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THE ARGUS, FRIDAY, JUNE 18, 1909.
Lorimer, the New Illinois Senator
Former Street Car Conductor,
Who Got His Start In Politics by
' Organizing His Craft. Is Known
: as the "Blond Boss." &
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa a A A a. a .
By JAMES A. EDGERTON.
IIIE mala facts about William
Lorimer, tlie new senator from
Illinois, are that he was born In
England; that be is forty-eight
years old; that he came to the United
States In childhood; that his father,
who was a minister, died when the
lad was ten years old; that from then
on he has been a breadwinner; that he
had little or no schooling; that he sold
papers, blacked boots, wheeled salt in
the packing houses and was a-jiorse
car conductor; that he, became a ma
chine politician and is now known as
the "blond boss;" that he has been
widely and vehemently denounced as
being a representative of the vicious
elements and "the interests;" that nev
ertheless his private life is notably
clean and his family life ideal; that he
does not smoke, drink or swear; that
he has eight children, to whom he is
devoted; that he is a large man, se
rene, unruffled, a good mixer and pop
ular; that he never goes back on a
friend; that he has been In congress
seven terms; that he is known as the
"father of the deep waterway project"
of a ship canal from the great lakes to
the gulf; that he Is a fair speaker, but
prefers to work on the quiet, and that
his election as senator came as a sur
prise at the end of the longest dead
lock In the history of Illinois.
This is but a skeleton outline, but it
gives an idea of the man. Ills career
Is not commonplace or usual by any
means, and perhaps the strangest
thing in It is that he, a party boss,
was elected to the senate by a combi
nation of Republicans and Democrats.
Another striking feature about Lori
mer is. that several times his enemies
have gleefully proclaimed that the
"blond boss" was down and out. Yet
Father of a Ship Canal From Chi- t
cago to the Gulf Breadwinner
From an Early Age Good Mixer $
and Popular Loyal to Friends t
traitor, and his pursuit Is relentless.
The foes of ex-Senator Hopkins ex
plain the downfall of that gentleman
as au effect of that very cause. They
aver that it was Lorimer whor"made
Hopkins senator in the first place, and
when Lorimer was trying to nominate
Yates over Deneen they accused Hop
kins of trying to carry water on both
shoulders. These are the charges, and,
whether true or not, the result is the
same. Hopkins is out, and Lorimer is
in. The "blond boss" turned the trick
In the face of a plurality for the for
mer senator in the primaries.
Perhaps the -Democratic vote for
Lorimer is explained by that very
fight- for governor, in which it is
charged that after Deneen was nomi
nated Lorimer threw his forces to
Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic can
didate, and ran him a hundred thou
sand or so ahead of his ticket. After
ward an anti-Deneen bipartisan com
bination organized the legislature, and
Lorimer is given the credit for that.
These intricacies of state politics have
peculiar twists. After all the battle
between the new senator and the gov
ernor, both Chicago men, by the way,
and former friends, one of Lorimer's
first moves after his election was to
make a call at the executive mansion,
and the Interview between the arch
enemies was so cordial that the Chica
go paers at once figured out an of
fensive and defensive alliance.
Waving His Candidate In.
One of the most spectacular political
stunts ever pulled off by Lorimer was
the nomination of Dick Yates for gov
ernor nearly a decade ago. It was on
the third ballot when the cause that
the Chicago man espoused seemed lost
and, according to report, another man
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WILLIAM LOUIMKH; UNITED STATES SENATOi: i :::,i
at the next turn of. the wheel he won !
greater victories than ever. His pres
ent triumph Is a case in point. He
had fought Deneen both in the prima
ries and at the polls, and Deneen gave
him a drubbing each time. "That is
the end of Billy. Lorimer!" yelled
everybody. And nowook at him i
one minute dumped in the gutter and
left at the rear and- the next on the
front seat of the band wagon at the
head of the procession!
Serene and Canny. j
Lorimer in his acceptance speech
blandly and beuevolently handed out
bouquets to everybody, even his foes;
looked as innocent and cherubic as a
blonlboss could; said he was a Iiepub-
lican, but loved the Democrats who
had jumped the fence la his behalf;
talked for tariff revision downward
because it had been promised in the
platform; spoke a good word" two of
them. In fact for his deep waterway
scheme and looked so serene that no
one would have dreamed that he had
Just pulled off a deal without a paral- ,
lei in the history of American politics. '
For an ex-street car conductor who
had got his first start in politics by
organizing his craft it was quite a '
piece of generalship. Lorimer is dis
tinctively a politician. The convoiu-'
,tlons in his gray matter are not In
Tain. They stand for something. He
As canny, as becomes one of Scotch
blood, which he is, although born la
Manchester. He plays the game, and,
win or lose, he is not a quitter. His
loyalty to his friends Is. both his
Strength and his weakness. So long as
they stay , by him he stays by them,'
no matter what else they may do.
This liad laid him open to many at
tacks. On the' other hand, he has a
long memory for his enemies. Let a
friend double cress him or play the j
was actually uominated. Suddenly
Lorimer apieared on the stage waving
a Yates banner. He kept It up until
the convention was stampeded, and in
the confusion the third ballot was nev
er counted. A fourth roll call was or
dered, and the day was won for Yates.
The act by which the new senator
first forced himself into general notice
was almost as spectacular. It was In
3802. and he was a delegate to the
Minneapolis convention. Illinois was
for the renomination of Harrison, but
Lorimer would not be bound by the
delegation and voted for James G.
