Political history of Chicago

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History[edit]

19th century[edit]

In 1855, Chicago Mayor Levi Boone threw Chicago politics into the national spotlight with some dry proposals that would lead to the Lager Beer Riot by the wets.[1][full citation needed]

The 1860 Republican National Convention in Chicago nominated home-state candidate Abraham Lincoln. During the 1880s and 1890s, Chicago also had an underground radical tradition with large and highly organized socialist, anarchist and labor organizations.[2] The Republicans had their own machine operations, typified by the "blonde boss" William Lorimer, who was unseated by the U.S. Senate in 1912 because of his corrupt election methods.[3]

20th century[edit]

The political environment in Chicago in the 1910s and 1920s let organized crime flourish to the point that many Chicago policemen earned more money from pay-offs than from the city. Before the 1930s, the Democratic Party in Chicago was divided along ethnic lines - the Irish, Polish, Italian, and other groups each controlled politics in their neighborhoods Under the leadership of Anton Cermak, the party consolidated its ethnic bases into one large organization. With the organization behind, Cermak was able to win election as mayor of Chicago in 1931, an office he held until his assassination in 1933. The modern era of politics was dominated by machine politics in many ways, and the Cook County Democratic Party became was honed by Richard J. Daley after his election in 1955. Richard M. Daley, his son, is a former mayor of Chicago and had served for 21 years as mayor and 38 as a public servant. Daley announced on September 7, 2010 that he would not be seeking re-election.[4] Daley was succeeded by former Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

The New Deal of the 1930s and the Great Society of the 1960s gave the Democratic Party access to new funds and programs for housing, slum clearance, urban renewal, and education, through which to dispense patronage and maintain control of the city. [1]. Machine politics persisted in Chicago after the decline of similar machines in other large American cities.[5] During much of that time, the city administration found opposition mainly from a liberal "independent" faction of the Democratic Party. This included African Americans and Latinos. In the Lakeview/Uptown 46th Ward. The first Latino to announce an aldermanic bid against a Daley loyalist was Jose (Cha-Cha)Jimenez, the Young Lords founder.[6]

A point of interest is the party leanings of the city. For much of the last century, Chicago has been considered one of the largest Democratic strongholds in the United States. For example, the citizens of Chicago have not elected a Republican mayor since 1927, when William Thompson was voted into office. Brian Doherty was the only Republican council member in recent decades.

The police corruption that came to the light from the Summerdale Scandals of 1960, where police officers kept stolen property or sold it and kept the cash, was another black eye on the local political scene of Chicago.[7] Eight officers from the Summerdale police district on Chicago's Northwest Side were accused of operating a large-scale burglary ring. News of the scandal was splashed across the city's newspapers and was the biggest police-related scandal the city had ever seen at the time. Mayor Daley appointed a committee to make recommendations for improvements to the police system.

The Daley faction, with financial help from Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., helped elect John F. Kennedy to the office of President of the United States in the 1960 presidential election.[8] The electoral votes from the state of Illinois, with nearly half its population located in Chicago-dominated Cook County, were a factor in the win for Kennedy over Richard Nixon.

Chicago politics have also hosted some very publicized campaigns and conventions. The Democratic Party decided on Harry S. Truman as the vice-presidential candidate at the 1944 Democratic National Convention. The 1968 Democratic National Convention was the scene of mass political rallies and discontent, leading to the famous trial of the Chicago Seven. Seven defendants — Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, and Lee Weiner—charged with conspiracy, inciting to riot, and other charges related to protests.

Home-town columnist Mike Royko wrote satirically that Chicago's motto (Urbs in Horto or "City in a Garden") should instead be Ubi est mea, or "Where's Mine?[9]

Further reading[edit]

  • Lindberg, Richard Carl. To Serve and Collect: Chicago Politics and Police Corruption from the Lager Beer Riot to the Summerdale Scandal : 1855-1960. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1991. ISBN 0-275-93415-2
  • Cohen, Adam. and Elizabeth Taylor. American Pharaoh : Mayor Richard J. Daley - His Battle for Chicago and the Nation. Boston: Back Bay Books, 2001. ISBN 0-316-83489-0
  • Green, Paul M.. The Mayors: The Chicago Political Tradition. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1987. ISBN 0-8093-2612-4
  • Sautter, R. Craig, Edward M. Burke. Inside the Wigwam : Chicago Presidential Conventions, 1860-1996. Chicago: Loyola Press, 1996. ISBN 0-8294-0911-4
  • Simpson, Vernon. Chicago's Politics & Society: a Selected Bibliography. DeKalb: Center for Government Studies, DeKalb, Illinois: Northern Illinois University, 1972.
  • Wendt, Lloyd, Herman Kogan, and Bette Jore. Big Bill of Chicago. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 2005 ISBN 0-8101-2319-3
  • Wendt, Lloyd, and Herman Kogan. Lords of the Levee. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1967.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Richard Carl Lindberg, To Serve and Collect: Chicago Politics and Police Corruption from the Lager Beer Riot to the Summerdale Scandal: 1855-1960 (1991) ch 1
  2. ^ Schneirov, Richard (April 1, 1998). Labor and Urban Politics. University of Illinois Press. pp. 173–174. ISBN 0-252-06676-6. 
  3. ^ Joel Arthur Tarr, A Study In Boss Politics: William Lorimer of Chicago (1971)
  4. ^ Sun times article covering Daley Jr. withdrawal from 2011.
  5. ^ Montejano, David, ed. (January 1, 1998). Chicano Politics and Society in the Late Twentieth Century. University of Texas Press. pp. 33–34. ISBN 0-292-75215-6. 
  6. ^ Sun-Times series on the Hired Truck Program scandal.
  7. ^ "Policing" UofC short history
  8. ^ "The Night Richard J. Daley Bought NBC for JFK"
  9. ^ The Radical Royko The Chicago Reader

External links[edit]