Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Fall/Winter 2020
Volume 113, No. 3-4
“The Demise of the Chicago Academy of Design and the Rise of the Art Institute of Chicago”
Joel S. Dryer
The Chicago Academy of Design (CAD) was modeled after such European and American art academies as the Royal Academies of Arts in London and Munich, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia (1805), and the National Academy of Design in New York (1825). The organizations offered regular exhibitions and instruction and were the backbones of art in those cities. As one critic noted, “New York and Boston and Philadelphia owe their art culture to their academies.” It was with this high ideal that a group of artists founded the CAD. On sound footing for the first five years of its existence, it was laid low by the Great Chicago Fire of 1861, after which it became inactive for short time, then prospered for a few years, and finally expired. In 1879, the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, which was later renamed the Art Institute of Chicago, was created from the ashes of the CAD. Histories of the Art Institute of Chicago portray its transition from the CAD as cooperative, with the Art Institute being a natural outgrowth of the CAD. However, the business leaders who created the Art Institute were ruthless in their effort to seize what the artists had begun. This article discusses the early successful activities of the CAD, its later struggles, and how, in its demise, it was “reborn” as the Art Institute. This history entwines the city’s leading artists and businessmen, and although the latter were not necessarily interested in the former, they were civic-minded enough to establish an art museum and school to rival those of the East Coast.
“‘If That's Snobbery, Then I'm a Snob’: The Successful Fight to Create a Black, Middle-Class Enclave in Chatham, 1955–1960”
The story of white flight and neighborhood turnover from black to white in Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s is generally one of spreading poverty and neighborhood decline. But in the neighborhood of Chatham, on the South Side, residents fought for and succeeded in forming a solid black middle-class enclave that survived for at least a half-century. Almost without precedent in Chicago, the neighborhood of Chatham turned over from white to black without associated growth of poverty and “blight” by drawing its residents together into one of the city’s most powerful resident organizations. (Something similar occurred in Hyde Park, but because of the clout of the University of Chicago, not because of people power.) Whites fled as always when blacks moved in. But while Chatham could not maintain integration, it did build a wall against the poor. And residents accomplished this in an astonishingly short period of time, acting through the vehicle of the Chatham-Avalon Park Community Council (CAPCC). This article focuses on the years between 1955 and 1960, when the CAPCC first integrated and then won critical fights against powerful institutions, kicking out all of the taverns, rezoning the neighborhood, preventing developers from building high-rises, stopping illegal housing conversions, and more.
“‘Peace Had Its Defeats’: Researching Civil War Veterans, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Insanity”
Brian S. Bradshaw
On January 16, 1896, the Democratic Northwest and Henry County News in Napoleon, Ohio, reported that an insane Civil War veteran had burned to death in his brother’s farmhouse. The chilling account indicated that the man, John Jefferson Anderson, was confined to an “iron-barred room.” Earlier, the January 3, 1896, edition of the Edwardsville Intellingencer had provided additional details about the horrific death in the obituary of Anderson. Anderson had returned from the war in 1865 to his family farm in Pin Oak Township in Madison County, Illinois, approximately three miles north of Troy, Illinois. For thirty years, the “demented” veteran had been lovingly cared for by his family. According to the obituary, each day, Anderson’s younger brother George went to the room in the farmhouse serving as Anderson’s cell to take care of him. This included feeding, washing, and dressing him. On the morning of December 31, 1895, George Anderson tended to his brother’s needs, built a fire in the stove near the barred room, and left. A short time later, the younger Anderson returned to the home to see flames and smoke pouring from the room of his beloved brother. Despite George’s frantic efforts, his brother was burned alive, and George suffered severe burns to his face, hands, and hair. This essay argues that such research is relevant to our scholarly discussions today concerning post war psychological trauma and stigmatization.
“‘Further Harassment and Neutralization’: The FBI's Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) in Illinois”
In February of 1970, two Illinois parents received an anonymous letter in the mail. The note’s authors offered that, “Our daughter, like your Catherine, began living with a married man,” and then spun a tale of their child’s doomed relationship that ended in drug addiction, a police raid, and institutionalization. The letter concluded: “it may not be too late like it almost was for us. We pray it isn’t and that you daughter is soon returned to you normal and unscarred.” The author, “Hurt, but fortunate, in Normal,” was, in fact, an FBI agent, who wrote the note in order to achieve “further harassment and neutralization” of a college student at Illinois State University by appealing to her parents. The FBI’s secret Counterintelligence program (COINTELPRO) operated throughout Illinois in the 1960s and early 29790s, from Cairo to Chicago, relying on methods agents established in the 1950s. As opposed to intelligence, the mere gathering of information, this was counterintelligence, which was designed, “to actively restrict a target’s ability to carry out planned actions (prevention) or to encourage acts of wrong doing (facilitation). This study answers the call by historians to analyze the 1960s at the local level to more fully inform our understanding of the decade.
