Francis Cornwall Sherman
5th & 23rd Mayor of Chicago
In office
May 5, 1862 – May 3, 1865
Preceded byJulian Sidney Rumsey
Succeeded byJohn Blake Rice
In office
March 4, 1841 – March 7, 1842
Preceded byAlexander Loyd
Succeeded byBenjamin Wright Raymond
Chairman of the Cook County Board of Commissioners
In office
Illinois State Representative
In office
City Treasurer of Chicago
In office
Preceded byN.H. Bolles[1]
Succeeded byWalter S. Gurnee[1]
Chicago Alderman from the 2nd Ward[1]
In office
Serving with Peter Bolles
Preceded byoffice established
Succeeded byJames Curtiss/ John S.C. Hogan
Chicago Village Trustee
In office
Personal details
Born(1805-09-18)September 18, 1805
Newtown, Connecticut
DiedNovember 7, 1870(1870-11-07) (aged 65)
Chicago, Illinois
Resting placeGraceland Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic
Children7 (including Francis)
Residence(s)Chicago, Illinois

Francis Cornwall Sherman (September 18, 1805 – November 7, 1870) served as Mayor of Chicago, Illinois, for three terms (1841–1842, 1862–1865) as a member of the Democratic Party.

Early life

Sherman was born September 17, 1805 in Newtown, Connecticut.[2] He married Electa Towbridge of Danbury, Connecticut.[2]

Career in Chicago

Sherman arrived in Chicago on April 7, 1834.[3] He built a small boardinghouse, and used those profits to buy a stagecoach, establishing a stage line from Chicago to Galena, Joliet, Peoria, and other towns in Illinois.[3] In 1835, he began to work in brick manufacturing and construction.[2][3]

In July 1835, he was elected a village trustee, serving for a year.[2][4]

In 1837, he opened the City Hotel, a hotel that would be later renamed the Sherman House.[5]

Also in 1837, after Chicago incorporated as a city, he was elected an alderman from the 2nd Ward on the newly created Chicago Common Council, and served for one year.[1][2]

First mayoralty (1841–1842)

Sherman was elected mayor of Chicago in 1841, defeating Whig nominee Isaac R. Gavin.

Sherman was sworn in on March 4, 1841.[6]

Sherman's first mayoralty ended on March 7, 1842 when he was succeeded by Whig Benjamin Wright Raymond.[7]

City Treasurer, State Senate and Cook County Board of Commissioners

Sherman was City Treasurer of Chicago from 1842 through 1843.[1]

Sherman served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1844 through 1850.[2][4] During this time, was a delegate to the 1847 Illinois constitutional convention.[2]

In 1850, Sherman retired from his brickmaking venture, in order to focus himself on public service and developing the properties he owned.[3] He expanded his hotel, adding two floors atop its existing three, and renaming it the "Sherman House".[3]

Sherman served Chairman of the Cook County Board of Commissioners from 1851 through 1853.[2][4]

Sherman ran in the contentious 1856 Chicago mayoral election as an anti-Nebraska Democrat. He lost to pro-Nebraska Democrat Thomas Dyer.[8]

The Sherman House Hotel became on the grand hotels of Chicago when it was reconstructed and reopened in 1861.[3]

Second mayoralty (1862–1865)

Sherman was again elected mayor in the 1862 Chicago mayoral election, defeating Republican nominee Charles N. Holden.[3]

Sherman was sworn in as mayor on May 5, 1862.[9] That November, Sherman unsuccessfully ran for the United States House of Representatives, losing the Illinois 1st congressional district race to Republican Isaac N. Arnold.[4][10]

Sherman appointed a committee that recommended a new city charter, which extended the terms of the mayor, treasurer, collector, city attorney, clerk of police court from one to two years, and also added the communities of Bridgeport and Hostein to the city's boundaries.[3]

