Hard Times in Illinois, 1930–1940
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
DOCUMENT 29LETTER FROM THE U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE CONCERNING THE EXTRADITION OF SAMUEL INSULL
April 13, 1934
Samuel Insull had established himself as the head of Commonwealth Edison Company, the Chicago based utilities holding company which produced one tenth of the nation's electricity and which had amassed assets worth over $2,000,000,000 in 1930. After the stock market crash of 1929 and the subsequent economic shakedown most of Commonwealth Edison's holdings were forced into receivership by 1932. As a result thousands of small investors found their assets frozen. Insull, once a revered or feared utility magnate, became the object of public scorn. He fled to Paris. There he learned that he was to be indicted for fraud back at home. To avoid extradition he journeyed to Greece and then to Turkey.
Turkish authorities returned Insull to Chicago in 1934 to face charges there. After lengthy and costly court proceedings he was found not guilty in all instances. Nearly bankrupt, Insull returned to Paris where he died in 1938.
Points to Consider
Why had the U.S. secretary of state written Governor Horner?
Who was Samuel Insull?
Why was he in Turkey in 1934?
How did things turn out for Mr. Insull?