|San José State University|
& Tornado Alley
MACHINES IN THE U.S.
The Political Machine of
Frank Hague of Jersey City, New Jersey
Frank Hague came from a squalid Irish-immigrant slum area of Jersey City called the Horseshoe. The Irish had come to the area as workers for building the railroad lines that linked New York City with the rest of the country and settled there after the railroads were completed. Frank Hague's father worked as a blacksmith in the railroad yards of Jersey City.
Frank Hague was expelled from school in the sixth grade as a troublemaker and never returned. He worked for two years as a blacksmith's helper at the Eire Railroad yards, the only private industry job he ever held in his whole life. After he quit the railroad job he managed a prizefighter for a while before being recruited by a local Democratic boss to manage a "social club" in the Horseshoe. The social club was in effect a street gang that could be called upon during political campaign to beat up opponents and intimidate the electorate. He soon broke with this boss over the matter of rewards for services and allied himself with other bosses. At 21 he ran for ward constable and won with a little help from a friend who stole a precinct ballot box and altered the ballots. But to young Hague's chagrin the position did not pay a salary. Despite his disappointment he organized his friends into a political faction and offered support to the leader of the county machine. They were so effective in getting out the vote in a sheriff's election that Hague and some of his friends were rewarded by being appointed deputy sheriffs at a salary that was three times the average workman's wage.
Shortly after this there occurred an episode that plagued Hague for years. A friend of his, Red Dugan, had been identified as passing fraudulent checks in Boston. Dugan prevailed upon Hague to go to Boston and testify under oath that he had seen him in a park in Jersey City the day the checks were passed. Unfortunately for Hague, after he returned to Jersey City Dugan confessed and the Boston court called for the prosecution of Hague for perjury. Hague was not extradited to Boston so he never had to stand trial but the "Red Dugan affair" of 1904 was brought up time and time again. It didn't hurt Hague too much with the Irish voters because they understood that he had done it for friendship and, according to Hague, only because his mother begged him to do it.
The political machine of Hudson County, which includes Jersey City, had lost control of the mayor's office of Jersey City and Hague was brought into the machine to help win back control by electing the machine's candidate, Otto "The Dutchman" Wittpenn. When Wittpenn won the election Hague wanted as a reward for his help to be appointed custodian of the city hall, a job that had a good salary and whose duties could be left to 100 underlings of his own choosing. In addition this job offered the opportunity of doing favors for outsiders at city hall. The county boss denied Hague's request but the newly elected mayor granted it. This led to a political split between the county boss and the mayor of Jersey City he helped to elect. The county boss threatened to have the Hudson County Board of Aldermen pass an ordinance that would change the nature of the position of Custodian of City Hall such that Hague would be out of a job. Hague had a few people beat up as a warning to the Aldermen and they decided not to act on the proposed ordinance.
It was quite common for political allies to have a falling out over the division of the spoils of political victory. But after falling out over such matters they sometimes got back together out of political necessity. The county boss supported Wittpenn for re-election and Wittpenn won. Hague then urged Wittpenn to run for governor of New Jersey. The county boss feared this would give Hague too much power so the county boss refused to support Wittpenn's race for the governorship and supported Woodrow Wilson instead. Wilson was successful and later went on to become President of the U.S.
The county political boss died and Hague's political prospects improved. In 1911 Wittpenn ran again for mayor of Jersey City and Hague ran for a place on the five-member Street and Water Commission. Hague and Wittpenn campaigned on a platform of being against "bossism." Both won their campaigns.
Hague began a program of actually cleaning the streets and enforcing the city's anti-littering ordinance. Before Hague the streets were seldom cleaned and then only just before elections. Hague required the streets to be cleaned every night by hosing them with water from the fire hydrants. Hague achieved a reputation as an economizer by cutting the number of employees in the Street and Water Department from 218 to 116. But after the newspapers praised his economizing he quietly increased the number of employees to a higher figure than before.
Jersey City switched to a commission form of government from the city council type. By this time Hague and Wittpenn were political rivals. Hague ran a slate of five, including himself, called the "Unbossed." All but one of the five commissioners were under the control of Hague. The commissioner elected by the largest vote became mayor. This time the mayor was not a Hague man, but in the election of 1917 the front runner, a Hague man, declined the mayor-ship in favor of Hague. Hague continued to be mayor of Jersey City for thirty years.
One of the first things Hague did was to try to increase tax revenues by increasing the assessed value of Standard Oil property, the public utility companies and the railroads the ran through Jersey City. He had them increased by a factor of about ten. These property owners went to the New Jersey Board of Tax Assessments and got the increases canceled. Hague then decided that he needed to gain control of the state government in order to prevent being thwarted in raising tax revenues in Jersey City.
The basis of a political machine like Hague's which was limited to Hudson County is that a political boss can deliver a large vote to his choice in the statewide election. There is a large legitimate vote in favor of the boss' candidate which can be enhanced, if necessary, by voter fraud. Usually the election returns from the boss' area are reported late, after the count for the rest of the state is known and the machine knows how much of a favorable vote has to be delivered. In the case of the governor's race of 1919 the candidate running against Hague's choice, had a 21 thousand vote lead in the rest of the state but the 35 thousand plus plurality delivered by the Hague machine was sufficient to win the election. In the next governor's race in 1922 Hague's candidate was behind 34 thousand votes in the rest of the state, but the 46 thousand vote lead in Hudson County was enough for victory for Hague's choice. In 1925 Hague's candidate was behind 65 thousand votes in the rest of the state but a 103 thousand plurality in Hudson County brought victory for Hague's choice.
The election-winning pluralities were achieved only in part by fraud. Hague had an army of election workers to get out the vote on election day. These had to be rewarded with jobs and so Jersey City had the highest level of public employees in proportion to the population of any city in the country. Many of the jobs held by Hague people had no duties.
The electorate itself also had to be convinced to support Hague. This was achieved by a number of means. From the very beginning of his career Hague delivered on public services such as street cleaning, police and fire response to calls. Hague himself used to go for walks at night and call in emergency calls to the police and fire department and time the response. If the police or firemen were slow in responding they would be punished by Hague, usually verbally but occasionally physically with a punch in the face. Hague provided social services for the poor such as free food, clothing and coal and helping them find jobs. The rest got help with complaints about garbage collection and nonfelony problems with the police. He staged parades and excursions. He made the Catholic Church and veterans' groups allies by gifts and support. He courted the "mothers vote" by suppressing vices such as gambling and prostitution. He loved to say, "Jersey City is the most moralest city in the country." The gem of his regime was the 2000-bed Jersey City Medical Center, including the Margarite Hague Maternity Hospital named after his beloved mother. This was the equal of any medical center in the U.S. and most Jersey City residents got its services without charge. It cost about $3 million a year to run the medical center and it brought in only about $15 thousand a year in fees.
The cost of the Hague regime was not just in higher taxes, although Jersey City did have significantly higher taxes. Jersey City's budget was larger than cities with twice its population. The most serious costs of the Hague regime was in the loss of civil rights. Political opponents would be beaten without hesitation by Hague's political workers or the police. One may who tried to arrest an illegal voter in one election found himself arrested and held on $3500 bail. In an election in the 1920's the Honest Ballot Association sent 245 Princeton University students to Jersey City to act as poll watchers. Within one hour, five were beaten up so badly that they had to be sent to the hospital and all of them were excluded from the polling places.
Consider the case of poor, idealistic John Longo. In 1937 Longo put together an anti-Hague slate in the Democratic primary. Hague had Longo arrested on trumped up charges and a Hague judge sent Longo to jail for nine months. In 1943 the Governor of New Jersey appointed Longo as Deputy Clerk in Hudson County. Hague again had Longo arrested and six Hague-supplied witnesses gave perjured testimony and a Hague judge sentenced Longo to prison for 18 months to 3 years.
Hague also was quite determined to keep organizers for the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) unions out of Hudson County. He could tolerate the more conservative American Federation of Labor (AF of L) and even work with them. But the CIO he considered to be communist-dominated. No meeting halls were available to the CIO and the police simply picked up the organizers, beat them up and deposited them outside of the county.
Hague himself was quite candid. Two of his statements most frequently quoted were, "I am the law," and "I decide; I do; Me!"
It was clear by this time to Hague's opponents, both locally and statewide, that if they were ever to win another election they would have to get rid of Hague. Investigations were launched into Hague's personal finances. On a salary of only $8 thousand Hague had managed to amass millions of dollars worth of property. The investigations were not able to provide sufficient evidence to indict Hague much less convict him.
It was observed after decades of rule by Hague that although the Statue
of Liberty is visible from Jersey City its back is turned. Hague finally
announced his retirement from politics at age 69 in 1947. In fact he
continued to run the machine through his nephew, Frank Hague Eggers. The
machine lost control about four years later and Hague died in 1956.
Although in some ways James Michael Curley was similar to other machine bosses in others he was quite different. In particular he had a great deal more personal charm than most political bosses. This was his public personality; in private he was said to be more of an introverted loner and quite suspicious. A movie, entitled The Last Hurrah, was based upon his life.
Curley was the son of refugees from the famine that resulted from the potato blight in Ireland in the 1840's. He lived as a child in Roxbury (part of the metropolitan Boston area), and left school before high school to work in several unpromising jobs, including nine years as a grocery delivery boy. Curley developed an interest in politics and began to hang out at the cigar store which served as a meeting place for local politicians.
James Michael Curley was quite exemplary in his personal life as a young man. He did not drink nor did he date because he was quite shy with women. At political functions he was the organizer and he was the one who cleaned up after the event. He volunteered for charity work.
