Individual Author Record
Name: Richard Allen MortonPen Name: None Genre: History Non-Fiction Born: Sites:
Illinois ConnectionRichard Allen Morton is a contributing editor to the Illinois State Historical Society.
Biographical and Professional Information
Titles At Your Library
Justice and Humanity: Edward F. Dunne, Illinois Progressive
ISBN: 0809320959 Southern Illinois University Press. 1997
An Irish Catholic Democrat from Chicago, Edward Fitzsimons Dunne was one of the most consistent champions of the humane liberalism known as progressivism that dominated American politics between the 1890s and the 1920s. A close political associate of William Jennings Bryan, Clarence Darrow, Jane Addams, and Raymond Robins, Dunne has been labeled Chicago’s first truly reformist mayor and Illinois’s most progressive governor. At his death, political insiders compared his role in Illinois to that of Woodrow Wilson on the national scene.
As chief executive of Illinois from 1913 to 1917, Dunne supported a variety of progressive reforms with far-reaching effects. He favored woman suffrage, argued for expanded state responsibility for overseeing workmen’s compensation and teachers’ pensions, and initiated large-scale improvements in the state’s roads. He also supported the creation of several regulatory boards and commissions, including the Public Utility Commission, the Efficiency and Economy Commission, and the Legislative Reference Bureau. More or less independently of the legislature, Dunne encouraged major reforms in the operation of state prisons and juvenile facilities.
Dunne’s contribution to progressivism in Illinois, of course, was not limited to his term as governor. In a public career that began with his election as a Cook County circuit court judge in 1892, he always advocated progressive change. As an elected public official, particularly as the mayor of Chicago, Dunne played a unique role in bringing into government the direct influence of Chicago’s social activists. Richard Allen Morton’s political biography, therefore, not only highlights Dunne but also illuminates the political dynamics of progressive Illinois.
Although many did not share his goal of an expanded governmental role, Dunne was the one person acceptable to reformers and conventional politicians alike when the old political order was eclipsed by demands for reform. And he was acceptable at least in part, Morton demonstrates, because he was a humble man without the messianic or demagogic tendencies of many reformist leaders of his day.
"In part because of the nature of the sources," Morton explains in the preface to this book, "but also because the daily operation of politics is often as significant as the results, this study seeks to provide a close, chronological account. It also deliberately emphasizes the importance of leadership in the shaping of events and public policy. Similarly, it consciously eschews any efforts to portray Dunne and his contemporaries as abstractions or as pawns of irresistible social and political trends." Thus, Morton is able to bring to life an actual person operating in the real world of politics, to portray a human being who made an enduring contribution to justice and humanity.