Mayor William Hale Thompson Inaugural Address, 1927

William Hale Thompson Biography

Inauguration date: April 18, 1927

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: The following message was apparently submitted in writing to the Council.

To the Honorable, the City Council:

Gentlemen—I am deeply sensible of and very grateful for the confidence the people of Chicago have reposed in me and the honor they have bestowed upon me by electing me as their Mayor. Great honors carry great responsibilities. Through the sunshine of victory we see the mountains of difficulties and problems to be solved. With the generous co-operation and teamwork of the City Council, which I expect and believe I will receive, and with the “I WILL” spirit of the people of Chicago behind us, I have no misgivings for the future of our great city.

The crime situation will have our immediate attention. Our new Superintendent of Police has my positive instructions to drive the crooks and thieves and lawbreakers out of Chicago in ninety days, so that the people, their homes and their property may again be secure. I am sure that Chief Hughes will accomplish this result.

I will proceed vigorously to oust Superintendent McAndrew from the schools of Chicago, and restore to the school children the true history of George Washington and the other fathers and heroes of our country, and expose the treason and propaganda which insidiously have been injected into our schools and other educational institutions.

A deep navigable waterway from the Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico has been the dream of pioneers and patriots up to this present time. The dream is now about to be realized through the enactment of the law signed January 21st last by President Coolidge. As Chairman of the Illinois Lakes to the Gulf Waterways Commission it was my privilege to lead the fight that resulted in that legislation. The steamboat whistle from New Orleans will mark the beginning of such an epoch of growth and prosperity for Chicago and New Orleans as cannot now be conceived and what it means for Chicago and New Orleans it will mean to all the people of the Mississippi Valley.

From statements and reports handed me during the past few days, it would appear that the City Corporate, or working fund, is in such condition that it will be a most perplexing task to finance the fund for the current year.

  • The present Comptroller reports to me at the end of the year 1926, a deficit, or excess of current liabilities over current assets existed, of $1,997,466.51
  • In 1922, the last year of my previous administration, the Comptroller’s report indicated a surplus, or an excess of current assets over current liabilities, of 1,342,977.27
  • This represents a difference in the financial condition between 1922 and 1926 of $3,340,443.78
  • The Estimated Receipts from all the sources for the balance of the year, April 12, 1927, to December 31, 1927, I am informed by the Comptroller, will be $23,164,292.09
  • Taking into consideration the estimated amount need for payrolls alone for this period, 8 3/4 months, the amount required to be expended will be 28,737,500.00
  • This leaves a deficit of cash to meet Corporate payrolls for this year of $5,573,207.91

At this date, there are also approximately $2,300,000 judgments against the City which have not been provided for and which must be met.

This is a condition of the utmost gravity, and one that will require immediate attention, and I have instructed the Department of Finance to prepare in detail a report covering this situation.

The traction problem must be solved. Transportation is the heart throb of a city. I will give the solution of this problem my best thought and energy, with the assurance to the people of Chicago that their interests will be safeguarded.

The infamous water meter ordinance must be repealed, and the mothers and children of Chicago guaranteed unmetered use of the fresh water of Lake Michigan.

I recommend the passage of an ordinance creating the position of a Commissioner of Athletics in the Mayor’s Cabinet, whose duty it will be to foster, encourage and promote athletics in Chicago, and I suggest to all mayors, governors, and the President the advisability of like action so that there may be official representation in city, state and nation to work for the further development of man and womanhood in America. A healthy body means a healthy mind which means a greater America.

Our best thought and effort will be directed to the proper repair of street pavements and the cleaning of streets and alleys. The heads of departments and bureaus and all other city employees are directed to leave nothing undone to insure the safety, health and comfort of the people of Chicago.

When Mayor before, we laid the foundation for the Greater Chicago.

Now let us build on that foundation.

The building on the foundation will be vastly easier than the building of the foundation. What was done in my previous administration demonstrated that improvements pay. The North Michigan avenue improvement, with the connecting two-level bridge, for instance, cost $14,000,000 and increased property values in that thoroughfare $150,000,000. Property in North Michigan avenue from Randolph street to the river, which was worth but from $22 to $40 a square foot before the improvement, is now worth from $200 to $400 per square foot. Property in North Michigan avenue, north of the river, which was worth but $3 or $4 a square foot is now worth from $125 to $200 per square foot.

