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Joseph Medill (April 6, 1823 March 16, 1899) was an Americanmarker newspaper editor and publisher, and politician. He was co-owner and managing editor of the Chicago Tribune, and was mayor of Chicagomarker, Illinoismarker.


Medill was born in Saint Johnmarker, New Brunswickmarker, Canadamarker. In 1853, Medill and Edwin Cowles started a newspaper in in Cleveland, Ohiomarker: the Leader (later absorbed by the Plain Dealer). In 1854, he was asked to become managing editor of the Tribune by its part-owner, Captain. J. D. Webster. Medill was further encouraged to come to Chicago by Dr. Charles H. Ray of Galena, Illinoismarker, and editor Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune.

In 1855, Medill sold his interest in the Leader to Cowles, and bought the the Tribune in partnership with Dr. Ray and Cowles' brother Alfred.

Under Medill's management, the Tribune flourished, becoming one of the largests newspaper in Chicago. Medill served as its managing editor until 1864, when Horace White became editor-in-chief. At that time Medill left day-to-day operations of the Tribune for political activities.

However, White clashed with Medill over the Presidential election of 1872. So, in 1873 Medill bought additional equity from Cowles and from White, becoming majority owner. In 1874 he replaced White as editor-in-chief. Medill served as editor-in-chief until his death.

Political activity

Under Medill, the Tribune became the leading Republican newspaper in Chicago. Though probably holding what would now be considered racist views, Medill was strongly anti-slavery, supporting both the Free-Soil cause and Abolitionism. Medill was a major supporter of Abraham Lincoln in the 1850s. Medill and the Tribune were instrumental in Lincoln's nomination for the Presidency, and were equally supportive of the Union cause during the American Civil War. The Tribune's chief adversary through this period was the Chicago Times, which supported the Democrats.

In 1864, Medill left the Tribune editorship for political activity, which occupied him for the next ten years. He was appointed by President Grant to the first Civil Service Commission. In 1870, he was elected as a delegate to the Illinois Constitutional convention. In 1871, after the Great Chicago Fire, Medill was elected mayor of Chicago as candidate of the temporary "Fireproof" party, serving for two years. As mayor, Medill gained more power for the mayor's office, created Chicago's first public library, enforced blue laws and reformed the police and fire departments. However, the stress of the job broke down his health. In August 1873, he appointed Lester L. Bond as Acting Mayor for the remaining 3 1/2 months of his term, and went to Europe on a convalescent tour.

Medill was a strong Republican loyalist, who supported President Grant for re-election in 1872. The breach with White came because White supported the breakaway Liberal Republicans, reformists who nominated Horace Greeley for President. It was also at this time that Medill broke with Greeley.


Medill had two daughters: Kate and Elinor (Nellie).

Nellie married Tribune reporter Robert W. Patterson Jr. Their children Joseph and Cissy were also successful newspaper publishers.

Kate married diplomat Robert Sanderson McCormick. He was the nephew of Cyrus McCormick, founder of the Chicago Times and Medill's long-time adversary. Their sons Joseph M. McCormick and Robert R. McCormick both served as heads of the Tribune.


Medill's descendants include many prominent figures in American newspaper publishing.

Medill acquired a large country estate in Wheaton, Illinoismarker It was later occupied by his grandson, Robert R. McCormick, who named it "Cantigny". The Cantigny estatemarker is now a park and museum facility, open to the public.

The Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern Universitymarker is named after Joseph Medill. The School presents the annual Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism, which bears Joseph Medill's likeness.


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