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A House for All Peoples

A House for All Peoples: Ethnic Politics in Chicago 1890--1936

John M. Allswang
Copyright Date: 1971
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    A House for All Peoples
    Book Description:

    This book assesses the role of urban ethnic groups, particularly in terms of the rise of the Democratic Party to national predominance between 1928 and 1932. It builds quantitative and qualitative models for the study of ethnic groups in terms of political behavior. Focusing clearly upon political change and the role of ethnicity, the work advances the hypothesis that Chicago's ethnic groups responded as ethnic groups, rather than on socio-economic or other bases, when they shifted their party allegiances in the late twenties. This ethnic realignment was a major factor in the redistribution of power between parties Chicago.

    Employing a variety of quantitative measures and a number of conceptual tools from the social sciences, Mr. Allswang has utilized simple statistical procedures with clarity and discrimination. His statistical data is based on thorough research in unpublished census material and election returns. His qualitative data is based in part on a comprehensive examination of the foreign language press, supplemented by materials from other newspapers, personal interviews, and manuscript sources.

    The book studies nine ethnic groups over a generation of political development, affording insights into urban politics and history, and into dominant-minority and interethnic relations in politics and in the city.

    Crisp in style, thorough, methodologically innovative,A House for All Peopleswill become a model for studies of United States political history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6194-5
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)

    • I. Ethnic Groups & Their Politics
      (pp. 3-14)

      This book comprises a study of the political behavior of the ethnic groups of a major American city from 1890 to 1936. More specifically, it centers on the role of those groups in the rise to unprecedented power of the Democratic party in Chicago. Thus emphasis will be placed on the period from the end of World War I to the first Roosevelt election.

      The central questions will be: what was the role of ethnic groups in Chicago’s politics, and to what extent was the changing political balance of power attributable to their political behavior? I shall first be concerned...

    • II. Chicago’s Ethnics & Their Politics to 1917
      (pp. 15-36)

      Chicago, like other great American cities, is a city of immigrants. like other American cities by the onset of the twentieth century, it was longer Anglo-Saxon. Chicago’s ethnic groups arrived at varying points time, and from different cultures, but their reasons for coming generally the same: a better life. As a later writer put it, Chicago “never a city of brotherly love. . . Chicago was born out of lust for and land.” And it was, “like Carthage, founded by cheating the natives out of the land.”¹

      The first permanent settler in Chicago was a West Indian Negro, Jean Baptiste...

    • III. Ethnic Voting Behavior, 1918–1936
      (pp. 37-59)

      This chapter will begin the study of postwar political behavior with an intensive look at the voting behavior of nine ethnic groups. For the decade of the 1920s a number of problems attendant upon the earlier period are no longer present: far higher proportions of the newer immigrants were citizens and able to vote; methodological problems are fewer, permitting analysis at the precinct level; thus the ethnicity of political areas is clearer and one can more confidently generalize about the voting behavior of individual groups. The nine groups included are Poles, Czechoslovaks, Yugoslavs, Lithuanians, Italians, Germans, Swedes, Jews, and Negroes....

    • IV. Some Measures of Ethnic Voting Behavior
      (pp. 60-75)

      This chapter will endeavor to clarify and systematize the data already presented through the use of additional statistical measures. The models used should be testable and replicable, and thus contribute to the search for measures for the comparative study of voting behavior. The search for the most “critical” elections, i.e., those that led to the greatest change, cannot follow Key’s model, as MacRae and Meldrum, Shover, and others have done.¹ This is because the data in this study concentrate not on the most Republican and most Democratic areas, but on ethnic areas and groups; thus the problem of criticality or...

    • V. Ethnic Group Party Identification
      (pp. 76-90)

      Voting returns comprise the best but not the only data source for studying changes in political behavior among ethnic groups. Party membership or identification of the ethnic masses and their leaders is another significant indicator. Did ethnic attachments to political parties, either in terms of mass party identification or that of group political leaders, change from 1920 to 1932? Were those changes consistent with changes in voting behavior?

      Registration records provide information about party identification. In 1928 and thereafter Chicago had closed primaries; voters were obliged to register in advance and declare their party membership in order to vote in...

    • VI. Political Party Self-Conceptions
      (pp. 91-108)

      Each major political party necessarily has a conception of itself, constituent parts, and the groups in American life which are important it. Thus party self-conception provides an interesting, if elusive, measure of political change; it can also be a cause of political change, as groups respond to developments in party self-conception. What, for example, the parties of the 1920s construe themselves to be? Whom did they they represented? How did this change over time, especially in terms the role they allotted to the ethnics? We want especially to see if were changes in Democratic party self-conception which mirrored growing ethnic...


    • VII. Political Issues
      (pp. 111-138)

      Among the several forces of political change, issues are probably foremost. These are the substantive and qualitative matters important to the individual voter and to groups of voters: what should or should not be done; what would or would not serve one’s interest.¹ The voter opts for that party or candidate which best represents his desires on the issues, or, negatively, which least conflicts with those desires. The voter can associate the alternatives of an issue with political parties as wholes, or simply with one of two contesting candidates, or anywhere in between.

      Thus when issue considerations prompted an ethnic...

    • VIII. Political Organization
      (pp. 139-167)

      Ethnic membership in and identification with political parties are not only indexes of political change but are also forces promoting such change. Thus the ethnic press’s conception of the two major parties demonstrated its party loyalty over time, and it also served as an influence on ethnic voting behavior. The same forces, then, were indicators and agencies of change—both cause and effect.

      This is evident in the phenomenon of the ethnic composition of party tickets, which is an important indicator of ethnic political allegiance (see Tables V:2 and V:3) and also a major determinant of ethnic political motivation. As...

    • IX. Crime & Reform
      (pp. 168-181)

      Reform sentiment in Chicago in the 1920s concentrated on the relationship between crime and politics. As such, reform played a role in the political behavior of Chicagoans. This is important because reform sentiment, perhaps contrary to tradition, ultimately aligned itself with the Democratic party.

      Reform affected the ethnics of Chicago somewhat differently than did other forces, since interest in reform varied considerably with socioeconomic class. It was confined to middle-and upper-class Chicagoans, generally, and tended more to motivate them than the majority of the ethnics, who were lower in socioeconomic position. Nonetheless, reform was important, because it brought the voting...

    • X. Socioeconomic Class
      (pp. 182-204)

      To understand ethnic group political behavior generally, it has been necessary up to this point to ignore socioeconomic variations within and between groups. With this general behavioral pattern now clear, it will be advantageous to add the socioeconomic factor. Indeed, arguments have been made that socioeconomic position is a more important behavioral determinant than ethnicity.¹ This is not true for Chicago ethnic groups between 1890 and 1936, but class position did have some political effects.

      With the use of census data and other criteria, our ethnic political units were placed into one of four socioeconomic classes. These are labeled lower-lower,...

    • XI. Conclusion: A House for all Peoples
      (pp. 205-212)

      Ethnic political behavior and the politics of Chicago underwent considerable change and development between 1890 and 1936. As the ethnic groups increased in number and became larger and more acculturated to American political mores, their role in the city’s politics changed. They became not only more important generally, and more hearkened to, but they came to affect the style of Chicago politics, the kind of people and the kind of issues that would characterize the city’s political life. Perhaps the most important change of this half-century is just that—Chicago’s politics became a house for all peoples, wherein each could...

  6. Appendix
    (pp. 213-240)
  7. Bibliographical Essay
    (pp. 241-248)
  8. Index
    (pp. 249-253)