Edward Fitzsimmons Dunne

"Edward Dunne" redirects here. For other uses, see Edward Dunne (disambiguation).
Edward Fitzsimmons Dunne
24th Governor of Illinois
In office
February 3, 1913  January 8, 1917
Lieutenant Barratt O'Hara
Preceded by Charles S. Deneen
Succeeded by Frank O. Lowden
38th Mayor of Chicago
In office
Preceded by Carter Harrison, Jr.
Succeeded by Fred A. Busse
Personal details
Born (1853-10-12)October 12, 1853
Watertown, Connecticut
Died May 24, 1937(1937-05-24) (aged 83)
Chicago, Illinois
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Elizabeth J. Kelly (d.1928)
Profession Lawyer, Judge, Politician
Religion Roman Catholic

Edward Fitzsimmons Dunne (October 12, 1853 May 24, 1937) was an American politician who was the 24th Governor of Illinois from 1913 to 1917 and previously served as the 38th mayor of Chicago from April 5, 1905 to 1907. He is to date the last Mayor of Chicago to be elected Governor of Illinois.

Early years

Born in 1853, in Watertown, Connecticut, he was the son of an ardent Irish nationalist, Patrick William (P. W.) Dunne (1832–1921), who emigrated to America in 1849 after the failed Young Ireland revolt.[1] His mother, Delia Mary (Mary) Lawlor, was the daughter of a prosperous Irish contractor, and participant in the Irish Rebellion of 1798, who helped construct the docks of Galway.[1]

The family moved to Peoria, Illinois in 1855 while Dunne was still an infant, and he was educated there in the public schools.[2] Dunne had three sisters. His father refused to send his son to the local Catholic academy, because the Catholic Church had spoken out against the activities of the Fenians.,[1]

P. W. Dunne was a prosperous businessman, active in both Irish and American politics.[1] He raised money for the Fenians, gave generously of his own funds, and frequently hosted Irish politicians, political exiles, and rebels in his home when they traveled to Chicago.[1] P. W. Dunne served on the Peoria City Council in the 1860s and was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives.

Education and early career

After Dunne graduated from high school in Peoria, IL in 1871, he was sent to Ireland to attend Trinity College in Dublin.[1][2] His father wanted his son to be educated at the alma mater of Irish patriot, Robert Emmet.[1] Among his classmates was the author Oscar Wilde.[1] Dunne did extremely well at Trinity, but was forced to leave one year short of graduation, after his father suffered a financial setback.[1]

Dunne returned to Illinois, and finished his education at Union College of Law in Chicago (that was jointly run by Northwestern University and The Old University of Chicago), where his family had settled in 1877.[1] He graduated from the Union College of Law in 1878. Edward F. Dunne married Elizabeth F. Kelly, the daughter of Edward F. Kelly, a Chicago businessman, and his wife, Kitty Howe Kelly, on August 16, 1881. Following his marriage he started a prosperous legal practice. The Dunnes had thirteen children, with nine of them surviving into adulthood.[1][2] His children included: Eileen Dunne Corboy, Mona T. Leonard, Maurice Dunne, Richard Dunne, Jeanette Dunne, Edward F. Dunne, Jr., Geraldine Dunne, Eugene Dunne, and Judge Robert Jerome "Duke" Dunne.

Irish American leader

He was elected the first president of the Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago in 1901 and played a key role in the formation of this organization.

As an Irish Catholic Democrat from Chicago, Dunne was the only man to have served as both Mayor of Chicago and Governor of Illinois. He was elected Mayor of Chicago in April 1905. He was elected Governor of Illinois in the fall of 1912 and his inauguration was on February 3, 1913. In 1913, Dunne signed into law an act giving women in Illinois the right to vote for the U.S. Presidency, making Illinois the first state east of the Mississippi to give women the right to vote for the U.S. President. The 19th amendment would not become law until six years later in 1919.

As noted below, in 1919, Dunne was appointed by the Irish Race Convention to serve on the American Commission on Irish Independence. As part of this commission, Dunne traveled to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 in order to voice Irish-American desires for an independent Irish nation.

Political career

He served from 1892 to 1905 as Judge (first elected at age 28 in 1892) of the Circuit Court in Chicago.[2] He resigned to run for mayor in January 1905, winning election on April 4, 1905, beating the republican John Maynard Harlan. Dunne won with majorities in 22 of 35 wards in the city. The final tally was 161,189 votes for Dunne and 138,671 given to Harlan. His election was greeted with jubilation by social reformers throughout the nation. He was formally inaugurated on April 11, 1905 in the council of chambers in Chicago. At the annual Jefferson Day banquet held shortly after his inauguration, he was praised by William Jennings Bryan and Mayor Tom L. Johnson as a dynamic new leader of the national movement for reform. As his primary assistant, Dunne chose Clarence Darrow, who was given the title of "special traction council to the mayor".[3] Democrat, in 1905.[2]

As Mayor, Dunne was instrumental in reducing the price of gasoline in Chicago from $1.00 to 85 cents, and of water from 10 cents to 7 cents per thousand gallons.[2] He was also a strong proponent of municipal ownership of public utilities.[2]

