Roswell Mason

Twentieth Mayor of the City of Chicago (1869-71)

Roswell Mason was a civil engineer, and the builder of the IL Central Railroad, but not a politician. In November 1869, he was elected mayor on a reform People's Ticket. This was a reform movement that sought to replace politicians in public office with businessmen, believing they could clean up the government.1

Mason's work as mayor was dramatically interrupted by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. He closed saloons at 9 pm for a week after the fire, recommending "prayer and humiliation." Mason was the first mayor to say the number of saloons should be limited - at the time there was one saloon for every 130 citizens.2

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