March 2, 2008
Want to take a break from the current crop of Presidential circuses? Make that "Presidential caucuses..."
Chicago has held more political conventions than any other city in the nation; from 1860 to 2004, twenty-five political "parties" (pun intended), Republican and Democrat, have nominated their respective candidates in Chicago. Inside the Wigwam ,by R. Craig Sautter and Edward M. Burke, is the only book that I am aware of (correct me if I'm wrong) that exclusively focuses on Chicago's contribution to the political process.
The title of the book is taken from the name of the venue that Chicago built to host the Republican Convention of 1860, a pivotal moment in United States' history when Abraham Lincoln received the nomination.
"... the Wigwam was built in little more than a month entirely of wood, on Lake Street near the Chicago River. The hall was packed with more than 12,000 delegates and spectators, and the multitude of enthusiastic supporters of Abraham Lincoln in the galleries helped to stampede the Republican delegates toward the dark-horse candidate from Illinois. The building was used for political and patriotic meetings during the 1860 election and at the outbreak of the Civil War. Subdivided into several stores, the rectangular building functioned as a retail space until its removal sometime between 1867 and 1871. Its name derived from the antebellum custom (especially in New York) of calling a political campaign headquarters a “wigwam.” (Encyclopedia of Chicago)
The Wigwam was built on what is now 191 N. Wacker Drive and the site was awarded landmark status in 2002.
"The committee for historic preservation also approved landmark status for the site of the “Wigwam” building, which also once held the Sauganash Hotel. Both structures were important to Chicago’s early history, but neither exist on what is now the southeast corner of Lake Street and Wacker Drive.
Constructed in 1831, the Sauganash Hotel, 191 N. Wacker Dr., was a popular gathering spot for area settlers, travelers and soldiers stationed at Fort Dearborn. The hotel also was the site of Chicago’s first village board election, in 1833.
The Sauganash burned down in 1851, and a new two-story building was erected at the same location by 1860. This new building, called the “Wigwam,” was the site of the first national political convention held in Chicago--the 1860 Republican National Convention. It was in the Wigwam that Abraham Lincoln was nominated for president.
Because the buildings no longer exist, the site will be honored with plaques similar to the series of rectangular plates in the sidewalk on Michigan Avenue at Wacker Drive, which outline where Fort Dearborn once stood." (Medill News Service)
("The 'Wigwam' Grand March: Dedicated to the Republican Presidential Candidate."
Oliver Ditson & Co., 1860. Library of Congress)