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The political boss who is convinced that his own righteousness places him above the law

Dictator – American Style

Part 2

Condensed from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 20, 1938
By Marquis W. Childs, Author of "Sweden - The Middle Way"

Originally appeared in The Reader's Digest of August 1938
Edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2004

More About Frank Hague

Hudson County Politics

The government, not only of Jersey City but of the entire state, is Mayor Hague's private domain. He and his associates have taken it over just as one might acquire the peanut concession at the state fair. And now all of a sudden after years of peace some interlopers have turned up who are trying to sell peanuts on Hague's side of the street. He resents these CIO poachers. No, this is not Fascism. It is more nearly feudalism, a kind of feudal survival possible only in America.

To realize how it is possible to gain such a complete vested interest in the government of a community of this size, one has only to examine the city itself. Jersey City is New York's backyard. There are more than Soo industries here. People work in the factories, the warehouses; or they commute to New York to work in lofts and offices. If by chance they accumulate a little money, they move away. In Jersey City there is virtually no middle class. On street after street there are rows of tenement houses that have a tired, slightly dilapidated look. The big money that comes from the manufacture and commerce of Jersey City goes to owners and stockholders who live elsewhere.

Frank Hague, a second-generation Irish lad, was born in 1876 in the tough Second Ward. He showed an early aptitude for the rough and tumble of ward politics. His first political job was as head janitor in the City Hall. Shortly after, in 1911, he was elected to a place on the water board at $3ooo a year. Six years later he became Mayor. At this time he formed a partnership with A. Harry Moore a personable glad-hander who a few months ago began his third term as Governor of the State, under Hague's expert tutelage.

Once Mayor, Hague built up his machine by methods essentially the same as those used by other American bosses. Since he first took office, city payrolls have been greatly increased, the jobs going to political henchmen. A careful ward-by-ward and house-to-house organization was perfected.

Permanent registration of voters has apparently aided the Hague machine. People who have moved away, people who have died, people in insane asylums, all are listed as voters in the poll books, according to repeated charges. At present, it has been shown, there are more voters listed on the registration books than there are adults eligible to vote in the entire city. The registration machinery is in Republican hands, but this means nothing. The Republican faction in power cooperates very obligingly with Hague. Superintendent of Elections John Ferguson recently declared publicly that nothing short of the militia could insure a fair election in Jersey City. Through the years Ferguson's deputies have been intimidated, beaten and thrown into jail.


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