How About a Historical Marker for a Republican Crook with a Crystal Lake Connection?

All the old mansion attention in Crystal Lake has been paid to the Charles S. Dole Mansion overlooking Crystal Lake.

Alright. It’s big. It has this great story about a railroad track being laid up Dole Avenue to bring guests to his daughter’s 1883 wedding.

But Dole was just a grain elevator robber baron, wasn’t he?

And he moved out of Illinois.

Almost next door, a legendary Republican Party crook built a summer “cottage.”

Well, it’s more like a mansion.

It’s the white house at the corner of Lake Avenue and Country Club Drive. It’s built out of the same small concrete blocks with which the home my family rented at 800 Broadway was constructed.

So, who was this Republican crook?

U.S. Senator William Lorimer (R-Illinois)

Never heard of him?

You’re in good company.

He was the last senator elected by a vote of Illinois General Assembly.

And, in true Illinois fashion, he got to Washington through bribery.

And, in true John Kass Illinois “combine” fashion, Democrats took the bribes from a Republican businessman.

Former State Representative turned academic Jim Nowlan (R-Toulon) and Richard B. Ogilvie’s Lt. Governor candidate wrote this in a letter to the Chicago Tribune on Feb. 9, 2006:

Lumberman Edward Hines bribed 40 Democratic members of the Illinois General Assembly in 1909 with $100,000 to elect Chicago Republican “Blonde Boss” William Lorimer to the U.S. Senate. A new Model T Ford cost $875 in 1909.

The scandal about how Lorimer got to Washington brought on the Progressive Era’s direct election of United States Senators–the 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1913–so no one can deny the importance of his “public service.”

Here’s his biography from the United State Congress:

  • LORIMER, William, a Representative and a Senator from Illinois;
  • born in Manchester, England, April 27, 1861;
  • immigrated to the United States in 1866 with his parents, who settled in Michigan; moved to Chicago, Ill., in 1870;
  • self-educated; apprenticed to the trade of sign painter at the age of ten;
  • worked in the packing houses and for a street railroad company;
  • ward boss and constable 1886;
  • engaged in the real estate business and later as a builder and brick manufacturer;
  • elected as a Republican to the Fifty-fourth, Fifty-fifth, and Fifty-sixth Congresses (March 4, 1895-March 3, 1901);
  • unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1900 to the Fifty-seventh Congress;
  • elected to the Fifty-eighth and to the three succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1903, until his resignation, effective June 17, 1909, having been elected Senator;
  • chairman, Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Navy (Sixty-first Congress), Committee on Mines and Mining (Sixty-second Congress), Committee on Pacific Islands and Puerto Rico (Sixty-second Congress);
  • presented credentials as a Senator-elect to the United States Senate for the term that had commenced March 4, 1909, and served from June 18, 1909, until July 13, 1912, when, after a Senate investigation and acrimonious debate, the Senate adopted a resolution declaring “that corrupt methods and practices were employed in his election, and that the election, therefore, was invalid”;
  • resumed his former pursuits and was president of La Salle Street Trust & Savings Bank 1910-1915;
  • subsequently engaged in the lumber business;
  • died in Chicago, Ill., September 13, 1934; interment in Calvary Cemetery [at the Evanston-Chicago border].

Now, I’m not suggesting any public entity buy the Lorimer mansion.

But, how about a historical marker that could be read from the sidewalk between the Main Beach and the Dole Mansion?

= = = = =
On top, you can see snow on Easter (March 23, 2008) at the Dole Mansion in Crystal Lake. Below is the summer “cottage” of William Lorimer, the last Illinois United States Senate elected by the Illinois General Assembly. The historic marker could go on the lawn where the man is mowing the lawn.

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