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The Boss

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

When Senator Moore was a candidate for governor in October, 1937, it was rumored that, if elected, he intended to appoint Hague to fill his seat in the Senate. To still these rumors he wrote a public letter in which he said: `I do not intend to appoint Frank Hague to the Senate. He and I have been friends all our lives, and I know that he would rather be Mayor of Jersey City than [to] have any other position within the gift of the people.' This statement quieted the rumors.

After the election Moore's intentions changed. It was rumored again that he was going to appoint the Mayor, that Mrs. Hague thought the social life in Washington would be pleasant – but that the United States Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections was not ready to seat him without an investigation and perhaps a fight. On January 16, 1938, Moore offered him the seat and the Mayor turned it down. The newspaper men had all been notified that something was going to happen at the Mayor's office; so they were all present, pencils poised. Their accounts are substantially the same, but that of the Newark Evening News seems to preserve best the color of the touching tableau and to show how politicians use the language on the great occasions:

The renunciation scene took place in the oak-paneled executive office in City Hall in the presence of a half-dozen of Mayor Hague's friends who had gathered to wish him well on his 62nd birthday....

`Mayor Hague,' began Senator Moore, `there is something I want to say to you. This morning it occurred to me that this is your birthday, and that the best birthday gift I could bestow would be an appointment to the United States Senate.

`I have given a lot of thought to this. You and I have worked together for years. No one knows better than I your ability, your strength of character, and your general qualifications>

`You would be an outstanding senator. You stand for the things that are close to the hearts of the people, and I am sure you could do a distinctive service for them.

`I have received thousands of letters from all over New Jersey, urging me to appoint you to this office. The requests come from Republicans as well as Democrats. They recognize you as a strong man, and that is what the country needs in this time of stress.

`This demand has been so insistent that I could do no other than tender you this appointment. I know what you have done for Jersey City, for your country, and your state. And I know what you could do for the country in the broader field of the Senate. All your life you have been battling for the people.

`Here is an honor the Democratic Party owes to you. It is a great thing to find people demanding this appointment for you – and there it is.'

Mayor Hague arose from his desk and placed his hand on Moore's shoulder. He said: `Of course, Governor, I deeply appreciate this offer. I have had numerous requests from Democratic leaders and from the people of my community asking me to accept. There is nothing I desire more. No citizen can lightly reject such an honor. And it would be an honor to occupy a place in the United States Senate.

`I learned of your desire that I go to the Senate some weeks ago. I know that you so expressed yourself to mutual friends who have in turn pressed me to accept. Governor, I don't know how I can thank you. It is an honor I shall not soon forget.

`But, Governor, I will have to decline. I am now in the center of a controversy that is of great importance to my county, my state, and my country. I am fearful that were I to accept, my motives would be misconstrued. You know of my activities against the Red group, and my acceptance would be questioned, and I must decline.

`I cannot desert now. It is unfortunate that I find myself in this position, but I believe I am wanted here. The people would think that Hague had deserted them, that he was selfish, that he preferred great honor to the continuance of the battle in which they have whole-heartedly supported him. Sooner than have them misunderstand, I must decline. I am sincerely sorry. Thank you, Governor. This is from my heart.'

If the Mayor's explanation is to be taken at its face value, the Reds have another black mark on their record: they prevented the United States Senate from obtaining a famous member. Instead of Hague the Senate received John Milton, Hague's personal attorney; he was seated in spite of efforts on the part of various labor and civil liberties groups to have him investigated.


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