The Mayors: The Chicago Political Tradition

The Mayors: The Chicago Political Tradition

The Mayors: The Chicago Political Tradition

The Mayors: The Chicago Political Tradition

Synopsis

Green and Holli have tapped America's best-qualified observers to help us fathom the "byzantine labyrinth that honeycombs and undergirds Chicago politics." Here is a political roadmap through the labyrinth. There are insightful essays about the recent mayors: Richard J. Daley, Michael A. Bilandic, Jane M. Byrne, and Harold Washington. Less well known even to astute political observers are Edward F. Dunne, reformer and reputed radical, who had "long-haired friends" and "short-haired women" in his administration; the politically reticent Fred A. Busse; Big Bill Thompson, a buffoon whose departure from office was much rued by Al Capone; William E. Dever, "an honorable man" who was "soundly defeated by a loudmouthed lout [Thompson] who barely avoided imprisonment"; Anton Cermak, smart, tough, a winner stopped only by an assassin's bullet; Edward J. Kelly, who balanced scandal and accomplishment to reign for 14 years; and Martin H. Kennelly, a nice guy, honest, dignified, inept. The earliest mayor to be considered is Joseph Medill. More famous as editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune,Medill was the mayor who, after the Great Fire of 1871, guided the city in its rise from ashes. Representing the city at the turn of the century was long-time mayor Carter Harrison II, a progressive, effective mayor who, when forced by reformers to close the red-light district, worried that he had merely driven the whorehouses into the neighborhoods.

Excerpt

This book was conceived as an effort to provide a political roadmap for the past century, charting where Chicago has been with its principal executive office, the mayoralty and its leading occupants, and where it may be going in the future. We have omitted some of the lesser mayors who served in the period after the Great Fire of 1871 (Heath, Roche, Cregier, Washburne, Swift, Hopkins, and Carter Harrison I, whose substance and style can be seen in Carter II) but covered all of the movers and shakers who have occupied City Hall. Much of the city's dynamic and turbulent political history is surprisingly poorly known even to Chicagoans, who pride themselves as experts on the byzantine labyrinth that honeycombs and undergirds Chicago politics. Most of the "historic" knowledge of politics seldom extends further back than the Richard J. Daley era or stretches beyond the memory span of those who think, write, and talk about politics in the Windy City. We hope this distillation of Chicago's mayoral history will help to fill at least a part of that hiatus and enable Chicagoans to see their present in an historical perspective.

Many debts were incurred in the process of putting together such a book. First we wish to thank the contributors, who wrote freshly commissioned pieces which appear here for the first time (with the exception of the Richard J. Daley selection, a revision of an earlier work). We would also like to thank the Illinois Humanities Council and the Chicago Historical Society, who funded and hosted the first draft of this book which was presented on 2 December 1985 at an all-day conference. Thanks also go to former Mayor Jane Byrne, to Mayor Harold Washington and members of his staff, and to a crew of lively political commentators and writers who squeeze out more interpretation per column inch or fifteen-minute broadcast than any in the nation: Basil Talbott (Chicago Sun Times), Sharon Alter (William Rainey Harper College), Milton Rosenberg (WGN Radio-Extension 720 and the University of Chicago), and Robert Starks (Northeastern Illinois University). We would also like to acknowledge the aid of a sharp-minded group of critics who helped significantly in shaping some of the ideas in this book: Louis Masotti (Northwestern University), Paul McGrath (Northwestern University), and Phil Krone (political consultant).

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.