Chicago Politics is a Dangerous Business


Chicago politics is legendary for is corruption and dangerous dealings. However, nothing today tops the events of October 28, 1897. Carter Harrison Sr. was the beloved populist Mayor of Chicago. He was a few months into his 5th term as mayor. He had spend a busy week hosting the World Columbian Exhibition (celebrating the 400th Anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the Americas).

He was enjoying a break from his duties at his South Ashland Avenue home. The mayor was confronted by Patrick Eugene Prendergast, a deranged Irish immigrant. Prendergast had been a newspaper distributer who had supported Harrison’s most recent election campaign. He was embittered over failing to be appointed the city’s chief attorney, a position which he should have had no reasonable expectation of getting. Armed with a .38 caliber revolver, he shot Harrison three times at point-blank range. Prendergast ran from the scene with several citizens of Chicago in hot pursuit. He ran to the nearest precinct and turned himself in, still clutching the revolver. He confessed, but gave rambling and incoherent reasons for the shooting.

The mayor died shortly after being shot. Prendergast’s insanity defense was a loser and he was convicted of murder. He was executed by hanging on July 13, 1894.

Photo By Mathew Benjamin Brady - Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Brady-Handy Photograph Collection.


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