Lawyer Politician

Charles S. Deneen

Quick Facts

IntroAmerican politician
Was Politician
From United States of America
Type Law
Birth 4 May 1863, Edwardsville, Madison County, Illinois, U.S.A.
Death 5 February 1940, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, U.S.A.
(aged 76 years)
PoliticsRepublican Party
Spouse:Bina Deneen


Charles Samuel Deneen (May 4, 1863 – February 5, 1940) was the 23rd Governor of Illinois, serving from 1905 to 1913, and was the first to serve two consecutive term totaling eight years. He served as a U.S. Senator from Illinois, 1925–1931. Deneen also served as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives in 1892. He had also been the lead prosecutor in Chicago’s infamous Adolph Luetgert murder trial.

Deneen was born in Edwardsville, Madison County, Illinois to Samuel H. Deneen and Mary Frances Ashley. He was raised in Lebanon, Illinois, and graduated from McKendree College in Lebanon in 1882. He subsequently studied law at McKendree and at Union College of Law, while supporting himself by teaching school, and was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1886. On May 10, 1891, he married fellow Methodist Bina Day Maloney in Princeton, Illinois. His electoral career began soon thereafter, with election to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1892. Deenen was State’s attorney in the late 1890s. In 1896 Deenen appointed Ferdinand Lee Barnett the first black assistant state’s attorney in Illinois upon the recommendation of the Cook County Commissioner Edward H. Wright. Deneen and Barnett worked together closely for the next two decades.

In 1924, Deneen defeated first-term Sen. Joseph Medill McCormick in the Republican primary for the United States Senate. Illinois at that time customarily had a downstate seat and a Chicago-area seat, which McCormick held. McCormick committed suicide in early 1925, for which his widow (future U.S. Representative Ruth McCormick) blamed Deneen. She defeated him in the 1930 Republican primary, but lost the November election to James Hamilton Lewis.

Deneen died in Chicago on February 5, 1940, and was interred there in the Oak Woods Cemetery. The Deneen School of Excellence was named in his honor and is located in south Chicago next to the Dan Ryan Expressway, not far from Al Capone’s home on South Prairie.

Deneen’s great grandson is actor Jason Beghe.