Other books by Jim Ridings...
County West Companion–A Further History of Western Kankakee County: $32
Cardiff 2–A Further History of Cardiff, Campus, Clarke City and other area coal towns: $29
History of Herscher High School: $13 by mail
History of Reddick High School: $22 by mail
Memories of Reddick High School: $13 by mail
Greetings from Kankakee–Picture Postcard History of Kankakee: $23 by mail
Kankakee Makes Good–A Second Volume of Picture Postcards from Kankakee: $23 by mail
LEN SMALL: GOVERNORS & GANGSTERS is my latest book. It is a 352-page hardcover book about Gov. Len Small from Kankakee, governor of Illinois in the 1920s.
The book is available from the author at the above address for $28, postpaid.
Len Small was governor of Illinois in the 1920s, and it was during his administration that the Chicago Mob was allowed to grow and become firmly established. But Governor Small’s corruption went far beyond helping to enable the Mob.
Before he became governor, Small was state treasurer. He embezzled more than a million dollars of state funds in a money-laundering scheme, depositing state funds in a bank that did not exist. Just after taking office as governor, he was indicted for this. Small ran from the sheriff to avoid arrest, threatening to call out the National Guard 'with bayonets' against the sheriff. Meanwhile, his lawyers claimed that as governor, he was 'above the law', citing 'The Divine Right of Kings'. Their argument in court was, 'The King can do no wrong'.
Len Small went to trial and was acquitted by a jury that was bribed and intimidated by Al Capone's hoodlums. And even though the jury acquitted him, a civil suit ended with the Illinois Supreme Court forcing Small to pay the state $650,000 of the money he stole.
Governor Len Small sold thousands of pardons and paroles, including many to gangsters, murderers, white slavers and even to cop killers. Some of this was through Governor Small's ties to Al Capone.
Len Small was a partner in the most corrupt political machine in history. He wrecked civil service and brought back the spoils system. He docked state workers’ pay for his own slush fund. Facing impeachment, Small strong-armed the legislature to pass a law exempting the present governor from removal. He aided the Ku Klux Klan and they endorsed his campaigns. And yet his image today is that of a hero in his hometown of Kankakee -- where his family owns the newspaper and radio station and influences the local museum in Governor Small Memorial Park.
This book also takes a look at the other corrupt Illinois governor from Kankakee, George H. Ryan.
Back to Businesses