Charles Carrol Bonney, 1831-1903

[Mentioned in Miscellaneous Writings, p. 312]

Charles Carrol Bonney, a great lawyer, was also a prominent educator and helped to establish the educational system of Illinois. He grew up on his father's farm in Hamilton, New York, and attended what is now known as Colgate University.

In 1850 Bonney moved to Peoria, Illinois, where he opened the Peoria Institute and continued in spare moments his study of law. He was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1852 and the same year was named a lecturer on educational topics for Peoria County. Later he served as vice-president of the Illinois State Teachers Association and was largely responsible for the holding of the first state educational convention. His tremendous energy enabled him also to take part in politics.

Bonney settled in Chicago in 1860 and became one of its leading citizens, acquiring more and more stature as a lawyer. He lectured on medical jurisprudence at Hahnemann Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, served as President of the Illinois State Bar Association, and wrote "A Summary of the Law of Marine, Fire and Life Insurance" and "Executive Power and the Enforcement of the Laws." Two statements characteristic of his thought are: "The foundation principle of constitutional government is the truth that there are certain transcendent rules that even rulers should obey," and, "If the laws are defective, amend them; if oppressive, repeal them, but while they stand, enforce them. Only this, is rational government."

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Signs of the Times
June 14, 1958

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