Blaine. As I'.laine had hosts of friends
in Chicago, the rising young politician
lost nothing by the move.
A third Incident shows a streak of
Independence in Lorimer that would
not be suspected from his reputation
as u machine man. It was in the days
just after the Maine had been blowu
up in Havana harbor and when Tom
Ueed and the administration were try
ing, to prevent or at least delay a
declaration of war. Lorimer served
notice on Reed that he would lead a
revolt, which he did and forced ac
tion. He pulled off a similar coup in
his salad days as a kid congressman.
Though be was supposed to keep si
lent, he made so warm a fight for the
Clileago public building bill that, ln
spite of everybody else who was look
ing for pork, the Windy City won the
day. It must be said for him that he
has always stood up for Chicago.
Much of the criticism offhlm has been
duo to his championship of his friends
and of Chicago Interests. When Roose
velt led the fight for meat Inspection
't was Lorimer who rushed to the sup
port of the packing houses. Only re
jently the Michigan delegation was In
ilgh dudgeon. lei-ause Lorimer had
ithered a Bcheme at Sault Ste. Marie
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Copyright, 1909, by Ivtn B. Nordhem Co.
which was In the Interest' of some
Chlcaso corporation. Hilly Lorimer lis
of Chicago and for Chicago.
The Ship Canal.
Of all the things Lorimer h:irt done
or attempted to uo IVr ov.-.i town
thi! dci j waterway project is the most
iiioiiicnlr.trs. When he first ie;rui th
advocacy i f tTsis gigantic undertaking
little attention was paid to him eveu
in his own city. Gradually, however,
Chicago began to awaken until today
the ship canal from the lakes to th
gulf is about the livest wire in the
middle west. After fighting for it
through many congresses and on tha
stump nil over Illinois the new sena
tor .had th? .pleasure of seeing tt great
convention meet In Chicago In Us be
half, at which both President Taft
and William J. Bryan sioke lit Its fa
vor. Now that he Is In the senate he
will make n still harder fight for his
pet project and says that he wiil carry
It through. For his advocacy of this
ow beneficent enterprise much can be
forgiven him. There are many exam
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i ' - H S iTi
, MU3. WTIiLIAM LOitlMEK.
tlcs of poetic justice 4n the world, and
not the leaatif these Is the general
belief In Illinois that it was his cham
pionship "of the deep waterway that
was the deciding factor iu gaining for
Billy Liiinicr-'" the senatorship. It
would be au interesting psychological
study to know whether he had such a
result in view when he begau thi
seemingly hopeless fight. Why not
give him the benefit of the doubt and
believe that he was actuated by public
spirit rather than private ambitious
Or perhaps both factors entered.1 a?
they do In most men. In writing ot
many uien L lind that there L sou:-
thing good In all, just as there are
other things to bo deplored. In strik
ing a balance between the two some
times the scale tips one way. some
times the other. In Lorimer's case
that ship canal when it is carried
through, as it certainly will Ih will
redeem much and blot out mu"h. It
will be a monument ever enduring, one
of which the greatest and best might
In the end we are judged . by our
most conspicuous deed, whether It be
of good or of evil. The- deep waterway
will certainly be the most conspicuous
deed of Senator William Lorimer.
Who can tell but that It may even
swallow up his reputation as a "blond
Cetting at the Real Man.
Fame plays queer tricks on us all.
And we who most abhor the political
methods of men of the Lorimer type
are forced to applaud efforts 'for the
public good such as those shown In his
long battle for this enterprise that Is
to bless the future. I am not seeking
to excuse Lorimer. I am only seeking
to do him justice. A character sketch
that shows nersonal or partisan bias is
not worthy of the name. The effort
should be to get at the real man and
set him forth as he Is no more, no
less. Kindliness and sympathy go a
long way In getting at another's view
point and nngle of vision. Until that
viewpoint is gained a fair estimate
cannot be made. I am frank to. say
that my first feeling as to Lorimer
was one of repugnance. Looked at
more closely, there is gold beueath the
dross. This is uot said of him because
he Is a United States senator. It would
bo just as true if he were still a west
side street car conductor, although
there would be no palpitating Interest
in hltn as such. These things can Je
said of him and for him: He has made
his own way: he never losehis tem
per; In his home he is what , every
American man should be; his word
never goes to .protest; .be Sticks by .his
frierds evi-n th'nr.'h they go to'jail; he
Is ci'n::lrurtlve ami for, bis own town,
and he has fought thronch coed and
evil report for :U least ene public work
that will benelit mankind.
Puh things weigh. They contain
substance and have meaning, rerhnps
I have omitted the one element that
counts for most In the world, though
It may le rated at more than its
worth Mr. Lorimer has plucked the
golden apple of success. That is the
credit side of the account, and why
cast up the debit? The papers have
been full of It for years, and it Is gen
erally kuown of men.
No sketch of Senator Lorimer would
be complete that did not include Mrs.
Lorimer. She was born in Canada,
and he married her when he was a
street car conductor. The same loyalty
that has held hiiu to his friends and to
his city has welded him to his home.
In the life of this man there is none of
the sickening story of the successful
man outgrowing the partner of his
humble beginnings. '
In personal appearance the "blond
boss" Is like his name auburn of hair,
red of mustache, a good fellow and as
democratic as sunshine. Here Is hop
ing that his most cherished ambition:
may le fulfilled and that he may Ht
to bnild the Chicago ship canal.
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