Curley was urged to run for the Common Council of Boston. The Common Council had relatively little power but it provided political exposure for politicians who wished to go on to more important offices. Despite great obstacles placed in his way by the Democrat ward captain who was his political enemy Curley ran an effective race and probably won, but was denied a victory by ballot box irregularities by his political enemies. This made him determined to beat those politicians, especially after they got him fired from his job as grocery delivery boy. While working as a traveling salesmen he worked on his speech-making techniques and eventually became a great orator.
In his next run for Common Council Curley combined effective campaigning with a tough resistance to the strong-arm tactics of his opponents. For example, a candidate place on the ballot was based upon the order in which the candidates registered. Curley camped out at the registration office the night before the start of registration in order to be first in line. His enemy sent thugs to evict him from his place in line but Curley and the supporters he brought along fought the toughs and held their place. At a speech Curley dealt with one heckler who was too tough a brawler for Curley's supporters to deal with by knocking him out with a punch to his face. Curley made sure the ballot count was honest and he won the election.
Many city jobs had been given to supporters of his political opponents. Instead of trying to fire them, Curley shrewdly took steps to win them over to be his supporters, for example, by advocating that the city give its employees Saturday afternoons off. Curley also advocated an eight hour work day for city employees. This was Curley's style, championing benefit programs for voters (without much consideration of costs).
Before the election Curley got into legal difficulty for taking a post office exam in the name of a supporter. Curley and one of his political associates, also named Curley but of no relation, were spotted at the exam illegally taking the exam in the place of two supporters who feared they could not pass it on their own. Curley ended up spending two months in jail over the episode but it did not really hurt his political career in as much as everyone knew he was doing it for a man who needed a job.
Curley went on to a variety of political posts. He was elected to the Massachusetts State Legislature. He was an alderman and a city councilman before becoming mayor of Boston in 1914. Curley served several terms as the mayor of Boston although some of those terms were widely separated. He lost his re-election bid in 1918 but won the office in 1922. He failed to be re-elected in 1926 but won in 1930. In office he promoted programs to bring benefits to his constituents but these programs were costly and created budget problems in his administration. He was Governor of Massachusetts from 1935 to 1937. The New Deal of President Franklin Roosevelt provided vast funds to Curley for public projects.
During the period of 1938 to 1942 he unsuccessfully ran for governor, U.S. senator and mayor of Boston. In 1942 he succeeded in being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He was re-elected to this office in 1944. In 1947 he was again elected as mayor of Boston. During his term he allowed his name to be used in a business venture that turned out to fraudulent. It is not clear that Curley knew the full nature of the operation but because the business venture used the U.S. mails he was found guilty of mail fraud and sentenced to Federal prison. Curley continued to run the government of Boston from his prison cell. He only served five months before President Harry Truman arranged his release and later gave Curley a full pardon. Curley tried to be elected mayor of Boston in 1950 and failed. After failing once again in 1954 he retired. In 1958 he died.
Edward Hull Crump, Jr. came to Memphis in 1893 at age 18 from Holly Springs, Mississippi with 25 cents in his pocket. Within a decade he was on his way to virtually running the city. He had dropped out of school at fourteen and gone to work. After working at a variety of jobs he took a course in bookkeeping and was able to work his way up from clerical jobs to a managerial position. He joined social clubs and at age 27 he married the daughter of a socially prominent family. His wife's family provided him with the funds to buy out his employer. He then started to think about going into politics. In 1903 he ran for some minor offices in the local Democratic Party organization and set his sights in securing a paid political office.
Established political elements were displeased with the Memphis government at that time. Tax rates were considered too high and public services such as street repair, fire protection and public safety were inadequate. Memphis was reputed to have the highest murder rate in the nation. Drunkenness, gambling and prostitution were prevalent and visible. An aspiring politician named K.D. McKellar put together a reform slate in 1905 and Crump was a candidate for the Board of Public Works. This board not only had responsibility for street construction, street lights and public buildings, it was the lower chamber of the city council of Memphis. The upper chamber was the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners.
Early in his campaign Crump discovered that he just could not make a public speech. He was personable and charming in small groups but simply froze up in front of a formal audience. He tried to make up for his inability to speak publically by extensive personal contact and it was successful. His red hair made him easy to remember.
The Board of Public Works was a disappointment to Crump. The duties were not notable and all his proposals were ignored by the mayor and the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners. In 1907 a vacancy developed in the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners to be filled by an election in November. Instead of immediately announcing his candidacy Crump first resigned in protest from the Board of Public Works and denounced the inaction of the mayor in carrying reforms. After newspapers praised his sincerity concerning reform then Crump entered the race for the vacant position on the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners. He won.
Almost immediately he started working on becoming mayor. He publically charged the Chief of Police with ignoring gambling and after-hours drinking establishments. He deputized 18 of his friends and with a newspaper reporter raided several gambling operations. This got him favorable publicity. He also challenged the fairness of the leadership of the Shelby County Democratic Party organizations. Again there was not any change but Crump got favorable publicity as an ardent reformer. Crump also championed an organizational reform in the structure of city government to the mayor-commission type. He also attacked the low assessed valuation of railroad property in the city.
Crump also had the support of W.C. Handy the creator of the Blues. Handy wrote a song called the "E.H. Crump Blues," and led a band which performed on street corners to draw a crowd for Crump rallies. The song's words were not quite an endorsement of Crump but it was still good publicity. The words were:
Mr. Crump won't allow no easy-riders here,
Mr. Crump won't allow no easy-riders here,
I don't care what Mr. Crump won't allow,
I'm gonna barrelhouse anyhow.
Mr. Crump can go and catch hisself some air.
At that time there was a poll tax of $2 that discouraged many people from voting. Generally throughout the South black people could not vote, particularly in the Democratic Party primary. Since Republican Party membership was minimal the real election was the Democratic Party nomination primary. In Memphis, which was 40 percent black, blacks did vote because it served the interest of the white politicians to have a substantial black vote they could control. The white politicians bought blocks of poll tax receipts which they provided to the black voters with instructions of how to vote. In return for their voting blacks got barbeque, Coca Cola, whisky and watermelons.
Ed Crump won the mayor's race by 79 votes out of a total of about twelve thousand votes. For four decades thereafter Crump was a major player if not a dominating influence in Memphis and Tennessee politics. Crump sent a lobbyist to Nashville, the state capital, to promote changes in the law which would reform the structure of government in Memphis and Shelby County.
Crump brought efficient and economical government to Memphis and in the next election in 1911 he beat his opponent, the same one as in the previous election, by 11,432 votes to 3,536. The state legislature increased the term of office of the mayor from two years to four years.
Crump then made a couple of political blunders. First, he announced he was going to run for Sheriff of Shelby County while remaining Mayor of Memphis. By the time a court ruled that it is illegal for someone to hold two elective offices it was too late to get the name of Crump's choice for sheriff on the ballot. Despite this Crump organized a write-in vote campaign for John Reichman for sheriff. This involved not only persuading literate voters to write in this name but also teaching illiterate voters to write this name. The name had to be spelled correctly to count. Despite the odds Crump organization was successful. Years later there were blacks in Memphis who could spell only one word--"Reichman."
Crump was not able to recover from the second mistake so effectively. The State Legislature voted for prohibition of alcoholic beverages in Tennessee in 1909. The law was not popular in Memphis but the State did not attempt to enforce the law so there was not a crisis.
One political contest came over the issue of prohibition. In 1909 the state legislature passed a law prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages. The governor vetoed the measure but the legislature overrid that veto. Prohibition was not popular in Memphis and Ed Crump did not favor the enforcement of the law. Crump tried to arrange a deal with a new governor which would allow Memphis government to ignore the state prohibition law. The governor refused and Crump tried, unsuccessfully, to defeat him at his next election. The governor retaliated by promoting legislation which allowed individuals to arrange for the closure of saloons. Nevertheless in 1912 Crump chose to formally announce that Memphis would not enforce the law. This did create a legal crisis. Prohibitionist demanded courts oust Crump from the mayorship of Memphis. New state legislation was passed in Nashville which provided for the removal from office of any official who did not enforce the state laws. The situation was complicated by Crump's threat to take over a local electrical power company. Opponents of that move hoped to bring down Crump on the prohibition enforcement issues. The contest between Crump and his enemies dragged on until almost 1916 when Crump was re-elected to a new term of office. The court ruled that Crump was to be removed from office for non-enforcement of prohibition but that applied only to his 1912-1916 term. So Crump was removed but his opposition could not get an order for his ouster for his new term as mayor until he was sworn in. Crump's people got permission to delay his swearing in. Final Crump was sworn in and then immediately resigned.
At this point Crump decided to run Memphis through intermediaries. He set up an insurance company with offices close to city hall and ran things unofficially. People in local government and people wanting contracts with the city found it advisable to get their insurance from Crump's agency. Had Crump had an official position in local government this insurance business would have been a problem.
Ed Crump's influence in state and federal politics came as a result of the special political structure of Tennessee. Politically Tennessee is divided into three parts.
Eastern Tennessee is part of Appalachia and Republican in its orientation. In the Civil War eastern Tennessee was loyal to the Union even though Tennessee joined the Confederacy. Middle and western Tennessee are predominantly Democratic but nevertheless they are rivals for political power. Nashville dominates middle Tennessee and Memphis dominates western Tennessee. In Crump's career he frequently allied myself with Republican Party bosses in eastern Tennessee in his political contests with middle Tennessee.
Crump next sought the post of County Trustee, a job which had little in the way of duties except collect a fee on all money transaction between local residents and Shelby County. The holder got no salary but received from $30,000 to $50,000 a year in fees when other city position paid a salary of around $8,000. Crump campaigned and won the post with the considerable help of the saloonkeepers of Memphis. This gave him a substantial and assured income.
