Dunne, Edward Fitzsimmons
Originally published in the 2009 Founders' Day booklet
Born: Wednesday, October 12, 1853, Watertown, Connecticut
Died: Monday, May 24, 1937, Chicago (aged 83)
Judge Edward Fitzsimmons Dunne was born in Watertown, Connecticut, son of an ardent Irish nationalist, and moved with his family to Peoria, Illinois as a child. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and Union College of Law in Chicago. From 1892 to 1905 he was a Judge of the Circuit Court in Chicago. He served as Mayor from 1905 to 1907. Mayor Dunne was elected on his promise to deliver a transportation system owned by the city. His inability to fulfill this promise led to his overwhelming defeat at the next election.
During his term he reduced the price of gasoline from $1.00 to $0.85 a gallon. In 1912 he was elected Governor (1913-1917). He supported progressive causes, including Women’s Suffrage, Prison Reform, and the creation of the Illinois Public Utility Commission. After finishing his term as Governor of Illinois, Edward Fitzsimmons Dunne founded an organization to combat the Ku Klux Klan.
Chicago Tribune, Tuesday, May 25, 1937, page 7
Edward F. Dunne, Ex-Governor and Mayor, Dies at 83
Democratic Leader for 40 Years in State and City
Edward Fitzsimmons Dunne, former Governor of Illinois, former Mayor of Chicago, and a prominent figure in Democratic state and county politics for more than forty years, died shortly after 1:00 p.m. yesterday afternoon in his home at 737 W. Gordon Terrace. He was 83 years old.
Death was the result of heart and liver ailments. He was stricken in West Palm Beach, Florida, in March, and was brought back to Chicago at that time.
Five days ago physicians who had been attending him informed members of the immediate family that the end was near. Mr. Dunne's eldest son, Edward Fitzsimmons Dunne, Jr. of Morristown, N.J., and a daughter, Mrs. Walter Barry, who lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota were summoned. The other seven living children are all residents of Chicago.
Wife Dead 9 Years.
At his bedside yesterday were two daughters, Mrs. William J. Corboy, nee: Eileen Dunne and Mrs. Arthur Leonard, nee: Mona Dunne and a son, Richard Dunne. His death came on the eve of the anniversary of the death of his wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Jane Dunne, nee: Elizabeth Jane Kelly who died on Friday, May 25, 1928.
Although Mr. Dunne had been inactive politically for nearly ten years, he had frequently been sought out by Democratic Party leaders to lend his influence and opinion to various commissions and projects, and it was planned last evening by both state and local leaders to pay tribute in a great public funeral ceremony.
Plans for this service were indefinite, but it was stated that the services would be held tomorrow at 10 a.m. from St. Mary of the Lake Church with interment at Calvary Cemetery. Members of the Democratic Cook County Central Committee, Mayor Edward Joseph Kelly, a representative for Governor Henry Horner and members of the judiciary conferred on the funeral arrangements.
As a tribute to former Governor Dunne both houses of the Illinois General Assembly last night voted to adjourn this week's session today so that the member's may attend the funeral.
"Chicago has lost a great citizen,” said Mayor Edward Joseph Kelly yesterday. “He always thought of the masses and was honest and conscientious in everything he undertook. He was my most intimate friend, socially and politically. It was my honor and pleasure to serve under him as waterways commissioner, and the greatest harmony always marked our relations."
Illinois' two Senators-J. Hamilton Lewis and William Henry Dietrich-sent condolences from Washington, D.C. on the death of former Governor Edward Fitzsimmons Dunne and lauded his career of public service. At Springfield, Illinois, Governor Henry Horner issued a statement praising his public and private career.
The former governor was a Democrat of the old school. He was an independent, never a machine man. He served as a judge of the Cook County Circuit Court, was delegate to many Democratic National Conventions, and was a member in 1919 of the commission from Irish societies of the United States to represent Irish claims at the peace conference in Paris, France.
His parents came to America from Ireland in 1849 and Edward Fitzsimmons Dunne was born in Waterville, Connecticut, on Wednesday, October 12, 1853. The next year they moved to Peoria, Illinois. Young Dunne lived there until he came to Chicago at the age of 23.
Gets Law Degree
He received his law degree in 1877 after studying at the Union College of Law and St. Ignatius College here. Four years later he married Mrs. Elizabeth J. Dunne, nee: Miss Elizabeth J. Kelly of Chicago. They had thirteen children, of whom nine are living.
In 1892 Mr. Dunne was elected to a vacancy on the Circuit Court bench on the Democratic ticket. He was twice re-elected and served thirteen years on the bench, resigning in 1905 to become the Democratic Candidate for mayor.
He was elected on a ticket advocating municipal ownership of the street car lines. His two years in office were turbulent ones and he was defeated in 1907 when he sought re-election.
Seeks Mayoralty Again
In 1911 he sought the Democratic nomination for mayor a second time and came within 1,500 votes of defeating the Democratic favorite, Carter Henry Harrison, Jr..
Mr. Dunne always counted this defeat a victory, for he won the Democratic nomination as gubernatorial candidate in 1912 and was elected in 1913. In 1930 he was made attorney for the Cook County Board of Election Commissioners, a post he held at his death. Three years ago, at the age of 80, he completed and published a five volume history of Illinois.
His last honorary appointment came in 1934, when on the order of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he was made an official representative of the federal government to a Century of Progress Exposition.
He was twice president of the Iroquois Club and Monticello Club; was vice president of the National Civic Federation; president of the League of American Municipalities in 1906 and 1907, and chairman of the National Unity Council.
In addition to his sons, Bernard and Richard, and the three daughters, Mrs. Barry, Mrs. Corboy, and Mrs. Leonard; the four other surviving children are: Miss Jeanette Dunne, Eugene Dunne, Maurice Francis Dunne, and Judge Robert Jerome Dunne of the Criminal Court. He also is survived by 29 grandchildren.