Union League Club of Chicago

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Logo of the Union League Club of Chicago.
Union League Club of Chicago plaque

The Union League Club of Chicago is a prominent social and civic club located at 65 West Jackson Boulevard in the Loop neighborhood of Chicago.

History[edit]

Founded in 1879, the Union League Club of Chicago (the Club) traces its roots to the earlier Union League of America.

The Union League of America was founded during the American Civil War to support Abraham Lincoln and preserve the Union. Its first council was founded on June 25, 1862, in Pekin, Illinois and spread rapidly across the North with the first Chicago council formed on August 19, 1862. [1]

After the last Chicago council of the Union League of America disbanded in 1877, Orrin H. Salisbury, a local politician and former member, conceived an idea of a new club in the same tradition that would influence local, state and national politics. He approached John Wentworth ("Long John") who saw in the idea a "marching club" to specifically support Ulysses S. Grant's bid for a third term as President. Even after Grant lost his bid for a third-term, Wentworth recruited heavily for the Club. [2]:30.

The Club was incorporated as the Chicago Club of the Union League of America on December 19, 1879. It was later renamed The Union League Club of Chicago. [2]:53 The first directors included, among others, James B. Bradwell, John Wentworth, William Penn Nixon, and John H. Kedzie. [2]:38 The Club had two sets of officers its first year: James B Bradwell and L L Cobern both elected as President of the Club. [2]:43

In the Articles of Association, the Club's primary objectives are to (paraphrased): encourage loyalty to the Federal Government, defend the Union, inculcate good citizenship, maintain equality of all citizens, and assure the purity of the ballot, and oppose corruption, and secure honesty in the administration of National, State, and Municipal affairs. [2]:27–28 At the same time, some members, led by R. S. Critchell, wanted the Club to have the amenities of a social club including fine dining. [2]:48 Today, according to the Club's website, it is both "a catalyst for action in nonpartisan political, economic and social arenas" [3] and a social club with "an array of unique opportunities for entertainment and personal growth" and fine dining. [4]

The Club's website states: "the Public Affairs Committee and its various subcommittees address a wide range of public policy issues and serve as the conduit for the Club’s involvement in civic affairs". [5] Some of these issues have included:

The Club is one of The Top 100 Platinum City Clubs of the World for 2020/2021.[15]

Building[edit]

Clubhouse[edit]

The Club's first clubhouse was designed by William Le Baron Jenney. The current clubhouse, built on the same site as the first, was designed by Mundie & Jensen. The building houses meeting rooms, overnight guest rooms, 5 dining areas, a pool and workout facilities. [2]:238

Art Collection[edit]

The Club’s art collection is extensive prompting the Chicago Tribune to call the Club “The other art institute in Chicago” [16] The same article cites Monet’s “Pommiers en fleurs” as the Club’s most significant painting and discusses the depth of the collection in historic and contemporary Chicago artists.

The George N Leighton Library[edit]

According to the Club's website, the Library and Archives are one of the oldest amenities of the Club. [17]. The Library was renamed in 2019 to honor long-time member and jurist, George N. Leighton. The Club is a Partner Organization with the Chicago Collections[18] in order to share its archives more broadly.

Notable members[edit]

Foundations and military support[edit]

Foundations[edit]

The Club sponsors and houses the administrative staff of 3 non-profit foundations, according to the Foundations' websites,

  • Union League Boys & Girls Clubs provides after school programs at 11 locations in Chicago and a summer camp in Wisconsin. Club One was founded in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood as the Union League Boys Club in 1919. [20]
  • Luminarts Cultural Foundation was founded in 1949 as the Union League Civic & Arts Foundation. It supports young Chicago artists, writers, and musicians through the annual selection of Luminarts Fellows. [21]
  • The Chicago Engineers’ Foundation evolved from the Chicago Engineers’ Club, an organization established in 1903 as a professional and networking group for the Chicago engineers.[22]

Military support[edit]

According to the Club's website, it supports the men and women of the armed services through the following groups[23]:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Union League Club to Observe 50th Birthday". Chicago Tribune. 25 March 1930. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Grant, Bruce (1955)Fight for a city:the story of the Union League Club of Chicago and its times, 1880-1955. John S. Swift Co. OCLC 1336506
  3. ^ "History". Union League Club of Chicago. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  4. ^ "Membership". Union League Club of Chicago. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  5. ^ "Public Affairs". Union League Club of Chicago. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Election Frauds. The Union-League Investigators Report on the Ninth Ward Rottenness. A Clear Showing of the Way the Present City Administration Retains Its Hold. Several Proposed Changes in the State Election Laws-Supervisors and Proper Registration". Chicago Tribune. December 11, 1883. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Union League Club. An Onslaught of Fraudulent Voting. How it is done in the Ninth Ward". Chicago Tribune. June 13, 1883. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  8. ^ "$300 Reward". The Chicago Daily Tribune. April 2, 1883. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Polling-places. Shall Their Number in the City of Chicago Be Increased? A Discussion of the Subject by the Union League Club. Report of a Committee Appointed to Consider the Subject. Expression of Opinion by County Commissioners and Others Interested in the Matter". The Chicago Tribune. September 22, 1880. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  10. ^ "'Crime Must Go!' Mobilize City for War, Civic Chiefs, Courts, and Police Join". Chicago Daily Tribune. December 10, 1920. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  11. ^ "State Constitution: Revision Needed?". Chicago Tribune. July 19, 1968. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  12. ^ a b c Nowlan, James D. (2004). Glory, Darkness, Light: A History of the Union League Club. Northwestern University Press. ISBN 978-0810115491
  13. ^ "More Death Penalty Reforms are Necessary". Chicago Tribune. December 16, 2002. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  14. ^ "Moratorium talk". Chicago Tribune. August 21, 2000. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  15. ^ "Top 100 Platinum City Clubs of the World". Platinum Clubs of the World. Club Leaders Forum. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  16. ^ "The other art institute in Chicago". Chicago Tribune. 18 August 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  17. ^ "Library". Union League Club of Chicago.
  18. ^ "Current Members". Chicago Collections. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  19. ^ "Chicago courthouse namesake turns 104". Chicago Tribue. October 22, 2016. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  20. ^ "Who We Are". Union League Boys & Girls Clubs. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  21. ^ "History". Luminarts Cultural Foundation. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  22. ^ "Mission & History". Chicago Engineers Foundation. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  23. ^ "Country". Union League Club of Chicago. Retrieved 21 October 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Nowlan, James D. (2004). Glory, Darkness, Light: A History of the Union League Club. Northwestern University Press. ISBN 978-0810115491
  • Grant, Bruce (1955). Fight for a city:the story of the Union League Club of Chicago and its times, 1880-1955. John S. Swift Co. OCLC 1336506
  • The Union League Club of Chicago (1926). The spirit of the Union League Club, 1879-1926: presented by the Club to its members on the occasion of the dedication of the new clubhouse. The Club. OCLC 7720098

External links[edit]