Inaugural Address of Mayor Carter H. Harrison Jr.
April 15, 1897
This speech is recorded as it first appeared in print. Archaic spelling and misspellings in the original document have not been corrected.
GENTLEMEN OF THE COUNCIL
Sustained by the confidence and good will of 148,000 citizens of the city of my birth, I assume to-night the duties of the office of Mayor. He would be a reckless man indeed who could face this representative gathering, standing as it does for the courage, the enthusiasm, the unconquerable energy of the second greatest city of the American continent without feeling deeply impressed by the magnitude of the undertaking. Fully realizing the gravity of the obligations and with no desire to shirk a single responsibility, I wish to renew the pledge made the electorate of Chicago at different times during the campaign to give for the next two years my time, my energy and my best endeavor to serve faithfully all interests of the great city that has honored me with its confidence.
This is no longer the time for words. It is by action, and by action alone, we can now show the good faith of the pledges upon which we have been chosen. The victory of this spring has been brought about by a campaign honestly and decently conducted along lines of municipal reforms. It is due to the support of citizens of all classes, of all nationalities. The population of our city is no more cosmopolitan in its character than the support which has placed power in our hands. And the more flattering this signal token of general confidence, the more earnest should be our endeavor to show a proper appreciation.
At this time no action is of greater or more far-reaching importance than such action as will restore the confidence of the outside world in the capacity of Chicago to furnish adequate security to all investors who may desire to bring here and to invest their means. Misrepresentations on the part of certain journals and a confessed inability of the authorities at times to cope successfully with the criminal classes has shaken the confidence of many who in the past have earnestly desired and to-day are willing to employ our labor and to assist in the development of local industries. Ample security must be provided every interest. Labor must be protected, the laws must be enforced and order must be maintained. The public offices must be filled with competent men and all city affairs must be administered economically, honestly and in a business like manner. The burden of taxation now pressing heavily upon our property owners must be lessened. The expenses of administration, in all directions where the health and security of the citizens are not involved, must be curtailed. Competent men in office, not offensively partisan, should be retained. By the employment of these methods, and these methods alone, can better conditions be brought about, and a renewal of confidence in the integrity of Chicago be obtained.
To effect these results, one man, whatever his position, can do but little without the active and hearty assistance of not only the press, but the great mass of the people. And to-night in assuming the cares and responsibilities of one of the greatest offices in the gift of the American people, I appeal to all patriotic citizens, regardless of party, to earnestly co-operate with me in the work of bringing about a renewal of confidence and the establishment of better times in the community. I make this appeal to the patriotism of Chicago, that patriotism which in but little more than a half century has metamorphosed a swamp into one of the world’s greatest metropolitan centers, which gave to civilization the greatest Fair in history, and which to-day just beyond our borders is completing an almost unparalleled engineering feat. I have every confidence that I will not make this appeal in vain.
In my efforts to give a careful, economical administration it is necessary I should have the constant, active assistance of this Honorable Body. With your aid great results can be obtained, without it but little can be accomplished. From to night we will be making history and two years hence this administration will be known as honest and economical, or utterly profligate and wasteful, as this Council will to a great extent determine. For my part you gentlemen of the Council can count upon an active, cordial co-operation in all things that will advance the best interest of the community. We have been chosen to administer a trust and our future will depend upon the report we shall make two years from to-night.
- Chicago City Council. Journal of the Proceedings, April 15, 1897, p. 28–29.