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1861 Chicago mayoral election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1861 Chicago mayoral election
← 1860
1862 →
Julianrumsey (a).jpeg
Hon. Thomas B. Bryan (1).jpg
Nominee Julian Sidney Rumsey Thomas B. Bryan
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 8,274 6,601
Percentage 55.62% 44.38%

Mayor before election

John Wentworth

Elected Mayor

Julian Sidney Rumsey

In the Chicago mayoral election of 1861 Republican Julian Sidney Rumsey defeated Democratic nominee Thomas B. Bryan by a ten-point margin.

The election was the first of four Chicago mayoral elections which took place during the course of the American Civil War.

YouTube Encyclopedic

  • 1/5
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  • ✪ MOOC | The Rising Tide of Emancipation | The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1865 | 2.3.4
  • ✪ Boss Hogg, Marion County Florida & the CONFEDERATE Flag
  • ✪ 1960 | WTIC-TV (now WFSB) | Abraham "Lincoln in Hartford," Connecticut | Channel 3 | Dick Bertel
  • ✪ Call to Arms: Minnesota Steps Forward - 1861
  • ✪ The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism


>> Now in the spring of 1862, Lincoln had sent to Congress his plan of emancipation. Remember, he had talked to Delaware about this in November 1861. Now he brings it to Congress for all the border states, and any Confederate states that want to join up. It's still the same plan: gradual emancipation, monetary compensation to the owners, colonization of the former slaves outside of the country. He asks for constitutional amendments to allow the government to do these things, which many people would think are beyond the capacity of the government under the old constitution. So, you know, he's still pushing this idea of colonization all through 1862. And indeed, as I talk about it in my book, at the very end of 1862, he signs a contract with a kind of shady adventurer called Bernard Koch, no relation to Edward Koch, the former mayor of New York, as far as I'm aware. But Koch had gotten a grant of land to build on an island off of Haiti, Ile-a-Vache, which means Island of the Cows, right? If you know your French. Cow Island, an unhabitated island off of Haiti. And Lincoln, on the day before the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, on December 31st, 1862, signed a contract with Koch where the government would pay him for bringing 5,000 African Americans, freed people, to settle on Ile-a-Vache. And he was going to provide housing and medical care and jobs and wages and all this. And only about 500 were actually sent. And the whole thing was a complete disaster. Koch was a charlatan, there were no houses, there were no jobs, there was nothing, and it was a dense forest, it was not cleared land. And eventually, about a year or so later, Lincoln had to send naval warships to rescue these poor people, who had survived, and bring them back to the United States. So on the one hand, that's all that happened with colonization. 500 souls sent to Ile-a-Vache and then came back, the ones who survived. So some people say, well, obviously, Lincoln didn't really believe in colonization because he talked a lot about it, but this is the only thing that happened. On the other hand, he did talk a lot about it, and I think you have to take Lincoln at his word, in 1862, that he thought this was part of a plan of emancipation. Well, while Lincoln is doing this, Congress is moving forward on its own initiative, even though the Republicans control Congress (it's not like today where the president and Congress, or at least the House, are at odds politically) the Republicans control Congress. Congress is moving forward. They abolish slavery in Washington, D.C., in the spring of 1862. That had been the first demand of the radical abolitionist movement in the 1830s, because everyone knew Washington was under the control of the federal government, that's what it says. So they could -- they can't abolish it in a state exactly, but they can abolish it in Washington, D.C., and they do. This was the first law in American history to grant freedom to any slaves. So it's an important turning point in American jurisprudence. But it's coupled with compensation. The owners in Washington got money, about 300 dollars it averaged out, per slave. It's a very funny, in a way, or strange thing, that the loyal owners, loyal owners would get compensation. If you were Confederate, you wouldn't get compensation. How do you know if a owner is loyal to -- they all said, yeah, yeah, I'm loyal to the Union, gimme my money. But how do you know? They set up a commission. It wasn't a judge, it was a commission set up by the Congress to adjudicate these claims. So who did they ask whether the owner is pro-Union or not? They asked their slaves. They're the ones who heard what these guys are saying. They're the ones who say, well, I know when Stonewall Jackson won that battle, my owner opened a big bottle of champagne, so, you know. African Americans were not allowed to testify in court against white people. But here they are testifying, before a commission, determining whether their owner is going to get money or not for their emancipation. So it's a very strange and interesting procedure. But it's a good indication of how things are changing. They're changing at all sorts of levels, even on this level of black testimony being allowed, something unknown in most part of the country before the Civil War, blacks testifying against white people. But here it's happening right in Washington, D.C. Then slavery is abolished in the territories. There wasn't much slavery in the territories. And this, of course, was the Republican Party's platform before the Civil War. In the territories, there's no compensation. Oh, by the way, I should step back. The Washington, D.C. bill also includes money for colonization -- voluntary. Any of these freed slaves in Washington who wish to go to Haiti or Central America, the