Mayor Francis Cornwall Sherman Inaugural Address, 1841

Francis Cornwall Sherman Biography

Inauguration date: March 4, 1841

This speech is recorded as it first appeared in print. Archaic spelling and misspellings in the original document have not been corrected.

Editor’s note: We have been unable to find conclusive evidence of the date of Mayor Sherman’s inauguration. Official records indicate his oath of office was filed March 6, 1841. The Daily American reported three citizens injured standing in front of the discharge of a cannon at the March 4 inaugural celebration. However, the following speech was not printed until March 10.

Fellow Citizens: It having been customary for my predecessors in office to give some expression of their sentiments in entering upon their municipal duties, it would hardly be taken as an excuse, for deviating from that established custom that no portion of my life has been devoted to those studies and pursuits which qualify one for addressing the public. But in my own humble and unstudieous way, I beg leave sincerely to thank you for the great confidence you have manifested in my abilities in placing me at the head of your municipal government, and to hope that my official conduct will be such as to still further strengthen it. It would only be the reiteration of a sentiment common to all good citizens, and one which all will acknowledge, were I to say that the object nearest my heart, is the welfare of our city in all its interests. My only faults, I hope, will be those arising from inexperience and error of judgment; for I can assure you that I need but know the right to diligently pursue it.

Having been elected to office on the strength of certain fixed political principles, it would savor of hypocrisy or demagogueism for me to say, that in my official capacity, I shall know no distinction between those two great political parties, which agitate, not only our whole country, but the whole civilized world, and which have for their object, either the rights of the mass struggling for self government, or the aggrandisement of the few at the expense of the mass.—On the contrary, I shall have the liberal principles always before my eyes and make their honor an additional stimulus in contributing to the health, beauty, wealth, and literary, social and moral improvement of the western metropolis. And I know of no surer and more speedy way of giving popularity. If it be true that a tree should be judged by its fruit, then should principles be judged by their effects.

Thus it will be my constant study to prove that the principles, which have so recently triumphed in our city, naturally tend to peace and good order, and to the honor and profit of our corporation. And

Gentlemen of the Council,

In such a course of conduct I shall rely upon your ready concurrence and hearty co-operation, hoping frequently to profit by your longer experience and superior knowledge. The task we have undertaken is an arduous one. The financial affairs of the city are considerably embarrassed and the conflicting claims of individuals seeking important offices are to be decided upon. By studying economy, then, in our expenses, and the strictest moral rectitude, as well as the best talents, in our officers, shall we best merit public approbation; which though often late, is always sure.


  • Daily American (Chicago), March 10, 1841.
Print this page