Mayor Daley and the Chicago Democratic Machine

Level: Middle, High school
Subject: History, Government, Social Sciences/Studies
Date: 1986
Duration: Part 1 – 56 minutes; Part 2 -56 minutes; Part 3 – 39 minutes
Synopsis:
A look at the life and career of Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley. The show is made up of interviews with Daley’s family, friends, colleagues, and critics, as well as archival footage.
Reel 1

Back to top

Reel 2

Back to top

Reel 3

Back to top

Teaching Tools

Post-screening discussion questions

Note: Questions are arranged based on when they occur in the video
Title 1: Daley

  • Reel 1
  1. What was Richard J. Daley’s power and influence over state and federal politics?
  2. What did Chicago citizens think about Daley?
  3. How did Daley react to protestors in 1968?
  4. How did Daley deal with his political opponents?
  • Reel 2
  1. Why does Leon Despres say that Daley was not a great mayor?
  2. How did Daley react to segregation and race issues?
  3. What does Despres have to say about patronage and corruption in the Daley Administration?

General Questions

  1. How did Mayor Daley exemplify machine politics?
  2. Was Mayor Daley a good mayor or was he a poor one like Leon Despres alleged?
  3. What are the benefits of the patronage system? What are the drawbacks?

Activities

  1. Have students write a short paper comparing the positive and negatives of Mayor Richard J. Daley.
  2. Have students create political cartoons that are either a) anti Daley b) pro Daley c) anti Despres d) pro Despres
  3. It is 1971 and Mayor Daley is running for reelection. Since 1968 some seem to think his popularity has been declining. Your are in charge of running his election campaign. Working with a group create the following a) a radio commercial b) television commercial c) posters to make sure he is reelected. Both commercials should be no more than two minutes long and no less than 45 seconds long.

Video B: It’s A Living: a documentary inspired by the book “Working” by Studs Terkel

Level: Middle, High school
Subject: History, Government, Social Sciences/Studies
Title 2: It’s A Living: a documentary inspired by the book “Working” by Studs Terkel
Date: 1975
Duration: Complete video – 60 minutes (4 minute clip selected for discussion questions below)
Synopsis:
Studs Terkel commenting on tape of Daley at City Council meeting discussing patronage.

Back to top