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William Lorimer (politician)

William Lorimer (April 27, 1861 – September 13, 1934) was a U.S. Representative from the State of Illinois. He subsequently served in the United States Senate and was known as the "Blond Boss" in Chicago. In 1912, however, the Senate held Lorimer's election invalid due to the use of corrupt methods and practices including vote-buying.

William Lorimer
William Lorimer, Illinois Senator, GGB photo.jpg
United States Senator
from Illinois
In office
June 18, 1909 – July 13, 1912
Preceded byAlbert J. Hopkins
Succeeded byLawrence Y. Sherman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 6th district
In office
March 4, 1903 – June 17, 1909
Preceded byHenry S. Boutell
Succeeded byWilliam Moxley
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 2nd district
In office
March 4, 1895 – March 3, 1901
Preceded byLawrence E. McGann
Succeeded byJohn J. Feely
Personal details
Born(1861-04-27)April 27, 1861
Manchester, England
DiedSeptember 13, 1934(1934-09-13) (aged 73)
Chicago, Illinois
Political partyRepublican


Lorimer was born in Manchester, England. His family immigrated to the United States in 1866, first settling in Michigan and then moving to Chicago in 1870. Lorimer was self-educated. He had been apprenticed to a sign painter when he was ten. He worked in the Chicago meat-packing houses and for a street railroad company.

In 1894, Lorimer was elected to the first of two non-consecutive tenures (1895-1901, 1903–09) in the US House of Representatives. In 1909, he helped to engineer the blocking of the re-election of US Senator Albert J. Hopkins, a Republican who had been Lorimer's ally, but was now a political foe. With Hopkins' re-election bid finished, Lorimer seemed surprised when a coalition of 55 Illinois state House Republicans and 53 state House Democrats pushed his name to fill the now-vacant seat. Lorimer's name went before the state Senate, and he was elected to the US Senate. He took his seat in March 1909.

In 1910, The Chicago Tribune published an admission by Illinois Assemblyman Charles A. White that Lorimer had paid $1,000 for White's vote in the election for U.S. Senator (prior to the Seventeenth Amendment, ratified in 1913, selection of U.S. Senators rested with state legislatures, rather than popular vote).[1] On July 13, 1912, after a Senate investigation and acrimonious debate, the Senate adopted a resolution declaring "that corrupt methods and practices were employed in his election, and that the election, therefore, was invalid." Many in Chicago believed that Lorimer's ouster was politically inspired and that he was wrongfully deprived of his seat. When he returned to Chicago he was greeted by a parade and a throng at a meeting in Orchestra Hall. One of the speakers at the meeting was attorney Charles Lederer of Adler & Lederer (now known as Arnstein & Lehr, LLP) and a former member of the Illinois General Assembly. He presented a resolution to the meeting reciting the wrong done to Mr. Lorimer, his fight for his seat and the faith of his friends in him.[2]

Lorimer served as president of La Salle Street Trust & Savings Bank from 1910 to 1915, and then entered the lumber business. He died in Chicago at age 73.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ A Study in Boss Politics: William Lorimer of Chicago at
  2. ^ Chicago Daily Tribune, July 24, 1912.
  • United States Congress. "William Lorimer (id: L000444)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

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