Encyclopedia of American Parties, Campaigns, and Elections

By William C. Binning; Larry E. Esterly et al. | Go to book overview
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MACHINE POLITICS describes a type of political organization which was common in early twentieth-century urban America. The local party was organized hierarchically, with a boss at the top, and below the boss, a layer of ward leaders very loyal to the boss. The ward leaders had a number of precinct workers loyal to them. The loyalty was based on material incentives, such as patronage jobs and contracts. The organization also provided an array of social benefits; for example, many of the early urban party organizations had baseball teams.

The party machines attempted to control the nomination and election of officeholders and, in return, expected the officeholders to render material benefits to the machine for distribution to its supporters. The machines were viewed as corrupt, and many of the reforms of the Progressive Era, such as the open primary and civil service reform, were promoted to break the grip of the machines on local and state politics. See:LOCAL PARTY ORGANIZATIONS.

References: Anne Freedman, Patronage: An American Tradition ( Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1994); Harold F. Gosnell, Machine Politics: Chicago Model, 2nd ed. ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968).

MADISON, JAMES ( 1751-1836), father of the Constitution of 1787, was born at Port Conway, Virginia on March 16, 1751, just 50 miles from Montpelier, the family plantation that Madison was to regard as his home throughout his long life in public service. Educated at Princeton, then the College of New Jersey, from which he graduated in 1771, the scholarly Madison was undecided as to a career in law or the ministry. Early on, drawn to the patriot cause, he chose law and government over religion and the church. Madison's study of


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Encyclopedia of American Parties, Campaigns, and Elections


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