African American people and Politics in Chicago

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Essay on Politics

African American people and Politics in Chicago during 1880 to 1900

African Americans have always been exposed to discrimination, and this has been the primary reason for their involvement in the politics to ensure that their civil rights are respected. Therefore, it is a valid argument that the involvement of African American people in the US politics has largely been attributed to the need to make them heard by the political class, which in the course of history has either been disfranchised about their issues or have chosen to assume them (Kilson 54-55). This is was exactly the case in Chicago during 1880 to 1900. The 1880s was a time when the African Americans were subject to great shockers in the form of abused rights and the influence of the political class that was largely anti-African American. This was a time when the U.S. Supreme Court was widely known to have taken much liberty that was greatly enjoyed by the African Americans (Finkelman 65-66). Moreover, this was a time when the political space for the African Americans was exposed to a risk of being whisked away. This is because the African Americans were now facing state legislatures and white dominance in the society so that they could not believe they could be included in the political affairs. However, the situation for the Africa Americans in Chicago in the 1880s was a little bit different from other regions in the South where racial segregation was a priority that saw the African American space in the political affairs to be high suppressed (Walton, et al. 83). The period from 1800 to 1900 for the African American people in Chicago was a historic time which saw them become more vocal and involved in shaping the politics through voting and direct participation in the election and appointment of leaders from the African American community.

Factors that Contributed to Improved Relation between African Americans and Chicago Politics

An increased involvement of African Americans was a product of huge societal shifts and realignments that saw this community enjoy increased liberties in the political field. The basic factor that led to the improved relations was their newly acquired right to vote. This a factor that caused the African-American males to utilize their voting privileges to their advantage where they could have an impact on who will become leaders within the state. This was the same right that gave some particularly adventurous African Americans the ambition to seek elective posts in Chicago (Boyer, et al. 47). This move was based on the fact that African Americans had also started enjoying the right to free expression where they could openly agitate for the rights and openly discuss their ambitions with the political purview. The Conservator, which was the first black newspaper, was one of the platforms where African Americans could open up their hearts when it came to their political ambitions within Chicago. It is the same newspaper (The Conservator) that openly encouraged the African Americans to try and seek the topmost political seats in Chicago. It was argued that going for these top seats was the best way to make the community recognized.

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Another factor that led to the increased involvement of the African Americans in the Chicago politics was the realization that politics had a great influence on their lives. It was more understandable that the right to vote, and the African Americans were now in a position to change their living standards (Walton and Smith 77). It is this realization that saw the African American electorate stop prioritizing the need to look for top seats in Chicago as encouraged by The Conservator and instead try to ensure that they were given greater economic opportunities with their newly gained voting power. It was argued that top offices were capable of explaining to the African Americans their major task was uplifting the economic standards of the Black families. It is these two basic reasons that saw the African Americans not only get engaged in Chicago politics through voting but also use their votes to make the politics of Chicago take a form that could help them get the much needed economic empowerment.

Voting Patterns and Their Impact on Chicago Politics

After attaining voting rights, one of the conspicuous ways the African Americans changed the Chicago politics was a mixed voting pattern that had not been seen before. This was the pattern they exhibited when it came to national and local elections. At the national level, the three thousand black males were pro-Republican, but at the same time, at the local level, the same men voted for the Democrats (Garb 77-78). This was a move that saw the African Americans to become more appreciated in the politics of Chicago to the extent that soon the community members started to be considered for posts that in previous years were occupied only by whites. One of such cases was the Democratic R.C. Sullivan appointing William G. Anderson as a probate courts stenographer and typewriter. To counter this effect of the new voters (African Americans), the Republicans appointed Joseph W. Moore as the Town Clerk (Murrin, et al. 116). Therefore, this new voting pattern that was exhibited by the male African Americans heavily contributed towards drawing more attention to both the Democrats and Republicans in Chicago politics. Moreover, it is this voting pattern that also changed the relationship between the Republicans and Democrats within Chicago where there was an increased rivalry as both parties tried to win the support in the form of the African American vote.

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Direct Representative Role and its Impact in Chicago Politics

The unique voting pattern not only changed the politics of Chicago by bringing in the element of non-partisanship but also saw the African American become directly engaged in it by being given political posts. This started with appointments where both the Democratic and Republican parties were keen on appointing the African Americans for political posts. However, this soon stopped being the norm when John W. E. Thomas was elected for the post in General Assembly in 1883 (Joens 33). To African Americans, this was the opportunity they had been waiting for. This was followed by the election of George F. Ecton in the year 1887 and lastly Edward H. Morris in 1891 (Reed 335). Through the election of these representatives from the African American community, the politics in Chicago became more sensitive to the issues that affected the African Americans not just in Chicago but the country at large. For example, Edward H. Morris is famously known for bringing in the issue of civil rights to the Assembly, and this has caused the issue to penetrate the Chicago politics especially when it came to the issue of people being abducted into the Southern States for prosecution. Through this measure, Morris despite being an African American soon became one of the most influential members in the Assembly whose support was looked forward to by other members who wanted their bill to be passed in the Assembly.

