Father of the current mayor
, Richard Michael Daley
, and mayor of Chicago from 1956-1976. Born in 1902 in the middle of the Irish ghetto
to an immigrant steel
worker, he controlled the Democratic machine
for over 30 years; he ruled Chicago with an iron fist
, held the sole power. During his tenure
, no single decision was made without his approval
It is impossible to understand Chicago without understanding the elder Daley. He rose to power first by becoming involved in local wards; in a city of immigrants, the ward leader was their first and usually only connection to government, teaching them how to fill out tax forms, deal with the police, and anything else they needed. In Chicago, it was almost as important as the church. The politics were organized further in local athletic clubs, and Daley joined his, where he made friends who would later litter the payrolls. This was the basis of his administration: take care of your friends and supporters, punish your enemies.
Despite his youthful athletic-club hooliganism (several club members were indicted in the 1919 race riots), Daley seemed to have a spotless criminal record, and after finishing school he worked for a while as a secretary, and moved on to get his law degree in night school. Legal knowledge helped, and he started getting small political posts, knowing exactly with whom he should associate himself and when to drop them, holding power by controlling city jobs, and giving employment to supporters and friends. He was excellent at distancing himself from scandal, and even better at placing blame on others. The only election he ever lost was in 1946, for the post of county Sheriff.
Many things can be said about the elder Daley, few of them kind. He was an excellent politician, a king maker (after his support for John F. Kennedy), a despot, a bigot (for him, the blacks were somebody else's problem; he was a firm believer in the bootstrap theory of poverty). If anything good can be said, he supervised the greatest building boom Chicago had/has since seen, though of course all contracts were given to friends and supporters.
The most famous event of his administration was the 1968 Democratic Convention and the the accompanying riots, which lead to the famous quote: "The police are not here to create disorder, the police are here to preserve disorder".
His son Richard Michael Daley is still mayor of Chicago, while William Daley was the campaign chairman for Al Gore during the 2000 elections.
A better description of the man is given in the book, Boss, by Mike Royko.