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The Gentleman from Illinois

Stories from Forty Years of Elective Public Service

Alan J. Dixon

Publication Year: 2013

In 1993, Alan J. Dixon’s political career came to an end with a defeat—the first one in his forty-three years of elected service. Beginning his legislative career in 1950 as a Democrat in the Illinois House of Representatives, Dixon also served in the Illinois State Senate, worked as state treasurer and secretary of state, and concluded his political career as a U.S. senator. The Gentleman from Illinois is an insider’s account of Illinois politics in the second half of the twentieth century, providing readers with fascinating stories about the people he encountered and events he participated in and witnessed during his four decades of service.
With a degree of candor often unheard of in political memoirs, The Gentleman from Illinois reveals Dixon’s abilities as a storyteller. At times chatty and self-effacing, Dixon pulls no punches when it comes to detailing the personalities of major political figures—such as Mayor Richard J. Daley, Adlai Stevenson, Paul Simon, and presidents of the United States. Indeed, he uses this same honest approach when examining himself, fully describing the setbacks and embarrassing moments that peppered his own life.
As a moderate Democrat who regularly crossed party lines in his voting and his views, Dixon also shares his thoughts on the proper way to run a government, the difficulties of passing legislation, the balancing act required to be a statewide official, and other valuable observations on local, state, and national politics. Full of behind-the-scenes insights presented in 121 short vignettes, The Gentleman from Illinois entertains as much as it informs, making it a necessary book for everyone interested in Illinois politics.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press


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pp. 1-1

Jacket Flaps

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pp. 2-4

Title Page

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pp. 5-5


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pp. 6-6


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xviii

During a more than four-decade span in elective office that saw him rise from local police magistrate to inclusion in his Democratic Party’s leadership in the U.S. Senate, Dixon exemplified the best in American public life. His fellow Illinoisans and eventually people across the country were better for it. ...

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pp. xix-xx

Consequently, I humbly have set forth the following tale, a compilation of down-to-earth insights into politics at the local, state, and national levels. I have pulled no bones in telling my story, which in order to ensure truthfulness contains warts as well the high points. ...

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1. The Early Years

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pp. 1-37

The flamboyant years of the Roaring Twenties were nearing an end when I was born July 7, 1927, in Belleville, the southwestern Illinois city that would remain my hometown throughout my life. ...

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2. Serving in the Illinois Statehouse

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pp. 38-115

During the early part of 1950, an election year, it became clear there might be a contest in the primary balloting for the two nominations for state representative on the Democratic ticket in the Forty-Ninth Legislative District, which covered Saint Clair County. ...

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3. An Illinois State Senator

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pp. 116-168

I was becoming disappointed by my failure to advance to a higher level in the state’s politics. I had appeared before the slate-making panel of state party leaders on several occasions, asking to be backed for nomination for a higher office. But others had been selected. ...

Gallery of Illustrations

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pp. 193-204

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4. Treasurer and Secretary of State

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pp. 169-228

It is a fine job, one with no heavy lifting. I personally think it should be eliminated as an elective office. Frankly, I believe there are too many elective offices in most states, including an excess of counties with elective offices. And then there are all the elected officials in the small cities and townships in most states. ...

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5. U.S. Senator Alan J. Dixon

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pp. 229-312

I remember the day I got the call—February 24, 1979—because for a winter day the weather was quite benign, almost like Indian summer. I was in Belleville at the time attending to several personal matters, one of which was a visit to my dermatologist. ...

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6. Going Home

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pp. 313-334

After my defeat in the primary election in 1992, I had to complete my last year in the Senate as a lame duck. I can tell you this was not the most fun period in my long career of public service. ...

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pp. 335-336


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pp. 337-347

Back Cover

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pp. 384-384

E-ISBN-13: 9780809332618
E-ISBN-10: 0809332612
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809332601
Print-ISBN-10: 0809332604

Page Count: 384
Illustrations: 20
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 855906418
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Gentleman from Illinois

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Subject Headings

  • Dixon, Alan J.
  • United States. Congress. Senate -- Biography.
  • Legislators -- United States.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1981-1989.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1989-1993.
  • Illinois. General Assembly. Senate -- Biography.
  • Legislators -- Illinois -- Biography.
  • Illinois -- Politics and government -- 1951-.
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