Blog Post #2

Burke’s article, “Lunatics and Anarchists: Political Homicide in Chicago” and the Chicago Police Department Homicide Record Index (CPDHRI) are somewhat in line with one another. Burke talks about political unrest in the beginning of his article, and this is corroborated by the CPDHRI, some 70 people were killed in some form of rioting between the years of 1886 and 1922, an average of 1.944 people killed each year by rioting. A handful of extra deaths were recorded as just “mobs,” with some of the mob deaths be attributed to strikes and racially motivated mob violence. This is not exactly what Burke seems to be talking about, however. Burke’s article largely discusses the assassination of two mayors, Harrison and Cermak. The actual amount of overtly political deaths is exceptionally small according to the CPDHRI, no more than 10 people died for these reasons, and the majority being in the feuds over the 19th Ward. Though, these 10 people do not include those who died to gang violence which can easily be a kind of, if not outright, political assassination. Another point Burke makes in his article is about the “unjust” treatment of the assassins of Harrison and Cermak. Another interesting addition that Burke makes is that he speculates on the assassination of Mayor Cermak. Cermak died in a foiled attempted assassination of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, foiled because the assassin’s aim was poor, missing FDR and hitting bystanders, including Cermak, instead. The speculation that Burke makes on this death is that Cermak was the intended target, and not FDR. The included speculation really shows the difference between the two sources, CPDHRI deals purely in records, the recorded murders and homicides in the city of Chicago, while Burke is more sensationalist in his writing. Burke’s article is enjoyable, however, it should be used with the understanding in mind that it is obviously biased and not dealing with explicit facts like CPDHRI is. Both have their purposes and are useful, but CPDHRI is seemingly more dependable.


Bienen, Leigh, ed. Homicide in Chicago 1870-1930.

Burke, Edward M. “Lunatics and Anarchists: Political Homicide in Chicago,” 92 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 791 (2002).

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