Levi Boone

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Levi Boone
17th Mayor of Chicago
In office
Preceded by Isaac Lawrence Milliken
Succeeded by Thomas Dyer
Personal details
Born (1808-12-06)December 6, 1808
Died January 24, 1882(1882-01-24) (aged 73)
Chicago, Illinois
Political party American Party (Know-Nothings)
Spouse(s) Louise M. Smith
Children 11 children
Residence Chicago, Illinois
Alma mater Transylvania University
Profession Medical Doctor

Levi Day Boone (December 6, 1808 – January 24, 1882) served as mayor of Chicago, Illinois (1855–1856) for the American Party (Know-Nothings).

Early life[edit]

Boone was born near Lexington, Kentucky, the seventh son of Squire and Anna Grubbs Boone. His father, Squire, was a nephew of Daniel Boone's, making Levi Boone Daniel Boone's great-nephew.[1] Young Levi lost his father at the age of 9 when Squire finally succumbed to wounds he suffered at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.

Despite the poverty the family was plunged into by the death of Squire Boone, Levi graduated from the medical school of Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky in 1829 at the age of 21. He moved to Illinois and eventually established a practice in Hillsboro. In 1832, he served in the Black Hawk War, first in the cavalry and then as a surgeon.[1] In 1833, Dr. Boone married Louise M. Smith, daughter of Theophilus W. Smith, Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, with whom he had 11 children.[1]

Chicago Years[edit]

Arriving in Chicago in 1835, he helped organize the Cook County Medical Board and served as the organization's first secretary. Boone had a medical practice with Charles V. Dyer. He was elected the first president of the Chicago Medical Society in 1850.[2]

In 1843, he contributed to the rift in the congregation of Chicago's First Baptist Church by giving a lecture on the scriptural basis of slavery.[2]

Supported by a coalition of Know Nothings and temperance advocates,[3] Boone was elected mayor on an anti-immigrant platform, along with 7 aldermen running on the same ticket. Although Boone won, there were claims that the votes of German and Irish immigrants in Bridgeport, which had only recently (1863[4]) been incorporated into the city, had not been counted. He defeated incumbent Isaac Lawrence Milliken with nearly 53% of the vote.[5]

During his only year in office, he reorganized the Chicago police, combining the Day Police and the Night Watch into a single police force with 3 eight-hour shifts and requiring the police for the first time to wear uniforms. No foreign-born police were retained in the reorganization, and all new appointments were native-born Americans.[6] He barred all immigrants from city jobs.[7]

Though not a Teetotaler, Boone was a Temperance advocate and worked to prohibit the sale and consumption of alcohol. Anticipating the passage by referendum of a Maine law to prohibit the sale of beverage alcohol in June 1855, he got the city council to pass an ordinance which raised the cost of liquor licenses by from $50 to $300 a year, while limiting the term to 3 months, and attempted to enforce an old and disregarded ordinance to close taverns on Sundays. Many saw this as a means of attacking German immigrants and on April 21, the move sparked the Lager Beer Riot after several tavern owners were arrested for selling beer on a Sunday. The referendum failed in June 1855, by a statewide vote of 54% to 46%.

Boone did not run for re-election in the mayoral election of 1856.

In 1862, Boone was arrested and briefly held in Camp Douglas on suspicion that he had helped a Confederate prisoner to escape.[8]

He is buried in Rosehill Cemetery.


  1. ^ a b c Carbutt, John (1868). Biographical Sketches of the Leading Men of Chicago. Chicago, IL: Wilson & St. Clair. pp. 273–4. 
  2. ^ a b Andreas, A.T. (1884), History of Chicago: From the Earliest Period to the Present Time, 1, Chicago, IL: A.T. Andreas, p. 466(a) 319(b) 
  3. ^ Einhorn, Robin (2004). "Lager Beer Riot". Encyclopedia of Chicago. University of Chicago Press. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  4. ^ "Bridgeport: Before the Canal". UIC.edu. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  5. ^ Walker, Thomas. "Chicago Mayor 1855". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  6. ^ "End of Watch" Edward M. Burke and Thomas O'Gorman.
  7. ^ Mark, Norman (1979). Mayors, Madams and Madmen. Chicago: Chicago Review Press. p. 41. 
  8. ^ Levy, George (1999). To Die in Chicago: Confederate Prisoners at Camp Douglas, 1862-65. Evanston, IL: Pelican Publishing. p. 97. ISBN 978-1-56554-331-7. 

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