So with the stupendous importance and value of improvements fully demonstrated, we will be able to go forward more rapidly than ever before. The honorable members of this Council, I am convinced, will give me whole hearted co-operation in plans for the upbuilding of the city, which Council co-operation I did not always have.

Pending improvements should be pushed to completion as speedily as possible and new and greater improvements should be started. Automobile traffic, it appears, doubles every five years, and the city thoroughfares must be widened, extended and amplified to meet as far as possible that great and continuously-increasing demand.

Parks and playgrounds must go forward apace with other developments. When Alderman I inaugurated the first playground in Chicago and from that came the playground movements of America. When Mayor I increased playgrounds from 27 to 70 and I look forward to as great an increase in the coming four years with your aid.

Plans for the straightening of the South Branch of the Chicago River were evolved when I was Mayor before, and the planning has continued during the last four years. The hour is at hand for actual construction work, and the completion of this important improvement at the earliest possible time.

The straightening of the river will open up possibilities for stupendous developments in the district south of the loop which is now a railroad track jungle, and will make possible the extension of Franklin, Wells, Clark, LaSalle and Dearborn streets to carry a tide of prosperity to the south and southwest sections.

The completion of 22nd street and Indiana avenue should be accomplished.

We have done much for all three sides of Chicago, North, South and West Sides, but the Ashland avenue, Western avenue and Ogden avenue improvements, which are partially and not wholly completed, should be finished at the earliest possible moment.

During my term I am anxious to give to the great West Side, Milwaukee avenue, Cicero avenue and Crawford avenue improvements.

I believe that the property-owners on Addison street should be granted their request that this street be made a boulevard. With the co-operation of your Honorable Body I shall endeavor to bring the West Side into its own the same as the North and South Sides.

Electrification of the Illinois Central Railroad, provided for in the ordinance passed in my last administration, should be extended to other railroad terminals.

Chicago is the natural center for air-plane travel and for factories to make the air ships. This I pointed out in my last administrations and started a move to win for Chicago air-craft supremacy which eventually would mean as much for us as the automobile industry has meant to Detroit. Again I reiterate all I said in this regard when Mayor before and again I urge the business men and citizens in general to co-operate with the city administration in taking the steps necessary to bring this great boon to Chicago.

At my request, Eugene F. McDonald, Jr. left for Washington today for the purpose of interesting the Federal Government to build in Chicago a mooring mast to make possible the landing here of all dirigibles in use of the United States Government and commercial firms.

These and other constructive plans I have in mind, realizing that Chicago is destined to be the metropolis of the world and is fast approaching the fulfillment of that destiny.

I am determined that not only shall life and property be protected in Chicago but that citizens shall be protected in the enjoyment of those rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the State of Illinois and the Constitution of the United States of America. I repeat what I said in the platform on which I made my campaign before the people that I will order the discharge of any policeman who crosses the threshold of any one’s home or place of business without warrant of law. We have had far too much of illegal search and seizure.

With the appointment of Michael Hughes as Chief of Police the test of efficiency in the police department again has become, the number of crooks caught, not the number of citizens annoyed. Policemen again are patrolling beats, doing real police work.

In future communications to your Honorable Body I will set forth for your consideration in detail, ideas that I have on the subjects generally treated in this message and in the platform on which I made my campaign for Mayor.

However, I shall always keep in mind that while I am the head of the executive branch of our government, you are the legislative branch and, while I shall submit to you suggestions and information, I propose to adhere to the lines of the constitutional divisions of government and I will never attempt to intrude upon the rights and prerogatives of the legislative or judicial branches of the city government. And I am sure that the City Council on its part will keep within these lines prescribed by the constitution.

I want to work in the greatest harmony with your Honorable Body and I am confident that we will so work. In asking for the co-operation I am sure you will give for the good of our City, I pledge the Council, and every member of it, fair treatment and all consideration due the elected representatives of the people.

My instructions to heads of departments are to work industriously, efficiently and honestly in the interest of the people and in that I know the members of the City Council will give me cordial support.

Respectfully submitted,


  • Chicago City Council. Journal of the Proceedings, April 18, 1927, p. 24–25.
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