In 1905, Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, was published in serial form in the socialist newspaper, Appeal to Reason, between February 25, 1905, and November 4, 1905. Sinclair was considered a muckraker, or journalist who exposed corruption in government and business. In 1904, Sinclair had spent seven weeks gathering information while working incognito in the meatpacking plants of the Chicago stockyards for the newspaper. It was published as a book on 26 February 1906 by Doubleday and in a subscribers' edition. Sinclair's Jungle was a major expose and had to have put Mayor Dunne and the entire City of Chicago in quite a position. When the The Jungle, published in serial form in the socialist newspaper, Appeal to Reason, between February 25, 1905, and November 4, 1905, this was just one of many major issues and challenges facing the new Mayor of Chicago. This book led to a massive public reaction to the working conditions in the Chicago meat packing industry and led to many major changes with regard to the regulation of the meat production and the food supply of the United States. The publication of The Jungle in book form in February 1906 had to have triggered a number of major changes with regard to the regulation of meat packers in Chicago as well as the treatment of workers at these packing plants. Additional info is necessary to document what leadership moves Mayor Dunne and the Chicago City Council took in response to the publication of The Jungle. The U.S. Congress passed the first Food and Drug Act in 1906 as a direct result of Sinclair's The Jungle.

In 1906, Dunne was the Mayor during the first same-city World Series. The Chicago White Sox v. The Chicago Cubs. The Cubs were an overwhelming favorite to win the series. The Cubs had the best record in baseball and the White Sox had such a poor batting average they were called "The Hitless Wonders". The White Sox upset the Cubs to win the World Series 4 games to 2. During this series was the first time the famous Cubs players Tinkers, Evans and Chance played in a World Series. It is likely that Mayor Dunne threw out a ceremonial opening pitch for the first game of the World Series of 1906. It must have been a most exciting time for all of Chicago. Some have said this was the first "subway series", yet at this time there were no subways in Chicago.

Dunne with family, circa 1905.

Dunne was defeated in his bid for reelection in 1907 by Republican Fred A. Busse and he returned to his legal practice.

Dunne was narrowly defeated in the 1911 Democratic mayoral primary by another former Chicago mayor, Carter H. Harrison II, who went on to regain the Mayor's office. Dunne formally announced his candidacy for Governor of Illinois on January 17, 1912. He won the Democratic Party primary election held on April 9, 2012. The main thrust of his campaign attack was on what he called "Jackpot Government.[4] In the general election, Dunne defeated the incumbent governor, Governor Charles S. Deneen in the fall of 1912. Dunne and the Democrats benefited from the split in the ranks of the Republican Party which divided by supporters of the incumbent President William Howard Taft and the Progressives who supported the third party candidacy of Theodore Roosevelt.

He was inaugurated as Governor of Illinois on February 3, 1913. He moved his family to the Governor's Mansion in Springfield, IL. As governor, he met with many visitors and guests. Former U.S. President, Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was a visitor to meet with Dunne at the Illinois Governor's Mansion while Dunne was governor.

As governor Dunne championed numerous progressive reforms, including Women's Suffrage, prison reforms, major infrastructural improvements, the creation of the Public Utility Commission, the Efficiency and Economy Commission, the Legislative Reference Bureau, and he also expanded the state's responsibility for overseeing workman's compensation benefits and teachers' pensions.[5]

In 1913, Governor Dunne signed into law a bill that gave women in the State of Illinois the right to vote for President of the United States. This made Illinois the first state east of the Mississippi to give women the right to vote for the U.S. Presidency. This was six (6) years before the passage of the 19th Amendment.

In November 1915, Dunne designated state Senator Stephen Canaday of Hillsboro to appear as his representative on the train car along with the Liberty Bell as it passed through southern Illinois on its nationwide tour returning to Pennsylvania from the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. After that trip, the Liberty Bell returned to Pennsylvania and will not be moved again.[6]

After finishing his term as governor, Dunne remained politically active. In 1921, he helped found an organization called the "National Unity Council" to combat the Ku Klux Klan.[7]

"In view of the fact that the Ku Klux Klan has adopted the weapon of mass action, it was our desire to organize a society which shall develop harmony and good feeling between different classes, rather than enmity," Mr. Dunne said today. "Invitations were sent to many prominent church, political, business and welfare men, and the replies are coming in now...."
The Ku Klux Klan, which maintains an office here under the name of the "Southern Publicity Bureau" was called "a menace to this and any community" by former Governor Dunne in their adoption of the "equipment of burglar masks and implements of violence."[7]

American Commission on Irish Independence

In 1919, Dunne was appointed by the Irish Race Convention to serve on the American Commission on Irish Independence. As part of this commission, Dunne traveled to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 in order to voice Irish-American desires for an independent Irish nation. During his stay in Europe, he also visited Ireland. He spend ten days touring the island and meeting with politicians.[8] He also addressed the First Dáil on May 9, 1919.

