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William Lorimer (politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

William Lorimer
William Lorimer, Illinois Senator, GGB photo.jpg
United States Senator
from Illinois
In office
June 18, 1909 – July 13, 1912
Preceded byAlbert J. Hopkins
Succeeded byLawrence Sherman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois
In office
March 4, 1903 – June 17, 1909
Preceded byHenry Boutell
Succeeded byWilliam Moxley
Constituency6th district
In office
March 4, 1895 – March 3, 1901
Preceded byLawrence E. McGann
Succeeded byJohn J. Feely
Constituency2nd district
Personal details
Born(1861-04-27)April 27, 1861
Manchester, England, UK
DiedSeptember 13, 1934(1934-09-13) (aged 73)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Resting placeCalvary Cemetery
Political partyRepublican

William Lorimer (April 27, 1861 – September 13, 1934) was a U.S. Representative from the State of Illinois. He subsequently served in the United States Senate and was known as the "Blond Boss" in Chicago. In 1912, however, the Senate held Lorimer's election invalid due to the use of corrupt methods and practices including vote-buying.


Lorimer was born in Manchester, England. His family immigrated to the United States in 1866, first settling in Michigan and then moving to Chicago in 1870. Lorimer was self-educated. He had been apprenticed to a sign painter when he was ten. He worked in the Chicago meat-packing houses and for a street railroad company.

In 1894, Lorimer was elected to the first of two non-consecutive tenures (1895-1901, 1903–09) in the US House of Representatives. In 1909, he helped to engineer the blocking of the re-election of US Senator Albert J. Hopkins, a Republican who had been Lorimer's ally, but was now a political foe. With Hopkins' re-election bid finished, Lorimer seemed surprised when a coalition of 55 Illinois State House Republicans and 53 State House Democrats pushed his name to fill the now-vacant seat in the US Senate. At the time, US Senators were elected by state legislatures. Lorimer's name went before the State Senate, and after a contentious campaign, he was elected to the US Senate. He took his seat in March 1909.

In 1910, The Chicago Tribune published an admission by Illinois Assemblyman Charles A. White that Lorimer had paid $1,000 for White's vote in the that election.[1]

On July 13, 1912, after two Senate investigations and acrimonious debate, the US Senate adopted a resolution declaring "that corrupt methods and practices were employed in his election, and that the election, therefore, was invalid." Lorimer was expelled from office.

Lorimer's grave at Calvary Cemetery
Lorimer's grave at Calvary Cemetery

Many in Chicago believed that Lorimer's ouster was politically inspired and that he was wrongfully deprived of his seat. Such corruption nationwide led to the passage in May 1912, of the Seventeenth Amendment to the US Constitution, providing for direct election of U.S. Senators.[2]

When he returned to Chicago he was greeted by a parade and a throng at a meeting in Orchestra Hall. One of the speakers at the meeting was attorney Charles Lederer of Adler & Lederer (now known as Arnstein & Lehr, LLP) and a former member of the Illinois General Assembly. He presented a resolution to the meeting reciting the wrong done to Mr. Lorimer, his fight for his seat and the faith of his friends in him.[3]

Lorimer served as president of La Salle Street Trust & Savings Bank from 1910 to 1915, and then entered the lumber business. He died in Chicago at age 73, and was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Evanston.[4]

See also


  1. ^ "A Study in Boss Politics: William Lorimer of Chicago". Archived from the original on April 6, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  2. ^ The Senate Historical Office. "The Election Case of William Lorimer of Illinois (1910; 1912)".
  3. ^ "Lorimer to Plead His Cause From Chicago to Cairo". Chicago Tribune. July 24, 1912. pp. 1, 4. Retrieved July 3, 2021 – via
  4. ^ "William Lorimer, Former U.S. Senator, Drops Dead". Streator Daily Times-Press. Chicago. AP. September 13, 1934. p. 1. Retrieved July 3, 2021 – via

Further reading

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Illinois
Served alongside: Shelby Moore Cullom
Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 24 July 2022, at 19:59
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