Carter Harrison Jr.

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Carter Henry Harrison IV
Carter Henry Harrison cph.3c23214.jpg
37th & 40th[1] Mayor of Chicago
In office
Preceded byGeorge Bell Swift
Succeeded byEdward Fitzsimmons Dunne
In office
Preceded byFred A. Busse
Succeeded byWilliam Hale Thompson
Personal details
Born(1860-04-23)April 23, 1860
Chicago, Illinois
DiedDecember 25, 1953(1953-12-25) (aged 93)
Chicago, Illinois
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Edith Ogden
ChildrenCarter Harrison V
Edith Ogden Harrison II

Carter Henry Harrison IV (April 23, 1860 – December 25, 1953) was an American newspaper publisher and Democratic politician who served a total of five terms as mayor of Chicago (1897–1905 and 1911–1915) but failed in his attempt to become his party's presidential nominee in 1904.[2] Descended from aristocratic Virginia families and the son of five-term Chicago mayorCarter Harrison Sr., this Carter Harrison IV became the first native Chicagoan elected its mayor.


Carter and Edith Ogden on a sidewalk (likely near North Rush Street and East Grand Avenue, 1913)

Harrison was born on April 23, 1860 in Chicago.

He was a member of many organizations including the Freemasons, Knights Templar, Society of the Cincinnati, Sons of the Revolution, Sons of the American Revolution, Society of Colonial Wars, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and the Military Order of the World Wars.

Like his father, Carter Harrison Sr., Harrison gained election to five terms as Chicago's mayor. Educated in Saxe-Altenburg, Germany, Harrison returned to Chicago to help his brother run the Chicago Times, which their father bought in 1891. Under the Harrisons the paper became a resolute supporter of the Democratic Party, and was the only local newspaper to support the Pullman strikers in the mid-1890s.

As with his father, Harrison did not believe in trying to legislate morality. As mayor, Harrison believed that Chicagoans' two major desires were to make money and to spend it. During his administrations, Chicago's vice districts blossomed, and special maps were printed to enable tourists to find their way from brothel to brothel. The name of one Chicago saloon-keeper of the time supposedly entered the English language as a term for a strong or laced drink intended to render unconsciousness: Mickey Finn.

However, Harrison was seen as more of a reformer than his father, which helped him garner the middle class votes his father had lacked. One of Harrison's biggest enemies was Charles Yerkes, whose plans to monopolize Chicago's streetcar lines were vigorously attacked by the mayor. This was the beginning of the Chicago Traction Wars, which would become a major focus of his administration. During his final term in office, Harrison established the Chicago Vice Commission and worked to close down the Levee district, starting with the Everleigh Club brothel on October 24, 1911.[3]

Despite prolonged and damaging international press coverage blaming his lax municipal enforcement for the 602 lives lost in the Iroquois Theatre fire on December 30, 1903 (still the deadliest single-building fire in U.S. history),[4] Harrison hoped to become the 1904 Democratic nominee for President of the United States. However, the nomination went to Alton B. Parker, who was soundly defeated by Theodore Roosevelt.

The Carter Harrison Crib, a water crib in Chicago

In 1914, Harrison convinced the city council to establish a Commission for the Encouragement of Local Art to purchase works of art by Chicago artists.[5] Harrison personally purchased artwork from painters such as Victor Higgins and Walter Ufer.[6]

In 1915, when Harrison left office, Chicago had essentially reached its modern size in land area, and had a population of 2,400,000; the city was moving inexorably into its status as a major modern metropolis. He and his father had collectively been mayor of the city for 21 of the previous 36 years.

Death and legacy[edit]

Harrison died on December 25, 1953 in Chicago, and is buried in Graceland Cemetery.[7]

Harrison wrote his autobiography, not once but twice. His papers are held by Chicago's Newberry Library.

Ancestry and personal life[edit]

Harrison was a descendant of Robert Carter I, Benjamin Harrison IV, William Randolph, and Isham Randolph of Dungeness.[8][9]

His wife, Edith Ogden Harrison, was a well-known writer of children's books and fairy tales in the first two decades of the 20th century.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Chicago Mayors". Chicago Public Library. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Inventory of the Carter H. Harrison IV Papers, 1637-1953, Bulk 1840-1950". Newberry. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  3. ^ "Starts Vice War; Mayor in Fight to Clean Up City". Chicago Daily Tribune. Chicago Tribune. 1911-10-25. p. 1.
  4. ^ Tinder Box: The iroquois Theatre Disaster 1903", Anthony P. Hatch, Academy Chicago Publishers; 2003
  5. ^ "Chicago Art Commission". Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago. 9 (1): 6–7. 1915. JSTOR 4102687.
  6. ^ Porter, Dean (1991). Victor Higgins : An American Master. Salt Lake City, Utah: Peregrine Smith Books. pp. 40–41. ISBN 978-0879053628.
  7. ^ "Mayor Carter Henry Harrison IV Biography". Chicago Public Library. Chicago Public Library. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  8. ^ Abbot, Willis John (1895). "The Harrison Family". Carter Henry Harrison: A Memoir. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company. pp. 1–23.
  9. ^ Page, Richard Channing Moore (1893). "Randolph Family". Genealogy of the Page Family in Virginia (2 ed.). New York: Press of the Publishers Printing Co. pp. 249–272.

External links[edit]