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The history of Chicago's city government dates back to March 4, 1837 when the town of Chicago, with a population of about 4,006, was decided a city charter by the Illinois state legislature. Seven hundred and nine of Chicago's citizens chosen in the first major election on May 2, 1837, selecting a mayor, treasurer, city clerk and common council. A census, taken by the city a few months after the charter was granted, revealed, in part, that there were 398 dwellings, 5 churches, 26 liquor dispensaries, 10 taverns, 19 groceries, 17 law offices and 3 drug stores in the newly charter city.
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The first permanent settlement was founded in 1781 by Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, an African American from Santo Domingo. The location at the mouth of the Chicago river was chosen for its strategic value for a trading post as the river connected the Lake with the Mississippi river. Later the area at the mouth of the Chicago river was occupied by a military base, Fort Dearborn. The Fort was regularly atacked by Native Americans, until Chief Black Hawk was defeated in 1832. One year later, Chicago was officially incorporated as a town and four years later, when the population reached 4170, as a city. Its name was derived from the native indian's word describing the area.