Great Scots

Scottish Name List


Photo Journal


Visit our Blog



Joseph Medill

Influential Editor, Chicago Mayor
and Adviser to President Lincoln

Commenting on his death in 1889, a competitive Chicago newspaper said of Chicago Tribune editor Joseph Medill, "No man of his time exercised a more decisive - or on the whole - a more beneficial influence on public affairs as Mr. Medill." ■ As editor of the fledgling Chicago Tribune, Joseph Medill gave the newspaper character and set it on the path to success. He served as mayor of Chicago just after the fire of 1871, instituting the reforms that still endure. He was a confidant and adviser to Abraham Lincoln. And as editor and delegate, he had wide influence in shaping the Illinois Constitution of 1870. ■ Two Presidents offered him cabinet posts but he turned them down. He was one of the founders of the Republican party and instrumental in selecting the name. ■ Joseph Medill was born April 6, 1823, near St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. His parents were Scots Presbyterians who emigrated from Ulster in 1819. The family moved to Ohio when Joseph was 9. He studied law and was admitted to the Ohio bar but quickly turned to journalism. He edited newspapers which he bought and sold until 1855 when he moved to Chicago to become part owner of the Chicago Tribune. From then on until his death, he was a major force in the newspaper's growth and influence as well as the city of Chicago. ■ As an abolitionist, Medill effectively rallied Midwest public opinion against slavery. Medill actively supported Lincoln during his rise to prominence, became his adviser, and urged him to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. ■ He worked until the day he died in a San Antonio, Texas, hotel on March 16, 1899. Editorials he had written appeared in the Tribune two days after his death.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546