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Boss Hague
King Hanky-Panky of Jersey

Part 4

By Jack Alexander

Originally appeared in The Saturday Evening Post on October 26, 1940
Edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2002

Because he was forced upon Hague from above, Edison has been in a position to keep the boss at arm’s length, and he has taken full advantage of it ever since he obtained the nomination. His ex-playboy colleague, James H. R. Cromwell, who is running for United States senator, has enjoyed the same rare opportunity and has chosen not to exercise it. Cromwell has been photographed with Hague at baseball games and other public events and in numerous ways has encouraged the impression that he and the mayor are inseparable buddies. It has been at Cromwell’s insistence that Hague has repeatedly sojourned at Duke Farms, the estate of Mrs. Cromwell, who, as almost everyone knows by now, was formerly Doris Duke, one of the world’s richest women.

The Hague-Cromwell Alliance

There is much behind the Hague-Cromwell alliance that is not apparent to the casual onlooker. Cromwell owes nothing to Hague. He is a ham economist and generous campaign contributor who was inflated for a shot at the senatorship by a White House appointment as minister to Canada. Hague has clambered onto Cromwell’s band wagon, not Cromwell onto Hague’s, and it has been a pretty sorry display by the aging boss. Jerseyites differ on the reason why Cromwell has not followed Edison’s example and let Hague hang on to the tail gate instead of inviting him to sit alongside the driver. Some think it is merely because Cromwell is too amiable and friendly a man to let his worst enemy dangle. In the opinion of others, he knows that he is not a strong candidate and he is taking no chance of alienating the most significant bloc of votes in the state.

Some profess to detect in the political and social friendship of the boy and the boss the germ of the boss’s destruction. Hague, they point out, is sensitive about being a lowbrow and has always craved dignity and the company of “nice” people. His faithfulness to conservative dandiness in dress is cited as evidence of this general tendency. He has been thwarted in a long-standing wish to top off his career as a United States senator. There was a senatorial vacancy a couple of years ago and he was thinking of having himself appointed to fill it when word came from Washington that some members of the Senate were preparing to walk out when he walked in. He gave another man the appointment. Instead of approaching the end of his career openly and illustriously, Hague has been forced to remain behind the scenes and hear his name used with increasing frequency to symbolize corrupt politics. It has been gall to his ward-heeler soul.

It sounds almost fantastic to say that the hardheaded boss has cottoned to Cromwell as his last chance to mingle with the gilded, solid set, but in the light of the facts no other hypothesis seems to fit. Cromwell is obviously a political liability to Hague. In the many books Cromwell has written and the scores of speeches he has made since his conversion from night-clubbing to major-league thinking he has offended many divisions of the electorate. He has aroused the war veterans by calling them the American Pillaging Force and has confounded lovers of the Constitution by styling it “a millstone around the necks of the American people” and our system of government a “cancer.” He has blamed women, who make up approximately one half the voters, for the “alimony racket,” and has opposed Federal insurance of bank deposits, unemployment insurance and work relief. He has taken cracks at “the empty right of collective bargaining” and has advocated repeal of the National Labor Relations Act. Worst of all, from Hague’s standpoint, is the fact that Cromwell has come out flatly, in print, for birth control. For this reason, if for no other, Hague is certain to be faced with insurrection in his own organization on the Cromwell candidacy. Jersey City is 70 per cent Catholic, and to ask Catholic ward workers to see that ballots are marked for a birth-control proponent is to ask for a high percentage of throw-downs.

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