Disappointed Office-Seeker, redux

HarrisonAs I mentioned in today’s post on the James A. Garfield assassination, the stock phrase used to describe his killer is “disappointed office-seeker.” Google turns up a bit that comedian Robert Klein once did based on that cliche. But Garfield wasn’t the only elected official of his era done in by someone who expected an appointment that didn’t come through.

Chicago Mayor Carter Harrison was shot to death in October 1893, the day before the scheduled closing of the World’s Columbian Exposition in the city. The killer was an apparently mentally ill man named Prendergast who believed he he merited an appointment to a senior position for services rendered to Harrison. He didn’t get the job he fancied, general counsel for the city, so he went to Harrison’s home with a gun.

Harrison was a five-term mayor (though terms were just two years in his day). His death prompted an orgy of mourning. By one account, the day of his funeral, more than half a million people lined the route to the cemetery. Later, his son, Carter Harrison II, also won five mayoral elections (so the Richards Daley were not the first to pull off that feat).

The other day, when Dad and I went down to Randolph and Desplaines streets to take a look at the new Haymarket statue, he mentioned he thought the original Haymarket sculpture, which depicts a cop trying to calm the waters of unrest, might be over in a park a few blocks to the west. We drove by, and found Union Park. On one edge is Spaulding Elementary School, where my mom’s mom, Anne O’Malley Hogan, taught back in the 1920s. We could see driving by that there was a statue in the park, but it was obscured by trees and I couldn’t see whether it was the Haymarket cop.

Dad went back down there today and called from the statue to report his findings. It’s a statue of Carter Harrison, who it turns out lived nearby when he was assassinated. (And, to connect back to Haymarket, was on the scene of the bombing before it took place. The Chicago Historical Society has a great writeup of the event, and Harrison’s part in it, here.)

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