When Ed Crump resigned as mayor he left in office a man he expected to be a puppet. When the puppet rebelled Crump promoted the election of another. This one also was independent Crump got someone else elected. This one was also a disappointment to Crump and Crump went to Nashville to arrange for Memphis to have a city-manager form of government, which would thus abolish the office of mayor. He was almost successful.
Having failed with his plan to abolish the mayor's office Crump was forced to choose between a candidate, Rowlett Paine, that had criticized him or the candidate supported by the resurgent Ku Klux Klan of the 1920's. Crump chose Paine and got him elected. But Crump was not satisfied with Paine and at the next election, in 1927, ran Watkins Overton for mayor. Overton won. Overton was a Harvard-educated member of the Memphis elite but he was entirely willing to let Crump run Memphis for him.
Crump had become a wealthy man. His insurance business was successful and he owned a wide variety of other business interests, such as a Coca Cola franchise for upstate New York.
Crump's control over Memphis was tenuous as long as his political enemies controlled the state government in Nashville. One such enemy was Colonel Luke Lea, a former U.S. senator who owned several important newspapers and many businesses throughout Tennessee. Lea, like Crump, did not now run for public office but promoted candidates who would do his bidding. Lea allied himself with Clarence Saunders, a Memphis entrepreneur who invented the supermarket with his chain of Piggly Wiggly stores. Saunders lost control of the Piggly Wiggly chain but tried a comeback with an automated form of convenience stores called Kadoozles. When these failed he established a chain of stores which carried signs reading, "Clarence Saunders, Sole Owner of My Name." Saunders had a reputation for contrariness and eccentricity. Clarence Saunders had hopes of replacing Ed Crump as the dominant political leader of Memphis.
Crump's candidate for governor carried Memphis by a very large margin (about 24 thousand to less than 4 thousand) and won in Nashville as well but lost by a few percent because of the rural counties' vote for the other candidate, Henry Horton. Although Horton won the governorship Crump was able to use his influence in the legislature to thwart Horton on major issues. At the next election Crump supported another term for Horton and Colonel Luke Lea's papers supported Crump campaign to become the U.S. representative from Memphis. The Memphis area then gave Henry Horton a vote of over 27 thousand to a little over two thousand; a remarkable turnaround.
Ed Crump had no trouble winning election to Congress in 1930. But his sojourn in Washington was interrupted by financial and political events in Nashville. The economic downturn of 1930 had led to the failure of many banks around the country. The banks belonging to Colonel Luke Lea and his associates seemed to be surviving the hard times. But, in fact, they were not. They were staving off bankruptcy by illegally using state funds on deposit with them. When they finally did go broke there were millions of dollars of state funds lost. Since Governor Henry Horton had been backed by Colonel Lea and his associates the state losses were blamed upon him. There were calls for impeachment. Ed Crump went to Nashville and arranged for his men to be in strategic positions if Horton's government fell. Impeachment failed as it usually does when the official in power can and does use the power of the office to buy off the impeachment proponents. Nevertheless, with the Luke Lea organization destroyed, Crump was unchallenged in Tennessee politics.
Although dominant in Tennessee, Representative E.H. Crump in Washington in 1931 was not an important political player. His difficulty with public speaking prevented him from being active in the floor debate. Nevertheless the press paid some attention to him as a result of his status in Tennessee politics and because Crump was adroit at giving them quotable statements, often maxims. Crump told reporters that as a new member of the House of Representatives his job was to "observe, remember, compare, read, confer, listen and ask questions." His maxim was to "plan his work and work his plan."
Crump did have leadership influence among the members of Congress from Tennessee because they knew he was the key to their re-election. Ed Crump developed a long term political alliance with one of the senators from Tennessee, Kenneth Douglas MacKellar, popularly known as Kay Dee. Crump was an early supporter of Franklin Roosevelt for the Democratic nomination for President.
In Tennessee politics Crump decided to support Hill McAlister for governor. There were two other candidates for governor, Lewis Pope and Malcolm Patterson. Lewis Pope was the strongest opponent but Crump did not neglect Patterson in the campaign. Crump was fond of and adroit at writing political advertisements. One newspaper political advertisement written by Crump said of Patterson, a former governor and reformed alcoholic,
Drunk or sober he is the same Patterson today as of old... the same local and long-distance liar that he has been for years.
When Memphis newspapers charged that Crump would use fraudulent means to win the election for McAlister, Crump came back with a paid political advertisement that said in large letter,
Thieves Don't Work for Something They Intend to Steal.
Crump pointed out the money and effort that had been expended by his organization on behalf of McAlister.
In the election Lewis Pope was ahead in the rest of Tennessee by twenty thousand votes when it came time for the Shelby County votes to be reported. In Shelby County McAlister received more than 31 thousand votes to Pope's 2,318, way more than enough to offset Pope's lead elsewhere. Pope filed charges of election fraud with the Democratic state committee. This committee was controlled by Crump supporters so Pope might as well have saved his effort. The charges were dismissed.
McAlister was somewhat of a disappointment as governor for Crump. Crump reluctantly supported him for re-election in 1934. McAlister supported retaining prohibition in Tennessee after it was repealed at a national level. The 1930's Depression was hitting state finances hard and McAlister proposed a sales tax to support schools. Crump was opposed to this sales tax and used his influence to defeat it in the Tennessee Legislature. Crump said of McAlister that he was the "sorriest governor," one "who kept the sales tax hidden in his stony heart and tried in a sneaking way to put it over us."
After two terms as congressman Crump decided to concentrate on Tennessee politics. In the 1936 governor's race Senator Kay Dee MacKellar supported one candidate, Burgin Dossett, and thought Crump had acquiesced to his selection. But only 19 days before the primary Crump decided to support Gordon Browning for governor. Browning had been part of Luke Lea's group. By this time Crump could deliver a plurality of sixty to seventy thousand votes for his candidates in any state race. Through a political arrangement with Republican organizations in eastern Tennessee he could obtain another 10,000 votes for his candidates.
A major part of this machine vote came from the black vote Crump controlled in Memphis. Memphis was at that time, as mentioned before, 40 percent black. Memphis' high proportion of black population stemmed from Civil War days when the Union Army set up camps for freed slaves in the vicinity of Memphis. When the war was over many of these freedmen stayed in Memphis. Historically there was extensive voting by blacks in Memphis but the 1890 poll tax law put the price of voting ($2) beyond the means of most blacks. Crump's organization would buy great quantities of the poll tax receipts which were required for voting. At election times Crump's organization would provide barbeque, drinks and watermelons as well as poll tax receipts to black voters. The organization supplied these black voters with not only instruction on whom to vote for but often on whom to vote as; i.e., giving them the names of registered voters. In this way Crump's black voters could be trucked to several polling stations and cast their votes for the machine candidates.
But the black vote was not the only source of Crump's election support. There were thousands of people and their families that owed their jobs to Crump. There were other thousands that honestly thought that Crump gave them efficient, economical government.
During Crump's era Memphis won national awards for the quality of its public services; e.g.,
Crump had the support of the church groups in Memphis, the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), the local American Federation of Labor, the American Legion and the Chamber of Commerce.
Crump wanted personal credit for all of his programs. If any of his underlings appeared to be taking credit for something, even something Crump wanted, Crump would fight against it until it could later be reintroduced by him. Any underling, even the Mayor of Memphis, Wat Overton, who was guilty of appearing to take credit for a Crump project was dead politically. Crump could be very vindictive. He was even vindictive to anyone who did not show him proper deference, such as referring to him as "boss." Crump was fond of forcing his underlings to sing on demand, even if it made them look foolish.
Public facilities such as the municipal stadium were named after Crump. There was an E.H. Crump Day during the MidSouth Fair held every year in Memphis. At sporting events the crowd was expected to cheer when Crump arrived.
Although Crump could assure the election of the candidates that he selected he was not able to guarantee their loyalty once elected. Crump was instrumental in the election of Gordon Browning as governor. But Browning was independent of Crump. Luke Lea had been released from prison and was consulting with Browning. Browning set out to break Crump's power over Tennessee politics. Browning proposed two measures to bring this about. He proposed a county-unit voting system like that in effect in Georgia which would reduce the electoral power of the big city counties. Shelby County's share of state-wide votes would be reduced from 25 percent to 13 percent. Browning was able to secure passage of this measure in the Legislature, but Crump still had an ace up his sleeve. Crump challenged the constitutionality of the act in the Tennessee Supreme Court. This court, dominated by friends of Crump, declared the county-unit system unconstitutional.
Browning ran for re-election as governor in 1938. He tried other means to reduce Crump's electoral power, such as gaining control of the state election board and having it purge the Shelby County registration list of fraudulent names. The board eliminated 14 thousand names out of a total of 117,000 but the stricken names were probably returned to the registration list after the election board left town.
The battle between Crump and Browning continued in the paid political advertisements. Crump said of Browning in one ad, that Browning was "A bigoted boor [whose] heart has beat over two billion times without a single sincere beat." In another advertisement Crump said,
In a certain art gallery in France there are twenty six pictures of Judas Iscariot. None of them is alike, but they all resemble Gordon Browning.
Browning announced that he had ordered 1200 national guardsmen to police the polling places in Shelby County on election day. Crump had his cousin, the Federal District Court Judge, to issue an injunction against Browning's order.
On election day Shelby County gave a more than fifty thousand vote plurality to Prentice Cooper for governor. Gordon Browning was defeated.
Crump's power continued after World War II but it began to wane when returning veterans were unwilling to accept the dictatorial methods of machine bosses like Crump.
