Mayor Hempstead Washburne Inaugural Address, 1891

Hempstead Washburne Biography

Inauguration date: April 27, 1891

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:

In assuming the duties of this office—burdened with so many great responsibilities—it is not my intention to detain you by any extended remarks. It would be useless for me to occupy your time with an essay upon political economy filled with high-sounding promises of reform.

We are now elected and installed in office and the time to carry out ante-election pledges has begun, and from this day forth we shall be judged by what we accomplish, not by what we say. The second city of the Nation has now come under a new administration, and has imposed upon us an almost superhuman task; it means that the Council and the chartered officials and the Mayor are responsible to God and to humanity and to the taxpayers for the lives, the health, the sanitation of our city, and for an economical administration of its business affairs. We are called upon to serve the city at a time most vital to its interests, and I trust that we shall each and all be able to bury and forget any personal, party or other quarrels, and remember only that we are given this trust to prepare our city to receive the world in 1893.

It afford me much gratification to renew many acquaintanceships made during former official connection, and I feel confident the future will cement those pleasant relations with the older members of your body, and I hope the official relations with your new members will prove of such a character as to justify a mutual respect when we lay down the official burdens now assumed.

I wish to convey the assurance to you all that the Mayor and his direct appointees will at all times extend to you every courtesy in their power, and render you such aid as is necessary to forward the interests of our common trust. This spirit will doubtless be reciprocated by you as individuals and as a Council.

With a determined spirit of fairness and conciliation upon your part and upon our part the coming administration cannot fail of success and will give to the city such an administration as will justify the faith of those who sent us here.

Fidelity to our individual trusts and a keen appreciation of the fact that we are the servants and not the masters of the public cannot fail to merit the approbation of all men, dignify the honorable positions we hold, and crown us with the American’s highest reward of merit, a clear conscience and an honest name in the execution of a public duty.


  • Chicago City Council. Journal of the Proceedings, April 27, 1891, p. 11–12.
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