Pete: The Story of Peter V. Cacchione, New York's First Communist Councilman

By Simon W. Gerson | Go to book overview

45
The Succession Fight

RITUAL having been satisfied -- after a fashion -- the council majority swung back into cold war stride. The conventional speeches about their late brother councilman had been delivered in accordance with ancient practice. But one thing would not be traditional, the Democratic majority determined: Pete's seat would not be filled by another. Communist.

It was straight cold war politics and the hell with the law which said that when a council member died he would be replaced by a member of his party. Up to that point, this was taken for granted, as indicated by the New York Times obituary on the morning after Pete's death. The story, written by a seasoned political reporter, said:

The death of Mr. Cacchione does not automatically reduce the number of Communists in the City Council. Under provisions of the Charter, the Council at large must elect another Communist from Brooklyn to fill the vacancy and the successor will serve until Dec. 31, 1948. At the general election of 1948, a successor to serve out the balance of the term, from Jan. 1, 1949 to Dec. 31 of that year, will be chosen, but not by P.R. ( New York Times, November 7, 1947.)

Consistent with the usual practice, the Kings County (Brooklyn) Communist Party Committee convened a meeting on December 1 to name Pete's successor. The committee honored the author by designating him, submitting its unanimous resolution to the City Council -- all, it should be emphasized, in accordance with the provisions of the City Charter. The County Committee's resolution, signed by Carl Vedro, secretary of the committee, was received by the City Clerk, read at the council meeting of December 2 and was "properly before the Council," according to Majority Leader Joseph Sharkey. It was thereupon referred to the Council Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges, headed by Councilman Walter R. Hart, a Brooklyn Democrat.

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Pete: The Story of Peter V. Cacchione, New York's First Communist Councilman
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 2
  • Pete Made a Little History 5
  • Contents 7
  • 1 - The Argument 17
  • 2 - Boyhood in Sayre, Pa. 21
  • 3 - To New York -- via Las Vegas 24
  • 4 - Pete Gets Involved 26
  • 5 - Pete Leads a Bonus March Contingent 30
  • 6 - Brooklyn Captures Pete 34
  • 7 - Tammany Handles Relief 36
  • 8 - Seabury and Chile Acuna 39
  • 9 - Tin Boxes and Red Herrings 43
  • 10 - Class Struggle and Goo-Goos 47
  • 11 - The Fiorello Phenomenon 50
  • 12 - The Labor Party is Born 56
  • 13 - Pete and PR 61
  • 14 - Pete's First Try 67
  • 15 - The '37 Mayoralty Campaign 73
  • 16 - Election Day, 1937 79
  • 17 - The '37 Count 82
  • 18 - Towards the '39 Campaign 86
  • 19 - Marcantonio: A Man to Study 90
  • 20 - War Clouds and a Write-in Vote 99
  • 21 - From Phoney War to Anti-Fascist War 103
  • 22 - Victory in '41 112
  • 23 - Why Pete Won: Reflections 113
  • 24 - The Eagle Screams 116
  • 25 - Pete's First Council Session 120
  • 26 - Fighting Fascism and Anti-Semitism 124
  • 27 - Battling Baseball's Jim Crow 129
  • 28 - On Pete's Style of Work 132
  • 29 - Prophetic Resolutions 136
  • 30 - Defender of Italian-Americans 139
  • 31 - Widening Support 142
  • 32 - Manhattan Names Ben Davis 148
  • 33 - Tackling The Eagle and O'Dwyer 151
  • 34 - Pete Tops the List 153
  • 35 - Brooklyn to the Rescue 156
  • 36 - The Team of Two 161
  • 37 - Pete Wins a Third Term 163
  • 38 - Cold War Years 166
  • 39 - Stuyvesant Town: A Close Question 169
  • 40 the Going Gets Rougher 173
  • 41 - The Cardinal and the Council 177
  • 42 - The Year of the Long Knives 182
  • 43 - PR: Cold War Casualty 187
  • 44 - A Day of Civic Mourning 192
  • 45 - The Succession Fight 196
  • 46 - Running for Pete's Seat 203
  • 47 - An Afterword 204
  • Index 211
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