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

By Simon W. Gerson | Go to book overview

40 The Going Gets Rougher

BUT ALL this runs ahead of our story. Early in 1946, Pete sensed that he and Davis were in for some rough going. Mayor LaGuardia had warned Ben when he swore him in for the second time late in 1945. " Davis," the Mayor said, "you're going to have tough sledding this time."

His Honor wasn't exaggerating. The "Little Flower" knew what was cooking in Washington and his political seismograph was extremely sensitive to the international tremors which were felt in various degrees in the great metropolis. U.S. monopoly capital had come out of World War II enormously strengthened at the expense of its major capitalist rivals. It had used the atom bomb in a demonstrative effort to cow the socialist world. It possessed a huge gold supply and a lush internal market in the surging demand for housing, cars and other appliances long pent up by wartime shortages. With Harry Truman in the White House, powerful anti-Soviet banking and business circles found it comparatively easy to disengage the nation from the wartime alliance with the Soviet Union. They feared the new stirrings among the peoples throughout the world.

They had good reason for their class fears. Fascism had been smashed and in Eastern Europe a bloc of countries, liberated by the Red Army and the efforts of their own partisan fighters, was building a new life. In France and Italy, the Communists, who had played a heroic part in the Resistance were part of the new emerging governmental structures. In Asia there were vast stirrings for freedom. India was on the eve of its independence. In Indochina a legendary figure named Ho Chi Minh was leading a movement for independence of his nation that was breaking the shackles of the French colonial empire.

Inevitably, the new atmosphere affected New York City politics. With the glow of the wartime unity fading, it became increasingly difficult for Pete and Ben to get a fair hearing for their legislation, most of which was by then being jointly introduced. But they kept on doggedly. One of their resolutions called for providing at least 20,000 new homes for returning

-173-

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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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