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

Dictator – American Style

Part 3

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

Against New York gangsters, who used to hide out in Jersey City, Hague developed a method that was to prove very effective later against unwelcome labor organizers. The gangster was arrested, denied bail, and usually sentenced to 3o days or more - all on the same day. By the time an appeal could be taken to a higher court, the gangster had served his sentence.

That this procedure violates constitutional guaranties apparently did not matter. It worked. Therefore the Mayor used it against all and sundry who invaded his domain.

It was comparatively easy for Hague to extend his domination to the rest of the state. Here, too, there was the indifference that grows out of absentee ownership. Because of less stringent corporation laws, New Jersey was the happy hunting ground for industrialists seeking to dodge strict regulatory laws. Much of it was an industrial wasteland inhabited by immigrants and the children of immigrants. Thousands of the more alert New Jersey citizens, commuting into New York to work, were indifferent to Jersey politics.

Hague began by giving the big boys what they wanted most: an assurance of industrial peace - no labor trouble. This may possibly be the reason why wages in New Jersey are so low today. The State Labor Department recently reported that 292,000 women and minors were receiving less than the P7 a week minimum recommended by the Department; and that some 8o,ooo workers receive less than $8 a week.

Hague describes his own way of handling labor disputes: The head of an industry that fears labor trouble reports to the Chief of Police that a strike is expected, and what the trouble is about. The Chief calls the labor leaders together and asks them about the dispute. He warns them of the rules - only so many pickets, no signs, no mass picketing. And they can't have their strike headquarters too near the plant. No disturbance, now. If any "outsiders" come in, they get rushed out of town in a hurry. Once Hague had succeeded in electing a Governor, he was able to dominate the courts, since the Governor names the Chancellor, the County Judges and the County Prosecutors. Vice-Chancellors, named by the Hague machine, have handed out sweeping injunctions against labor time after time.


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