government will pay to send them. But nobody wanted to go. None of them signed up to go from Washington, even though... So it's still this plan of compensation/colonization. Abolition of the territories, which only affected a handful of people, there there was no compensation, because the position of the Republican Party, remember, had been freedom national. There should not be any slavery in the territories, and therefore it was illegal, and there was nothing to compensate out there. Then a bill was passed prohibiting the army from returning fugitive slaves. The Fugitive Slave Law remains on the books. It's not repealed until 1864, oddly enough. It's not enforced anymore in the North, and now the army is not allowed to enforce the idea of returning fugitives to slavery. And then finally, in July, very important but very little-known law: the Second Confiscation Act. Remember the First Confiscation Act had said, any slave working in a military capacity who gets to Union lines will be free. Now, any slave of a rebel, any slave of a rebel who comes within Union lines will be free. Doesn't matter if they're working on military things at all. As the Union army moves forward, any slaves that come within its boundaries will become free under the Second Confiscation Act, if the owner is a rebel. Now, you know, if the owner can prove he was pro-Union, that's -- but there weren't that many of those. So, if the war had gone on without the Emancipation Proclamation, many, many slaves would have become free under the Second Confiscation Act. It certainly shows how Congress is now moving rapidly in the direction of emancipation. So, Lincoln is totally aware of all of this, obviously. He signs every single one of these bills. When did Lincoln decide upon emancipation? Well, there's all sorts of debate about that, it's kind of boring debate, I won't go into it. The only, the best evidence we have is Gideon Welles, the secretary of the navy, records in his diary... Well, actually, I shouldn't say -- Gideon Welles' diary, which is a document we all use, isn't really a diary. It was written after the war, and then retrospectively given dates. So that's not a diary. But he did include for July 13th, 1862, he says, he's in a carriage with Lincoln going to a funeral for Stanton's child who had died, and Lincoln broaches the point that he's readying a proclamation of general emancipation. Now is this valid? Well, it is, because the same day, contemporaneously, Welles wrote a letter to his wife saying this had happened. So his diary entry, retrospectively written later, was correct, because at the time he wrote this letter to his wife. And he says, this is such a profound thing, I can't even begin to think about what the consequences will be. So that's July 13th. Nine days later, July 22nd, Lincoln broaches this to his cabinet. And what's interesting is, it's within the context of changing the way the war is being fought. He talks about a series of orders. One of them is allowing the army to live off the land. Allowing the Union army to just seize property, crops, animals, whatever, from civilians, obviously, in order to live, you know, off the land in the South. This changes how the war is being fought. Now civilian property is going to become a target of the war effort, you know? So we don't need to be shipping things all the way from the North, we will just take. In Virginia, there's a vast, very fertile area in the Shenandoah Valley, etc. So that's one. This is a shift in the war toward total war. And along with it is this, just a one or two sentence note by Lincoln saying, and by the way, after a certain date, all slaves in the rebel states will be free. The cabinet is stunned. This is far more than anyone in the cabinet has actually proposed, and it is far more than Congress has proposed, because it makes no distinction between loyal owners and rebel, disloyal owners. All the slaves will be declared free, no matter who their owners are. The cabinet discusses this and Secretary of State Seward, says, you know, this is alright, I guess. He's not too enthused. But you cannot issue it now. It will seem like an act of desperation. You must wait until a military victory to issue this proclamation, because it'll look now like the last card of a gambler who's losing. You play your final card. That is not the way you want this to be viewed by the world. So Lincoln says, alright, alright, good point. I'm going to wait, and he files it away, (this is July), files it away waiting for a military victory.


The municipal election season came on the tail of the fall of Fort Sumter.[1] Both parties referred to their tickets as “Union”.[1]

On April 15 the Democrats held a meeting where they urged the election of their ticket to maintain the union.[1]

Both parties adopted strong support for the union and its cause in the war.[1]

Bryan was seen to be a far more prominent figure than Rumsey at the time of the election.[1] Rumsey was also a largely unwilling candidate, and did not desire to be mayor.[1]

Republicans primarily took issue not with the Democratic nominee for mayor, who many Republicans saw to be a unionist of strong character, but rather with the Democratic ticket for the municipal elections. Many Republicans felt uncomfortable with the fact that the Democratic ticket was strongly supported by the Chicago Times.[1]


Despite the unusual times in which the election was held, much of the city voted along its typical party lines.[1]

1861 Chicago mayoral election[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Julian Sidney Rumsey 8,274 55.62
Democratic Thomas B. Bryan 6,601 44.38
Turnout 14,875


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Goodspeed, Weston A. (Feb 6, 2017). The History of Cook County, Illinois. Jazzybee Verlag.
  2. ^ "RaceID=486040". Our Campaigns. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
This page was last edited on 5 March 2019, at 05:57
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