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Rainbow's End

Rainbow's End: Irish-Americans and the Dilemmas of Urban Machine Politics, 1840-1985

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    Rainbow's End
    Book Description:

    Unprecedented in its scope,Rainbow's Endprovides a bold new analysis of the emergence, growth, and decline of six classic Irish-American political machines in New York, Jersey City, Chicago, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Albany. Combining the approaches of political economy and historical sociology, Erie examines a wide range of issues, including the relationship between city and state politics, the manner in which machines shaped ethnic and working-class politics, and the reasons why centralized party organizations failed to emerge in Boston and Philadelphia despite their large Irish populations. The book ends with a thorough discussion of the significance of machine politics for today's urban minorities.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-91062-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Chapter One The Irish and the Big-City Machines
    (pp. 1-24)

    Rainbow’s Endis a study of Irish-American machine politics from the mid-nineteenth century to the present in eight once heavily Irish cities: New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Jersey City, and Albany. Daniel Patrick Moynihan has observed that the Irish-American genius has been organizational rather than entrepreneurial or intellectual.¹ Displaying a “distaste for commerce” and ideas, the Irish labored to build the American Catholic church and the big-city Democratic machines. Arguably the largest section in the pantheon of Irish-American heroes is reserved for the big-city party bosses, from Tammany Hall’s “Honest John” Kelly in the 1870s to Chicago’s...

  6. Chapter Two Building the Nineteenth-Century Machines, 1840—1896
    (pp. 25-66)

    Between 1846 and 1855 1.4 million Irish famine immigrants came to the United States. Though nearly all were rural cotters and laborers, more than 90 percent of the migrants would settle in the cities. The immigrants were field laborers, not farmers, in a single-crop economy. Only 6 percent of them would resettle on the land.

    Because of the trans-Atlantic packet boat routes, most of the immigrants landed in the eastern port cities of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Lacking cash and the physical stamina to move inland, more than one-quarter of the famine immigrants would remain in these three cities....

  7. Chapter Three Guardians of Power: The Irish Versus the New Immigrants, 1896—1928
    (pp. 67-106)

    The fragile penny-pinching Irish Democratic machines collapsed in the depression-ridden 1890s. As the panic of 1893 lengthened into depression, voters blamed the Democrats. The Democracy controlled the presidency, many governorships of northern states, and most of the big-city machines. Democratic politicians did little to alleviate the suffering of the growing army of unemployed. As leader of the Bourbon, or conservative, wing of the party, President Grover Cleveland remained committed to a balanced budget, laissez-faire economics, and federal nonintervention. Democrat Cleveland’s nonintervention policy, however, did not extend to the Irish big-city bosses, his nominal allies. Ever the reformer, Cleveland joined forces...

  8. Chapter Four The Crisis of the 1930s: The Depression, the New Deal, and Changing Machine Fortunes, 1928—1950
    (pp. 107-139)

    The 1920s represented the Irish machine’s heyday. Freed from state interference, controlling a growing patronage supply, and temporarily shielded from electoral pressures from the new immigrants for a greater sharing of power and jobs, the Irish bosses could meet the demands of both party and ethnicity. Bread had replaced circuses in the machine’s repertoire of electoral appeals to already mobilized voters. The swollen ethnic patronage vote now decided local elections. Where job advertisements had once said, “No Irish need apply,” the machine’s employment agency now proclaimed, “Only Irish need apply.” A massive patronage network enveloped the solidly lower-middle-class Irish-American community....

  9. Chapter Five The Last Hurrah? Machines in the Postwar Era, 1950—1985
    (pp. 140-190)

    The Irish machines that marched out of the Great Depression and the New Deal were not the same ones that had marched in. Mighty Tammany was toppled, to be resurrected in weaker and temporary form after World War II. The Hague organization, the Tiger’s Siamese twin across the Hudson, succumbed to the same diseases of reform fever, declining resources, and new ethnic insurgency. Only Albany’s O’Connell organization smoothly navigated the fiscal crisis and accompanying party realignment. Yet the turbulent 1930s served as more than a graveyard for old-style urban politics. The New Deal also served as a maternity ward for...

  10. Chapter Six Machine Building, Irish-American Style
    (pp. 191-235)

    The once-mighty Irish big-city machines are nearly extinct. Tammany Hall, the Buckley organization in the Bay Area, Frank Hague’s powerful Jersey City organization, the Steel City Lawrence organization—all are gone. Only Chicago and Albany remain as relics of the past. In all likelihood, though, these two vestiges will soon pass from the scene.

    After dominating Chicago for decades, the Daley machine is a shambles. With its leader dead and a black mayor elected, the organization’s white regulars retreated to the city council where they fought a bitter, stubborn, three-year rearguard action to retain control of the machine’s power and...

  11. Chapter Seven Rainbow’s End: Machines, Immigrants, and the Working Class
    (pp. 236-266)

    The performance of the classic immigrant-based big-city machines has sparked a second controversy, which is concerned with the consequences of boss rule. During the machine’s heyday, reformers had attacked the urban bosses for weakening democracy and promoting plutocracy. Traditional liberals such as James Bryce and M. Ostrogorski deplored the capture of the postbellum party system by professional officeseekers eager for patronage, power, and profit. For Bryce, America’s corrupt spoilsmen were a far cry from the liberal democratic ideal of enlightened party statesmen involved in principled confrontation over the burning issues of the day. Bryce singled out the Irish-American big-city bosses...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 267-304)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 305-332)
  14. Index
    (pp. 333-345)