James Robert "Jim" 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, 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).
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Thompson 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.
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. He also tried and convicted many of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley's top aides, most notably Alderman Tom 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. To the chagrin of many, Thompson was very 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...
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