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1871 Chicago mayoral election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1871 Chicago mayoral election
← 1869 November 7, 1871 1873 →
Joseph Medill.jpg
Charles C.P. Holden (cropped).jpg
Nominee Joseph Medill Charles P. Holden
Party Citizen's Union Democratic
Popular vote 16,125 5,988
Percentage 72.92% 27.08%

Mayor before election

Roswell B. Mason
Citizens Party

Elected Mayor

Joseph Medill
Citizen's Union

In the Chicago mayoral election of 1871 Joseph Medill defeated Democrat Charles “C. P.” Holden by a landslide 46-point margin.

Holden was president of the Common Council.[1]

The election took place on November 7,[2] a month after Chicago suffered the calamity of the Great Chicago Fire.[3]

The administration of the election was challenging due to the fact that the majority of Chicago's voting records had been incinerated by the Great Chicago Fire, meaning that there were few resources to prevent individuals from voting more than once.[3]


The election was greatly shaped by the fire.

Incumbent Democrat Roswell B. Mason did not run for reelection.

Medill ran on the "Union-Fireproof" ticket.[4] The Union-fireproof ticket had been formed by a group of Chicago businessmen and civic leaders led by Carter Harrison Sr.[5] Despite their drafting of Medill, he initially refused the nomination.[5] Medill was preoccupied with the task of running his Chicago Tribune newspaper business, particularly after its headquarters building had been lost in the fire.[5] However, after several days of being pressured to accept the nomination, he agreed to run on the condition that the Illinois State Legislature would enact a new city charter for Chicago which gave more formal power to the mayor.[5] In his speech accepting the nomination, he noted that he would likely resign as mayor if the legislature failed to pass such a charter.[5]

In his campaign, Medill promised to enact strengthened building regulations and fire codes.[3]

Holden had been nominated by the local Democratic Party organization, which at the time was very weakly organized.[5] The party's main base of support came from the city's immigrant community.[5] Holden was the alderman from the city's Tenth Ward and had served as president of the City Council during Mason's mayoralty.[5]

The campaigning period lasted only roughly two weeks.[5]


Medill won a landslide victory. The "Union-Fireprooof" ticket also saw its nominees for City Treasurer and City Collector elected as well.[5] However, seven aldermen were elected from the Democratic ticket, providing the Democrats with one-third of the city council.[5]

1871 Chicago mayoral election[2][6]
Party Candidate Votes %
Citizen's Union Joseph Medill 16,125 72.92
Democratic Charles C. P. Holden 5,988 27.08
Turnout 22,113


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b The Chicago Daily News Almanac and Year Book. Chicago: Chicago Daily News. 1911. p. 538.
  3. ^ a b c "Chicago Fire of 1871". HISTORY. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k The Mayors: the Chicago political tradition by Paul Michael Green Southern Illinois University Press, Dec 1, 1995
  6. ^ "RaceID=486045". Our Campaigns. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
This page was last edited on 5 March 2019, at 05:59
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