Crump fought a losing battle against organized labor in Memphis. Crump lost prestige in the Senate race of 1948. He referred to Estes Kefauver as being like a pet racoon and Kefauver capitalized upon this by saying that while he might be a pet racoon he was not Boss Crump's pet racoon. Someone gave Kefauver a coonskin cap which he wore to the delight of crowds. Kefauver won the Senate race handily, with Crump's candidate coming in as a poor third.
Crump tried a comeback in 1952. Gordon Browning was running for governor again. Crump was supporting Frank Clement. Crump however was no longer writing paid political advertisements. Nevertheless the Clement organization publicized some Crump comments about Browning:
Frank Clement beat Browning by 47 thousand votes but Crump's friend and political ally, Kay Dee MacKellar, lost the Senate race to Representative Albert Gore. On October 16, 1954 Edward Crump died of a heart ailment at age 80.
The story of the Pendergast Machine starts with Jim Pendergast, an older brother of Tom. The Pendergasts came from St. Joseph, Missouri. First Jim came to Kansas City. He worked in an iron foundry for five years with no prospects for a life other than that of a workman. Then one day he made a large bet on a long shot in a horse race. With his winnings he bought a combination rooming house, restaurant and saloon in a working class area. As a bartender he not only listened to the troubles of his customers and gave advice but he began to help those who needed jobs find them and sent food and clothing to those in the neighborhood in need. When a friend of his ran for mayor Jim asked his customers to vote for his friend. His help seemed so effective that other politicians came to him asking for his support. Soon Jim himself ran for alderman and won. He opened another saloon near the courthouse and city hall. Jim brought the rest of his family from St. Joseph, including his youngest brother, Thomas Joseph -- known in the family and close friends as "T.J."
Tom served as the cashier and bookkeeper for Jim's first saloon. Tom also helped with political matters in the first ward for which Jim was the alderman. Tom's style more often involved the use of force whereas Jim's was characterized by persuasion. Jim often admonished Tom that a saw was needed to shape wood, not a hammer. But Tom later told a New York Times reporter he learned the wisdom of Jim's way:
I know all the angles of organizing and every man I meet becomes my friend. I know how to select ward captains and I know how to get to the poor. Every one of my workers has a fund to buy food, coal, shoes and clothing. When a poor man comes to old Tom's boys for help we don't make one of those damn fool investigations like these city charities. No, by God, we fill his belly and warm his back and vote him our way.
Tom also adopted Jim's cardinal rule that a man must always keep his promises.
The Pendergasts sought to control Kansas City and its county, Jackson County. They were opposed by two leaders, Joe Shannon who sought the allegiance of the same populations groups that supported the Pendergasts and "Baron Bill" Nelson, the publisher of the major newspaper of Kansas City, The Star. Nelson sought to improve and beautify Kansas City and his natural following was the middle and upper classes. He opposed the Pendergasts as supporters of the saloon and gambling interests.
The Pendergasts and Joe Shannon were both bosses in the Democratic Party. They adopted labels to distinguish their factions. The Pendergast's faction was called the Goats and Shannon's faction was known as the Rabbits. The Goat faction was larger but Shannon was the shrewder strategists and often got the better deal in political maneuverings.
In 1900 the Pendergasts got their first mayor and replaced Republican city workers with their supporters. This included Tom becoming the Superintendent of Streets, which allowed him to hire 200 workers and buy material and equipment for the street paving program.
Jim Pendergast feared the rivalry between the Goats and the Rabbits would enable the Republicans to win back political power so he negotiated an arrangement with Joe Shannon to share equally the spoils of political control of Kansas City. It was called the Fifty-Fifty deal.
But Jim retired from public office in 1910 due to illness and died in 1911. Tom won his seat as alderman. The shift of power to Tom changed the operating rules. Jim would not sanction voting fraud but Tom rule was, "The important thing is to get the votes--no matter what."
The Pendergast holdings were extended by Tom from saloons to a wholesale liquor company, a hotel, a delivery service and later, after Prohibition in 1920 forced the closure of the saloons and liquor business, a ready-mix concrete company.
The Fifty-Fifty arrangement broke down in 1916 when the Rabbit mayor appointed mainly Rabbit supporters to city jobs. A Republican governor sent a representative, Tom Marks, to Kansas City to breakup city corruption. Since the Goats had lost out on the division of the spoils Tom joined forces with Republican Marks to drive Joe Shannon's faction from power.
There was a reform movement to replace the city council form of city government with a city-manager form. Under the city-manager form a council of nine would be elected under nonpartisan voting. The winning candidates would select a city-manager who would run the city. There would still be a mayor but the mayor's duties were largely ceremonial. The city-manager was supposed to be professional chosen without political consideration. This plan was supposed to destroy political bosses like Joe Shannon and Tom Pendergast. Shannon opposed it but Tom Pendergast realized that it would make his political control of Kansas City even easier than before. All he had to do was get five council members elected whereas under the old system of a two-house council of 32 it would take far more.
In the election four Goat supporters were clear winners and a fifth won by a small margin of 304 votes. Tom now controlled Kansas City thanks to the efforts of the reformers to establish the city-manager form of government.
At this point it necessary to note the political situation in Jackson County outside of Kansas City. This portion of the county was governed by a three judges who were administrators who ran the county agencies, levied taxes and supervised the county roadbuilding program. In 1922 the Pendergast got two of its supporters elected. One of those two was Harry Truman, later President of the U.S. The other Pendergast judge was Henry McElroy. Truman lost the 1924 election because Joe Shannon had his Rabbits vote for the Republican candidate. But in 1926 Truman won re-election and Pendergast control continued in the County for the next eight years.
When the Goat dominated city council met in 1926 they chose Henry McElroy as the city-manager, the man who, with Harry Truman, ran Jackson County for the Pendergast machine. The figure-head mayor elected was not one of the Goats and McElroy took over the office space in city hall that was supposed to be the mayor's. McElroy then gave jobs to six thousands Goats. About two thousand of these jobs were ones that involved pay but no duties. McElroy then lowered the assessed value of property of Goat supporters and raised it for critics of the Pendergast machine.
The Pendergast machine began increasing their social welfare functions and creating social club parties, dances and games. Tom Pendergast spent each morning from about six o'clock until noon hearing request for assistance. The net effect was to destroy the allegiance of the public to the Rabbit faction.
The machine did not initially have control of the police department because the director was appointed by the governor. But after McElroy held up the pay of policemen for four weeks the governor-appointed police director resigned. Gambling, saloons and prostitution were then allowed to flourish.
In the 1930 city elections the Pendergast machine won all eight council seats and the mayorship. Tom Pendergast then announced a "Kansas City Ten-Year Plan" of public works. The $40 million bond issue passed with 80 percent of the vote.
In 1932 the Pendergast machine was able to swing elections in Missouri for state and national offices. Harry Truman wanted the machine to back him for governor. Tom Pendergast declined to do so and Truman did not run.
When Franklin Roosevelt created his New Deal he channeled a major share of the patronage and funds through Tom Pendergast. Tom Pendergast treated this aid like the funds his machine distributed to the poor in the past, the only difference is that there was a lot more of it. As Tom expressed it, "You can't beat $5 billion."
By this time the ethnic composition of the north side of Kansas City was changing. Some of the wards were becoming predominantly Italian in character. The Italian residents were willing to be part of the Pendergast machine but they did not want Irish ward leaders. The local machine leaders tried to establish their authority by physically battling with the emerging leaders under the control of the Sicilian, Johnny Lazia. Lazia had quit school in the eighth grade although he was quite bright. For a while he was a clerk in a law office, but at 18 he decided to turn to crime. He was caught and sentenced to 15 years for robbery. Mike Ross, the Pendergast lieutenant for the north side of Kansas City won a parole from the lieutenant-governor when the governor was out of Missouri. Lazia thus only served eight months of a 15 year sentence. Mike Ross gave Lazia political assignments for the machine and Lazia carried them out effectively. But on the side Lazia was building up a bootlegging and gambling business. In 1928 Lazia moved to take control of Little Italy away from Mike Ross' people. Lazia's gang battled them successfully for control of the polling places. Tom Pendergast was forced to replace Mike Ross with Lazia in the north side. Lazia was very efficient at organization and soon Pendergast made him his top lieutenant. Lazia controlled slot machines, the numbers racket, bootlegging, gambling and nightclub speakeasies. He started demanding a share of the profits of other racketeers. Gangsters from other parts of the country began to spend their vacations in Kansas City where they had protection from the law.
About this time Tom Pendergast's bets for racing were creating a financial problem for him. Apparently his gambling obsession became uncontrollable after he bet $10,000 on a long shot and won $250,000. Ultimately that piece of luck brought his downfall. Pendergast needed his cut of Lazia's income to cover his horse racing losses.
Meanwhile the Federal Government targeted Lazia for prosecution for income tax evasion. The Pendergast regime had to use all of its influence to protect Lazia. In effect, the Pendergast machine went from being a corrupt political machine to a gangster-controlled political machine. On the positive side, Lazia came to the rescue of City-Manager McElroy when his daughter was kidnapped. Lazia put together the ransom and returned Mary McElroy to her grateful father. Lazia then led the hunt for the kidnappers and their capture. One was executed.
But in the election of 1934 the gangster element of the machine was clear. Gangsters in black limousines cruised around with no license plates intimidating voters. Seven shots were fired into the political opposition's headquarters. One man was killed trying to stop a gang from beating an election judge. People were beaten with baseball bats. The Associated Press sent out the story: "Big Tom Pendergast's Democratic machine rode to overwhelming victory today after a blood-stained election marked by four killings, scores of sluggings and machine gun terrorism."
