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The Boss

By David Dayton McKean
This Web version, edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

In 1925 Clinton W. Gilbert, author of The Mirrors of Washington, wrote a series of articles on Mayor Hague. (Newark Evening News,, October 21, 1925, ff.) He noted particularly the dominating quality of his personality: `He may not equal Al Smith in mental range. He may not have the diplomacy of George Brennan. But he is the most powerful will of the whole three.' This commanding quality strikes every observer. He is not a good listener; in a group he is the person who does the talking: the jabbing forefinger, the strident voice, control the situation. He can compromise, if necessary, with an equal, such as a Republican governor; he can cajole and coax a superior, such as a President; but his favorite device of persuasion is to ram his proposal down his adversary's throat.

Any person engaged in an argument with Mayor Hague has a constant feeling that he is on the verge of personal violence. The numerous stories of his knocking down negligent policemen, or of pummeling politicians who did not produce acceptable majorities, contribute to the feeling. He does not hesitate to relate these incidents in his speeches. He told Clinton W. Gilbert that he once witnessed a fire at which a man was injured. He telephoned for an ambulance. `It was forty-five minutes before the ambulance got there. I asked the doctor why it had taken him so long. He mumbled something like "Don't you think I had to put on my clothes?" I knew he was mad at being called out at that time of night. I hauled off and punched him in the face.' (Newark Evening News, October 22, 1925.)


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