William Hale Thompson Biography
William Hale Thompson was born on May 14, 1869. He was born in Boston to William Hale and Mary Ann Thompson.
His father, Colonel William Hale Thompson Sr., was a popular businessman within Chicago. He served as a colonel in the Second Illinois Guard who came to Chicago after serving in the United States Navy during the American Civil War. His maternal grandfather, Stephen F. Hale, the first chief of the Chicago Fire Department, played a large part in drawing up the city’s corporation charter in 1837. It earned him regard as a “Chicago pioneer” by some academic journalists.
Thompson was meant to attend Yale but instead moved to Wyoming at the age of 14, where he became a cowboy and cattle owner and traveled across Europe, taking up ranching in Texas and New Mexico later on in his life. The experiences influenced him to add Western touches into his campaign, including his sombrero, which became a symbol for his campaign. By the age of twenty-one, he had accumulated a stake of $30,000. He returned to Chicago in 1892 after his father’s death to manage his estates. Shortly after returning to Chicago, Thompson joined the Illinois Athletic Club and the Sportsmen’s Club of America and quickly was appointed director-general and captain of the water polo and football teams. His six-foot frame and athletic prowess earned him the nickname “Big Bill,” which stuck with him throughout his career as a politician. In 1901, Thompson married Mary “Maysie” Walker Wyse, a secretary in his father’s office. The two never had children.
William Hale Thompson Career
Thompson began his political career in 1900 when he decided to ran for and narrowly won the position as alderman of the 2nd Ward, his home district. In 1902, he was named a member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. During this period, Thompson formed a political alliance with Frederick Lundin, a Republican city clerk, who worked under William Lorimer, a U.S. Representative from Illinois who was known for corrupt election methods. The political duo, according to most citizens, worked very well together earning them the title the Gallagher and Shean of Chicago Politics. Thompson with his outgoing and charismatic personality and gentlemanly appearance gave him an undeniable public presence. It was completed by Lundin’s cunning political ideas and projects.
William Hale Thompson Mayor
Thompson was elected as the 41st Mayor of Chicago in 1952, beating County Clerk Robert M. Sweitzer, John H. Hill, Seymour Steadman, and Charles Thompson. He was the last Republican to be elected into office since, aside from his third term in 1928. As Thompson entered the first term of his mayorship, he appointed Fred Lundin as chairman on the committee of patronage. Early in his mayoral career, Thompson began to amass a war chest to support an eventual run for the Presidency, by charging city drivers and inspectors $3 per month.
Early in his mayoralty, Thompson had to cut a July 1915 trip to San Francisco short to deal with the aftermath of the Eastland disaster. While Thompson was out of town, acting-mayor Moorhouse had turned the Chicago City Hall into a makeshift hospital for first aid and a morgue for bodies recovered from the tragedy. Once Thompson returned to Chicago he organized and promoted a relief fund. He ordered an investigation into the casual negligence responsible for the tragedy.
On April 26, 1915, Thompson spoke of his ambitions for Chicago to become the greatest in the world. Also that his acts as mayor should not be swayed by corruption. He also emphasized the importance of public safety, the improvement of public transit, secure and permanently lowered gas prices. His efforts to expand and publicly improve the streets of Chicago earned him another nickname of “Big Bill the Builder”. In his time as mayor, he oversaw the completion of the Michigan Avenue link bridge, the Twelfth Street widening, and the extension and widening of Ogden Avenue. Along with his big dreams for Chicago’s geographical expansion, he wished for Chicago to expand politically and economically. He believed that Chicago should be able to enforce laws on their own terms. Particularly without the interference of the British government or totalitarian rule.
He was reelected mayor in 1919.
William Hale Thompson Death
Hale died on March 19, 1944, at the Blackstone Hotel at the age of 74. He was buried in Oak Woods Cemetery in a solid bronze casket.
Despite the fact that many loved Thompson and enjoyed his various political antics, few people attended his funeral. One reporter noted that there was not “a flower nor a fern to be seen”.
Upon Thompson’s death, two safe deposit boxes in his name were discovered to contain nearly $1.84 million in cash. Once the money was uncovered, the Internal Revenue Service took their share in taxes. Maysie Thompson lived off of the rest until her death in 1958.
We endeavor to keep our content True, Accurate, Correct, Original and Up to Date.
If you believe that any information in this article is Incorrect, Incomplete, Plagiarised, violates your Copyright right or you want to propose an update, please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org indicating the proposed changes and the content URL. Provide as much information as you can and we promise to take corrective measures to the best of our abilities.