Johnny Lazia was machine-gunned as he stood holding his car door open for his wife. He died twelve hours later. He was just 37 years old.
In the wake of the 1934 election Tom Pendergast had to name his choice for U.S. Senator for the Democratic Party primary. The first three individuals he offered his support to turned it down. The fourth was Harry Truman.
Truman had an uphill battle in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat because of his past association with the Pendergast machine. The vote for Jackson county was not announced until after the vote for the rest of the state was in. Outside of Jackson County Truman was 96 thousand votes behind his principal competitor. The vote reported for Jackson County was 137 thousand for Truman and 1,500 for his principal rival. Truman had the Democratic nomination and went on to win the Senate seat in November.
When Lazia was killed Pendergast could have cut his ties with the gangster element but his racing losses prevented him. Even the organized crime profits were not enough. Tom Pendergast got caught taking a $750 thousand bribe. He was sentenced to 15 months in the Federal prison at Leavenworth in 1939 but got out after a year on good behavior. The conditions of his parole forbid him from engaging in politics. He lived to see Harry Truman become the Vice President of the U.S. He died in January of 1945 and Vice President Truman came to his funeral. Truman said of Tom Pendergast, "He was always my friend, and I have always been his." Had Tom Pendergast lived until April of 1945 he would have witnessed one of his Goats become President of the United States, a President who is generally acknowledged to have been a near-great if not great president.
Eugene Talmadge worked assiduously to appear to be something he was not. He tried to appear to be a simple hick farmer of Georgia. His family was wealthy, involved in business as well as large scale farming. Although Eugene Talmadge's father did not hold a political office he was the close friend of one of Georgia's governors. That friend visited the Talmadge home and Eugene as a child heard the inside stories of politics. Eugene was recognized as exceptionally bright and he went to college at the University of Georgia to become a lawyer. He was noted for his hard driving toughness. This is evidenced by his playing on the University of Georgia's football team (Bulldogs) despite his weighing only 127 pounds. He also beat heavyweights in boxing. He was president of the University's Athletic Association, but he was a top debater and public speaker. His grades were excellent. He was also noted for his fondness for pranks.
After completing his law degree and passing the bar exam Eugene Talmadge first tried practicing law in Atlanta but without much success in gaining clients. He decided to move to a rural area but chose not to return to the town where his family lived. He chose instead Montgomery County, 100 miles southeast of his family home.
Although Eugene Talmadge did a little better as a lawyer in Montgomery County than he did in Atlanta he still had to support himself as a livestock trader. A successful horse trader has to be astute and clever.
In Aisley in Montgomery County, Talmadge lived in a boarding house managed by a very remarkable woman, Matilda Peterson. She was a widow raising one son. The boarding house was a very small part of her business activity. She ran a plantation of thousands of acres and was the depot agent and telegraph operator for the local railroad. She was also a stock trader. She was popularly known as Ms (miz) Mitt.
Eugene Talmadge courted Ms Mitt and proposed to her and she accepted. After they married they moved to Telfair County where they bought a large farm on Sugar Creek and built a quite substantial house (twelve rooms, two stories). Ms Mitt told Eugene to manage their farm and she bought another farm adjacent to it. She always outproduced her husband.
The county seat of Telfair County was McRae and Eugene Talmadge opened a law office there. His being a farmer as well as an attorney was an important factor in gaining clients among the farmers of Telfair County.
Eugene Talmadge idolized Thomas Watson, a populist party politician who had been the vice presidential candidate under William Jennings Bryan in 1896 and later became a U.S. senator for Georgia. Talmadge had an interest in politics but there were apparently no opportunities for him in Telfair County. Telfair County was run by a political clique in McRae who had no intention of letting Talmadge join them.
The political friend of Eugene's father was at that time Governor of Georgia. At the request of Eugene's father the Governor appointed Eugene solicitor of the City Court of McRae. The McRae clique went to Atlanta and had the state legislature abolish McRae's City Court.
Having been thwarted in his first attempt to enter into the politics in his county Eugene Talmadge was ready when the next opportunity arose. The courthouse clique's candidate for county commissioner announced that if he were elected he would fire the courthouse janitor, who had not swept the courthouse in months, and the county convict warden, another lazy sort. Although both of the employees probably should have been fired Talmadge recognized that there would be resentment of this action by family and friends of the two targeted employees. Talmadge persuaded the convict warden to run for county commissioner and let him, Talmadge, manage the campaign. Talmadge managed the campaign so well that his candidate was elected. The new county commissioner promptly appointed Eugene Talmadge the county attorney. The new county commissioner let Talmadge run the county. Under Talmadge the county spent the fifteen thousand dollars it had on hand and went another ninety thousand in debt. The courthouse clique tried unsuccessfully to have the county commissioner and attorney indicted. The courthouse clique, however, was not beaten. They promptly went to Atlanta and had the State Legislature abolish the offices of county commissioner and county attorney. In 1923 Talmadge once again had been excluded from local politics.
At that time, the early 1920's, the Georgia Department of Agriculture had developed into a little empire under it commissioner, J.J. Brown. Before World War I the Georgia Department of Agriculture had been insignificant, but J.J. Brown had expanded its scope and put 200 inspectors on the payroll. These inspectors had authority to oversee the production and distribution of food, drugs, livestock, gasoline, plants, poultry bees and fertilizer. The inspectors were supposed to certify that fertilizer was up to the quality specified on its tag. In realty the system was rife with corruption and the inspectors routinely certified below standard fertilizer and the farmers were well aware of it. Talmadge was induced to run against J.J. Brown for Commissioner of Agriculture.
At first most did not take Eugene Talmadge seriously, especially J.J. Brown. J.J. Brown offered to debate Talmadge in McRae, but specified that he, Brown, would get to speak first and then again after Talmadge had made his speech. It was an unfair arrangement but Talmadge accepted the conditions. Brown gave a polished presentation of his past accomplishments as Commissioner of Agriculture spiced up with humorous anecdotes. When Brown finished Talmadge came on like a buzz saw cutting apart Brown's record and accusing him of corruption. The audience knew of the shortcomings of the agricultural inspection, the overstaffing with corrupt and incompetent people. Talmadge said what they were troubled about and said it with fervor. Although Brown was entitled to speaking time to rebut Talmadge he did not even try and left the debate.
Talmadge gained rapid notoriety throughout Georgia as a result of the debate and received many requests to speak at local meetings. Brown had hoped that the large number of candidates in the race would divide the vote against him but Talmadge won easily.
Once in office Talmadge did not fire Agriculture Department inspectors right away as many expected. He knew if he fired them while the Georgia Legislature was in session there was good chance that his opposition would find a way to undo his firing. Instead he waited until the legislative session was over and then he fired all of Brown's inspectors and some of the executive staff of the Department of Agriculture. Some of those professionals fired refused to vacate their offices and Talmadge had them removed by force and new locks installed on the doors. Some of those fired sued Talmadge in court and a judge issued injunctions against Talmadge which he ignored. Talmadge was found in contempt of court and sentenced to one year in jail but he appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court and the cases were thrown out.
Talmadge hired his own agricultural inspectors and demanded better standards of them. He also promoted himself through the Department of Agriculture publication, Market Breeulletin. One fired reporter on the staff called Talmadge "The Wild Man Sugar Creek." The public liked the name and it kept appearing in Talmadge's later campaigns.
Talmadge ran for Agriculture Commission for a second term in 1928 and easily won. In his second term Talmadge tried something that re-enforced his image as a wild man. Chicago meat packers were setting lower price for Georgia hogs than hogs from other areas. Their argument was that since Georgia hogs were fattened on peanuts rather than corn their meat was less firm. Talmadge thought that he could get a higher price for Georgia hogs so bought up 82 railroad carloads of Georgia hogs for $80,000 and sent them off to the Northeast. But he couldn't get a better price and had to take an $11,000 loss of Department of Agriculture funds. The Georgia House of Representative decided to impeach Talmadge but Talmadge copied the strategy of Huey Long of Louisiana; i.e., soliciting a show of public support for himself and securing the signatures of enough members of the House to a statement that they would not vote for impeachment under any conditions. The House called off the impeachment proceedings.
In 1932 Georgia, along with the rest of the U.S., was experiencing the Great Depression. When the incumbent governor decided to run for the U.S. Senate. This made the governor's race wide open and Eugene Talmadge decided to run for governor. He was the tenth candidate to enter the race.
At this point it is necessary to note the nature of the political system in Georgia at that time. First, Georgia along with many Southern states had a one party system. There was so little opposition to the Democrat Party that winning the primary for the nomination on the Democrat ticket was effectively victory in the election. Second, the Democrat Party forbade any nonwhite to vote in the primary. In Georgia this meant that about one third of the adult population was excluded from the political process. Third, there a poll tax of $1 that discouraged 85 percent of the eligible electorate from voting. Fourth, the Georgia election law of 1917 required that each county no matter how small its population must have at least two votes. Georgia had 159 counties, in part because of subdivision of counties in response to this 1917 law. A candidate winning a plurality of the vote in a county got all of its unit votes. The 121 counties with the lowest population got 2 county-unit votes each, the 30 counties with next larger populations got 4 county-unit votes, each and the eight most populous counties got 6 county-unit votes each. Thus 55 counties with a combined population less than the county (Fullerton) in which Atlanta is located had a county-unit total of 110 whereas Fullerton County had only six county-unit. This system was designed to allow the rural areas to control the state politics of Georgia.
