James R. Thompson

James R. Thompson
Bio thompson.jpg
Chair of the Intelligence Oversight Board
In office
February 26, 1990 – January 20, 1993
PresidentGeorge H. W. Bush
Preceded byGlenn W. Campbell
Succeeded byWilliam Crowe
37th Governor of Illinois
In office
January 10, 1977 – January 14, 1991
LieutenantDave O'Neal
George Ryan
Preceded byDan Walker
Succeeded byJim Edgar
Chair of the National Governors Association
In office
August 2, 1983 – July 31, 1984
Preceded byScott Matheson
Succeeded byJohn Carlin
United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois
In office
PresidentRichard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Preceded byWilliam J. Bauer
Succeeded bySamuel K. Skinner
Personal details
James Robert Thompson, Jr.

(1936-05-08) May 8, 1936 (age 83)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Jayne Carr
EducationUniversity of Illinois, Chicago
Washington University (BA)
Northwestern University (JD)

James Robert Thompson Jr. (born May 8, 1936), also known as Big Jim Thompson, was the 37th and longest-serving governor of the US state of Illinois,[1] serving from 1977 to 1991. A Republican, Thompson was elected to four consecutive terms and held the office for 14 years. Many years after leaving public office, he served as a member of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission).[2]

Early life and career

Thompson was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Agnes Josephine (Swanson) and James Robert Thompson, a physician. His maternal grandparents were Swedish.[3] Thompson graduated from North Park Academy (now North Park University), studied at the University of Illinois at Chicago Navy Pier campus, and at Washington University in St. Louis. He received his J.D. from Northwestern University in 1959.[citation needed]

Prior to becoming governor, he worked in the Cook County state's attorney's office, taught at Northwestern University's law school and was appointed by President Nixon to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. As a federal prosecutor in the early 1970s, he obtained a conviction against former Governor Otto Kerner, Jr., for his use of improper influence on behalf of the racetrack industry.[citation needed]

He tried and convicted many of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley's top aides, most notably Alderman Thomas E. Keane and County Clerk Matt Danaher, on various corruption charges. People like Keane and Danaher, the mayor's point man on patronage were also major figures in the Cook County Democratic Party's political machine. These high-profile cases gave Thompson the celebrity that fueled his run for governor in 1976.[citation needed]

To the chagrin of many, Thompson was bipartisan in his attacks on corruption in Cook County and Chicago. He not only prosecuted high-profile Democrats, but also prominent Republicans such as County Commissioner Floyd Fulle and former U.S. Senate candidate, William Rentschler. Organized crime in Chicago was harder for his unit to crack and there were few high-profile cases during his era.[citation needed]

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