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Carter Henry Harrison IV
Carter Henry Harrison cph.3c23214 (1).jpg
37th & 40th[1] Mayor of Chicago
In office
Apri 17, 1911 – April 26, 1915
Preceded byFred A. Busse
Succeeded byWilliam Hale Thompson
In office
April 15, 1897 – April 10, 1905
Preceded byGeorge Bell Swift
Succeeded byEdward Fitzsimmons Dunne
Personal details
Born(1860-04-23)April 23, 1860
Chicago, Illinois
DiedDecember 25, 1953(1953-12-25) (aged 93)
Chicago, Illinois
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseEdith Ogden
ChildrenCarter Harrison V
Edith Ogden Harrison II

Carter Henry Harrison IV (April 23, 1860 – December 25, 1953) was an American newspaper publisher and Democratic politician who served a total of five terms as mayor of Chicago (1897–1905 and 1911–1915) but failed in his attempt to become his party's presidential nominee in 1904.[2] Descended from aristocratic Virginia families and the son of five-term Chicago mayor Carter Harrison Sr., this Carter Harrison (IV) became the first native Chicagoan elected its mayor.


Carter and Edith Ogden on a sidewalk (likely near North Rush Street and East Grand Avenue, 1913)
Carter and Edith Ogden on a sidewalk (likely near North Rush Street and East Grand Avenue, 1913)

Harrison was born on April 23, 1860, in Chicago.

He was a member of many organizations including the Freemasons, Knights Templar, Society of the Cincinnati, Sons of the Revolution, Sons of the American Revolution, Society of Colonial Wars, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and the Military Order of the World Wars.

Like his father, Carter Harrison Sr., Harrison gained election to five terms as Chicago's mayor. Educated in Saxe-Altenburg, Germany,[3] Harrison returned to Chicago to help his brother run the Chicago Times, which their father bought in 1891. He had been a practicing lawyer before joining his family in running the Chicago Times in 1891.[4] Under the Harrisons the paper became a resolute supporter of the Democratic Party, and was the only local newspaper to support the Pullman strikers in the mid-1890s.[citation needed] Harrison served as the newspapers editor. He stopped working at the newspaper in 1895.[4]

First mayoralty

Harrison was first elected mayor in the 1897 Chicago mayoral election. He would win election to three consecutive additional two-year terms in 1899, 1901, and 1903.

Harrison was sworn in as mayor on April 15, 1897.[5]

Like his father, Harrison did not believe in trying to legislate morality. As mayor, Harrison believed that Chicagoans' two major desires were to make money and to spend it. During his administrations, Chicago's vice districts blossomed, and special maps were printed to enable tourists to find their way from brothel to brothel. The name of one Chicago saloon-keeper of the time supposedly entered the English language as a term for a strong or laced drink intended to render unconsciousness: Mickey Finn.

However, Harrison was seen as more of a reformer than his father, which helped him garner the middle class votes his father had lacked. One of Harrison's biggest enemies was Charles Yerkes, whose plans to monopolize Chicago's streetcar lines were vigorously attacked by the mayor. This was the beginning of the Chicago Traction Wars, which would become a major focus of his administration. During his final term in office, Harrison established the Chicago Vice Commission and worked to close down the Levee district, starting with the Everleigh Club brothel on October 24, 1911.[6]

Despite prolonged and damaging international press coverage blaming his lax municipal enforcement for the 602 lives lost in the Iroquois Theatre fire on December 30, 1903 (still the deadliest single-building fire in U.S. history),[7] Harrison hoped to become the 1904 Democratic nominee for President of the United States. However, the nomination went to Alton B. Parker, who was soundly defeated by Theodore Roosevelt.

The Carter Harrison Crib, a water crib in Chicago
The Carter Harrison Crib, a water crib in Chicago

Harrison declined to seek a fifth consecutive mayoral term in 1905, and was succeeded by fellow Democrat Edward Fitzsimmons Dunne on April 10, 1905.[8]

Between mayoralties

In 1907, attempting to stage a return to office, Harrison unsuccessfully challenged Dunne for the Democratic mayoral nomination.

