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ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES


Hard Times in Illinois, 1930–1940

A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives


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DOCUMENT 30
TELEGRAM TO THE GOVERNOR OF MICHIGAN CONCERNING AN AWARD FOR THE CAPTURE OF JOHN DILLINGER
May 9, 1934





Explanation

John Dillinger was one of the more remarkable gangsters of the depression era. After being released from the Indiana State Prison in the spring of 1933 he and a succession of accomplices proceeded to hold up a series of banks, mainly in Indiana. His travels at this time, however, took him through much of the Midwest. He and his gang variously alluded capture by diligence and luck. Although he was captured on two occasions, Dillinger was able to escape from the Allen County jail in Lima, Ohio on October 23, 1933 and from the Lake County jail at Crown Point, Indiana on March 3, 1934.

While he remained alive and at-large, John Dillinger was elevated to celebrity status. Some considered him to be a dashing modern day Robin Hood while others regarded him as a lawless threat to society. After being named "public enemy number one" by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on June 22, 1934 agents shot and killed him as he was leaving the Biograph movie house in Chicago on July 22. In a proclamation which described Dillinger as "an outlaw, a fugitive from justice and a vicious menace to life and property" the five states named pledged a reward of $5,000 for any person who apprehended him and then delivered him to a county sheriff in any of the five states.

Points to Consider

What was Governor Horner asking the governors of Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota to do?

Why were these five states being asked to participate in this joint venture?

Who was John Dillinger?

What is the equivalent of 5,000 May 9, 1934 dollars today?


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