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

By Harold B. Zink | Go to book overview

PREFACE

City bosses as well as political bosses in general in the United States have received more or less serious attention from scholars for approximately half a century. The writings which have resulted have usually dealt with bosses in the abstract, although many of them have referred to the more colorful bosses for purposes of illustration. This study differs in that it attempts to analyze a group of specific bosses. Any conclusions are based entirely on dissection of the personalities and careers of twenty municipal bosses. Such a project obviously has its defects. While it points out errors that have resulted from generalizing without proper basis, it necessarily can include but a limited number of bosses--that is, if each boss is to be carefully considered. As far as the score of bosses included in the work here presented are representative, the conclusions are sound. However, while it may be expected that they are fairly typical, it would be beyond reason to assume that they represent city bosses in every particular. But, even so, I am of the opinion that a more accurate understanding of city bosses is to be had from such a study than from one of the general type.

The twenty bosses included in this study have not been taken haphazardly, although there are, of course, certain advantages in using a random group. It has seemed to me that a number of things should be kept in mind in selecting bosses for such a work. In the first place, geography is of some importance and hence, bosses from the Atlantic states, New England, the middle west, the northwest, the south, and the Pacific coast have been chosen. Again, party affiliation may be of some, although not large, significance. Therefore, both the Democratic and Republican parties are represented. There are examples of the boss who veers from party to party, of the boss who starts as a reformer or who turns

-vii-

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