Edward Dunne

Thirty-Second Mayor of the City of Chicago (1905-07)

Edward Dunne was considered by many to be the most radical mayor in Chicago history, with many at the time calling him a socialist. These beliefs mostly stemmed from the issue he fought for most - immediate municipal ownership.

Dunne served as a Chicago attorney for 14 years, and then spent 13 more on the circuit court bench.1 He took a leadership position in the left wing of the Democratic Party - the followers of William Jennings Bryan. Dunne believed that the people needed protection against private interests, and he was determined to use the office of the mayor to this end.

Dunne campaigned for the nomination against Harrison II, defeating the well-worn incumbent. In response, the Republicans put up John M. Harlan against him. Harlan was resoundingly defeated by a final tally of 163,189 to 138,671.2 Dunne immediately went to work trying to get immediate municipal ownership of transit, but met up with noncompliant aldermen. Ultimately, he would never get transit taken out of private hands, but as consolation he had many regulations placed upon the companies. This led to some significant rate reductions for most utilities, all while producing the largest surplus in city history.3

Another of the most vehemently fought political issues was alcohol. Dunne attempted to tread a middle course, which ended up losing him votes from both sides.4 He would get the nod once more from the Democrats in 1907, this time going up against Republican Fred Busse. The election on April 2 of that year saw Busse defeat the incumbent Dunne 164,702 to 151,779.5

  1. Buenker, John D. “Edward F. Dunne: The Limits of Municipal Reform.“ The Mayors - The Chicago Political Tradition. 3rd ed. Ed. Paul M. Green, Melvin G. Holli. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2005. Pg. 34
  2. Buenker, 39
  3. Buenker, 48
  4. Buenker, 43
  5. Buenker, 45
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