Talmadge announced, "I'm only going to campaign in the counties where the streetcars don't run." His program was one of reducing taxes and fees on the poor. In particular, he promised to reduce the fee for vehicle license to $3. The license for cars, trucks and buses were $13.50 plus an increment based upon weight. He also called for a reduction in the state sales tax. Sales taxes are regressive; i.e., the poor pay a higher proportion of their income for these taxes than do the middle income and upper income groups. Talmadge stated this concept more forcefully as, "A sales tax is a tax on the poor." He called for reductions in taxes but he also promised more schools and roads. He also promised to reduce the state debt. But the issue that elicited the more favorable public response was the $3 license tags.
Talmadge's campaign included professional entertainers and campaign songs, one of which was:
I've got a Eugene dog, got a Eugene cat,
I'm a Talmadge man from my shoes to my hat.
Farmer in the cornfield hollering "whoa, gee, haw," Can't put no thirty-dollar tag on a three-dollar car.
Talmadge supporters undermined the opposition by such tactics as setting fire to grass fields in the vicinity of their political campaign speeches.
Talmadge won a plurality of the vote, about 40 percent, but what counted was that he received more twice the county-unit votes than all of the others combined.
As in his first days as Commissioner of Agriculture he bided his time while the legislature was in session. He used the time to establish his image as a simple farmer. He had a barn and chicken house built on the grounds of the governor's mansion and pastured a cow there. He pandered to the ignorance of his supporters by announcing that no one who had gone past the eighth grade should ever be appointed to a high government office. He kept quiet about his own university education and showed people the only books he had were the Bible, a Sears Roebuck catalogue and the Georgia Financial Report. He made the same grammatical errors in speech that his supporters typically made, even though that was not his real speech pattern.
Once the legislature ended its session Talmadge began to implement his program. The Georgia General Assembly consider Talmadge's proposal for $3 license tags but took no action. Immediately after the legislative session ended Talmadge ordered the price of vehicle tags lowered to $3. When the official in charge of selling license tags refused to comply with his order Talmadge fired him and replaced him with someone willing to comply with the order. The poor farmers appreciated the $3 tags but it was even more of a bargain for truck and bus companies.
When Talmadge was head of the Department of Agriculture the Georgia legislature gave the governor power to control the budgets and spending of the departments. The legislature did this specifically to control Talmadge. But a few years later Talmadge is wielding this power and he uses it to punish the Highway Board, an elected body, for testifying against his $3 license tag to the legislature. The legislature should have heeded the adage that when giving power to the government you should first image that power being held by the worst person.
When the State Highway Board's budget came to Governor Talmadge he slashed it drastically. The highway commissioners refused to accepted the slashed budget and Talmadge slashed it even more. The highway commissioners tried to retaliate by stopping the payments for the Department of Highways for wages and salaries and payments to outside contractors. They thought the ensuing public pressure would force Talmadge to back down. They did not know Talmadge. He declared that since the commissioners were not carrying out their jobs they had "abandoned their offices." He declared a state of emergency and had the Georgia National Guard take over the office buildings of the Department of Highways.
Talmadge then began to take control of the other state departments. He fired the staff and replaced them with his supporters. He himself directed the operation in great detail. He used the funds saved by trimming Georgia's state departments to pay teachers' salaries and state pensioners, which were in arrears. His justification for his actions was that "the only way to have honest government is to keep it poor." He set the annual budget for one county's health department at $2.75. The budget of the Governor's Office on the other hand was tripled.
In 1933 Talmadge was among the governors invited to Washington for Franklin Roosevelt's presidential inauguration. Since there was a similarity in the rhetoric of Democrats Roosevelt and Talmadge there was initially a rapport. Talmadge and the other governors welcomed the massive Federal aid which provided assistance to the poor and jobs for the unemployed of their states. Talmadge publically supported the New Deal measures of Roosevelt but privately he had some reservations. He was, in part, alienated by the arrogance of Roosevelt's advisers who felt they knew better how to solve his state's problems than he did. And he was especially upset by the realization that Roosevelt did not intend to abide by the racial politics of Georgia. He began suspicious that many New Deal programs were secretly intended to help improve the condition of African Americans.
Soon Talmadge's public criticism of New Deal programs was countered by personal attacks on Talmadge by Roosevelt's advisers. There was much of the early New Deal that was flawed and subsequently was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Talmadge sued in the U.S. Supreme Court the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace over the New Deal cotton production restrictions and won.
By 1934 the split between Roosevelt and Talmadge was wide open. Roosevelt's administration took away Talmadge's power to administer the Federal relief programs. Talmadge had to run for re-election in 1934 and Roosevelt promoted the candidacy of Claude Pittman for governor of Georgia. Pittman criticized Talmadge for the number of pardons he had granted. Talmadge's retort was that, "A good strong man has got no business sitting around a jail...What we need is a whipping post in a man's own town in the case of smaller crimes, such as gaming or wife beating." Talmadge won a new term as governor by a landslide. He got twice as many votes as Pittman and in the county-unit vote that really counted Talmadge got 394 votes to Pittman's 16. Talmadge carried 156 out of the 159 counties of Georgia.
After his victory in the Democratic primary Talmadge attacked the New Deal. He said,
"The New Deal is a combination of wet-nursing, frenzied finance, downright communism, and plain damned foolishness. President Franklin D. Roosevelt is not a Democrat. The real fight in this country is Americanism versus communism, mixed up with some kind of crazy give-me."
Talmadge went on the road around the U.S. attacking the Roosevelt administration and promoting his candidacy for president. At home in Georgia Talmadge used the Georgia National Guard to break strikes at textile mills. When Huey Long was assassinated Talmadge attempted to be the spokesman for the anti-New Deal sentiment in the South.
In Georgia a leader in the legislature was trying to remove the control of the governor over the budget of the school system. This was the power the legislature had given the governor's office to control Talmadge when he was head of the Department of Agriculture and now Talmadge as governor was using to control the entire government. The legislative session ended without the passage of an appropriation bill. This meant that the government had no legal authority to pay any of the bills of the State of Georgia. Talmadge sent bills to be paid. The State Treasurer and State Comptroller refused to pay the bills. Talmadge fired both of them and sent troops to remove the two officials from their offices. The locks on the state vaults had been set so Talmadge had safecrackers open them up.
Talmadge attempt to promote his national candidacy for president was unsuccessful and he settled for fighting against Roosevelt's New Deal in Georgia. Talmadge was prevented by the Georgia constitution from running to succeed himself for a third term as governor so he decided to run for senator. The U.S. Senate seat for Georgia that was up for re-election in 1936 was held by Richard Russell. Talmadge's appeal to Georgia voters in state races did not extend to senate races. Talmadge overwhelmingly lost the Democrat primary vote to Russell. Talmadge carried only 16 counties to Russell's 143.
Talmadge was out of politics temporarily. But in 1938 the other senate seat was up for re-election. It had been held by Walter George but Roosevelt disapproved of Walter George and was promoting the candidacy of Lawrence Camp. With that division of forces Talmadge thought that he might have a good chance of winning. In fact, on the night of the Democrat primary election Talmadge thought he had won and claimed victory in a radio broadcast but late returns during the night put Walter George ahead.
Although the Georgia constitution prevented an individual from having three consecutive terms as governor it did not prevent a third term after someone else held the governor's office for one term. The man who won the governor's office after Talmadge had been a very poor administrator and did not choose to run for a second term. Talmadge won easily the governor's race. Amazingly the legislature allowed him again to assume dictatorial powers. He had promised to reduce the state debt without raising taxes.
By this time Talmadge was a complete autocrat. When a fired employee from the University of Georgia's College of Education came to Talmadge with an accusation that the dean of that college favored racial integration in education Talmadge decided to act immediately. Talmadge working through the Board of Regents of the University of Georgia arranged the dismissal of Dr. Walter Cocking, the dean of the college of education. Talmadge also fired the president of Georgia's State Teachers College, also on a charge that he favored racial integration of education.
Because of this political interference in academic affairs the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools removed the accreditation from Georgia's institutions of higher education. This meant that a degree of a Georgia university would not be recognized outside of Georgia.
The outcry was angry and vocal, particularly from college students. Talmadge left the governor's mansion in Atlanta for the safety of his plantation house in McRae. Sternberg (p. 299) relates the following exchange.
When reporters found him and asked why he did not return to Atlanta, he said, "Do they think I am a damned fool?" "Well governor," one newsman piped up, "some think you're a damned fool, some think you are a dictator, some think you're a demagogue, and some think you're a plain crook. A lot of others think you're just as mean as hell." Talmadge frowned. "I am. I'm just as mean as hell."
At the next governor's election there was strong opposition to Talmadge by a candidate named. Ellis Arnall. The constitution had been changed so that the term would be four years rather than two and Talmadge wanted this fourth term as governor. Talmadge's campaigning was not as spirited as his past campaigns, in part because he suffered from a bite by a Black Widow spider. He lost the Democrat primary to his opponent who made re-accreditation of the Georgia's universities a prime issue.
Governor Arnall won re-accreditation and removed the educational system from the control of either the governor or the legislature. Arnall also won the removal from the Georgia Democrat Party constitution the provision which limited voting in the primaries to whites only.
This change brought Talmadge out of retirement and undertook a vigorous campaign for the governorship. Most politicians did not take him serious but he once again won the primary election. Talmadge's fourth term as governor did not amount to much because his health failed and he died on December 15, 1946.