Later years and death

Dunne returned once again to practicing law after leaving office in 1917. His legal practice was damaged by the ravages of the Great Depression, but he supplemented this work with a position as counsel to the Cook County Board of Election Commissioners.[9]

After the death of his wife in May 1928, Dunne began contemplating his memoirs. He was convinced by the Lewis Publishing Co. to write a history of Illinois. Over a five-year period he worked on this project with close help from William L. Sullivan, who had been his private secretary when he was governor. In 1933, he published a five (5) volume set titled: Illinois, the Heart of the Nation.[10]

President Franklin Roosevelt appointed Dunne to be a United States Commissioner The Century of Progress World's Fair of Chicago of 1933-34. At the time he was 80 years old. He took great joy in this position and joked that he had served as mayor, governor and as a federal commissioner (and thus served at all levels of government).[11]

In his later years, Edward F. Dunne lived with his oldest daughter, Eileen (b. 1891)and family. He enjoyed the love of his children and many grandchildren during his final years. It was noted by his grandson, Edward Dunne Corboy, that every morning, Edward F. Dunne would awaken his grandchildren with a quote: "Arise, awake or forever be forgotten."

In 1935 on his 82nd birthday, Dunne wrote a poem that he shared with family and friends. It went:

I'm Eight-two But Don't Feel Blue

As I sit and I muse in the evening of life,
Fond memory brings past days that were rife,
With joys and with sorrows, with laughs and with tears.
That brightened or shadowed the passing years.
For life is a mixture of sunshine and gloom,
And flowers bedeck both the font and the tomb.
And yet, when the joys and sorrows I weigh,
I can truthfully, and yet, most humbly say,
Most grateful I am to the good God above,
For His heavenly blessings and His heavenly love.

He gave me kind parents. He gave me a wife.
That lessened my labors and gladdened my life.
He gave me of children and grandchildren a host,
Of whose numbers and nature I frequently boast.
When these children sought mate, these girls and these boys,
The found splendid partners, without making much noise.
They left the old homestead to lead happy lives.
And the family "Dunne" thus constantly thrives.
Of grandchildren now I count twenty-three.
Will the number increase? We'll wait and we'll see.

For the friends of my youth, it is idle to call.
The "grim reaper of death" has gathered them all.
Of the friends of my manhood, a few still survive,
As will my friendship while I am alive.
To the friends of my youth, and my manhood I owe,
An expression of grateful esteem, e'er I go,
Where God and His angels ever are near.
Those friends voted me great honors in public station.
In the Courts, in the City, in the State and the Nation.

To all of my children and to their children too,
Twill be great sadness to say an adieu.
I do it not now, but I cannot say when.
I must do it soon, and with tears I will say it then.
But when I do it, I will proudly say,
That none of your caused me an unhappy day.
I've tried to leave you a clean honest name.
And one not a stranger to honor and fame.
You have rewarded me with your clean honest lives,
And have honored Clan Dunne with your husbands and wives.

To the dear friends now around me, not of my kin,
Let me say proudly, ""Twas you who made me win."
When'er I sought honors, your friendship proved true.
Behind you, old friends, you brought hosts that were new.
"Twas your sterling friendship, that put me in place,
When honors were sought in the political race.
That friendship never faltered, in success or disaster,
When my enemies massed, you assembled much faster:
Because of your friendship, I often times dream,
That I still hold some measure of public esteem."

By: Edward F. Dunne, October 12, 1935.

Edward F. Dunne died in Chicago on May 24, 1937, at age 83. He was surrounded by three of is nine children when he died. His last words were: "I am satisfied and peaceful."

In the final analysis, Edward F. Dunne emerges as the most important and effective reformer in Illinois during the Progressive Era.[12]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Morton, Richard Allen. Justice and Humanity: Edward F. Dunne, Illinois Progressive Insurance. p. 1-4. Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1997.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Curtis, Georgina Pell.The American Catholic Who's Who, Vol 1. p. 179-180. Washington, DC, 1910.
  3. Justice and Humanity: Edward F. Dunne, Illinois Progressive. p. 14-17. Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1997.
  4. Justice and Humanity: Edward F. Dunne, Illinois Progressive. p. 59. Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1997.
  5. Morton, Richard Allen. Edward F. Dunne: Illinois' Most Progressive Governor. ISHS, Winter 1990 edition. p.218-234
  6. "Liberty Bell Attracts Crowd in Greenville During 1915 Stop". Greenville Advocate. July 3, 2007.
  7. 1 2 "Organizing to Fight The Ku Klux Klan", New York Times, September 21, 1921. Accessed August 25, 2009. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=990CE4DB153EEE3ABC4E52DFBF66838A639EDE
  8. Carroll, F. M. American Opinion and the Irish Question. (New York: St. Martin Press, 1978), 133 and 198.
  9. Morton, Richard Allen. Justice and Humanity: Edward F. Dunne, Illinois Progressive. p. 127. Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1997.
  10. Justice and Humanity: Edward F. Dunne, Illinois Progressive. p. 126. Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1997.
  11. Justice and Humanity: Edward F. Dunne, Illinois Progressive. p. 125. Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1997.
  12. Justice and Humanity: Edward F. Dunne, Illinois Progressive. p. 128. Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1997.

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