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The Boss

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

Higher assessments turned down by the State Board of Taxes and Assessments; the election of Edwards over Nugent both establishes Hague as Democratic boss of the state and gives him control of the board. Other Hague governors: Silzer, Moore. Hague judges and their remarkable decisions. The unique Hudson County delegation to the legislature. The Mackay and Case investigations.

In the actions of all men ... where there is no tribunal to which we can appeal, we look to results. Wherefore if a Prince succeeds in establishing and maintaining his authority the means will always be judged honorable and be approved by everyone.

EDWARD I. EDWARDS was state senator from Hudson County in 1919 when Frank Hague found that he needed a governor if he was to obtain control of the State Board of Taxes and Assessments. Edwards, then fifty-five years old, was an excellent candidate. He was a Protestant, a Mason, a Moose, an Eagle, and a member of every fraternal organization in which he might get friends and votes. He was a banker, but a self-made man. Born in Jersey City, he had gone to work in the First National Bank at nineteen and had risen, step by step, to become its president. He had had, too, state political experience. He had in 1911 been elected state comptroller by the legislature. In that position he had distinguished himself chiefly for withholding Governor Woodrow Wilson's paychecks when the governor left the state on his speaking tours for the presidential nomination. (Kerney, op. cit., p. 140. New Jersey has no lieutenant-governor. In the absence of the governor, the president of the Senate becomes acting governor. Edwards paid the salary to the different men who acted as governor at different times; they always endorsed the checks over to Wilson.) Edwards probably would have become state treasurer in 1913 except for Wilson's opposition to him; as it was, he remained untilhis term expired in 1917 in Governor Edge's administration, when he was replaced by a Republican.


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