February 3, 1892: Charles D’Autremont elected mayor of Duluth

Charles d’Autemont. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

On this day in Duluth in 1892, Charles D’Autremont was elected as mayor of the Zenith City. In 1892 he defeated fellow Democrat and incumbent M. J. Davis in the primary for Duluth’s mayoral race and faced Republican candidate Charles Long. The Republican-leaning Duluth News Tribune called for the Republican party to endorse Davis, saying Davis “Stands for…morality and good” while D’Autremont wanted “wide-openness.” The News Tribune also thought very little of Mr. Long. The paper even predicted a loss for D’Autremont the day before the election: “There are about 1,400 Democratic votes [remember only property-owning males of European descent could vote at the time]. But all of the Democrats are not going to vote for D’Autremont because there are some respectable Democrats who love law, order and morality. Mr. D’Autremont cannot get many votes outside of the Democratic ranks; therefore, his chances of election are very slim. If he gets 1,000 votes, he will do well.” The paper also quoted D’Autremeont’s address to “Polanders” two days before the election: “The question now before you is whether or not you will turn over the government of this city to the churches and the Scandinavians. Will you do it? I think not.” The paper ran yet another brief story that day trying to persuade readers not to elect D’Autremont: “Up to date not a single argument has been produced to show why Mr. D’Autremont should be elected.” D’Autremont won handily. So imagine that, folks: editorials from the Duluth News Tribune endorsing a Republican candidate and trashing a Democrat when the majority of the citizens of Duluth—the papers very readers—overwhelmingly wanted the Democrat in office. Can you image that happening now? That would be like some right-leaning newspaper executive in North Dakota dictating who a newspaper in Northeastern Minnesota should endorse, and of course that would never happen today…right? By the way, despite the News Tribune’s fears, historians describe the D’Autremont administration as “efficient and progressive” and for the rest of his life D’Autremont was considered one of the leading Democrats of the region. You can read more about Charles D’Autremont here.

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