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1911 Chicago mayoral election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1911 Chicago mayoral election
← 1907 April 4, 1911 1915 →
Carter Henry Harrison cph.3c23214 (1).jpg
Portrait of Charles Edward Merriam (1).jpg
Rodriguez-william-e (1).jpg
Nominee Carter Harrison Jr. Charles E. Merriam William E. Rodriguez
Party Democratic Republican Socialist
Popular vote 177,997 160,672 24,825
Percentage 48.53% 43.81% 6.77%

Mayor before election

Fred A. Busse

Elected Mayor

Carter Harrison Jr.

In the Chicago mayoral election of 1911 Democrat Carter Harrison Jr. was elected to his fifth non-consecutive term as mayor, tying the then-record set by his father Carter Harrison Sr. for the most Chicago mayoral election victories. Harrison defeated Republican Charles E. Merriam and Socialist William E. Rodriguez.

The election was held on April 4.[1]

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In the years between the 1907 and 1911 elections, Illinois had implemented a law which scheduled Chicago's mayoral primaries for the last Tuesday of February.[2] These were also the first direct primaries in the history of Chicago mayoral elections.[3] The primaries were incredibly tenuous, and even elicited incidents of election-day violence.[3]

Democratic primary

Carter Harrison Jr., who had previously served four terms as mayor, defeated former mayor Edward F. Dunne as well as Andrew J. Graham (a wealthy banker)[4][5] in the Democratic primary on February 28.[1][6] Harrison's margin of victory in the primary was very narrow.[7]

Graham was backed by Roger Charles Sullivan.[8]

Democratic Primary (February 28, 1911)[6]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Carter Harrison Jr. 55,116 37.40
Democratic Edward F. Dunne 53,696 36.43
Democratic Andrew J. Graham 38,578 26.17
Turnout 147,390

Republican primary

Incumbent mayor Fred A. Busse did not seek a second term. Despite the high hopes some supporters had for him, Busse's term had been rather uneventful.[9] Busse reportedly believed that he would be able to defeat Merriam in the primary, but did not believe that he could beat a Democratic opponent in the general election.[10]

Educator and politician Charles E. Merriam (a strong proponent of progressivism) defeated a number of candidates, including restaurateur[11] John R. Thompson and former Illinois Treasurer John F. Smulski.

During his run, Merriam's campaign manager was Harold Ickes.[12][13]

Republican primary (February 28, 1911)[14]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Charles E. Merriam 53,089 49.86
Republican John R. Thompson 26,406 24.80
Republican John F. Smulski 23,138 21.73
Republican Tom Murray 2,799 2.63
Republican John Edward Scully 1,052 0.99
Turnout 106,484

Prohibition nomination

The Prohibition Party nominated William A. Brubaker,[15] its 1907 mayoral nominee and the chairman of the Prohibition Central Committee of Cook County.[16]

Socialist nomination

William E. Rodriguez won the Socialist nomination.

General election

Both the Democratic and Republican Party had been divided by their contentious primaries.[8]

For his 1911 campaign, Harrison adopted many progressive policies.[17][18] He also championed the Burnham Plan of Chicago.[17] He portrayed himself as a pragmatic and experienced change-maker and Merriam as an overly-idealistic and bookish professor.[17]

To ward off potential immigrant support for Merriam, Harrison accused him of being a prohibitionist (a stance that was unpopular in the city's immigrant communities).[17]

The reform proposals which Harrison put forth were easily understood. "We plan to wage this fight on the theory that public utility corporations should be our servants instead of our masters. I believe that the gas company can sell its products not more than 70 cents for 1000 cubic feet."[17]


Harrison was able to win a relatively-narrow victory.[17]

1911 Chicago mayoral election (general election)[19]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Carter Harrison Jr. 177,997 48.53
Republican Charles E. Merriam 160,672 43.81
Socialist William E. Rodriguez 24,825 6.77
Other Other 3,297 0.90
Turnout 366,791

Harrison received 68.91% of the Polish-American vote, while Merriam received 24.40% and Rodriguez received 5.60%.[20]


  1. ^ a b Mayor Carter Henry Harrison IV Biography
  2. ^ John, Derek (18 February 2015). "No Conspiracy Required: The True Origins Of Chicago's February Elections". WBEZ. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  3. ^ a b,2874816
  4. ^
  5. ^ Tarr, Joel A. “J. R. Walsh of Chicago: A Case Study in Banking and Politics, 1881-1905.” The Business History Review, vol. 40, no. 4, 1966, pp. 451–466. JSTOR, JSTOR,
  6. ^ a b "RaceID=690354". Our Campaigns. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  7. ^ Chicago Portraits: New Edition by June Skinner Sawyers
  8. ^ a b Schmidt, John R. (1989). "The Mayor Who Cleaned Up Chicago" A Political Biography of William E. Dever. DeKalb, Illinois: Northern Illinois University Press.
  9. ^ 10 things you might not know about Chicago mayoral elections Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer March 10, 2015
  10. ^ Experts and Politicians: Reform Challenges to Machine Politics in New York, Cleveland, and Chicago Portada Kenneth Finegold Princeton University Press, Feb 13, 1995 (page 156)
  11. ^
  12. ^ Reagan, Designing a New America: The Origins of New Deal Planning, 1890-1943, 2000, p. 62.
  13. ^ Bukowski, Big Bill Thompson, Chicago, and the Politics of Image, 1998, p. 3.
  14. ^ "RaceID=690355". Our Campaigns. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  15. ^ Andersen, Lisa M. F. he Politics of Prohibition: American Governance and the Prohibition Party, 1869–1933. Cambridge University Press. p. 247. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  16. ^ Smith, Christina M. (December 2015). "The Shifting Structure of Chicago's Organized Crime Network and the Women It Left Behind" (PDF). Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  17. ^ a b c d e f The Mayors: The Chicago Political Tradition, fourth edition by Paul M. Green, Melvin G. Holli SIU Press, Jan 10, 2013
  18. ^,5184660
  19. ^ "RaceID=123302". Our Campaigns. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  20. ^ Kantowicz, Edward. “The Emergence of the Polish-Democratic Vote in Chicago.” Polish American Studies, vol. 29, no. 1/2, 1972, pp. 67–80. JSTOR, JSTOR,
This page was last edited on 19 August 2019, at 17:13
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