Moreover, the direct role of the African Americans in the Chicago politics when their members were being pushed to the General Assembly resulted in the politics becoming more collaborative especially when it came to the issue affecting the community. It is argued that through the influence of elected African Americans, the white politicians became more open and some of them even championed the interests of the African Americans (Reed 336). This was a clear indication that owing the African American political elite, the Chicago politics was slowly becoming accommodative to not only the African Americans but also the diversity of issues so that they were not largely seeking to safeguard the earlier norm of the white mans interests. As a result, despite the fact that African Americans still lived in poverty, the most noticeable effect of their involvement in the Chicago politics was that the political class was not much informed on the issues that affected them including primarily the economic opportunities.

Another critical input to the Chicago politics by the African Americans action of voting was the element of bringing in the political goodwill in the society that gave the African Americans more space within the social context. Before the right to vote by African American was allowed in Chicago, segregation was the norm where members of African Americans could not be allowed into specific public positions (Reed 96). However, due to their influence on the politics through voting and having some of their members in the General Assembly, the need to promote inclusivity became a widely accepted norm in Chicago politics. As a result, in 1885 the anti-segregation State law was introduced. This was a welcomed move that greatly helped in improving the quality of lives of the African American through the enhanced access to economic opportunities despite some elements of discrimination in the employment field still being at play. Due to the restriction of opportunities in the world of politics to many African Americans, the increased public space was one of the most celebrated achievements as a result of the involvement in the Chicago politics.

Identified Nature of Relation

A healthy and conspicuous improvement of the relationship between the Chicago politics and African Americans is what in 1880-1900 was associated with an element of mutual benefits. From the above analysis, it is evident that 1880-1900 was characterized by a very good relationship between the African Americans and the politics in Chicago. This was a time that saw an increase in the opportunities for the African Americans to exercise their voting rights and this was a huge gain for this community (McGruder 122). Moreover, it is evident that this was a moment that saw an increased collaboration between the African Americans, whites, and other races when it came to improving the politics of Chicago. Besides, it is abundantly clear that the African Americans enjoyed a positive relationship with the politics; a phenomenon that brought them an increased recognition on behalf of those who controlled the politics in Chicago being largely the whites. This was a factor that clearly demonstrated that the African Americans started to be considered for both professional and political posts in Chicago. This was a phenomenon that even the forefathers of the African Americans clearly could not imagine. Moreover, the positive relation was also exhibited in the passing of pro-African American laws such as the 1885 anti-segregation law that was enacted across the state (Higginbotham, et al. 112). Moreover, 1880-1900 was a time when the African Americans became the key players in Chicago politics through their agents who were not only nominated for the posts in the General Assembly but also got elected. This is another example that points to a positive relationship between African Americans and Chicago politics. If this were not the case, Edward H. Morris could not have had an opportunity to showcase his leadership capabilities that saw him grow to an influential politician in Chicago. Besides, it could not have been possible for him to champion his agenda of civil rights that were aimed at providing security to the African Americans. These are the gains indicating that the involvement of African Americans in Chicago politics was heavily beneficial.

However, the element of mutual benefits is never one-sided and therefore, such eventuality was realized due to the positive changes in the politics of Chicago. From the political perspective, it was the voting rights of the Black Americans that brought an increased cohesion between the whites and African Americans that even the whites welcomed the political growth of African Americans. This is a clear indication of the realization of mature politics. Moreover, it is only after the African American started voting that the Chicago politics received increased attention from both the Republicans and Democrats. This was evident when the two parties started competing for the support of the African Americans through nominating one of their members to political and professional posts. Moreover, the growth of the non-partisan politics was also heavily influenced by the new voting pattern where the Black males voted for both the Republicans and Democrats simultaneously (Gavins 110). All these attributes clearly indicate that 1880-1900 was a time when the politics and the African-Americans were on the same path deriving mutual benefits from a healthy relationship.


It is evident that Chicago in 1880-1900 was a good place to go for the African Americans because the Black males could enjoy voting rights. It was a time when the African Americans were allowed to participate in shaping the politics of Chicago. Moreover, it was a time when the African Americans brought about the new voting pattern that saw both the Republicans and Democrats compete with each other to gain their support. Besides, in that period, the African Americans for the first time acquired a channel to air their grievances to the political class who had long remained unreachable. Through the right to vote, it became possible for the African Americans and whites to start working together, which led to the adoption of pro-African American laws such as those that made segregation in public places illegal. Moreover, this was a time when the African Americans entered the political elite that championed ideologies to safeguard their seats in the General Assembly. As a result of the involvement of African Americans in Chicago politics in 1880-1900, this period could be seen as a time when both the politics and the African Americans gained a lot in an attempt to reach an eventuality when the political class would start working for the benefit of the society including the African Americans; a phenomenon that no one thought was possible, especially in regard to the African Americans.

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