Fred A. Busse

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Fred A. Busse
39th Mayor of Chicago
In office
Preceded by Edward F. Dunne
Succeeded by Carter Harrison, Jr.
Personal details
Born (1866-03-03)March 3, 1866
Chicago, Illinois
Died July 9, 1914(1914-07-09) (aged 48)
Chicago, Illinois
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Josephine Lee Busse
Residence Chicago, Illinois

Fred Busse (March 3, 1866 – July 9, 1914) was the mayor of Chicago, in the U.S. state of Illinois, from 1907 to 1911.

Busse became a local Republican leader, first elected to the Illinois Legislature in 1894, and eventually serving as State Treasurer beginning in 1902. In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him Postmaster of Chicago, a political position at that time (see USPS History). He won the 1907 election for mayor against Democratic incumbent Edward F. Dunne. In business, Busse had been Secretary and Treasurer of the Northwestern Coal Company until 1905.[1]

Busse's mayoral tenure is noted for its extensive corruption and presence of organized crime in the city. Busse's inaction in the face of growing popular concern led to the formation of several organizations opposed to crime and desirous of cleaning up the city government.[2] Busse's image was used by at least one brothel owner to promote her business. While reform, both political and moral, was beginning to appear Chicago, Busse noted, "They don't need anyone sleuthing around after me. They can always get me any evening at J.C. Murphy's saloon, Clark Street and North Avenue."[2] By 1907, pressure was strong enough that Busse was forced to appoint a vice commission to look into Chicago's gambling, liquor, and prostitution problems, although the commission didn't issue a report until Busse was out of office.[3]

He died of valvular heart disease at 48 and was buried in Graceland Cemetery. Busse Woods, a Cook County forest preserve, is named after him.


  1. ^ Men of Affairs: a gallery of cartoon portraits, Chicago Evening Post, 1906; page 154.
  2. ^ a b Abbott, Karen (2007). Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul. New York: Random House. pp. 146–147, 165–166. ISBN 978-1-4000-6530-1. 
  3. ^ Merriner, James L. (2004). Grafters and Goo Goos: Corruption and Reform in Chicago, 1833-2003. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press. p. 92. ISBN 0-8093-2571-3. 

"Fred A. Busse Dead". The New York Times. 1914-07-10.