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The members of the Amnesty Association were, of course, jubilant about Altgeld's decision. When asked for comment, even many elected officials, including Mayor Harrison, approved. As this photograph attests, the Pioneer Aid and Support Association had the last paragraph of Altgeld's decision, in which he grants the absolute pardon, emblazoned on the back of the monument at Waldheim. Framed with a wreath of flowers and prison chains, it offers an official vindication and certification of the anarchists' martyrdom by the highest official of the same state that took their lives and liberty.
Most gratified were the condemned men. Altgeld had issued his order on the morning of June 26, and shortly after 4 p.m. Warden R. L. Allen handed them their pardons in the presence of E. S. Dreyer, who had brought the documents from Springfield. Neebe turned to Dreyer and said, "I have you to thank for this, and I believe that it is justice, even though it comes tardily." Allen congratulated them, promised them "the best suit of clothes that can be purchased outside of the World's Fair City," and assured them that he could provide each a "sterling recommendation" for his work ethic.
The warden gave them a last lecture on good behavior, after which they vowed to steer clear of anarchism. Although Schwab resumed writing for the Arbeiter-Zeitung for two years after his release, and Neebe kept up his interest in political change, they largely followed Allen's advice. Fielden returned to his job of hauling stone until an unanticipated inheritance enabled him to move to a ranch in rural Colorado.
After a final meal in the warden's own dining room, the men were off on the 6:15 train. They disembarked, made their separate ways home, and settled back into their lives as best they could. They never forgot the man who set them free. Schwab named his daughter, born after the pardon, Johanna Altgeld Schwab. When Altgeld, whose health had never been strong, collapsed and died suddenly while giving a speech in Joliet in 1902, Lucy Parsons joined those who blessed his memory.