Boston, 1700-1980: The Evolution of Urban Politics

Boston, 1700-1980: The Evolution of Urban Politics

Boston, 1700-1980: The Evolution of Urban Politics

Boston, 1700-1980: The Evolution of Urban Politics

Synopsis

"This collection of essays provides a quite readable, descriptive overview of electoral politics in Boston over the last 300 years. The strongest essays are those that illustrate the crucial periods (especially the Jacksonian and Progressive eras) when official power shifted from one group of elites to another.... Libraries with urban history collections should consider this convenient volume for use by upper-level undergraduates." - Choice

Excerpt

By American standards, 350 years is a long time. In 1980 when Boston celebrated 350 years of recorded existence as a principal urban place, it seemed appropriate to include in the public activities some reflection on the history of these centuries. For clarity such reflection should be limited to a single theme, and it should be relevant to the past of the city as well as to the present. An examination of the politics of the city seemed to fit the criteria well. Boston's Puritan founders had developed a unique form of popular representative government in the Town Meeting; in the colonial and pre-revolutionary period "the first urban political machine" had originated in Boston; politics began to function in the nineteenth century as a vital assimilator of immigrants of different ethnic and religious character into the city fabric; and in the twentieth century Boston has gained a reputation for being one of the most politically active, or, from a negative point of view, one of the most "politics ridden" cities in the nation. Historians have not neglected Boston's political history, but they have tended to focus on individual periods or fragments of time, several decades at the most. A comprehensive oneor multi-volume history of the politics of Boston does not exist.

This book begins to fill that need with a series of essays dealing with each major phase of Boston's politics, from the eighteenth-century town meeting which became so visible in the American Revolution to the contemporary city managed by a four-term mayor (1969-83) and a large, if fragmented, bureaucracy. Although the essays differ in their approaches, methods, and foci, this anthology provides in broad outline a virtually continuous narrative of the structure and dynamics of Boston's politics at each distinctive phase of its development from the 1700s to the 1970s. The authors take the reader through the politics and social . . .

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