City Bosses in the United States: A Study of Twenty Municipal Bosses

By Harold B. Zink | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
MUNICIPAL BOSSES AND BUSINESS

Along with their political activities city bosses usually carry on some business, at least during early days and in most cases all of the time. Three of the twenty leaders under study started out as young men in the practice of a profession. "Judge" Olvany and Abe Ruef were lawyers and "Doc" Ames a physician. "Commissioner" Murphy, once a horsecar driver, and "Old Boy" Cox, a gambling manipulator, came to the top as saloon keepers, and "Big Tim" Sullivan, a theatrical operator, kept a saloon along the way to his lordship. "Duke" Vare started out as peddler and ashman, and "Senator" Flinn as brickmaker and steamfitter. Both constructed public works and handled public contracts of various sorts, while "King" McManes, who early spun cotton, and "Czar" Lomasney, who spun metal, "smashed" baggage, swung a pick for the city, lighted street lamps and dealt in real estate. "Poor Swede" Lundin, starting out as clothing salesman and milkman, manufactured a soft drink, patent medicines, and steel doors and in addition established a mail order business. "Honorable" Tweed made chairs and brushes, although he soon abandoned his trade and announced that he would be a "statesman." "Honest John" Kelly built up a prosperous business cutting soapstone and setting grates. "Judge" Durham dealt in flour after a street cleaning career. "Colonel" Butler shod horses and pounded out iron. And "Old Man" McLaughlin, after laboring as a dock hand and selling fish, hired labor for the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Roger Sullivan began as a mechanic in railway machine shops but later served as an officer of the Ogden Gas Company. Martin Behrman held a position as cashier of a small store for a time, then obtained a clerkship in a grocery store, later acquired an interest in a

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