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Charles Bowles

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Charles E Bowles March 24, 1884 – July 30, 1957 was a politician from Michigan, and served as Mayor of Detroit in 1930

Life and careeredit

Charles Bowles was born on March 24, 1884 in Yale, Michigan, the son of Alfred and Mary Lutz Bowles1 He graduated from Ferris Institute now Ferris State University in 1904, received a law degree from the University of Michigan in 1908, and was admitted to the bar in 19091 He married Ruth Davis in 1915; the couple had one daughter, Helen Ruth Bowles1

Bowles entered politics from obscurity and to run for the mayor's office vacated by Frank Ellsworth Doremus's resignation in 19252 He was openly supported by the Ku Klux Klan3 He ran third in the primary election behind John W Smith and Joseph A Martin, eliminating him from the ballot in the general election4 However, Bowles continued his campaign as a write-in candidate, and nearly won, losing only after 15,000 ballots were disqualified3 Bowles ran unsuccessfully for mayor once more the next year35 After his mayoral run, he obtained a position as judge on the recorder's court5 He was re-elected to his judgeship, but resigned to make one more run at the mayor's office in 19295

Bowles defeated John C Lodge in the primary and John W Smith in the general election to win office5 Bowles had campaigned as an anti-crime reformer, but when he fired Police Commissioner Harold Emmons after the latter had ordered a series of raids, he was accused of "tolerating lawlessness" and a recall election was instituted barely six months after he had entered office56 Multiple people campaigned for Bowles's recall, including radio commentator Jerry Buckley5 The recall was successful,6 but on the morning after, Buckley was shot in a hotel lobby5 Although evidence later surfaced indicating the murder had more to do with underworld blackmail than politics, the murder of Buckley cast suspicion on Bowles57 Bowles ran in the mayoral election a month later, but lost to Frank Murphy8

Later in his career he unsuccessfully ran for both the Michigan State House and US House, as well as Detroit mayor9

Charles Bowles died on July 30, 1957, and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery10


  1. ^ a b c Who's Who in Detroit, 1935-36, Walter Romig & Co, 1935, p 42 
  2. ^ National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 1969, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, ed, Crisis, Volumes 30-31; Black experience in America: Negro periodicals in the United States, 1840-1960, Crisis Pub Co 
  3. ^ a b c Victoria W Wolcott 2001, Remaking respectability: African American women in interwar Detroit, UNC Press Books, p 141, ISBN 0-8078-4966-9 
  4. ^ Kenneth T Jackson 1968, The Ku Klux Klan in the city, 1915-1930, Oxford University Press m 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Wilma Wood Henrickson 1991, Detroit perspectives: crossroads and turning points, Wayne State University Press, pp 340–344, ISBN 0-8143-2013-9 
  6. ^ a b "Bowles First Detroit Mayor To Be Recalled" Lewiston Daily Sun Jul 24, 1930 
  7. ^ "Three Go On Trial In Buckley Slaying; State Claims Murder was "Perfect Crime"" Palm Beach Post Mar 4, 1931 
  8. ^ "Bowles Loses But Wins Over Recall Crowd" Sarasota Herald Sep 10, 1930 
  9. ^ "Lively Mayoralty Nace Predicted In Detroit" Palm Beach Post Oct 7, 1943 
  10. ^ "Charles E Bowles" Find-a-Grave Retrieved November 8, 2010 

External linksedit

  • "Turmoil in Detroit" Time, June 2, 1930
  • "Death in Detroit" Time, August 4, 1930
  • Charles Bowles at Find a Grave
Political offices
Preceded by
John C Lodge
Mayor of Detroit
Succeeded by
Frank Murphy

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