Theodore Gilmore Bilbo is a politician who was widely hated, even in Mississippi, but loved by his followers, at least well enough to win elections. The Mississippi State Legislature passed a resolution that said among other things that "the Senate pronounces Bilbo unfit to sit with honest, upright men in a respectable legislaive body." Others said that granted you would not want him to associate with your hound dog he was a good man to have in government. Others said of him, "He is a slick little bastard," but that statement usually meant approval when spoken by his "redneck" constituents. Perhaps the kindest, most honest appraisal of Bilbo was the statement, "He wasn't always as bad as he sometimes was." Bilbo wrote of himself in his campaign literature for his first race for the U.S. Senate that he (Bilbo) is "A wonder in sustained power of endurance, and a marvel of intellectual brilliance!" He seemed to have no sense of shame. Bilbo referred to himself as The Man.
Theodore G. Bilbo was born in Pearl River County, Mississippi in 1877. His father was a farmer and Bilbo grew up on the farm and attended school in Poplarville. In 1898 he married. Shortly after a daughter was born Bilbo's wife died. Soon after Bilbo went away to Nashville to study for the Baptist ministry at Peabody College, but later he switched to law at Vanderbilt University. In 1900 he dropped out of law school to help run a girl's boarding school in Wiggins, Mississippi. There was accusations of an affair with one the students, an orphan girl from Mississippi. Bilbo was accused of numerous affairs throughout his career. He never denied them and seemed to encourage the rumors as a way of enhancing his masculinity. He was relative short, five foot two inches tall and he may have had trouble getting people to accept him as an equal.
After leaving the girl's boarding school he returned to law school at Vanderbilt. He attempted to win the position of circuit clerk of his home county in 1903 but failed. His opponent was a one-armed Baptist minister. Bilbo came to appreciate the power of a sympathy vote when he found himself thinking about the empty sleeve of his opponent when he went to vote.
He then pursued his law studies at Vanderbilt, but there is doubt that he graduated.
In his race for the state senate in 1907 he and his opponent agreed to travel together to all the meetings to make it easy for the voters to hear both candidates. On one occasion Bilbo found that his opponent had left early for a speaking engagement at a church. Not to be out foxed Bilbo took a short cut and arrived before opponent and preached a sermon, played the organ and sang with the church congregation. By the time his opponent arrived the congregation had bonded with Bilbo. His opponent had little chance in the political debate which followed. Bilbo won the race and joined the Mississippi State Senate in Jackson.
Although Mississippi was a one-party state there was political rivalry within the Democratic Party between the Delta region bordering the Mississippi River and the combined regions of the Red Clay Hills on the east and the Piney Woods region of south Mississippi. The Delta region had a plantation economy and a predominantly black population with political power in the hands of the white plantation class. The Red Clay Hills and Piney Woods regions were populated by poor white farmers. Political reforms in the late nineteenth century led to an emergence of a populist movement in the poor white areas. This movement was led by James K. Vardaman, a resident of the Delta area. Vardaman encouraged his supporters to wear a red bandana around their necks. Some say that this was the origin of the term, "redneck." The other term used for a poor white farmer is "peckerwood." Peckerwood is the southern term for woodpecker, a bird that lives in the woods like the poor white farmers do.
The political faction of the black counties of the Delta was led by members of the Percy family, a political dynasty of Mississippi. The black counties of the Delta had political power in proportion to their total population but this power was wielded by the white minority. It was relatively easy for the Delta plantation class like the Percy family to control Mississippi politics until Vardaman came along around the turn of the century.
Political events in the early part of the twentieth century were dominated by the power struggle between the Percy faction and the Vardaman faction. Bilbo naturally joined the Vardaman faction. Soon after Bilbo entered the legislature he captured attention by introducing bill after bill. Most of them were intended to benefit his constituents in south Mississippi. Some were sarcastic such as the one to build a trunk line to the capitol building so that the railroad could deposit legislators there after they had been entertained and lobbied by the railroad. One bill he introduced was to show his dislike for the softdrinks that were then becoming popular. His bill was to
forbid the manufacture, sale, barter, or giving away of coca cola, afri cola, ala cola, caffi cola, carre cola, celery cola, chan cola, chera cola, coca beta, Pillsbury colke, cola coke, cream cola, dope, four cola, hayo cola, Heck's cola, Kaye cola, koca nola, loke, kola ade, kola kola, kola phos, doloko, dos dola, lime kola, mellow nip, nerve ola, revive ola, rocola, tye ola, standard cola, toko tona, tokola, vim-o, french wine of coca wise ola,...
This bill shows his impish sense of humor and his verbosity which he claims to have inherited from this Huguenot (French Protestant) and Irish ancestors. In the 1910 legislative session there was a political crisis precipitated by the death of one of Mississippi's U.S. Senators. The legislature had to select someone to fill the remaining term of the dead senator. Vardaman was the favorite and natural choice but Leroy Percy entered the contest. On the first ballot Percy received only 23 votes to Vardaman's 73. Percy did not have nearly enough votes but his strategy was to keep other candidates in the picture who would keep Vardaman from garnering the required majority. As the other candidates dropped and Percy picked up their votes the vote eventually split evenly between Percy and Vardaman. The balloting went on for 55 days. Switched vote on the fifty sixth day made Percy the victor with 87 votes to Vardaman's 82. The next day Theodore Bilbo held up $645 and announced that he had been bribed by one of Percy's men to vote for Percy. The grand jury investigation found holes in Bilbo's story and what actually happened is still uncertain. If the balloting was by secret ballot Bilbo might not have been the one who changed his vote. Bilbo confession of being bribed could have been a clever ploy to invalidate Percy's victory. Bilbo claimed he took the bribe to catch the opposition, but that would not have necessitated his actually voting for Percy.
The State Senate after considering the evidence voted for Bilbo's impeachment. The vote fell short of the required two-thirds by one vote. A majority of the Senate approved the following resolution:
Resolved, in view of the unexplained inconsistencies and inherent improbabilities in the testimony of Senator Bilbo, his established bad character and lack of credibility, that the Senate of Mississippi does hereby condemn his entire bribery charge, and the statement of the role he played as detective and decoy, as a trumped-up falsehood, utterly unworthy of belief; resolved further that as a result of the conduct of Theodore G. Bilbo in this matter, and the testimony produced in this investigation, the Senate pronounces Bilbo as unfit to sit with honest, upright men in a respectable legislative body, and he is hereby asked to resign.
Bilbo not only did not resign but campaigned for the office of Lieutenat Governor of Mississippi. Incidentally, Bilbo stayed on good terms with Vardaman, an unlikely relationship if Bilbo had actually been bribed.
The campaign was marked by Bilbo's opponents questioning Bilbo's character and generally heaping insults upon him. At one speech the speaker said something about Bilbo who was in the audience. Bilbo jumped to the speaker's platform and shouted "That's a lie!" at which point the speaker knocked Bilbo down. Bilbo, at five feet two inches in height, got sympathy in the campaign and credit for courage. Bilbo himself was prone to hurling insults. One state senator from Yazoo City Bilbo whom Bilbo called a "renegade Confederate soldier" felt his honor demanded satisfaction. When Bilbo showed in Yazoo City the senator broke a walking cane over Bilbo's head. The skirmish ended with Bilbo seeking medical attention. Fred Sullens, the editor of the Jackson Daily News announced the event with the headline:
WAR HORSE OF YAZOO BROKE GOOD WALKING STICK OVER THE HEAD OF POPLARVILLE PERVERT
Bilbo's tongue got him into even more trouble when at Blue Mountain College he called a political opponent, J.J. Henry, a cross between a hyena and a mongrel dog begotten in a graveyard at midnight, suckled by a sow and educated by a fool. This was too foul for J.J. Henry to bear. He boarded a train Bilbo was riding and found Bilbo. Bilbo apparently tried to escape and Henry hit him several times with the butt of a pistol from behind. Henry then asked Bilbo to apologize and Bilbo refused. Henry then hit Bilbo six more times giving him a concussion and an open wound which left a scar. Henry surrendered himself to the police at the next station and Bilbo was taken to Jackson for medical treatment. Bilbo did not press charges against Henry but he used the incident to elicit sympathy for himself in the rest of the campaign. Bilbo won the Lieutenant Governor primary race easily, as did Vardaman who was running for the U.S. Senate. The victory in the Democratic primary was usually automatically equivalent to victory in the regular election. Bilbo did also win the regular election, but he was so detested in the Delta that many voted for the Socialist candidate instead, enough that the Socialist candidate carried two counties and almost another one. After victory Bilbo then proceeded to build a powerful political machine seldom if ever rivaled in Mississippi history.
As Lieutanant Governor, Bilbo was the presiding officer of the Senate. He arranged to have The resolution condemning him expunged from the record. Sixty days after Bilbo assumed office the Senate passed another resolution praising Bilbo as "one of the fairest and best lieutenant governors...a man who knows his duty, and who has the courage of his convictions, and especially, who has at all times, been fair."
In 1913 Bilbo became involved in a controversy over the state prison system. Later in 1913 Bilbo and a state senator were indicted by a Vicksburg grand jury on charges of bribery in connection with a plan to create a new county in the Mississippi Delta. The plan would have divided Washington County, Percy's county. It was even proposed that the new county be named after Vardaman, a further insult to Percy. The proposed bill failed. The jury hearing the bribery case acquitted Bilbo and his codefendant.
In 1915 Bilbo entered the race for the Governorship against four other candidates. His four opponents campaigned primarily on Bilbo as an issue. Bilbo, however, campaigned on a progressive liberal platform that included:
The Democratic Party electorate gave Bilbo a majority in the primary and thus there was no need for a second, runoff election. Fred Sullens, the editor of the Jackson Daily News suggested in print that with Bilbo as governor the eagle on the dome of the state capitol should be replaced with a "puking buzzard."
