James Bowler
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James Bowler
James B. Bowler
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 7th district

July 7, 1953 - July 18, 1957
Adolph J. Sabath
Roland V. Libonati
Personal details
Born(1875-02-05)February 5, 1875
Chicago, Illinois
DiedJuly 18, 1957(1957-07-18) (aged 82)
Chicago, Illinois
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Anastasia V. Sweeney
OccupationChicago Alderman
U.S. Congressman

James Bernard Bowler (February 5, 1875 - July 18, 1957) was a political figure from Chicago, Illinois (USA). He served three terms as a United States Representative for Illinois. Bowler is the oldest person to win his first election to Congress, and was 78 years old as a freshman in the House of Representatives.

Early life

Bowler was born in Chicago, Illinois on February 5, 1875.[1] He attended the parochial and public schools of Chicago, and was a professional bicycle endurance rider and racer[1] before running for Alderman. He later became involved in the insurance business and was the owner of several race horses, both ventures he acquired from the family of John Coughlin following Coughlin's death.[2]

Chicago politician

He became an Alderman (City Councilman) for Chicago's 19th Ward in 1906, serving alongside John Powers. When Anthony D'Andrea ran against Bowler in 1916, the violence during the election sparked the five-year-long Aldermen's Wars, which saw thirty political operatives killed.

Bowler served on the Chicago City Council until 1953, with hiatuses from 1923 to 1927 when he served as Chicago's Commissioner of Compensation, and in 1934, when he was Chicago's Commissioner of Vehicle Licenses. He served as chairman of several committees, including Rules and Finance, and was the council's President pro tempore for eight years. His 42 years on the City Council made him one of the longest-serving Aldermen in Chicago history.

Bowler was the Chairperson of the City Council's remapping committee in 1923 when it became apparent that the fairest map would redistrict him out of his own 19th Ward. With no hesitation, he proceeded to remap himself out of the City Council. Four years later, he ran in the new ward in which he found himself residing, the 25th, and won.


In 1953, he became a U.S. Representative for Illinois' 7th District. He was elected as a Democrat to the Eighty-third Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Adolph J. Sabath. He was reelected to the Eighty-fourth and Eighty-fifth Congresses and served from July 7, 1953, until his death.

During his later years, Bowler suffered from arthritis and other ailments, and walked with the aid of a cane.[3] During his final term, he was confined to a hospital bed and unable to attend House sessions, and his oath of office was administered in Chicago by Congressman Charles A. Boyle.[4]

Bowler is considered to have been one of the five individuals most responsible for pushing through legislation that helped fund the building of the Congress Street (now Eisenhower) Expressway in Chicago. He also was instrumental in creating the Illinois Medical District in Chicago, which contains several hospitals and other healthcare providers.

Retirement and death

Bowler died in Chicago on July 18, 1957.[1] He had been ill for several years following a heart attack and suffered from complications from arthritis.[5] He was buried at All Saints Cemetery, Des Plaines, Illinois.[1]


In 1905, Bowler was appearing in Salt Lake City as a member of a bicycle racing team when he married Anastasia V. Sweeney of Chicago, who had traveled to Salt Lake City for the ceremony.[6][7]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d James Bernard Bowler, Late a Representative, p. 5.
  2. ^ "Congressman James Bowler is Dead at 82", p. Part 2, Page 8.
  3. ^ James Bernard Bowler, Late a Representative, pp. 14-15.
  4. ^ James Bernard Bowler, Late a Representative, pp. 16-17.
  5. ^ Congerssman Dies; Harrisburg Daily Register; Harrisburg, Illinois; Page 10; July 18, 1957
  6. ^ James Bernard Bowler, Late a Representative, p. 12.
  7. ^ "Racing Man is Caught", p. 3.



  • United States Congress (1957). Memorial Services Held in the House of Representatives and Senate of the United States, Together with Remarks Presented in Eulogy of James Bernard Bowler, Late a Representative from Illinois. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.


External links

Further reading

  • Bike, William S. Streets of the Near West Side. Chicago: ACTA Publications, 1996, p. 22-23.

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website http://bioguide.congress.gov.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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