William Lorimer: U. S. Senator from Illinois
THROUGHOUT THE NATION during the winter and spring of 1908-09, struggles between opposing political factions upset the normal patterns of two-party politics.1 Historians have generally interpreted these conflicts in ideological terms as pitting progressives against conservatives, but this narrow framework overlooks important cultural and sectional divisions. While issues such as the direct primary, civil service, women's rights, and business regulation split political groups, questions such as local option and prohibition, rural-urban tension, and the cultural overtones of many progressive reforms intensified the competition. Bitter personal rivalries, devoid of ideological or cultural content, also played an important role.
Both political parties in the Forty-sixth Illinois General Assembly split over regional and cultural as well as political questions. The divisions were most marked in the Assembly or lower house. The Republican delegation divided into three factions which, for the sake of convenience, will be called the Deneen, the Lorimer, and the Hopkins factions. There were about fifty Deneenites, about thirty Lorimerites, and approximately twenty-five men tied to Hopkins, although lines were not always rigid between the three groups. For, as Democratic boss Roger C. Sullivan commented, "Well, sometimes they are enemies and sometimes they are friends . . . the checkerboard is moving all the time . . . and the men who are strong enemies to-day may be friendly six months from now."2____________________