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Joseph Medill

born: April 6, 1823 in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada died: March 16, 1899 Mayoral term: 1871-1873

Joseph P. Medill is better known as the business manager and managing editor of the Chicago Tribune than as mayor of Chicago, although his term in office occurred during two of the most important years of the city's history as Chicago tried to rebuild in the aftermath of the Great Chicago Fire. During the American Civil War, Medill's great journalistic enemy was The Chicago Times, run by Cyrus McCormick. Eventually McCormick's nephew married Medill's daughter. Strongly supportive of Abraham Lincoln, the Tribune was instrumental in his nomination for the Presidency. Medill was a racist who opposed slavery. In one editorial, Medill espoused putting strychnine or arsenic in the food of unemployed citizens. As mayor, Medill gained more power for the mayor's office, created Chicago's first public library, enforced blue laws and reformed the police and fire department. In ill health and tiring of mayoral responsibilities, Medill took a leave of absence and appointed Lester L. Bond as acting mayor while he traveled throughout Europe.

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