Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Rise of the Chicago Police Department

The Rise of the Chicago Police Department: Class and Conflict, 1850-1894

SAM MITRANI
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/j.ctt3fh4bq
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Rise of the Chicago Police Department
    Book Description:

    In this book, Sam Mitrani cogently examines the making of the police department in Chicago, which by the late 1800s had grown into the most violent, turbulent city in America. Chicago was roiling with political and economic conflict, much of it rooted in class tensions, and the city's lawmakers and business elite fostered the growth of a professional municipal police force to protect capitalism, its assets, and their own positions in society. Together with city policymakers, the business elite united behind an ideology of order that would simultaneously justify the police force's existence and dictate its functions.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09533-7
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-13)

    On August 26, 1765, a crowd holding him responsible for the Stamp Act attacked the Boston home of Massachusetts lieutenant governor and chief justice Thomas Hutchinson. The attackers spent the entire night sacking Hutchinson’s mansion, carrying off his valuables, and using axes to dismantle the wooden portions of the building. Hutchinson and his family fled and survived without bodily harm, but his home was largely destroyed. As the rioters worked throughout the night dismantling Hutchinson’s house and looting his possessions, no forces of order arrived to eject them or to protect the property of this powerful and wealthy man. Hutchinson...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Drunken Immigrants, Businessmen’s Order, and the Founding of the Chicago Police Department
    (pp. 14-33)

    On April 21, 1855, an angry crowd of German immigrants assembled at Chicago’s court house on Clark Street between Randolph and Washington. They loudly demanded that the court release nineteen imprisoned saloonkeepers. Ten had been arrested for refusing to pay the new $300 liquor license fee, up from $50, and nine had been arrested for serving alcohol on Sundays.¹ Operating taverns on Sunday violated an old, never-before-enforced municipal ordinance, but it was the only day off for most workmen. This crowd of immigrants confronted Kentucky-born, anti-Catholic Mayor Levi Boone. Boone headed a Law and Order ticket that had swept the...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Paternalism and the Birth of Professional Police Organization
    (pp. 34-56)

    On March 12, 1856, theChicago Tribunedeclared: “[Mayor Dyer’s] promises to the rapscallions who electioneered for him, who secured him the fraudulent votes to which he owes his election, who stood for him at the polls to overawe opposition and bully the timid, must be kept.” Dyer was the Democratic candidate for mayor, supported by many of the city’s workingmen and immigrants and stridently opposed by Republicans like the editors of theTribune. To theTribune, the election turned on the question of order. “We shall probably have as the fruits of the ‘great victory,’ [of Mayor Dyer] such...

  7. CHAPTER 3 The Police and the First May Day Strike for the Eight-Hour Day
    (pp. 57-71)

    In the period after the Civil War, a new working class emerged in the United States. On the one hand, the nation’s economy increasingly relied on wage workers in factories and mills, on the railroads and construction projects, and in lumberyards and mines. Owners and managers sought to strip control over the production process from skilled artisans and direct it themselves to maximize profits, though many skilled workers and artisans retained their strategic economic position in the late 1860s. This created a situation in which a large number of people with little chance of establishing their own shops were forced...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The Native-Born Protestant Elite’s Bid for Control in the 1870s
    (pp. 72-100)

    During the 1870s, it became increasingly clear that the promise of “free labor” would not be met. Rather than an expanding economy of small proprietors, the North was becoming more and more divided along class and ethnic lines. New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, and other cities were full of immigrant working men who were not about to become the free laborers of antebellum mythology. Many of these wage workers did not adhere to the developing norms of middle-class respectability, nor did many of them even speak English. In addition, the unemployed of all ethnicities swarmed into the cities especially once...

  9. Illustrations
    (pp. 101-111)
  10. CHAPTER 5 1877 and the Formation of a Law-and-Order Consensus
    (pp. 112-133)

    The massive strikes that erupted in 1877 marked a turning point for the Chicago Police Department. The department’s role in putting down these strikes illustrates most clearly how the Chicago police reconciled democratic politics with the industrial capitalist order through violence. In these strikes, the most dramatic and disorderly they had yet to confront, the police appeared most starkly as little more than hired thugs of the city’s businessmen.

    In part, the police played this role because Chicago’s businessmen organized themselves as never before. As the economic crisis that began in 1873 deepened and the workers’ movement gained strength, businessmen...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Carter Harrison Remakes the Chicago Police Department
    (pp. 134-165)

    The events of the 1870s set the stage for an unprecedented strengthening of the police department in the first half of the 1880s. At the beginning of that decade, the police force was undermanned and lacked legitimacy among the bulk of Chicago’s population. Elite observers continued to excoriate the police for corruption and inefficiency, while working-class Chicagoans had good reason to view the police as little more than servants of the rich. Temperance continued to loom as an issue that could only exacerbate these problems for the department. The city itself was more class divided than ever before, and both...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Chicago’s Anarchists Shape the Police Department
    (pp. 166-184)

    The Chicago Police Department was transformed by its struggle with the city’s anarchist and socialist movement in the 1870s and 1880s.¹ This struggle was distinct from the department’s interaction with the wider labor movement and the working class generally. As previous chapters have shown, the relationship between the police and the city’s working class was complex, often contradictory, and varied greatly from one period to the next. The relationship between the police and the militant workers’ organizations, on the other hand, varied solely in degree. The police and the anarchists consistently faced each other with unalloyed hostility.

    From their emergence...

  13. CHAPTER 8 The Eight-Hour Strikes, the Haymarket Bombing, and the Consolidation of the Chicago Police Department
    (pp. 185-207)

    The Haymarket bombing forever changed what it meant to be a member of the Chicago Police Department. It gave the police their own set of martyrs and made being a patrolman meaningful in a way that gradual pay raises and merit awards could not. It made clear what the forces of law and order were defending civilization against. Most importantly, Haymarket and its aftermath consolidated a positive image of the Chicago Police Department in the eyes of the respectable citizens of the city. The image of the gallant blue line between anarchy and civilization, of men ready to risk their...

  14. EPILOGUE: The Pullman Strike and the Matrix of State Institutions
    (pp. 208-218)

    The upheaval of 1886 was not the last important labor struggle that accompanied the rise of a wage labor economy in the United States. In 1894, the Pullman strike erupted. It was the largest and most important strike of the nineteenth century, and its epicenter was in Chicago. It thrust the question of order back on the national stage. This strike revealed as a failure George Pullman’s attempt to apply a modified earlier version of order, based on the pre-police idea that a paternalistic system of organization could embed wage workers within an ordered system controlled by their employer. This...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 219-246)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 247-254)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 255-262)