green wasted no time in telegramming President Roosevelt to promise that Green and Illinois would do everything possible to contribute to the war effort. He then organized a committee for the purpose of following through with the commitment. In the end, Illinois was one of the foremost contributors to the war effort. No doubt he occasionally butted heads with U.S. Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman since as a GOP Governor, he wielded a lot of influence in Chicago, at the time the nation's second largest city.

Governor Green did a lot to promote the economy of Illinois by several initiatives. One of the first things his administration did was to cut numerous taxes. He dropped the sales tax from three percent to two percent, a feat that has never been repeated. In order to replace some of the revenue lost by cutting the sales tax, Green approved Illinois' first cigarette tax, and he increased the tax on liquor.

In December of 1945, World War II was over, and thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen were arriving each day at ports on the east and west coasts. Chicago was the rail center of the nation and trains were jammed. The railroads didn't have enough capacity to move all those people who wanted to be home by Christmas. On Saturday, December 22nd, it all came to a head in what one official called "his worst transportation nightmare". There was chaos, all of Chicago's railroad stations were packed and train schedules weren't worth the paper they were printed on. Finally, Governor Dwight Green had to call out the National Guard to help move travelers between stations and to keep order. 

The coming of peace in 1945 created new challenges for Chicago and other major cities in America. In particular, there was a sharp shortage of housing for returning veterans and their families, as little had been built during the war or the Great Depression.

The Chicago Democratic party slated an intellectual lawyer, Adlai Stevenson, to oppose Green for a third term in office. Adali Stevenson initially considered running for the Senate in 1947, but decided to accept the Democratic bid and challenge Governor Dwight Green in 1948. In a surprising upset, Stevenson defeated Green in November 1948, winning the election by over half a million votes, the largest majority in Illinois history and ending Green's political career.

Governor Dwight Herbert Green returned to private life after his 1948 defeat. He died February 20, 1958 and was buried at Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago.