Parades, Protests and Politics


Why Chicago?

Politics has often dictated the selection of the host city. In 1860, Republicans selected Chicago because Illinois, one of the conservative states of the north, was the key to Republican victory. In addition, Chicago and Illinois traditionally had strong political machines that could provide the necessary funds and support for staging these enormous events. Franklin Delano Roosevelt favored Chicago because he felt that Chicago's Democratic party machine would help push through his nomination. On occasion, party leaders chose Chicago to demonstrate to the rest of the country that even Chicago, the epitome of "Middle America," supported a controversial candidate or platform. With the home field advantage, Chicago conventions nominated a number of favorite sons, including Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Adlai Stevenson II.

Illinois delegation at Democratic National     convention, with Richard J. Daley in lower left; Chicago, 1952, July 24.

Illinois delegation at Democratic National
convention, with Richard J. Daley in lower
left; Chicago, 1952, July 24.
(CHS, ICHi-26175, photo by the Chicago Sun-Times)

Since 1860, when the emerging city welcomed the Republican Convention, Chicago has gone to great lengths to welcome conventioneers by building convention halls, providing large financial contributions to the parties, and extending its hospitality to delegates and officials. Competing with cities such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Cincinnati, Chicago quickly became the favorite site of the main political parties, hosting 14 Republican Conventions and 11 Democratic Conventions--more than any other city.

The Chicago Coliseum on South Wabash during the 1912 Republican Convention.

The Chicago Coliseum on South Wabash during
the 1912 Republican Convention.
(CHS, ICHi-24400, photo by William T. Barnum)

Throughout its history, Chicago has been the hub of a national transportation network, making the city accessible to delegates from around the nation. At the 1860 Republican Convention, Chicago's 42 hotels were inadequate, forcing delegates to sleep on cots or billiard tables. Since then, however, the city has provided ample facilities for housing as well as entertaining and transporting thousands of convention delegates, journalists, and spectators.

Sketches by Harper's Weekly illustrate how crowded conditions were at the 1880 Republican Convention.

Sketches by Harper's Weekly illustrate how crowded conditions were at the 1880 Republican Convention.
(CHS, ICHi-26356)




Al Capone
Black Sox
Century of Progress
Chicago Fire
World's Columbian Expo
Parades, Protests and Politics
Parades, Protests and Politics Photo Gallery
Parades, Protests and Politics Artifacts
Parades, Protests and Politics Bibliography
THe Pullman Era
The Stockyards
Fort Dearborn

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