Second mayoralty

In 1911, Harrison was elected to a four-year term as mayor. He as sworn-in for his fifth nonconsecutive term as mayor on April 17, 1911.[9]

In 1914, Harrison convinced the city council to establish a Commission for the Encouragement of Local Art to purchase works of art by Chicago artists.[10] Harrison personally purchased artwork from painters such as Victor Higgins and Walter Ufer.[11]

Harrison sought a sixth overall term as mayor in 1915, but was defeated in the Democratic primary by Robert Sweitzer, who went on to lose the general election to Republican William Hale Thompson. Harrison was succeeded in office by Thompson on April 26, 1915.[12]

In 1915, when Harrison left office, Chicago had essentially reached its modern size in land area, and had a population of 2,400,000; the city was moving inexorably into its status as a major modern metropolis. He and his father had collectively been mayors of the city for 21 of the previous 36 years.


From 1933 through 1944, Harrison served as the Internal Revenue Service collector for district of Chicago, having been appointed to the position by president Franklin D. Roosevelt on July 28, 1933.[4]

Harrison served as the president of a commission which advocated for local arts.[13]

Harrison published two autobiographies. One of these, a memoir entitled Growing Up with Chicago, was published in 1944.[14]

Harrison died on December 25, 1953, in Chicago at his Chicago apartment,[4] and is buried in Graceland Cemetery.[15]

His papers are held by Chicago's Newberry Library.

Ancestry and personal life

Harrison was a descendant of Robert Carter I, Benjamin Harrison IV, William Randolph, and Isham Randolph of Dungeness.[16][17]

His wife, Edith Ogden Harrison, was a well-known writer of children's books and fairy tales in the first two decades of the 20th century.

In 1907 Harrison became a hereditary member of the Virginia Society of the Cincinnati.


  1. ^ "Chicago Mayors". Chicago Public Library. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Inventory of the Carter H. Harrison IV Papers, 1637-1953, Bulk 1840-1950". Newberry. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  3. ^ Morton, Richard Allen (29 June 2016). Roger C. Sullivan and the Making of the Chicago Democratic Machine, 1881-1908. McFarland. p. 104. ISBN 9781476663777. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d "5-Time Mayor of Chicago Dies at 93". The Courier Journal. Louisville, KY. The Associated Press. 26 December 1953. Retrieved 10 August 2021 – via
  5. ^ "Mayor Carter Henry Harrison IV Inaugural Address, 1897". Chicago Public Library. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  6. ^ "Starts Vice War; Mayor in Fight to Clean Up City". Chicago Daily Tribune. Chicago Tribune. 1911-10-25. p. 1.
  7. ^ Tinder Box: The iroquois Theatre Disaster 1903", Anthony P. Hatch, Academy Chicago Publishers; 2003
  8. ^ "Mayor Edward F. Dunne Inaugural Address, 1905". Chicago Public Library. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  9. ^ "Mayor Carter Henry Harrison IV Biography". Chicago Public Library. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Chicago Art Commission". Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago. 9 (1): 6–7. 1915. JSTOR 4102687.
  11. ^ Porter, Dean (1991). Victor Higgins : An American Master. Salt Lake City, Utah: Peregrine Smith Books. pp. 40–41. ISBN 978-0879053628.
  12. ^ "Mayor William Hale Thompson Inaugural Address, 1915". Chicago Public Library. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  13. ^ "HARRISON ASKS CITY TO KEEP UP FUND FOR ART". Chicago Tribune. 26 Feb 1934. Retrieved 10 August 2021 – via
  14. ^ Lindberg, Richard C. (2009). The Gambler King of Clark Street: Michael C. McDonald and the Rise of Chicago's Democratic Machine. SIU Press. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-8093-8654-3. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  15. ^ "Mayor Carter Henry Harrison IV Biography". Chicago Public Library. Chicago Public Library. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  16. ^ Abbot, Willis John (1895). "The Harrison Family". Carter Henry Harrison: A Memoir. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company. pp. 1–23. ISBN 9780795020988.
  17. ^ Page, Richard Channing Moore (1893). "Randolph Family". Genealogy of the Page Family in Virginia (2 ed.). New York: Press of the Publishers Printing Co. pp. 249–272.