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Categories: US City Mayors | Chicago History.
Richard Joseph Daley was born, raised and educated in Chicago, Illinois.
His first serious job was as a secretary in City Hall while he was still in night school at DePaul University School of Law. Daley never became a practicing lawyer however; as soon after graduating he ran, and was elected to, the Illinois state legislature.
In 1955 Daley was elected Mayor for the first of six terms he would serve. Daley was mayor for over twenty years total.
A major player and supporter of the Democratic party, he was a campaign supporter of both John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey.
His service in Chicago is most historically marked by the Democratic National Convention. The convention was marred by riots and Mayor Daley would later testify in the trial of the Chicago Seven.
During the course of the convention he would claim that he received death threats against him and this, he claimed, explained the extent of police intervention (twelve thousand officers, and an additional twelve thousand Army and National guardsmen) that many deemed "police riots".
He maintained he needed this police presence to insure protesters didn't get out of hand. As this was transpiring in the wake of the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, few could dispute his claim.
Upon reading about the life of Richard Daley one finds a man of complexities. A law school graduate, but a man with a south side Chicago blue collar accent. Known for his personal honesty, but known professionally to look the other way on corruption within his city. A hard-nosed Democratic party supporter, but won his election on a Republican ticket. And though he was against the war in Vietnam, he was a supporter of President Johnson.
Mayor Daley died of a heart attack at the age of 74. His oldest son, Richard M. Daley has been Mayor of Chicago since 1989.
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