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

By Harold B. Zink | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XVIII
MARTIN BEHRMAN

A considerable number of cities south of the Mason and Dixon line have domiciled political bosses off and on. Atlanta, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, Galveston, and El Paso have each at some time or other been graced by the presence of barons of more or less distinction. On the whole southern overlords seem to be less cosmopolitan in interests and in fame than their compeers elsewhere in the United States. With the exception of Martin Behrman of New Orleans none of them seem to rank alongside of the Tammany Hall bosses, the Chicago barons, or even the Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, or San Francisco political worthies as household celebrities throughout the land.

Martin Behrman, born in New York City on October 14, 1864, arrived in New Orleans at the age of seven months and sojourned there until his death in 1926. His father, Henry Behrman, a German Jew, followed the trade of cigar making and died while his son was still an infant, leaving his wife to provide a living for herself and baby.1 This, Fredericka Behrman succeeded in doing by keeping a dry goods and notions booth in the bazaar at the French market. In spite of her financial difficulties she insisted that Martin secure an education and sent him to the German-American School and later to Saint Phillip's public school. Unlike other lads who later became political bosses, Martin did very well in school. He seems to have excelled especially in languages and at the age of ten years aided foreign-speaking children in acquiring a knowledge of English. The death of

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1
The most satisfactory source of information relating to Mr. Behrman's early life is a series of autobiographical articles appearing in the New Orleans Item during 1922- 1923 entitled "Story of His Life." See especially October 22, 1922, p. 1.

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