Anton Cermak, (1933), mayor of Chicago

Item added by irishgit. Added on 11/01/2008
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Anton Cermak, (1933), mayor of Chicago 2

First Mayor of Chicago under the Kelly-Nash, later Daley political machine, Cermak was not a saint, and although Big Bill Thompson, the man Cermak defeated for mayor, was a crook, the Kelly-Nash-Daley machine makes Big Bill look like small spuds. Chicago has had one party government now longer than the Soviet Union.

Cermak caught some errant lead apparently aimed at FDR although the assassin had some grievances with Cermak.

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Anton Cermak, (1933), mayor of Chicago 4

He sounded like a well-rounded guy; it's a shame that Chicago lost such a great man.

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Anton Cermak, (1933), mayor of Chicago 3

While not as flagrantly corrupt as the buffoonish Thompson, Cermak was not "squeaky clean" as a politician either, although it's doubtful anyone was going to be able to prosper in the Chicago political environment of the 1920's/1930's (and beyond) unless they had at least a tacit understanding with organized crime, and had made certain accommodations with what was still known (at least to the FBI) as the "Capone gang" (William Dever, Chicago's one genuinely honest politician and Mayor, didn't last long). Shot in Miami by Italian immigrant (and crackpot anarchist) Giuseppe Zangara, there was speculation that Cermark was the target all along, not FDR. Zangara had worked as a laborer in Paterson, NJ, (my old home town) and Hackensack (my late grandfather, who was a plumber there, knew Zangara), and it was suggested that he had made contact with organized crime elements, who wanted Cermak out of the way, supposedly because he wasn't as accommodating as Thompson had been. Zangara, a tiny, fiery neurotic, was quickly convicted, sentenced to death, and executed in Florida's electric chair. He didn't seem to mind. At his execution, a defiant Zangara said, "Lousy capitalists! All capitalists lousy bunch of crooks! Go ahead! Push the button!" (Recalls the execution of 1920's serial killer Carl Panzram, who told the hangman at his own execution, "Hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard. I could hang a dozen men while you're fooling around here.") The best book I've read on the far as I know, it's the only book written on the "The 5 Weeks of Giuseppe Zangara: The Man Who Tried To Kill FDR" by Blaise Picchi.

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Anton Cermak, (1933), mayor of Chicago 3

Cermak was a Democratic mayor of Chicago, elected on a reform ticket to oust the thoroughly corrupt administration of Big Bill Thompson.

He was collateral damage to an assassination attempt made on Franklin Roosevelt in Miami, shot in the chest while shaking hands with the president and dying shortly afterwards. While there has been speculation by some that he was the real target of the assassination, there is no proof of this theory.

His death was followed by a internal struggle for succession to the leadership of the Chicago Democratic party and the mayoral chair. Interestingly, Thompson, the man Cermak beat for the job was the last Republican elected mayor of Chicago.

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