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1853 Chicago mayoral election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chicago mayoral election, 1853
← 1852 March 14, 1853 1854 →
Charlesgray (a).jpeg
Candidate Charles McNeill Gray Josiah L. James
Party Democratic
Popular vote 3,270 971
Percentage 77.10% 22.90%

Mayor before election

Walter S. Gurnee

Elected Mayor

Charles McNeill Gray

In the 1853 Chicago mayoral election, Charles McNeill Gray defeated Josiah L. James in a landslide, winning by a landslide 54 point margin.

Incumbent mayor Walter S. Gurnee did not run for reelection.

The election was held on March 14.[1]

Josiah L. James was a businessman in the lumber industry.[2][3][4]

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To be Mayor of Chicago means to be a leader for the city during the good times and the bad Beyond their elected duties, they must be able to identify the source of Chicago’s strengths, the diverse population that makes up our city and the past and future problems that we might face In this series we will look at each individual mayor of Chicago in an effort to not only better understand what it , means to be mayor but to trace the very history of our city though them . So who are the mayors of Chicago? William buttler ogden was the first mayor of Chicago, born June 15th 1805 in Walton, New York. At the age of fifteen he set out for New York city in preparation for a career as an attorney. His Chicago connection came about though his brother in law Charles Butler who had a real estate investment in Chicago. He needed someone on the ground and soon recruited Ogden to be his director in Chicago. Ogden arrived here 1835 to a small town with only 1500 residents. He arrived to a miserable site as it had just rained heavily. Ogden wrote Nevertheless ogden made good on selling the land Butler had purchased for a profit becoming a full fledged land developer, encouraging eastern clients to continue investing in and improving their land in Chicago. He knew that this town, at the mouth of the Chicago river had potential. In March 1837 Chicago was incorporated as a city and the first mayoral election took place between Ogden running under a democratic ticket and John harris Kinzie, the son of John Kinzie an early settler in Chicago, who ran under the Whig party ticket. In the end Ogden was elected the first mayor of Chicago at a confident 489 votes to 217. On May 3rd he too the oath of office which has changed very little to this day. The mayor and his council would serve a term of only 1 year before another election was held. It stayed this way up until 1863. Back then taking on the responsibility of Mayor was different from what it means today. It was more a public service, than establishing a political career. Ogden only served a 10 month term to align with the original date of March 4th on the city charter. Although a short term wouldn’t be his biggest challenge as mayor, that would be the Panic of 1837. He became mayor during the start of a financial crisis, it came about due to credit tightening from England. It caused many American banks to fold, construction projects, such as the ilinois michigan canal, stopped and the price of land that Ogden and many others had invested in dropped significantly. In the midst of these hard times, Ogden continued to establish the new city with his very limited resources. In fact the city treasure reported only having 2947 dollars when we were incorporated as a city. Ogden appointed the first permanent bored of health, organized the first census and oversaw the election of the board of school inspector. While money was tight Ogden organized a scrip to be used for the cities internal transactions. A systems of IOU’s to keep Chicago going. The city was full of them, they came in the form of 1,2 or 3 dollar denominations or they were valued for goods and services such as a loaf of bread or a shave at the barber. The financial times continued to worsen during Ogdens term and debtors were soon clashing with those who owed them money. People had bought up land here in for a great deal of money and now it was worth very little. Eventually this all came to ahead at a public meeting in Chicago where a heat debate was formed over weather the debts should be rejected or paid. Ogden was able to quell the crowd, sympathizing that he himself had debts and that dishonor these debts would tarnish the honor of our infant city. Reassuring the crowd that, the bad times would pass and Chicago would eventually become the prosperous city he imagined. Ogden wasn’t completely done with serving the community. In 1840 he served as Alderman for the 6th ward and 7 years later alderman for the 9th. He continued to generously volunteer his time through public and private positions Ogden resumed his work in real-estate and other business adventures around Chicago. He invested in our first brewery and the McCormick haversters. Much of the land on the north side of Chicago river was developed under Odgen’s Chicago Dock and Canal Trust earning the name Ogden’s slip.He continued to purchase and sell land around chicago. Encouraging his investors to make improvement to the land as once the depression passed it would be much more profitable. He was an astute advocate for the railroad for Chicago, today that seems to be logical idea, but back then people were impressed by the rickettey wooden planked roads. Of course, mostly people were waiting out for the completion of the illinois michicagan canal which would connect chicago to the Missippi river. This wasn’t good enough for Ogden, he railway would be imperative to the success of rural midwest farmers and of course Chicago. This reasoning was even more sound by a the town of Galena illinois a booming iron producing town based right on the mississippi. The ore was shipped down the river to St Louis where they were making a tidy profit. A railway from Galena to Chicago would benefit Chicago emensily and thats exactly what Ogden set out to do. Tirelessly traveling the countryside encouraging farmers and citizens to by shares in the railroad company. Eventually, the railroad rain from chicago to Elgin in 1850, Belvidere in 1852, and Freeport in 1853. Although though the railroad never lived up to its name and did not end up making it to Galena, it set into motion many economic benefits enjoyed by Chicago and northern Illinois. Through the 1850s and 60’s Ogden was President or director of more that 12 railroads, the galena and chicago line which would become the basis of the chicago and north western line railroad which was formed in 1859. Ogden was paramount in the expansion of the rail network, advocating the connection of many small towns the railroad. William Ogden died on August 3rd, 1877 in New York city. He had accumulated a large financial wealth that was distributed between family and friends. Through his family 600,000 dollars was endowed to the University of Chicago to establish the Ogden Graduate School of Science. Ogden has been memorialized all over Chicago with Ogden elementary school, Ogden avenue and ogden park on the south side. His contribution’s as Mayor of Chicago were not as grand as his many successful business endeavors. None the less, Ogden set a standard for Chicago and the Mayors to follow which was beyond that just being the First person to do something. Interestingly, another fact that I found out while researching this video was that Goose Island wasn't always and island. Ogden actually owned the land and was excavating the land for brick making. He ended up forming a canal which in turn created an island It was originally called Ogden's Island But it soon got its name after the Geese that the Irish people were keeping there in their settlement Or so the story goes


1853 Chicago mayoral election[5]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Isaac Lawrence Milliken 3,270 77.10
Josiah L. James 971 22.90
Turnout 4,241


  1. ^
  2. ^ Theodore Andreas, Alfred (1886). History of Chicago: From the fire of 1871 until 1885. p. 373. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  3. ^ Hotchkiss, George Woodward (1898). History of the Lumber and Forest Industry of the Northwest. G.W. Hotchkiss & Company. p. 691. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  4. ^ Industrial Chicago: The commercial interests. Goodspeed Publishing Company. 1894. p. 141. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  5. ^ "RaceID=486032". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2019-01-04.
This page was last edited on 15 March 2019, at 22:20
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