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|11th & 13th|
|Mayor of Chicago|
March 12, 1850 – March 11, 1851
|Preceded by||James H. Woodworth|
|Succeeded by||Walter S. Gurnee|
March 9, 1847 – March 14, 1848
|Preceded by||John P. Chapin|
|Succeeded by||James H. Woodworth|
|City Clerk of Chicago|
|Preceded by||Thomas Hoyne|
|Succeeded by||James M. Lowe|
Serving with John S.C. Hogan
|Preceded by||Fancis Edwards/ Francis H. Taylor|
|Succeeded by||J. Brinkerhoff/ Benjamin W. Raymond|
Serving with John S.C. Hogan
|Preceded by||Peter Bolles/ Francis C. Sherman|
|Succeeded by||Eli S. Prescott/ Clement C. Stose|
|Clerk of the Court of Cook County|
|Preceded by||inaugural office holder|
|Town Clerk of Chicago|
|Preceded by||Ebenezer Peck|
|Succeeded by||Isaac N. Arnold as Chicago City Clerk|
|Born||March 29, 1806
|Died||November 2, 1859(1859-11-02) (aged 56)
|Political party||Democratic Party|
|Children||James, Mary Kimball, Sarah, Lucy Maria, Elizabeth, Laura, Charles Chauncy, Laura Minnie, George Warren|
Born on April 7, 1806 in Wethersfield, Connecticut, Curtiss became a printer's apprentice at an early age in Philadelphia. He worked for a time at the Portland Argus, then was printer, and eventually editor and publisher of the Eastport Northern Light, a Jackson Democrat newspaper. He married Mary Kimball on May 18, 1830. From 1830 through 1835, he served as a postmaster in Eastport. In 1834, Curtiss was under investigation by the Postmaster General for his management of the office.
Political career in Chicago
Shortly after his arrival in Chicago, he was appointed States Attorney for the district north of the Kankakee River. He was appointed to Chicago's first Board of Health. He succeeded Ebenezer Peck as Town Clerk in September 1836. He also opened a short-lived law practice with William Stuart in 1836 named Stuart and Curtiss, which was dissolved the following year.
The Panic of 1837 left a large number of land investors unable to meet their obligations. In hopes of delaying the resulting foreclosures Curtiss and others had unsuccessfully attempted to delay the opening of the Municipal Court that winter.
Curtiss was elected alderman for the 2nd Ward in 1838. In 1839, he ran in Chicago's third mayoral election, losing to Benjamin Wright Raymond. In 1842, he was elected City Clerk. In 1843, he was made Corresponding Secretary of the Chicago chapter of the Washington Temperance Society. In 1845, the Illinois Legislature created the Court of Cook County and appointed Curtiss as its first clerk. In 1846, he was elected as alderman again, this time for the 3rd Ward.
First mayoral term
He lost his bid for reelection in 1848, being defeated by James Hutchinson Woodworth (an independent Democrat who ran on a fusion ticket supported by Whigs and Democrats). His tenure ended on March 14, 1848, when Woodworth succeeded him in office.
Second mayoral term
Curtiss returned to the mayor's office after winning the 1850 Chicago mayoral election, defeating Levi Day Boone and Lewis C. Kerchival (both of these challengers being Democrats without formal party nomination). He was sworn-in on March 12, 1850.
Retirement from politics
Curtiss died on November 2, 1859, in Joliet, Illinois, after a long illness. His funeral was held at the Second Presbyterian Church on Wabash Avenue following the Odd Fellows rites. Originally buried in City Cemetery, when the Cemetery was moved to make way for Lincoln Park, his remains were lost.
- "Centennial List of Mayors, City Clerks, City Attorneys, City Treasurers, and Aldermen, elected by the people of the city of Chicago, from the incorporation of the city on March 4, 1837 to March 4, 1937, arranged in alphabetical order, showing the years during which each official held office". Archived from the original on September 4, 2018. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
- "Obituary". Chicago Press and Tribune. Chicago. November 4, 1859.
- Joseph Griffin, ed. (1872), A History of the Press of Maine, Brunswick: Press of J. Griffin, pp. 148–149
- Morrison, Leonard Allison; Stephen Paschall Sharples (1897). History of the Kimball family in America, from 1634 to 1897 : and of its ancestors the Kemballs or Kemboldes of England; with an account of the Kembles of Boston, Massachusetts. Boston: Damrell & Upham.
- United States Official Postal Guide. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. 1831. p. 9.
- Official Register of the United States. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. 1835. pp. 7.
- Niles, William Ogden (1834). Niles' Weekly Register,. 46. Washington, DC: H. Niles. p. 304.
- Hurlbut, Henry Higgins (1881), Chicago Antiquities, Chicago, IL: Chicago, p. 644
- Chicago's Mayors: A Collection of Biographies Of All Chicago’s Mayors by Elaine C. Shigley (Chapter nine)
- Andreas, A.T. (1884), History of Chicago: From the Earliest Period to the Present Time, 1, Chicago, IL: A.T. Andreas
- Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society
- "Mayor James Curtiss Inaugural Address, 1847". www.chipublib.org. Chicago Public Library. Retrieved 26 May 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Mayor James Hutchinson Woodworth Inaugural Address, 1848". www.chipublib.org. Chicago Public Library. Retrieved 26 May 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Biography of Mayor Curtiss at Chicago Public Library". Chicago Public Library. 2002. Retrieved 2017-11-02. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Mayor James Curtiss Inaugural Address, 1850". www.chipublib.org. Chicago Public Library. Retrieved 26 May 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Mayor Walter S. Gurnee Inaugural Address, 1851". www.chipublib.org. Chicago Public Library. Retrieved 26 May 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Biography of Mayor Gurnee at Chicago Public Library". Chicago Public Library. 2002. Retrieved 2017-11-02. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Ninth Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point NY, Chicago, IL: A.S. Barnes and Co, 1878
- Kestenbaum, Lawrence (1996–2010). "Curtiss to Cushin". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 2011-01-25. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
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