After four years of Bilbo governorship Fred Sullens had to admit in print, "We must give the devil his due and frankly admit that Theodore's administration has been one of substantial achievement." Bilbo developed a good relationship with the legislature and pushed through a program unequaled in modern Mississippi history. The elements of Bilbo's program that were achieved were:
After his term as governor Bilbo ran for the U.S. Congress. There was a negative episode during this time, but Bilbo could not be faulted for it. The was an outbreak of Texas fever among cattle. Texas fever was carried by a tick and the way to eradicate the disease was to dip the cattle in tanks containing an insecticide. Bilbo backed the compulsory dipping program, but many farmers believed their cattle would die from the dip as well as the ticks. Some dipping tanks were dynamited. Bilbo was defeated in his race for Congress.
Although Bilbo was unsuccessful in getting himself elected to Congress, he was able to help a friend of his, Lee Russell, get elected governor. In 1923 Governor Russell was involved in legal problem concerning a young woman in Jackson. The young woman charged that Governor Russell had seduced her and made her pregnant and as a result she underwent an abortion which left her unable to ever have children. Russell asked Bilbo to negotiate with the young woman. Bilbo was not able to dissuade her from filing a $100,000 suit against the Governor. Her attorneys subpoenaed Bilbo but he dodged the subpoena servers until one day they caught him at his farm house. He ran out of the back of the house and hid in a nearby barn behind a heifer calf. The young woman lost the suit but Bilbo was sentenced to thirty days in jail. The editor of the Jackson Daily News commented, "Some people feel sorry for Governor Russell, others for the girl, and some even for Bilbo; but I, personally, feel sorry for the heifer calf."
Bilbo had to spend only ten days in jail. He emerged from jail to launch his campaign for a second term as governor. His campaign was unsuccessful and he spent four years editing a paper he founded, the Mississippi Free Lance.
At the next election, in 1927, Bilbo campaigned for governor again and this time was successful. Bilbo's second term as governor was largely a failure. He did have success in keeping Mississippi from being carried by Republican Herbert Hoover in the 1928 presidential race. The Democratic Party in 1928 nominated Al Smith of New York. Smith was a Catholic and against prohibition. Normally with these two strikes against him in Mississippi he would not carry the state. But Bilbo came up with the story that Herbert Hoover, while traveling through Mississippi during the flood of 1927, made a social visit to see Mary Booze, a black woman who was a member of the Republican National Committee. Not only did Hoover visit Mary Booze, but, according to Bilbo's story he danced with her. The idea of socializing with a black woman not only shocked white Mississippians' racial sensibilities, but dancing was a forbidden sin for Mississippi Baptists, a major element of the population.
While governor Bilbo undertook a campaign to fire many educators in Mississippi state institutions of higher education and replace them with his selections. Bilbo claimed that he was trying to bring to life the University of Mississippi at Oxford. He apparently replaced 54 individuals but the figure of 179 was widely cited. This led to problems of accreditation.
As Bilbo left office the state finances were in disarray and his personal finances were even worse. He lost his $75,000 dream house because of a $500 judgment he couldn't pay.
Bilbo couldn't survive on what he could make as a lawyer so he went to Washington to get a job in the Federal bureaucracy. He looked up Pat Harrison, a Senator from Mississippi, and asked for his help. Senator Harrison talked to the head of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration and Michie and Rhylock in their Dixie Demagogues quotes the following admonitions of Senator Harrison:
Mr. Bilbo is an extremely able man. He is very talented and one of the most brilliant and magnetic personalities in politics. As a speaker I have never seen his match. Of course, I don't think it would be wise to place Bilbo in a position of financial responsibility. He is as honest as the day is long, you understand, but it wouldn't be fair to put him under any temptation. Furthermore, Bilbo is an extremely energetic man, but I wouldn't give him a job that called for too much work. At the same time, it might be wisest not to subject him to contact with distracting feminine influences.
Under these constraints the administrator could not find a job for Bilbo but he told Bilbo to formulate his own specifics for a job and the administrator would create it. The Man Bilbo then invented a job of cutting out newspaper articles having to do with the Agricultural Adjustment Administration and pasting them into a notebook. At first Bilbo was content with his job with good pay and little responsibility. He was content until he read in a Mississippi newspaper a reference to himself as the "Pastemaster General." He was indignant and decided to quit and go back to Mississippi to run for the U.S. Senate.
Bilbo carried out a vigorous campaign against the incumbent Senator. He started his day at 4 A.M. and gave eight to ten speeches a day. He traveled thirty thousand miles. He charged his opponent with being tied to the lumber and utility interests. He charged him with having got a job for a Damned Yankee Republican economist in the Department of Commerce. He called for a redistribution of wealth and the return of the two-cent postage stamp.
Bilbo came in a close second in the Democratic Party primary but because his opponent did not get a clear majority there was a runoff between himself and the incumbent. Bilbo won this second primary and went on to win the election for Senator.
As a Senator, Bilbo strongly supported the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt. Bilbo was a strong liberal. The area where he differed from other liberals was on racial issues. Bilbo felt that there was no dispute between himself and Roosevelt as that both wanted to help the poor while maintaining the existing relationship between blacks and whites in the South. It was only later when Bilbo chose to promote the plan of Marcus Garvey and his followers to seek voluntary migration of African Americans to West Africa that Bilbo became unacceptable to the Washington Establishment. Bilbo introduced bills for a billion dollar funding of such a resettlement plan. He introduced it from time to time although he knew it had no chance of passage because he knew it enhanced his political status in Mississippi.
After World War II the Republican Party gained control of Congress. When Bilbo won his third term in the Senate the Republicans in the Senate with the help of some Democrats chose to refuse to seat Bilbo in the new Senate. By that time Bilbo was ill with cancer and died some months later before the question of his membership in the Senate could be finally resolved.
Richard Joseph Daley became an arch-villain of American liberals in the late 1960's and early 1970's but that characterization was largely undeserved. Richard Daley was a masterful politician and superb administrator; AND he was an American liberal. He was as much or more of a New Deal liberal as John F. Kennedy.* But he had a temper, and an Irish temperament at that, which the media could exploit for their own needs for dramatic, sensational news. Also Daley cultivated a reputation for being all powerful in Chicago which worked to his benefit in governing Chicago but hurt him when people believed that anything done wrong by anyone in government in Chicago must have been at Daley's direction. Temperamentally Daley could not apologize, particularly to the media, for things having gone wrong in Chicago. As a consequence he unfairly was blamed for things he was not responsible for and did not get credit, outside of Chicago, for outstanding accomplishments. His campaign photo (shown on the left below), obviously chosen by him, represents him as the Boss. This picture re-enforced his negative image in the national media whereas other pictures, such as the one on the right below, would have given a fairer image of him as a tough but humane man.
The story of Daley's political machine starts long before Richard J. Daley in a different political world. Chicago was not always so solidly behind the Democratic Party as it has been the last seventy years. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Chicago elections were won in about equal measure by Republicans and Democrats. In that era black voters almost universally supported the Republican Party.
(To be continued.)
Richard Joseph Daley was born May 15, 1902 in the Bridgeport section of south Chicago. He came from a devout Irish Catholic family and this remained his primary identification all of his life. When he finished highschool he went to work in the stockyards of Chicago, but he attended law school four nights a week. As a student he was thorough and conscientious. He never missed class. He did not drink.
It was not easy pursuing a law degree at night while working at a full time, physically demanding job during the day. He did complete the degree and was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1933 at an age of about thirty.
Richard Daley participated in local Democratic party organizations and in 1936 was given the opportunity to run for the Illinois House of Representatives. With the support of the party organization he won. Daley had educated himself in the details of governmental accounting and budgeting and in the Illinois House of Representatives he was acknowledged from the very beginning of his term as an expert in budgeting matters. When County Controller for Cook County died in 1936 Richard Daley was appointed deputy county controller for Cook County while continuing his term as state representative.
In 1938 the Republican state senator for the district of Chicago in which Daley lived died just before the election. It was too late to reprint the election ballots so Daley had to conduct a write-in vote campaign. Due to a technicality in the election procedure Daley was elected to the Illinois state senate as a member of the Republican party. Initially in the state senate he had to sit with the Republicans, but a resolution was approved to allow him to move to the Democrats. He did such a good job that in 1941 he was elected minority leader for the Democrats.
In 1946 the Democratic machine of Cook County wanted Richard Daley to run for a four-year term as Sheriff. The job of Sheriff was politically dangerous for an aspiring politician because the temptations for taking payoffs was almost irresistible. If the Sheriff allowed gambling and prostitution to operate he would receive large amounts of money and if he did not he put his life and those of his family members at risk. Richard Daley might have been able to resist the temptations of the payoffs but it would have been harder for him to put the welfare of his family at risk. His friends and his mother advised him not to run for the office. But, being a loyal party supporter, he accepted the nomination and campaigned hard for the job. Fortunately, for the sake of his soul, he lost, along with many, many Democrat candidates around the nation in the Republican Party resurgence of 1946.
One of the surprising victors for the Democrats in the election of 1948 was Adlai Stevenson for governor of Illinois. Stevenson, upon inauguration selected Richard Daley to be State Director of Revenue. Daley operated out of Chicago as the State Director of Revenue rather than in Springfield.
The state position lasted only two years. In 1950 Daley became the Cook County Clerk and he held that office until 1955 when he ran for and was elected Mayor of Chicago. Richard J. Daley held the office of Mayor of Chicago until he died on December 20, 1976.
(To be continued.)
*-(It was in the 1960's that the left wing of the Democrats began using subscription to the latest of their panaceas at the litmus test of being a liberal. These panaceas were supposed to be judged on the basis of their intended purpose rather than their likely result.)
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