Early Chicago, 1833–1871
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
DOCUMENT 36PETITION FOR DAMAGES DONE TO FREDERICK BERNER'S STORE
March 30, 1857
In 1857, the annual municipal elections were held on March 3. In the mayor's race John Wentworth was the Republican candidate and Benjamin F. Carver was his Democratic opponent. On February 28, Abraham Lincoln of Springfield had appeared in the city and expressed his support for Wentworth's platform. Wentworth was associated with opposition to slavery while Carver was judged to be in favor of the institution. It was a violent election with the police offering little protection for Republican interests. Wentworth won by a vote of 5,933 to 4,842 and the council elected was Republican as well.
The Seventh Ward was in the North Division and consisted of, "all that part of said city which lies east of the centre of the north branch of the Chicago River, and north of the centre of the Chicago River, and west of the centre of La Salle street and a line running due north of the last named street." It was an area dominated by the Irish and the Democratic Party.
The council agreed to pay Berner $20 in damages.
Points to Consider
Why was Frederick Berner petitioning the council?
What was the spirit of the election?
Who were the candidates, what were the issues, and who won?
Why did the police not prevent the riot?