James Curtiss

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James Curtiss

James Curtiss (* April 7, 1803 in Wethersfield, Connecticut; † November 2, 1859 in Joliet, Illinois) was a U.S. politician. In 1847 and 1848 and from 1850 to 1851 he was mayor of the city of Chicago.


James Curtiss completed an apprenticeship in the printing trade in Philadelphia. He then worked for some time in the newspaper business in Eastport, Maine, where he edited the Northern Light newspaper. Between 1830 and 1835 he was also postmaster in that city. In 1834 he was investigated for his official conduct as postholder. The following year he moved to Chicago, where he published the Chicago Democrat newspaper. There he also served for a short time as a prosecuting attorney and as a lawyer, suggesting an earlier study of law.

Politically he belonged to the Democratic party. He became a member of the Board of Health and the City Council. In 1839 he ran unsuccessfully for mayor. In this he was defeated by Benjamin Wright Raymond. Curtiss subsequently held several local offices in the city and court administration. In 1847 he was elected mayor of Chicago after all. He first held this position for one term between 1847 and 1848, then lost in 1848 to James Hutchinson Woodworth, who served two terms as mayor. In 1850 he was again elected to the office of city mayor, which he was able to hold for one more year. After running unsuccessfully for his retention or re-election to that office in 1851 and 1852, he retired from politics.

In 1855 James Curtiss moved to West Urbana, now the town of Champaign, where he worked at farming. He died in Joliet on November 2, 1859, after a lengthy illness.

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