The following is a selection from the Chicago Corruption Walking Tour, which I will be leading all summer.
Tickets are available at Dabble.co.
When researching 19-teens and 1920s Chicago Mayor William “Big Bill” Thompson, there were several moments when I thought “That is the greatest fact ever.”
When I found out Big Bill repeatedly threatened to punch the king of England in the face to court South Side Irish voters, I thought “That is the greatest fact ever.” When I found out he led a crusade to get pro-British books out of the Chicago Public Library, I thought “That is the greatest fact ever.”
When I found out that he kept his name in the papers after he lost his first re-election bid by announcing a massive expedition to South America in a ship called “The Big Bill” to capture footage of a fish that could climb trees, but then he just hung out in New Orleans for a while, I thought “That’s it! We’ve got it! That is the greatest fact ever.”
Big Bill was hilarious. And that’s what made him dangerous. This loud-mouthed, media-friendly clown in a cowboy hat — Chicago’s last Republican mayor — was the most corrupt public official in Illinois history. » Read the rest of this entry «