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The Early Career of Mayor Frank Hague

Chapter 1 - Early Days With Boss Davis
Part 7

By Mark S. Foster

Copyright 1967

Web version, edited by GET NJ.
Copyright 2002

In the fall of 1904, Hague became involved in an episode which very nearly ended his political career. Red Dugan, a boyhood chum who turned into a petty thief, had been apprehended in Roxbury, Massachusetts, attempting to pass a bad check.22 Years later, the story evolved that Dugan’s mother had asked Hague to go to Boston to testify in her son’s defense. Ordinarily this would have been a simple request to fulfill. However, two complications arose. Hague was a Deputy Sheriff, and to appear as a witness for the defense of on obviously guilty would tarnish his image as a pillar of the law. If this would not deter him, he had been subpoenaed to appear in a Jersey City court to testify regarding charges of false registration, which he had brought against a group of African-American men. Hague and his friend Thomas Maddigan had been warned not to come to Boston to testify. “Chief Inspector Watt of Boston tells Chief Murphy that he had Dugan pat, and if Hague and Maddigan try to carry out their scheme, they run the risk of spending some time in Massachusetts.24 Though warned in advance, Hague and Maddigan did venture to Boston to testify in their Friend’s behalf. Their testimony was shot full of holes and did not prevent Dugan’s conviction. Though both men escaped trouble in Boston, Hague was found guilty of contempt of court in Jersey City for failing to answer his subpoena. In addition, he was fined one hundred dollars and ousted as deputy.

Though he lost his official position, he gained everlasting respect of many residents in the ‘Show. Here was a man who would stand up for one of their own. To his disadvantage, it also served to make him a bit too “hot” for Davis to appoint as ward leader. Instead, the assignment went to one William Behan, much to the disgust of Hague’s friends.25

Knowledgeable political observers did not write Hague’s epitaph. He was chosen again at the behest of Davis as a county committeeman to nominate candidates for the municipal elections in the fall of 1905. He was also chosen to run for a fourth term as constable. Though the Republicans once again swept the city election behind the incumbent Mayor Fagan, Hague won re-election as constable 1,840 to 1,241. The Dugan scandal slowed his rise, but it clearly failed to stop him.

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