“How Northern Democrats Perceived the Civil War: The Standard Family of Fulton County, Illinois”
Thomas E. Rodgers
In his Lincoln and the Democrats, Mark Neely states, “We simply do not understand the Democrats, study them enough, or make much of an attempt to see the Civil War through their eyes.” The general works that have been written on Civil Was Democrats tend to focus on the problems of being an opposition party during a civil war. Democratic success in 1862 and its failures in 1863 and 1864 are most often attributed to economic problems or improvements and Union army battlefield losses and victories rather than to the efforts of the Democrats. The ideas and positions taken by the Democrats are often given little serious attention and often dismissed as irrational or antiquated. One prominent work dismisses the ideas of Peace Democrats as being in “nearly . . . the realm of fantasy,” while others disparage Democrats either as conservatives who could not adjust to changed circumstances or as virulent, irrational racists. Despite the top-down focus of most general works, Neely contends that after Stephen Douglas’s death early in the war there was no real national leadership of the party and that aside from a few pamphlets, “there was no central direction” even to the 1864 presidential campaign. Despite these circumstances, Democrats did well in 1862 and performed as well in 1864 as in 1860 despite a massive Republican campaign effort partially fueled by Union Leagues providing literature, organization, and get out the vote efforts far beyond anything done by the Democrats. Somehow Democratic voters and local leaders sustained their beliefs and their party throughout the upheaval of the Civil War largely on their own. How did they do this? What did the average Democrat believe and how did they maintain their beliefs? This article addresses these questions by providing a description and interpretation of the content of the remarkable correspondence between William Standard, a Union soldier and local Democratic Party leader, and his wife Jane, an examination of the contexts within which they experienced the war years on the Fulton County home front and in the 103rd Illinois, and an analysis of what they and their contexts reveal about what they believed, how they made political decisions, and how they and many other northern Democrats perceived the Civil War.
“From Headlines to Deadlines: Adlai Stevenson's ‘Crusade’ Against Gambling in Illinois”
During Adlai Stevenson’s one term as governor of Illinois, 1948-1952, frequent news stories—many presented in bold headlines on the front pages of newspapers in Illinois and Missouri—national magazine articles, and editorial comments of increasing frequency and intensity demanded that Stevenson fulfill his campaign promise to end illegal gambling in Illinois. Although Stevenson had made no such promise, the power and persistence of print media prevailed. Reluctantly, the governor was forced to exercise the state’s power in a series of local, state, and national headline-generating secret raids conducted by the Illinois State Police on well-known gambling locations. Illegal gambling was curtailed, albeit temporarily, in Illinois, but the more obvious result was Stevenson’s emerging national reputation as a crime-fighting crusader. Stevenson believed in the power of participatory democracy. It was the local citizenry’s responsibility, he said, to remedy the failure of local law enforcement at the ballot box and to persuade officials in the state’s 102 counties to enforce state law at the local level. With few exceptions, however, local elected officials, including chiefs of police, state’s attorneys, mayors, and county law enforcement officers publicly and privately resisted Stevenson’s exhortations and efforts to use their powers against illegal gambling. This article is a chronicle of state and local corruption, of attempted bribery, or murders, of blatant admissions of criminal activity, or greed embedded in self-proclaimed innocence, of the sometimes audacious behavior and self-righteous power of the press, of the frailties of government, and of the well-publicized “success” that propelled Adlai Stevenson into national politics as the reluctantly drafted presidential candidate of the Democratic Party in 1952.
The Federalist Frontier: Settler Politics in the Old Northwest, 1783–1840. By Kristopher Maulden.
Reviewed by Amy Godfrey Powers
Memories of Lincoln and the Splintering of American Political Thought. By Shawn J. Parry-Giles and David S. Kaufer.
Reviewed by Jon Schaff
Tales of Forgotten Chicago. By Richard C. Lindberg.
Reviewed by Wallace D. Draper
The Decision Was Always My Own: Ulysses S. Grant and the Vicksburg Campaign. By Timothy B. Smith.
Reviewed by John M. Metych III
American Warsaw: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of Polish Chicago. By Dominic A. Pacyga.
Reviewed by Barbara M. Posadas
The Ordeal of the Jungle: Race and the Chicago Federation of Labor, 1903–1922. By David Bates.
Reviewed by Clark “Bucky” Halker
The Lost Journalism of Ring Lardner. By Ron Rapoport
Reviewed by Timothy Dean Draper
Milwaukee Rock and Roll 1950–2000: A Reflective History. By Bruce Cole, David Luhrssen, and Phillip Naylor.
Reviewed by Tristan M. K. Draper
Becoming.By Michelle Obama.
Reviewed by Elizabeth I. Kershisnik
American Labyrinth: Intellectual History for Complicated Times. By Raymond Haberski, Jr. and Andrew Hartman
Reviewed by Aaron Lawler
Other Books in Illinois History
Timothy Dean Draper
As an added feature of our review section, this list provides a selection of some works on Illinois history published within the past five years.
Crosby's Opera House containing Chicago Academy of Design Art Gallery. Stereographs of Chicago, photographed and published by John Carbutt, ca. 1860-1870.