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

By Simon W. Gerson | Go to book overview

16
Election Day, 1937

ELECTION night, November 2, exploded in triumph for the anti- Tammany coalition. Fiorello LaGuardia was reelected overwhelmingly -- the first time in the city's history that an anti-Tammany mayor had won twice in a row -- and the ALP emerged as a major force in New York politics. Tammany had played all its cards, some of them wild ones, to no avail. It had unleashed a massive red-baiting drive by which it hoped to stampede Catholic workers in particular, but the phoney "Anti-Communist" and "Trades Union" parties had brought Mahoney virtually nothing. Tammany's candidate had been rejected in virtually every section of the population by workers and middle class and nearly every ethnic group. The anti-Tammany coalition had not become unglued.

Fiorello, no doubt, was a political virtuoso. He had foreseen the potential of the American Labor Party, which was the first to nominate him for reelection. Then, with the strong aid of Samuel Seabury, liberal Republican leader Kenneth Simpson and a few others, he got the GOP nomination. (Only the following spring, when the enrollment books were published, did it become known that LaGuardia had quietly shucked his Republican garb and enrolled as an ALP er. From alliance with the New Deal and FDR he had moved somewhat leftward to the ALP.)

At the same time he figured he could not do without the GOP line. Even in Democratic New York there were still about a half-million traditionalists around who voted the Republican ticket. Then, of course, there was the City Fusion Party line, given him by a small group that had trademarked the ancient label. Finally, he got on the Progressive line, put together by a few oddlot Democrats, some of whom were in his administration, and, anyway, didn't fit in anywhere else.

Obviously the victory was due to more than astute political mechanics. Tremendous social forces had come into play. The great unemployed movement, the CIO drive to organize the unorganized workers, the

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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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