Illinois · Political

Man assassinates Mayor for not giving him a job

October 28, 1893
Chicago, Illinois
Eugene Patrick Prendergast assassinates Mayor Carter Henry Harrison for not giving him a job (which was apparently no uncommon at the time)

Prendergast, a 23-year-old newspaper carrier, had electioneered for Mayor Harrison’s fifth term in office, a service Prendergast assumed would allow him to hold the seat of corporate counsel. When he did not receive the position, he visited Harrison three times in his office, being rebuked more sternly than the time before.

On October 28, Prendergast showed up at Harrison’s home and was shown in by Harrison’s servant, Mary Hansen, as per Harrison’s policy of seeing anyone who would visit him regardless of the time of day. When Harrison came to greet Prendergast, the assailant shot the mayor three times: one bullet shattered Harrison’s left hand; one entered his abdomen leaving a wound that would have likely proved fatal on its own; and one penetrated his heart or very near it. Harrison lost consciousness quickly and bled out within 20 minutes.

Prendergast fled the scene but was quickly apprehended at which point he confessed to his crime. When asked why he had shot Harrison, Prendergast only repeated himself, saying he had not been awarded the position Harrison supposedly promised him. He also “made some threats about beating his brains out against the cell bars,” but the threats were not taken seriously and Prendergast did not make good on such threats.

Prendergast was convicted of murder and sentenced to hang. On July 13, 1864, despite claims he would deliver a 20-minute-long final statement, Prendergast went to his execution silently.

Sources:

  • “Dies by the Rope.” The Watertown News [Watertown, Wisconsin]. July 18, 1894
  • “Prendergast Plucky.” Akron Daily Democrat [Akron, Ohio]. July 14, 1894
  • “Assassin Must Die.” Chicago Tribune [Chicago, Illinois]. December 30, 1893
  • “Killed By Lunatic: Mayor Carter H. Harrison Shot and Killed At His Home Saturday Night.” Bismarck Weekly Tribune [Bismarck, North Dakota]. November 3, 1893
  • “Is Held For Murder.” Chicago Tribune [Chicago, Illinois]. October 30, 1893
  • “Chicago Mourning Over the Tragic Death of Her Popular Mayor.” The Allentown Ledger [Allentown, Pennsylvania]. October 30, 1893
  • “Always Regarded of Sound Mind.” Chicago Tribune [Chicago, Illinois]. October 29, 1893

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