During his second mayoralty, Sherman and alderman John Comiskey had control over leading the Democratic bloc of the City Council, being opposed by the Republican bloc led by Charles C. P. Holden.[3] Despite there being a slight Democratic majority (a 10 Democrat-10 Republican split, with Sherman able to cast tie-breaking votes), the city council was deadlocked in 1862 and early 1863.[3] The deadlock became so severe, that between December 22, 1862 and March 23, 1863, no council meetings were held because Republicans refused to attend meetings, denying quorum.[3] Republicans did so in hopes to avoid Democrats from taking actions that might undercut the Union effort in the ongoing American Civil War.[3] The death of a Republican alderman and the absence of alderman Edward Solomon, who was fighting in the war, further decreased the Republican minority.[3] On March 23, 1863, at the first meeting with a quorum in months, which was held to select election judges for the 1863 elections, Edward Solomon attended, surprising many, as he had not announced he would be able to attend.[3] Furthermore, Democratic alderman Peter Shimp joined the Republicans in voting against Democrats, thus giving Republicans an effective majority at the meeting.[3]

Sherman vetoed a number of "patriotic resolutions" that Charles C. P. Holden had passed in the city council.[3]

Sherman was reelected mayor in 1863, very narrowly defeating the Republican nominee Thomas Barbour Bryan. This election was the city's first election to a newly extended term of two years.[3][11] He was elected, in part, thanks to the new Irish-American and German-American population from Bridgeport and Holstein.[3]

Sherman lost reelection in 1865, in a race that was won by Republican John Blake Rice after the race heavily turned in the Republican Party's favor with sentiments shifting following the assassination of Republican president Abraham Lincoln days earlier.[12] Sherman's second mayoralty ended on May 3, 1865, when he was succeeded in office by Rice.[13]

Subsequent career

Sherman would try again to win a fourth term as mayor in the 1867 Chicago mayoral election, running once again as the Democratic nominee, but once again losing to Republican John Blake Rice, the incumbent mayor.


Sherman died November 7, 1870.[2] He was buried at Graceland Cemetery.[2]

Cornwall's grave
Cornwall's grave

Personal life

Sherman and this wife Electa had seven children together.[2] Four of these children survived to adulthood.[14]

Sherman's son, Francis Trowbridge Sherman, was a brigadier general in the Union Army during the Civil War.[2][15]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Centennial List of Mayors, City Clerks, City Attorneys, City Treasurers, and Aldermen, elected by the people of the city of Chicago, from the incorporation of the city on March 4, 1837 to March 4, 1937, arranged in alphabetical order, showing the years during which each official held office". Archived from the original on September 4, 2018. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Mayor Francis Cornwall Sherman Biography". Chicago Public Library. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Rogues, Rebels, And Rubber Stamps: The Politics Of The Chicago City Council, 1863 To The Present by Dick Simpson, Routledge, Mar 8, 2018 (page 29–35)
  4. ^ a b c d Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library. Illinois State Historical Library. 1919. p. 976. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  5. ^ "Sherman House II". Retrieved January 2, 2021.
  6. ^ "Mayor Francis Cornwall Sherman Inaugural Address, 1841". Chicago Public Library. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  7. ^ "Mayor Benjamin Wright Raymond Inaugural Address, 1842". Chicago Public Library. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  8. ^ Property Rules: Political Economy in Chicago, 1833-1872 by Robin L. Einhorn
  9. ^ "Mayor Francis Cornwall Sherman Inaugural Address, 1862". Chicago Public Library. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  10. ^ Ostewig, Kinnie A. (1907). The sage of Sinnissippi: Being a brief sketch of the life of Congressman Frank Orren Lowden, of Oregon, Illinois, brief sketches of his rivals in political battles, a short article relating to his availability as a presidential candidate for 1908, and an official and authentic account of state elections in Illinois, statistically, combined with a roll of honor of the nation, the state, the county, and the village, the home of the author ... Press of J.A. Nolen. p. 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  11. ^ Rogues, Rebels, And Rubber Stamps: The Politics Of The Chicago City Council, 1863 To The Present Portada; Dick Simpson Routledge, Mar 8, 2018
  12. ^ 10 things you might not know about Chicago mayoral elections Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer March 10, 2015
  13. ^ "Mayor John Blake Rice Inaugural Address, 1865". Chicago Public Library. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  14. ^ Shigley, Elaine C. Chicago's Mayors: A Collection of Biographies Of All Chicago's Mayors. Francis M. Shigley, III. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  15. ^ 'Chicago's Mayors A Collection of Biographies of All Chicago's Mayors,' Elaine C. Shipley, pg. 17-18