Illinois at War, 1941-1945
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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January 1, 1942

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Pearl Harbor had demonstrated emphatically that the nation's new enemies were not to be trusted to conduct war honorably. Across the country Americans were filled with fear and anxiety as to where and when, at home and abroad, they would be struck next. In Illinois as elsewhere leaders sought to be proactive as well as reactive in relation to the crisis. Governor Dwight H. Green (Republican) named Colonel Thomas R. Gowenlock as special coordinator for all state and local law enforcement agencies a few days after the surprise attack. In particular he was charged with preventing enemy sabotage. Governor Green called the General Assembly into special session on December 18 to secure appropriations for a number of war readiness measures. Among these was the call for 700 additional state highway policemen. Although the Democratic legislature approved large appropriations for the Illinois Reserve Militia and the State Council of Defense it balked at plans for additional state police. While the governor's allies argued that a comprehensive state police force would bring modern law enforcement to rural areas, Democrats considered the new positions to be patronage plums. The state's sheriffs' association also was opposed to this measure on the grounds that the state would be usurping the role of county government. When the special session adjourned on January 15, 1942 no funding for additional state highway police was forthcoming.

Although enemy saboteurs on American soil were few and far between during World War II, there were enough real and imagined instances to sustain public concern throughout the duration. The most sensational case documented in Illinois came on June 27, 1942 with the arrest of twenty-two-year-old Herbert Haupt of Chicago. German-born Haupt had grown up in Chicago and had been naturalized there. A jury found that he had traveled to Germany, been trained there as a Nazi saboteur, and had returned to Chicago to bomb war plants. He was apprehended before causing any damage and after his conviction he was hanged on August 8. Clay City, located in rural Clay County in southeast Illinois, escaped the war years without any documented cases of foreign espionage.

Points to Consider

Locate Clay City on a map.

Describe the extent of law enforcement in Clay County in 1942.

Explain Clay City's strategic significance during World War Two.

Why was C. H. Shannon concerned about sabotage in Clay City on January 1, 1942?

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