William Hale Thompson

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William Hale Thompson (May 14, 1869 – March 19, 1944) was mayor of Chicago from 1915 to 1923 and again from 1927 to 1931. Known as "Big Bill",[1] Thompson was the last Republican to serve as Mayor of Chicago, and ranks among the most corrupt mayors in American history.[2]

Thompson was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but his family moved to Chicago when he was only nine days old. Instead of college, he travelled in Europe and then took up ranching in Texas and New Mexico, returning to Chicago in 1892 after his father's death.

Thompson began his political career in 1900, when he ran for and narrowly won a position as alderman of the 2nd Ward.[3]

Early in his mayoral career, Thompson began to amass a war chest to support an eventual run for the Presidency by charging city drivers and inspectors $3 per month. He was mayor during the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 and was said to have control of the 75,000 African-American voters in his day.[4] Always a flamboyant campaigner, during the 1927 election, Thompson held a debate between himself and two live rats which he used to portray his opponents. While out of office in 1924, Thompson organized a "scientific" expedition to search for tree-climbing fish in the South Seas (actually just a crude attempt to keep his name in the public eye—the expedition never got farther than New Orleans).

In 1927, Al Capone's support allowed Thompson to return to the mayor's office. Pledging to clean up Chicago and remove the crooks, Thompson instead turned his attention to the reformers, whom he considered the real criminals. According to Thompson, at this time the biggest enemy the United States had was King George V of the United Kingdom. Thompson promised his supporters that if they ever met, Thompson would punch the king in the nose.[1] During this final term in office, the "Pineapple Primary" occurred (April 10, 1928), so-called because of the hand grenades used to disrupt voters. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre also took place while Thompson was mayor. Thompson blamed Ruth Hanna McCormick's lack of support for his loss at the 1928 Republican National Convention, and he returned the favor during her 1930 campaign for the United States Senate.[4] Thompson had had a longstanding rivalry with the McCormicks. He intensely disliked Robert Rutherford McCormick who published the Chicago Tribune. U.S. Senator Joseph Medill McCormick, was the publisher's brother.[4], and after his death, his widow ran against Thompson for the vacant seat.

Amid growing discontent with Thompson's leadership, particularly in the area of cleaning up Chicago's reputation as the capital of organized crime, he was defeated in 1931 by Democrat Anton Cermak. Cermak was an immigrant from Bohemia, and Thompson used this fact to belittle him with ethnic slurs such as:

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