A Study in Boss Politics: William Lorimer of Chicago

By Joel Arthur Tarr | Go to book overview
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LORIMER RETURNED to Chicago from Washington on July 23 and met a reception fit for a hero rather than an unseated U.S. senator. Lorimer lieutenants "Poor Fred" Lundin and "Big Bill" Thompson had organized the festivities. From Union Station Lorimer led an automobile caravan to Orchestra Hall, where 2,500 cheering followers greeted him. After the Rev. Archibald J. Carey of the Abyssinian Baptist Church read the invocation, Thompson introduced Lorimer as a "martyr"--"a living example . . . that a trust press controls this city and nation, and that a man who will not bend his knee to its dictates can be driven from political or public life."

Lorimer spoke draped with an American flag, and largely repeated his Senate speech. He called his ouster the "crime of the United States Senate," and promised to seek vindication and to campaign "to free this country from the stifling grasp of the monster, the trust press." Father John O'Callaghan, who followed Lorimer, charged that the Tribune was "the greatest criminal in Illinois, a moral leper." The meeting concluded with the audience approving a resolution extolling Lorimer: "That in this type of man and in such a character lies the hope of the future of the nation."1

Although he had threatened to tour the state and tell the truth about his case, Lorimer never kept his promise, and during the next two years he stayed out of the public eye. He still had some political influence, however, and in 1913 helped elect Lawrence Y. Sherman rather than a progressive to fill the unexpired years of his Senate term.2 There were indications during 1913 and 1914 that Lorimer

Tribune, July 18, 24, 1912; Wendt and Kogan, Big Bill, 77-79.
Sherman wrote Frank O. Lowden that "the kindly manner in which Lorimer has interested himself in my behalf, unexpected as it is, is none the less appreciated." Feb. 19, 1913, Sherman Papers. The same session of the General Assembly elected a Democrat, James Hamilton Lewis, to the full Senate term. Edward J.


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