Chicago Giant: A Biography of "Long John" Wentworth

Chicago Giant: A Biography of "Long John" Wentworth

Chicago Giant: A Biography of "Long John" Wentworth

Chicago Giant: A Biography of "Long John" Wentworth

Excerpt

Mr. Wentworth possesses merit as a scholar and a gentleman, and has already discovered talent as a politician which gives him the first rank among our young men. He goes to the West in pursuit of fortune and fame. -- Governor Isaac Hill of New Hampshire to General Henry Dodge, Governor of Wisconsin Territory , September 29, 1836.

CHICAGO IN 1836 offered little to please the senses of a youth freshly arrived from the scenic lake country of New Hampshire. It lay upon a low plain, windswept and marshy, near the point where two listless streams united to wander a final short mile into Lake Michigan. Some five hundred wooden buildings, thrown hastily together, sheltered nearly four thousand persons where hardly one tenth as many had lived only three years before. Here were all the crudities and confusion, the untidy litter and offensive odors, of a frontier town which was growing with uncomfortable rapidity.

To John Wentworth, however, scenery and comfort were of minor concern. Like the other young men who were hurrying westward in this climactic year of a boom-time era, he sought only a short, straight pathway to wealth and influence. It was quickly apparent that Chicago, in her very rawness and isolation, extended opportunities beyond any that he had ever imagined. In the prosperous bustle of wagons through her . . .

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